Week of September 1, 2014

­Oh my goodness, it’s already September! Almost time to get out the autumn recipes… But not quite yet! You’ll see that the spirit of this week’s menu is still quite summery: tangy, spicy, and sour flavors.

Monday – Spicy lime chicken

Photo cred: All Recipes

I recently discovered this amazingly tasty, just-spicy-enough, incredibly easy (and FAST!) chicken breast recipe. The spices make a nice crust over the breasts while they cook, which locks in the juices so the meat doesn’t get dry. JW commented that this was “one of his favorite recipes I’d ever made”. Wow.

Adapted from Allrecipes.com.

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
2 limes, quartered

1. In a small bowl, mix together all the spices. Sprinkle generously on both sides of chicken breasts.
2. Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken until golden brown, about 6 minutes on each side. Serve with lime wedges and squeeze juice over the chicken. Serve over couscous or with steamed vegetables.

Tuesday – Teriyaki salmon with sautéed bok-choy

For a long time, bok-choy seemed to me to be essentially just spinach: slightly more exotic-sounding, but just as wet and soggy when cooked. Honestly, I didn’t care much for it — before I met JW. He has a way of sautéing it just so, leaving it crisp and fresh-tasting and just the perfect amount of salty. Now, I can’t get enough of it. With teriyaki salmon, it’s a delicious Asian-inspired meal.

1/2 teriyaki sauce
2 salmon filets
4 heads of bok-choy
Olive oil
3-4 tbsps soy sauce

1. Cut several slits into the salmon. Place the filets in a Ziplock bag with the teriyaki sauce and let marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
2. Cook the salmon in a preheated oven set to broil for 10-15 minutes. Pour some of the marinade over the filets several times while cooking.
3. Just before the salmon is done, heat the olive oil in a large wok. Throw in the bok-choy; it will start to crackle. Fry for about 1 minute, then drizzle with soy sauce. Fry for about 1 more minute. Leaves should be only slightly wilted. Serve with the salmon.

Wednesday – Hmong beef stir fry

Photo cred: Blue Kitchen

This was one of the first recipes I ever made when I moved into my first apartment all by myself. It quickly became a favorite – the tang of the fish sauce, the bite of the jalapeños, and oh so much cilantro! I recently discovered not everyone likes cilantro, though – you may want to omit it.

Taken almost verbatim from Blue Kitchen.

Canola oil for frying
3/4 pound flank steak or other lean beef
2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced (reduce to 1 if you want less of a kick)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon each, cumin and dried thyme
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 medium cabbage, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 green onions, green and white parts, cut into 3-inch pieces
1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
2 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat a large, deep skillet or wok over a medium-high flame. Add oil. When it starts to shimmer, add meat, peppers, fish sauce, salt, cumin and thyme. Toss to combine and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Add cabbage and green onions and stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes more.

2. Add cilantro, black pepper and tomatoes cook until tomatoes are just heated through and have released their juices. Serve over rice or Chinese noodles.

Thursday – Arugula salad with roasted beets & squash

Photo cred: Bare Beauty

A few months ago I bought a copy of Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’s All Good. Typically, I’m not a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow’s attitude towards food – she has a TON of restrictions that I simply can’t believe (“Everyone in my family is intolerant to gluten, cow dairy and chicken eggs”) – and extreme recommendations for losing weight (a glass of room temperature lemon water for breakfast, a kale smoothie for lunch, and watercress broth for dinner – omg!).  Nonetheless I tried about a dozen recipes from her book, and generally they were quite good. This salad takes the cake – the dressing is to die for.


2 large beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 3 cups)
6 large shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt
6 oz. arugula
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons good quality maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Combine beets, squash, and shallots on the prepared pan and drizzle them with 3 tablespoons olive oil.  Sprinkle with a generous pinch of sea salt and roast, stirring halfway through, until cooked through and nicely caramelized, 30-35 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk together mustard, vinegar, and maple syrup while slowly drizzling in the olive oil.  Season to taste.
3. Place the arugula in a large bowl. When the roasted vegetables are ready, toss them with the arugula and the dressing. Sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds, and serve immediately. For a heartier meal, add some roasted chicken strips. If you want to keep it veggie, add a scoop of quinoa instead – it will soak up all the delicious dressing.

Friday – Shrimp risotto

I honestly can’t remember where I found this recipe, but it’s been in my “Favorites” folder for years. The only down-side is that it’s a little long to make – it takes nearly an hour for the rice to absorb all the broth – and you can’t go too far, because the risotto needs to be stirred regularly. But personally, I think it’s the ideal recipe for a Friday night, especially if you have a cooking partner: put on some jazzy music, open a bottle of wine, and sit in the kitchen chatting away about your week while the risotto simmers on the stove.

5 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine
6 tbsps butter
2 tsps minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups arborio rice (risotto) or medium-grain white rice
2 tbsps plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese, if desired

1. Bring broth and 1/4 cup wine to simmer in medium saucepan. Reduce heat; keep hot.
2. Melt 2 tbsps butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add half the garlic and crushed red pepper, then shrimp. Sauté until shrimp begin to turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup wine. Simmer until shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Drain shrimp, reserving cooking liquid.
3. Melt remaining 4 tbsps butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and remaining garlic; sauté until onion is pale golden, about 4 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat, about 2 minutes. Add 2 cups broth mixture.
4. Simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring often. Continue adding broth mixture 1 cup at a time, stirring often and simmering until liquid is absorbed before adding more, about 20 minutes. Stir in reserved shrimp cooking liquid. Cook until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, about 5 minutes longer. If desired, add parmigiano reggiano cheese and stir until melted and creamy.
5. Remove from heat. Stir shrimp and 2 tbsps parsley into risotto. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowls. Sprinkle with 2 tsps parsley.

Week of August 25, 2014

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I had a wonderful visit from my best friend a couple of days ago. She surprised me by announcing she had become a vegetarian — or at least, a flexitarian. Her decision, which was apparently inspired by the movie Vegucated, made me want to incorporate more veggie meals in my weekly diet, too. And wouldn’tcha know, my Mama Earth basket is full of inspiring options this week­.

Monday – Roasted acorn squash and gorgonzola pizza

Photo cred: Smitten Kitchen

I had never imagined putting squash on a pizza, but the recipes over at Smitten Kitchen almost never disappoint so I’m going to give this one a try! I’ve slightly adapted the original recipe.

1 (1- pound) acorn squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 pound pizza dough (buy a ball at a local pizzeria, or make your own)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1 cup arugula
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
2. Slice the squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash into 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide half moons and place in a medium bowl. Toss the squash with olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Place the squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the squash until tender and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Roll out the pizza dough on a flour dusted piece of parchment paper to a 13-inch diameter. Place the pizza and the parchment paper on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and the gorgonzola on the pizza dough. Bake in the oven until golden and cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.
4. Peel the skins off the squash. Top the cooked pizza with the cooked squash. Toss with arugula with the squeeze of lemon juice. Slice and serve.

Tuesday – Spice-rubbed pork medallions with peach salsa

Photo cred: Blue Apron

While listening to the radio last week, I heard an advertisement for Blue Apron, a meal service that will prepare and deliver dinner to your family. In the ad, they gave an example of a meal you might expect to receive from their service: Spice-rubbed pork medallions with peach salsa. *Drool!* Of course, I had to make it. I found the original recipe on the Blue Apron website – I barely tweaked it.

2 peaches
1/4 cup basil
1/4 cup cilantro
1 clove garlic
Zest and juice from 1 lime
1/2 small red onion
4 pork medallions
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried thyme

1. Pit and dice the peaches into small pieces. Finely chop the cilantro & basil. Peel and mince the garlic and red onion.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, onion, basil, cilantro and lime juice and zest. Stir in a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3. Combine the garlic powder, oregano, cumin, ground coriander and thyme in a shallow dish and mix well. Season each pork medallion with salt and pepper to taste, then completely coat in the spice rub, tapping off any excess.
4. In a large pan, heat olive oil. Add the coated pork medallions and cook, loosely covering the pan with aluminum foil, 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Transfer the cooked pork to a plate, and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
5. Spoon the peach salsa over the pork and serve.

Wednesday – Eggplant burgers

Photo cred: Simply Recipes

One of the main problems I have when trying to work vegetarian meals into my diet is that I inevitably feel hungry a few hours after a meatless meal. Eggplant, however, is one of the only vegetables I can fill up on. It’s meaty like steak and, when cooked on the BBQ and seasoned properly, can be just as tasty. I got this recipe in my veggie basket from Mama Earth, and I think they got it from Simply Recipes.

1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
10-12 fresh basil leaves
1 tomato, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
6 burger buns

1. Lay eggplant slices on paper towels and salt generously on both sides. Let sit for 15 minutes.
2. Combine the two vinegars and a tsp of olive oil into a shallow bowl. Lay the tomato and onion slices in the bowl and coat with the dressing.
3. Preheat the grill to high. Pat the eggplants dry and brush both sides with olive oil. Lay the slices on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until nicely browned.
4. Remove the eggplant slices from the grill and place them in the buns. Top with cheese and marinated tomatoes & onions, and top with fresh basil leaves. Enjoy warm.

Thursday – Shrimp chowder

Photo cred: Everyday Maven

JW has been requesting chowder for a couple of weeks now. We had some corn leftover from last week’s veggie basket, so I figured I could use it here. Plus, I have been wanting to make my own shrimp stock for months – chowder seemed like the perfect excuse. Recipe adapted from Everyday Maven’s original.

2 tbsps olive oil
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 ear of corn, kernels cut off
2½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
2 dried bay leaves
8 cups homemade shrimp stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into 1″ pieces
1 pound fresh clams (in shell), scrubbed clean
1 cup coconut milk

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add corn and onions and sauté until soft.
2. Add cubed potatoes to pot along with bay leaves and shrimp stock. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 18 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
3. Taste broth and season with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaves and discard. Transfer 2 cups of (mostly) potatoes and broth to a blender. Combine with 1 cup coconut milk until completely smooth and set aside.
4. Bring broth back to a boil. Once boiling, add clams and shrimp. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook 2 to 3 minutes until clams are opened and shrimp is pink.
5. Remove from heat and slowly pour in potato-coconut milk mixture from blender, stirring constantly to incorporate. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot.

Friday – Paella


What the heck are you going to do with the 5 lbs of shrimp you shelled from yesterday’s chowder? Make paella, of course! Freeze any leftovers. Adapted from the original recipe at Allrecipes.com.

Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups uncooked short-grain rice
1 pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1 quart chicken stock
2 lemons, zested
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and crumbled
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat more olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, bell pepper and sausage; cook 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp; cook, turning the shrimp, until both sides are pink.
3. Combine rice mixture with meat and seafood. Serve hot.

Week of August 18, 2014

I’ve been feeling a little lazy recently. We’ve had guests over every weekend this month, and so by the time the week starts up again I’m a little out of breath. So for this week’s menu, I’m turning back to old favorites that are simple and straightforward.

Monday – Stuffed pork tenderloin & creamed green beans

There is literally nothing easier than this pork tenderloin. It’s barely even a “recipe” – it’s embarassingly simple, just something I pulled together one day a couple of years ago after I tasted (and loved!) a similar tenderloin I bought pre-stuffed with bruschetta at the grocery store. All you need is a tenderloin and a package of bruschetta. I typically prefer to make everything from scratch, but as I said this week I’m feeling lazy. I had some leftover feta from this weekend, so I added that in too.

1 or 2 pork tenderloins
1 package of store-bought bruschetta (or make your own)
100 g feta
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450 °F.
2. Pat the pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Cut a deep incision lengthwise into the meat, but not all the way through.
3. Stuff the tenderloin with as much bruschetta and feta as will fit.
4. Tie the tenderloin with butcher’s string to keep the stuffing from spilling out.
5. Sear the meat in a hot pan until it’s golden brown.
6. Transfer to a roasting pan and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the pork is cooked to your preferred doneness.

While the tenderloin is baking, make the creamed green beans. This recipe is adapted from Todd Porter & Diane Cu’s Bountiful cookbook.

1 lb green beans
2 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan and add the beans, cooking unti they are bright green (about 2-3 mins).
2. While stirring, add the cheeses and milk. Cook until the cheese is melted and the beans are tender. Sprinkle almonds over the beans and serve warm.

Creamed beans

Tuesday – Ricardo’s grilled lemon olive chicken

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes. It’s typically the meal I whip up when we have impromptu guests visiting, or when I’m feeling uninspired. It never disappoints – and the leftovers are even better.

4 skinless boneless skinless chicken thighs (you could use breasts, but thighs are much more tender and juicy)
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, sliced and seeded
3 shallots, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup green olives, drained and pitted
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
2. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil and brown the chicken on each side. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside on a plate.
3. In the same skillet, brown the slices of lemon on each side. Add oil as needed. Add shallots, garlic, spices and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
4. Deglaze with the wine and cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
5. Return the chicken to the skillet and add the broth. Bring to a boil.
6. Cover and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked, turning the chicken halfway through.
7. Serve with couscous or rice.

Lemon Olive Chicken
Photo cred: Ricardo Cuisine

Wednesday – Slow cooker roast with potatoes & carrots

Ah, the crockpot! The lazy cook’s best friend. I am going to attempt a new recipe I found over at We Got Real, that makes the most of the carrots and potatoes that will be in this week’s veggie basket. Just add a chunk of beef chuck and voilà!

1 4-5 lb beef roast
4-5 red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
1 onion, skin removed and quartered
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1-1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 cup beef stock or water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Season roast with salt & pepper to taste. Place in crockpot.
2. Add garlic, oregano, and thyme evenly over the meat. Tuck the onion quarters, carrots and potatoes around the roast.
3. Add ½ cup beef stock/water and turn on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours. Serve with rice.

Photo cred: We Got Real

Thursday – Whole Mediterranean sea bass & Lemony kale salad

There are few things that I enjoy more than whole grilled fish. Incidentally, the weather is supposed to be nice for a BBQ this Thursday! Score.

1 whole sea bass
1 bunch kale
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the grill.
2. Pat the fish dry. Coat generously with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
3. Grill until crispy, about 15 minutes.
4. In a wok, heat some olive oil. Throw in the kale with a pinch of sea salt. Fry on med-high until the edges of the leaves begin to curl and get crispy. Squeeze the lemon juice over the leaves, sprinkle with Parmesan and serve warm with the BBQ’d fish.

Friday – Burst tomato galette with corn and zucchini

Last weekend my sister was visiting and I seized the opportunity to make something that I had been obsessing over for awhile – a galette. Essentially a galette is somewhere between a pizza and a pie – flaky, crusty, salty, open-faced goodness that’s sliced into wedges and eaten warm. The one I made for my sister was a variation on a zucchini & ricotta galette from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. We packed it full of different types of squash and salty cheeses. It was amazing, and I instantly wanted to make another. Oh, what a coincidence: my best friend will be visiting this weekend! It’s the perfect excuse to try my hand at another of Deb’s Smitten Kitchen galettes, Burst Tomato Galette with Corn and Zucchini.

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsps cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chill again
1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
2 tsps fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp coarse Kosher or sea salt
3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1 ear corn, cut from the cob (about 1 cup)
1 small zucchini or summer squash, diced
1 bundle scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated parmesan

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Make dough: Whisk stir the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Make filling: Get down the saute pan with the lid. If you don’t have one, any large lid will do. Add olive oil, tomatoes, salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes (if that’s your thing) to your saute pan then cover and heat over high heat. Roll the tomatoes around from time to time so that they’ll cook evenly. In a few minutes, you’ll hear some putts and pops as the tomatoes burst a little. When most have, remove lid, turn heat down to medium and add zucchini chunks. Saute for two minutes, until they soften. Add corn and cook one minute. Add scallions, just stirring them in, then turn off heat. Adjust seasonings if needed. Transfer mixture to a large plate and spread it out, so that it will cool faster. You want it cooled to at least lukewarm before assembling the galette.

Assemble galette: Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured counter, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round and it really doesn’t need to be perfectly shaped. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; I like to fold my dough gently, without creasing, in quarters then unfold it onto the baking pan. Sprinkle tomato-zucchini-corn mixture with half of parmesan and spoon the mixture into the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. If any liquid has puddle in plate, try to leave it there as you spoon. Sprinkle with almost all of remaining parmesan, leaving a pinch or two behind for the crust. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze. Sprinkle glaze with last pinches of parmesan.

Bake the galette: For 30 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Corn galette
Photo cred: Smitten Kitchen