Sunday, April 29, 2012

Egg White Omelet with Tomatoes and Asiago

I am a creature of habit.  And I hate breakfast.  Well, I hate traditional breakfast foods--eggs, pancakes, waffles, and the like.  For these reasons, I have the same thing for breakfast every single morning--cereal with Greek yogurt.  This morning, however, I was in the mood for a more traditional breakfast.  This is most likely a result of the Beer and Mead festival we attended yesterday, but who's keeping track?  (p.s.  Vanilla Bean Mead from Ring of Fire Meadery may be the best thing to grace my palette in a long, long time.) 

Much of my dislike for traditional breakfast foods stems from the fact they are oftentimes greasy, heavy, fatty, and produce the "gut-bomb" effect that ruins the rest of the day.  Biscuits and gravy with a side of bacon, potatoes, eggs, and butter with toast grosses me out.  With that in mind and my desire to veer away from cereal and yogurt, I decided to try my hand at an egg white omelet.  It was a great success!  Perfectly light, flavorful, and hot--it was the perfect start to the morning and didn't leave me feeling overly full and gross. 

This egg white omelet business may become a Sunday morning standard.  Next time I'll switch it up with some spinach, garlic, and zucchini squash.  Can't wait for next weekend!

Egg White Omelet with Tomatoes and Asiago:
  • 3-5 egg whites (we used 5 to make a big guy to split)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • a dash of sea salt
  • a number of grinds on the pepper grinder
  • a tablespoon or so of grated asiago cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning (probably less if you use fewer eggs)
  • 1/4-1/2 diced tomatoes (we used canned no salt added diced tomatoes and they were great)
  1. Separate your egg whites from the yolks.  (Feed your dog the yolks...that's what we did.  Q was more excited about the omelet than we were.)
  2. Whisk your egg whites until light and foamy.
  3. Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large, flat-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Pour in the egg whites and turn the pan to fully coat the bottom.
  5. Let the eggs cook untouched for a minute or two in order to begin to set up.
  6. Sprinkle the cheese, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning over the omelet.
  7. Cover with your desired amount of tomatoes.  
  8. Continue to cook until the edges easily come away from the pan when separated by a spatula.
  9. Fold over into thirds.
  10. Eat!  I imagine that sprinkling with more cheese and tomatoes would be delicious.  Next time...

Grilled Cumin Chicken with Tomatillo Salsa

We go in cycles with chicken--we'll eat it multiple times a week for a bit, then won't have it again for a month or so.  I partly blame Costco for this pattern because we will buy it in bulk, eat it until it is gone, then not have it again until we go back for a Saturday morning of sampling processed food and spending more money than we planned. 

Currently, we are in the eat-a-lot-of-chicken phase of our cycle.  We certainly created a winner the other night for dinner in the form of grilled cumin chicken with a fresh tomatillo salsa.  I thought we had exhausted the list of new and creative ways to grill and serve chicken, but I was clearly wrong.  The cumin rub/marinade seasons the chicken perfectly, and the slightly sweet and combination of sweet and spicy in the tomatillo salsa bring out the flavors of the chicken.  This is the perfect dish for a summer cookout and a break from the traditional bbq chicken.  We served it with the Asain Wasabi Slaw, which would also be perfect for a backyard get together.

I imagine the cumin marinade and the salsa would be great on halibut or another light white fish.  Also, the salsa is great to serve with tortilla chips all on its own.  This stuff is great.

Grilled Cumin Chicken with Tomatillo Salsa:
Adapted from Cooking Light 

For the Chicken
  • 2 chicken breasts (with fat trimmed off)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • a number of grinds on the pepper grinder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • enough olive oil to coat
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a ziploc back and slosh around to coat the chicken.
  2. Marinate for 15-30 minutes. 
  3. Make the tomatillo salsa (see below).
  4. Grill the chicken 6ish minutes per side, until chicken is completely cooked through.
  5. Serve with the sauce on top of the chicken
For the Tomatillo Salsa:
  • 5 or 6 tomatillos
  • 3/4 cups water with a 1/2ish teaspoon of chicken bouillon (or 3/4 cups chicken broth if you have it)
  • 2 or 3 large green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you want)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Discard the husks and stems from the tomatillos.  Cut the tomatillos in half.
  2. Put the tomatillos in a small saucepan, and cover with the water and bouillon (or broth).  Stir to combine.
  3. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 8 minutes or so (or until the tomatillos are the perfect ratio of firm and soft when pierced with a fork).
  4. Drain and cool slightly.
  5. Combine the tomatillos with all of the other ingredients in a food processor.
  6. Blend until smooth or to the consistency of your liking.
  7. Serve on top of chicken (or eat it like salsa like the other one in this household has done with the leftovers).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Asian Wasabi Slaw

I love our Full Circle Farms veggie and fruit box for so many reasons.  The two most important, however, are that it provides us with foods throughout the sub-arctic Alaskan year that we would never get otherwise, and it sends us things that we would not otherwise purchase but are consequently forced to get creative with.  The latter brings us to this incredibly delicious and impossible-to-stop-eating slaw that we made with a cabbage that was sent to us courtesy of Full Circle Farms (in a box whose date I am too embarrassed to share).

I am a glutton for most coleslaw; they are a very random and infrequent guilty pleasure of mine.  Who ever thinks to make coleslaw unless immediately heading to a football party on a quintessential New England fall afternoon with the bright red leaves falling at the absolutely perfect awe-inducing rate, the fifty degree weather shifting by five degrees at perfectly timed intervals throughout the afternoon, and where the home team wins the big game?  I certainly don't.  But then we had the cabbage.  It has been staring at us every time we open the refrigerator door for a time (that I will not share).

For reasons that are certainly not related to football or New England, I thought of making slaw today.  Maybe it was the weather.  We have finally reached the high fifties--and even crept into the sixties today--but the morning was cold.  It must have been the temperature fluctuation that led me to craving coleslaw.  (That makes no sense, I realize that.)

Anyhow, it was incredible!  We both ate out of the bowl before dinner because we couldn't resist, had some with dinner, then ate more out of the bowl after dinner.  I foresee a race to the fridge tomorrow as we pack our lunches.

Why was it so good?  Crunchy cabbage, sesame oil, rice vinegar, a touch of sugar, wasabi, a hint of green onions, ramen noodles, and toasted almonds all meld together to create something that is damn near out-of-this-world.  I will be thinking about making coleslaw an awful lot more often.

Bring it to your summer cookout (it is days away from being gartyque time!), to share with coworkers, to your kids' end of year potluck, or of course to football tailgates in the fall.  It is unique (but not weird) and addicting--and relatively guilt free!

This is certainly a new favorite of mine, and I hope it becomes one of yours too.

Asain Wasabi Slaw:
Created by yours truly
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage (it would be much prettier to use 1/4 green and 1/4 red cabbage, but Full Circle Farms didn't send us both)
  • 3 large green onions chopped (mostly the white part, up to the green part)
  • 1/4ish cup roasted slivered almonds
  • 1 package chicken flavored ramen noodles
  • 5ish tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2ish tablespoons of wasabi paste
  • ground pepper to taste 
  1. Make the dressing: 
    1. Combine the rice vinegar, sesame oil, olive oil, sugar, wasabi paste, and pepper.  
    2. Mix well.  
    3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.
  2. Make the salad:  
    1. Finely chop the cabbage into little strips and place in medium mixing bowl.
    2. Chop the green onions.  Add to cabbage.
    3. Add the roasted almonds.
    4. Crunch the ramen noodles into very small pieces (but not to smitereens).
    5. Add about 1/2 of the seasoning packet from the noodles.
    6. Pour in just enough dressing to coat.
    7. Mix well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Smashed Cauliflower and Broccoli

The past few weeks in the Owl's Nest (our house) have been even crazier than usual.  The end of grad school for my second master's degree, the other one's extended trip out of town, extreme reorganization of the garage including the construction of three L-shaped shelves, yoga, running (in my new minimalist shoes), birthday parties, senior prom (for my students....I never want to relive that experience), well over 16 hours of daylight, moose in the garage, beavers on bike rides, more house reorganizing, more yoga, more running, and our normal day jobs have left very, very little time in for fun in the kitchen.  Most meals have been thrown together with ingredients found in the cupboards and fridge, followed by many iterations of reincarnation into something else over the next few days.

With all of those excuses made, there has been almost no re-imagining in this kitchen, mostly because there hasn't been any cooking.  I mean, who wants to read about baked broccoli and asparagus?  Not me, that's for one. 

Sorry friends and neighbors, tonight's post is equally as unexciting, but very delicious.  We made smashed cauliflower and broccoli to accompany our many different options for leftovers.  Not only was it extremely healthy, but also deliciously tasty.  The perfect consistency of smashed--not pasty, not grainy, not too lumpy--paired with great seasonings (chives, garlic, Capitol Hill seasoning from my favorite spice shop in the universe that unfortunately lives in Colorado, salt, pepper, and sour cream) led to an innovative and yummy side dish.  I can't wait to make it again for a more elegant feast, say, Thanksgiving. 

The seasons are changing, things around the Owl's Nest are changing (for the better!), and jobs are potentially changing (again a good thing).  It's time to change from mashed potatoes to mashed cauliflower and broccoli.  Change is good, and this change is great!

Our lovely leftovers, clockwise from top left if you have any interest:  jasmine rice from Whole Foods that my mother lovingly ships to us, blackened halibut with my own blackening spice, silver salmon that we caught in Seward last year topped with a jalapeno-apple jam that we bought in Homer, roasted veggies, the baked broccoli and asparagus.

Smashed Cauliflower and Broccoli:
Created by yours truly
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1ish tablespoons of Capitol Hill seasoning
  • 1-2 teaspoons of light sour cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons of garlic powder (certainly to taste)
  • a number of grinds of fresh black peppercorns
  • salt to taste 
  • asiago cheese to shred on top
  1. Cut the cauliflower and the broccoli into bite size pieces.
  2. Place in the steamer vessel in a large pan.
  3. Steam until a fork can very easily pierce through both types of veggies.
  4. Drain all of the water and remove the steamer.  Place the veggies back in the large (and empty) pan.
  5. Add seasonings and sour cream.
  6. Smash with a potato masher for a bit, but not too much.
  7. Taste.  Adjust seasonings to your taste.
  8. Serve and top with freshly shredded asiago cheese.
  9. Forget about potatoes.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Baked Broccoli? (and Asparagus)

This week has been absolutely nuts--the last class of grad school for my second master's, the waiting game to hear about my dream job, my favorite person in the universe out of town, meetings meetings and many many more meetings, and the extreme house reorganizing--among many other things--has led to very little time in the kitchen (and lots and lots of yoga and running).  There has (sadly) only been one mouth to feed for more than a week, so the world's most delicious salmon cakes were savored and absolutely enjoyed on numerous occasions, there were a few trips out to dinner with friends, and then an unremarkable pasta creation from the contents of my fridge were the foods consumed.

Tonight's dinner wasn't exactly exciting, but it certainly was tasty.  I turned the turkey with feta, oregano, and basil meatballs into burgers and then baked broccoli and asparagus to accompany.  "Bake broccoli," you ask?  YES!  It was both crispy and tender and full of flavor.  I am going to grill broccoli next.  (Don't doubt me....)

Baked Broccoli and Asparagus:
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 bundle of asparagus
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • your choice of seasonings
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cover a large cookie sheet with nonstick foil.
  2. Cut your broccoli (stem included) into large-ish florets.  Trim the ends off your asparagus and cut into thirds.
  3. Place the veggies in a large bowl and lightly (but not too lightly) coat with olive oil.  Fold with a rubber spatula.
  4. Add salt and pepper to your preference.
  5. Add the seasonings of your choice.
  6. Place onto prepared cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes--until tender and crunchy.  :)
  8. ENJOY!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Restaurant Worthy Salmon Cakes with Wasabi Vinegar Sauce

I have made plenty of things that are restaurant worthy throughout my time in the kitchen.  A few are appetizers or meals, but almost all of these items are baked goods; most recently the bunny cake, but also the prima donna brownies, the highly versatile and kid-friendly sugar cookiecake bars, any variation of the fruit pie, and of course the cookie dough brownies among other things that have yet to be blogged about (toffee, pumpkin bread, peanut butter balls, the kit kat kake, and more!).  With all of those recipes, I re-imagine someone else's reciped (hence the name of my blog), but never invent them completely by myself.

Times are a changing, my friends.  I invented these salmon cakes and am convinced that I could sell them for a large profit at our downtown restaurants.  Fresh Alaskan salmon caught by yours truly, a tiny bit of soy, a hint of curry, a sprinkle of scallion, a little wasabi, and sandwiched between sprouts and peas.  What a winning combination.  I am really proud of myself, to be honest.  If there were a burger contest tonight, these cakes would be the winners by a long shot.  They are like the Seabiscuit of creative burgers--first the surprise winner, and then the favorite all others want to beat.  They are that good.

wasabi, hint of ginger, rice wine vinegar sauce
salmon cakes before cooking
salmon cakes after cooking...I want to eat one all over again......
sandwich thin (so as to leave all the flavor to the cake, but provide a vessel for eating), ginger-wasabi sauce and a layer of snow peas
add the salmon cake
top with sprouts
add sauce to the other sandwich thin and serve with roasted veggies of your choice (I used yukon golds, carrots, and sweet potatoes)
EAT AND ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!
Salmon Cakes and Wasabi Sauce:

For the salmon cakes....
  • 1 pound fillet of wild Alaskan salmon (if you use this recipe, you are absolutely 100% never allowed to used canned, farmed, or Atlantic salmon)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of curry powder, divided
  • 2-3 scallions (mostly the white part, but some of the green), finely diced
  • 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs, plus more for coating
  • 3-4ish tablespoons of plain greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 healthy glug of low sodium soy sauce (probably about 1 tablespoon)
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • a little bit of olive oil
  • sandwich thins
  • snow peas
  • sprouts
  1. Make a tinfoil boat for your salmon.  (If the skin is still on, use regular tinfoil because the skin will stick to it after cooking and you can just use a spatula to separate the cooked fish from the skin.  If it is skinless, use nonstick tinfoil and even go so far as to spray with Pam.)
  2. Lightly coat fish with olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle curry powder on top and crack a little fresh ground pepper too.
  4. I cooked the salmon in our tagine on the stove, but I realize not everyone is blessed to have this lovely device (go buy one now!).  Otherwise, bake in the oven at 375 degrees until just cooked through.  DON'T OVERCOOK!
  5. Scoop the salmon into a bowl and break apart with a fork.
  6. Add the scallions, egg, bread crumbs, soy sauce, and pepper.  Add a teaspoon or so of curry powder--more or less depending on your preference.  Mix thoroughly until nearly smooth.
  7. Form into patties.
  8. On a separate plate, sprinkle a layer of panko.  Take each patty and press both sides into the panko.  Press so that the panko sticks to both sides.  (They don't need to be completely covered.)
  9. Heat a large nonstick skillet with a touch of oil over medium high heat.
  10. Once hot, place the patties in the skillet and cook until golden brown and a little crispy (about 7-10 minutes) on each side.
For the wasabi sauce....
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • a few dashes of ground ginger
  • 1ish tablespoon of wasabi paste (more or less depending on taste preference)
  • a few twists on the pepper grinder  

  1. Stir all the liquids together and the ground ginger.  Mix.  Add the wasabi.  Add the sugar and the pepper.  Mix again until smooth.
For assembly....
  1. Toast your sandwich thins.
  2. Coat the bottom thin with the wasabi sauce.  (A teaspoon worked well to spread.)
  3. Place a layer of peas on the thin.
  4. Add your salmon cake.
  5. Top with sprouts.
  6. Coat the top thin with the wasabi sauce.  Cover.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Baaaahhhhhh, Lamb Lollipops (with Green Goddess Sauce)

I can count on one hand, the number of times I have eaten lamb in my life.  Sorry mom, but your leg of lamb smells like dirty feet and doesn't taste any better.  (I love you!)  And they are so stinking cute I can't get over the visual.  They are so fluffy and soft and cute and cuddly and adorable and oh my goodness how can anyone eat one?

I can honest to goodness count on one finger the number of times I have actually enjoyed lamb--that being last night.  We made garlic-ginger-soy glazed lamb lollipops with a mint green goddess sauce.  The lollipops were grilled perfectly, which resulted in a juicy bite with a hint of sweetness.  The green goddess sauce complemented the bold flavor of the lamb while not overpowering it at all as a result of the marriage of mint with cilantro, green onions, and pistachios.

Although I must admit that I will probably only eat lamb once a year on Easter, but at least I know I have a delicious flavor framework to work with.

Lamb Lollipops with Mint Green Goddess Sauce:
Heavily inspired by my dear friend Martha 

For the Lamb Lollipops:

  • 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh peeled ginger
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • a number of turns on the mill of cracked black pepper
  • 6 to 8 lamb chops, frenched and completely trimmed  (I left this job to the Bunny)
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together garlic, ginger, soy sauce, olive oil, and pepper. 
  2. Place lamb chops in a large ziploc plastic bag and add the garlic-ginger-soy mixture. 
  3. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, but ideally longer, up to overnight.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium high heat.  
  5. Remove lamb chops from marinade, wiping off any excess and place on grill. 
  6. Grill, rotating lamb chops 1/2 turn after 1 minute. 
  7. Continue grilling until cross-hatch marks form, about 1 minute more. 
  8. Flip lamb chops and repeat process on opposite side. 
  9. Transfer chops to a warm plate and let stand 3 to 5 minutes before serving with dipping sauce.
For the Mint Green Goddess Sauce:
  • 3-4 scallions, loosely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
  • 1 small little plastic container thing of mint--remove all the leaves
  • a palmful (probably about 1/4 cup) of shelled pistachios
  • 1/3 cupish of white balsalmic vinegar (normal balsamic would work, but would turn your sauce and unsightly funky color)
  • about 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Throw loosely chopped scallions, cilantro, mint leaves, pistachios, and vinegar in the food processor.
  2. As you are pulsing, add olive in a steady stream through the top.  
  3. Pulse until your desired pureed consistency.
  4. Adjust for taste.
  5. Serve with the lamb lollipops.