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Monday, April 4, 2016

Gordon Ramsay's Teryaki Salmon


Thank goodness Australia has Costco! As much as I love this land down under, I also love me some American-sized grocery shopping..

I have become grateful for the little conveniences these trips to Costco provide. For example, the suggested weight size on the side of a box of diapers or "nappies" is in pounds, not just kilograms...very helpful for an American who is horrible at metric system conversions.

I'm grateful for a two child shopping cart or "trolley" (with lower rack) that is enjoyable to push (at normal grocery stores, the carts go side-to-side and front-to-back making steering them an absolute mess! AND, there is no lower rack for those paper towels/toilet paper/diapers, etc!). BUT at Costco, the shopping carts are a dream!

Finally, I'm grateful for a big parking lot (most inner suburbs in Australia lack great parking).

So...every few weeks at Costco, I cheerfully steer my children around that big warehouse, picking up (among many, many, many other items and free samples), fresh salmon and lamb chops.

We'll talk lamb chops later. Today: the salmon. I found an easy and delicious teriyaki salmon recipe by Gordon Ramsay that is hard to mess up. As long as you have 20 minutes to 2 hours to allow the salmon to marinate, you'll be golden. It has become my go-to these days...just sauté some veggies on the side, cook up some rice and you have a healthy meal for the whole family.

Gordon Ramsay's Teryaki Salmon

Ingredients:

2 cm piece of fresh root ginger, finely sliced/chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
4-6 salmon fillets
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

1. Put the chopped garlic and ginger into a small bowl and mix with the soy sauce, maple syrup, rice wine vinegar, and a drizzle of olive oil. Set aside.

2. Place the salmon fillets in a dish, season with salt and pepper, and pour the dressing over them. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge to marinate for up to 2 hours, but at least 20 minutes.

3. Place a large frying pan on medium heat and add a dash of oil. When hot, add the salmon, skin side down (mine are always skinless), reserving the marinade. Cook for 2 minutes, then pour in a few spoonfuls of the reserved marinade, and cook for a minute or so, until the salmon fillets are opaque halfway up the sides. Turn them over and cook on the other side for 3-4 minutes, basting with the sauce. Add a splash of water if the sauce is too thick.

(Sometimes instead OF STEP 3, I put the marinated salmon fillets in a hot pan and I do NOT spoon the extra marinade over it, and they have turned out great. I just sear and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes).

4. If you want, you can serve the salmon fillets with or without the extra cooked sauce left in the pan. I find I do not need any extra sauce, but you should try it both ways! Serve with sautéed veggies and rice.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Greek Cucumber Feta Salad

Another beautiful Mediterranean side dish with fresh herbs and feta to bring it alive. No picture yet because it was almost all gone!

Greek Cucumber Feta Salad (inspired by Jimmy Grants)

Ingredients:

2 English cucumbers, peeled, and cut into 1" chunks
1 cup of cooked brown rice or barley
Roughly 1/2 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely chopped mint
Juice of half a lemon
1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Peel and cut up cucumbers into 1" chunks, and place in a medium bowl. Add the cooked and cooled rice/barley, crumbled feta cheese, chopped cilantro and mint, and stir to combine.

2. In a small bowl, whisk with a fork the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt. Pour over the cucumber salad, and combine. Taste and add more salt, or feta cheese if needed.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A New Year, A New Land, A New Diet: Greek Grain Salad



It has been a year since I last posted. We had quite the year. Three moves, including one international. And, a new baby. Our fourth baby. We have been busy!

We are living on the other side of the world in Melbourne, Australia, for one year. It has been a beautiful, charming year full of trips to the beach and to the kangaroo-dotted Aussie countryside, and lots of good quality time with my husband's family.

I have learned what morning tea is (a break around mid-morning for tea/coffee and a snack). And, I have learned to recycle like my life depends on it (small trash cans here!) and to not speed when driving (speed cameras are everywhere!).

We have also experienced the Aussie food scene...cafes and bakeries on every corner. Fresh produce. Much healthier eating than in the US. And, a much wider assortment of authentic Mediterranean and Asian restaurants thanks to the millions of immigrants from those areas of the world.

I am learning to cook a whole different way. And, enjoy food a whole new way.

Before our time is up here, I plan to post some of the meals and snacks that have found their way into our home. First up, a Greek grain salad inspired by our favorite Greek restaurants: Hellenic Republic and Jimmy Grants by the same Chef/Owner.

This grain salad is a perfect side dish for a crowd and is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Hellenic Republic's Cypriot Grain Salad

Ingredients:

1 bunch cilantro, chopped finely
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped finely
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 cup freekah (or quinoa or cracked wheat)
1/2 cup Puy lentils (I used green lentils)
2 tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp. toasted slivered almonds
2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp. baby capers
1/2 cup currants
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
Optional: 1 pomegranate, deseeded to serve (I did not include in mine)

Yogurt Topping:
1 cup thick plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. honey

Method:
1. Cook the freekah/quinoa and lentils to package directions until both just cooked. Drain well and allow to cool.

2. Mix the yogurt, ground cumin and honey until combined, and refrigerate until serving.

3. In a medium bowl, place the finely chopped cilantro, parsley, red onion, freekah/quinoa, lentils, toasted nuts and seeds, capers, currants, lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well and season with salt to taste.

4. Place in a serving dish and top with cumin-honey yogurt and (optional) pomegranate seeds.






Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer Shrimp Stir-Fry


This meal comes straight from Pioneer Woman. Anyone else love Pioneer Woman? I love that her Food Network show is on most days around 4pm, right as I'm preparing dinner...and kids jump on the trampoline...and baby sleeps. Perfect. Just like this dish.

Combining fresh summer veggies, with garlic-shrimp, lemon and basil, this stir-fry has become a weekly dinner.

Summer Shrimp Stir-Fry (30-45 minutes) *Slightly adapted
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds large or extra large shrimp, peeled, deveined, no tails (I use frozen shrimp and thaw under cold water in a colander, works great)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large zucchini, diced
1.5 cups frozen corn
1 pint red grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
Salt and pepper to taste
Onion powder and garlic powder for seasoning shrimp
12 - 18 fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
Juice of 1 lemon
Whole grain brown rice

Directions:
1. Thaw shrimp under cold water in colander. While thawing, dice zucchini and halve the red grape tomatoes. Peel garlic cloves.
2. Dry off shrimp on plate lined with paper towels. Pat shrimp dry. Season shrimp with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. (Make sure shrimp is completely thawed and dry, or you'll end up with a lot of extra liquid in your stir-fry!)
3. Melt 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil in large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in minced garlic and stir around for 20-30 seconds, being careful to not burn the garlic. Add shrimp, then sauté until the shrimp are opaque, about 3 minutes.
4. Remove shrimp to a plate and set aside.
5. Add remaining 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil, and throw in zucchini. Cook for 3-5 minutes, then scoot zucchini to edge of pan. Add corn to middle, allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, and stir into the zucchini.
6. Scoot veggies again to edge of pan, add the halved tomatoes, allow to cook for 5 minutes or so, until they soften a bit.
7. Season all veggies generously with salt and pepper.
8. Throw shrimp back in, stir together, allow to warm shrimp.
9. Serve stir-fry over brown rice, add a bunch of basil, and a healthy squeeze of lemon. Yum!



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Light and Dainty Lemon Cupcakes


I love sugar. I will eat sugary things for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack-time. But, let's be real about cupcakes. Sometimes the frosting is too sweet and you can only eat a few bites before feeling it in your teeth.

So when I chose to make lemon cupcakes for a dear friend's Sip & See, I opted for lemon-infused whipped cream for the frosting instead of a buttercream or cream cheese topping.

The result was a light, delicious little cupcake, or described on Allrecipes.com, as "truly lighter than air and will melt in your mouth." It's one that you can eat many of. And I did. (As did my hubs. And my children.).

Lemon Cupcakes (Allrecipes.com )
Makes about 30 mini cupcakes, or about 14 large
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup whole milk, divided
1 1/4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, divided

 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Quick Dinner: French Bread Pizza


Oh, this brings back memories of my childhood. With five kids all active in multiple sports and school activities, I know why my mom pulled this meal out every now and then!

On nights when we are running around or when my husband is working, this is a great, super easy meal that is still yummy and nutritious (minus the French bread). And, I love to make this the week of homemade tacos, using up any leftover taco meat.

Of course, this pizza can be topped with anything. We like mozzarella, loads of chopped, fresh spinach, taco meat and extra sharp cheddar. Plus a shake of dried basil and oregano.






Don't be afraid to use lots of sauce. The bread is like a sponge and will absorb a lot of it.

Done in less than 15 minutes!

French Bread Pizza
1 loaf French bread
1 jar pasta sauce (you will have some leftover)
Slices or balls of fresh mozzarella
1/2 - 3/4 bag fresh, baby spinach
1 cup taco meat (or hamburger meat)
2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese
Shake of dried basil
Shake of dried oregano

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice French bread in half vertically, place on sheet pan.
2. Chop fresh spinach leaves and put aside. Shred extra sharp cheddar cheese, if needed.
3. Spoon about 1 cup of sauce on each bread half, for a total of 2 cups of sauce. Apply liberally, as the French bread will soak up a lot of the sauce.
4. Layer pizza as follows: mozzarella balls/slices, taco meat, chopped spinach, shredded cheese, and a few shakes of dried basil and dried oregano.
5. Put into oven on top rack and cook for 8 minutes. Allow to rest for a few minutes, then cut and serve!

Easy Kid Breakfast: Egg Roll-Ups

My girls eat eggs. Every. Morning. It's the only thing that will keep them full for more than an hour. So, I've started branching out a little in their egg-filled breakfast. Every now and then, it's just straight scrambled eggs on toast (with cheese of course), sometimes it's eggs in a hole (via Pioneer Woman), but most mornings, it is Egg Roll-Up.

I'm sure many people do these, but I wanted my girls to remember this one, as they ask for it all the time, and it is super easy.

Now, a couple years back we had a scrambled egg discussion in Bible study. I know, we were off on a major tangent! I was shocked to hear that many of the moms did NOT cook scrambled eggs in the microwave. My mom has pulled out this trick for over 20 years, so I considered it the norm. Of course, when I'm making a big family-style breakfast, I pull out my skillet and cook scrambled eggs the proper way.

But, for just me and the girls, it's the whisked eggs, a splash of milk, and a microwave. 

One more side-note. Tortillas. They can be chock-full of calories. Like, 120-160 calories. Our local Hy-Vee carries a brand that is just 60 calories. Read the labels and find the healthiest in your local grocery store!

Egg Roll-Ups (Makes 3)
3 Whole wheat tortillas
4 eggs
Splash of milk
Plain cream cheese (your choice on making it low-fat or non-fat)
3 slices of ham
Shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

1. Spray microwavable bowl with cooking spray. Whisk 4 eggs, add splash of milk, and cook eggs one minute at a time in the microwave, moving cooked eggs to the middle of the bowl after each minute.
2. Put shredded cheese on top of cooked eggs, cover and allow to melt.
3. Warm up tortillas in microwave for 20-30 seconds.
4. Layer Egg Roll-Up as follows: warm tortilla, thick layer of cream cheese, one slice of ham (cut in two, layered vertically over cream cheese), strip of egg with melted cheese. Wrap tightly and enjoy.