Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lemony Asparagus With Pine Nuts

Happy Memorial Weekend! This usually means to me the official start to summer with BBQs and pools opening. However, after moving to Florida it seems to still signify the start of summer, but down here that means that it is so hot you no longer want to be outside. But for now it hasn't stopped us from filling the weekend with friends, family and BBQ! Last night we had some friends over who were on a strict diet but we still managed to make an easy, healthy, flavorful summer vegetable. It is surprising how much flavor and brightness you can get just from using lemon zest, not even the juice.

Lemony Asparagus With Pine Nuts
Serves 4-5
Slightly adapted from: Real Simple Magazine

2 Tablespoons pine nuts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds (bunches) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
Kosher salt and pepper
1 lemon zested

Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing once, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the pine nuts and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the lemon zest.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Herb-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Potatoes and Lemony Asparagus

After yet another long weekend away from home I am finally back home and in the kitchen again. While I love to travel and visit with family and friends, I do miss home cooked meals. Jason had tried to make some pork when I came home but unfortunately forgot to turn the slow-cooker on so by the time we got home it had been out too long and had to be trashed. I decided to make it up to him by surprising him with another pork tenderloin recipe, but one that incorporated his favorite flavor, lemon. The fresh herbs and citrus give this dish a light and refreshing flavor. It was a nice lean and bright meal to get us in the summer spirit.

Herb-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Potatoes and Lemony Asparagus
Serves 4
Source: Real Simple Magazine

1 1/2 pounds new potatoes (~15)  halved or quartered if large
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 Pork Tenderloin (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 bunch asparagus (~1 pound), trimmed
1 lemon, sliced

1. Heat oven to 400F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes with 1 Tablespoon of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until tender and browned, 20-25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, rub the pork with the parsley, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tablespoon of remaining oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, turning occasionally until browned on all sides, 8-10 minutes.

3. Add the asparagus and lemon to the skillet and drizzle with the remaining Tablespoon of oil. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the pork is cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let the pork rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with the potatoes, asparagus and lemon.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Apple Coffee Cake

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day! While I couldn't spend it with my mom, I was able to celebrate with my mother-in-law for a relaxing brunch. I had pulled this recipe out and just needed an excuse to make it, so what better than Mother's Day brunch. I really liked that I only had to peel and cut 1 apple keeping this super easy. The best part is that we had all of these ingredients in the house already so it will make an great go to recipe for entertaining. It can be used for breakfast like we did for mother's day or as dessert. It is a soft cake with soft apples in the middle and cinnamon sugar on top, the best part!

Apple Coffee Cake
Serves 9
Slightly adapted from: Simply Recipes

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup reduced fat milk
1 medium Cortland or other baking apple, peeled and diced

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish with or pie pan with a 4-cup capacity.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk vigorously together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate small bowl, mix 1/4 a cup of the sugar with the cinnamon, set aside.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Beat in the egg until blended. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk, beating after each addition until just combined.

5. Pour half of the batter in the bottom of the baking dish. Lay the apple slices on the batter so they just cover the batter (you may have to overlap some slices). Sprinkle the apples with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, reserving a teaspoon or two to sprinkle on top. Spread the rest of the batter over the apples. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar on top.
6. Bake the cake for 25 minutes or until it is golden brown and apples start to bubble at the edges. Let it cool before cutting.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sweet & Spicy Asian Chicken

I was not sure what to call this as it is kind of a take on chinese food but is not fried or anything in particular. It is sweet from the apple juice and sugar yet spicy from the red pepper flakes and Sriracha sauce. We had it over brown rice and mixed in some broccoli and carrots to soak up the flavor and be a bit healthy. Be forewarned it is supposed to simmer for 20 minutes at the end! I skimmed this minor detail and waited thinking it would be ready quickly but then had to wait to eat, which is no fun. This was a flavorful and versatile meal and could be swapped out with beef or tofu or whatever protein you prefer and can add whatever vegetables you have on hand or enjoy. Jason liked it so much he requested it go in the pile to be made again.

Sweet & Spicy Asian Chicken
Serves 4
Source: Big Oven

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts; cut into bite-size pieces
1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove; crushed
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon cornstarch; (if thick sauce desired)
Sriracha sauce (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet.
Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned. Remove chicken.
Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium heat until well blended and dissolved.
Add chicken and bring to a hard boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered. Mix in vegetables to coat with sauce.
Serve over hot rice.

Mix about 1/2 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce (found in the Asian food section of the grocery store) in with the ketchup for additional heat. Do it if you like it spicy

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Vegan Brownies

Don't be scared away from the title and the fact that yes these are vegan brownies because if you hadn't read that and just tasted them, you would have no idea. I was just as skeptical when my dad sent me the recipe, but he made these for me while I was home and they tasted pretty good! He added some toffee bits on top for added sweetness and a little crunch, and used regular chocolate chips so I guess these weren't technically vegan but pretty darn close. I was surprised how good they tasted since you use applesauce instead of eggs, vegetable oil in place of butter, and soy milk instead of regular milk. Keep in mind if you aren't vegan and don't want to go buy a bunch of items you could also use regular milk instead of soy if that is what you have but again won't technically be vegan. They have a more cake like quality than gooey fudge brownie but definitely hit the spot after dinner. The recipe even says that these brownies taste best if eaten within a day or two! Well in our household that was definitely not a problem and they are already gone!

Vegan Brownies
Yields: 16 brownies

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more to coat the pan
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup toffee bits (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat an 8x8inch square baking  dish with vegetable oil or spray; set aside.

2. Place flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to aerate and combine.

3. Place the applesauce, maple syrup, soy milk, oil and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until just combined (do not overmix). Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts (if using). Scrape the batter into the prepared dish and smooth out the top. Sprinkle the top with toffee bits if using.

4. Bake in the oven about 35 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before serving to set. If not serving right away, cool completely, cover tightly and store at room temperature. 

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Grilled Salmon with Brown Butter Couscous

I am trying to cook more with salmon since I am constantly reading how great it is for you. I ripped this out of our recent cooking light magazine to make this week. Luckily I had everything we needed in the house except the salmon. In addition to eating healthy you can't forget the gym, and in order for me to enjoy that I have been taking different classes with friends. Not only do we get to catch up but it forces me to go and not back out. I was one lucky lady, I came home a bit late because as I said, too busy catching up with a friend, and Jason had found the recipe and measured everything out and prepped the recipe! What a great husband to know what I had in my mind for dinner and get it all ready for us to cook! Of course, it doesn't hurt that he enjoys salmon and anything with lemon flavoring like the couscous.

Grilled Salmon with Brown Butter Couscous
Serves 4
Source: Cooking Light Magazine May 2012

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
1 cup uncooked couscous
2 Tablespoons dry white wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Add nuts; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add couscous; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add wine and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; stir in rind, juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper.
  3. Combine white pepper and next 4 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt) in a small bowl. Coat salmon fillets with cooking spray. Sprinkle fillets with spice mixture. Place salmon on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill over medium-high heat 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with couscous.

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