Monday, August 31, 2009

Spicy Chicken* , Cucumber and Mint Salad

With huge thanks to Pam at "Sidewalk Shoes" for sharing this recipe from Donna Hay’s Magazine.

Spicy Chicken, Cucumber and Mint Salad
Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
500g chicken mince (just over 17 ounces ~ so I just use a pound/16 ounces) *
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 birdseye chillies, chopped*
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce*
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 Lebanese or European ("hot house") cucumber, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Vietnamese mint leaves*
1/4 cup spearmint leaves*
1/4 cup round mint leaves*

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over high heat. Cook the chicken (or your choice of meat), in batches, for a few minutes-- until browned, break up any big chunks with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute. Stir-in the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. To serve, toss the cucumber, onion, and mint with the meat mixture.


1.) You may substitute ground beef, turkey or pork for the chicken. I'm going to try it with prawns as well.

2.) If you don't care for fish sauce, substitute soy sauce (diluted with a bit of water), or perhaps Oyster Sauce.

3.) The first time I made this I substituted a fresh finely minced jalapeno pepper for the birds eye chilis ~ the second time I made it I used dried red chili flakes to taste, both worked very well in this recipe.

4.) I use a mix of common mints that grow in my garden, and cut the amounts substantially ~ 1/4 cup, loosely packed or less is plenty for our tastes ~ I just like a hint of mint.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay's magazine.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Pan Seared Salmon Filets with Sweet & Tangy Mustard Vinaigrette

Since I prepare salmon often, I like to prepare the salmon simply and liven it up with some sort of sauce. I devised this one after looking through a few cookbooks, and recipes on the internet. The sweet vinaigrette also compliments the slight bitterness of the mustard greens very well.

We really enjoyed it, 5 out of 5 stars. I've already been asked to make it again soon.

Do not hesitate to adjust the vinaigrette to your own taste ~ I increase the amount of mustard and don't use the entire amount of olive oil to cut fat and calories. Make it sweeter or more tart ~ whatever you think is best.

Grilled or Pan Seared Salmon with Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette
2 to 4 salmon filets (about 5 to 6 ounces each)
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons Whole Grain Mustard
1 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 ounces Red Wine Vinegar
1 to 2 Tablespoons Agave Syrup or Honey
1/4 cup Olive Oil, plus more for brushing on fish before cooking
Salt and pepper

Before grilling or searing salmon, prepare vinaigrette:

In a medium bowl whisk together mustards, vinegar and agave syrup or honey, slowly whisk in olive oil until mixture thickens. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

If grilling, prepare grill to medium heat. If pan searing, heat pan over medium high heat. Brush both sides of salmon with olive oil, ightly season salmon with salt and pepper.

Grill or pan sear turning once, until just cooked through, but still juicy. Plate the fish on warm plates. Drizzle with Mustard Vinaigrette and serve hot.

Top with Crumbled Oven Crisped Proscuitto bits:
Crisped Prosciutto

Preheat oven to 375 F. Place slices of Prosciutto di Parma on a low-rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes then remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Break into crumbles or shards. div>


This time I served over mustard greens (saute sliced onion with garlic in a little olive oil), then added the chopped mustard greens and quickly sauteed in olive oil until just tender, but still bright green in color.

I also served pan roasted on-the-vine tomatoes.
If you try this recipe, I hope you love it!

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Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
From the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Makes about 1 quart

3 cups hulled and halved fresh strawberries
1 to 2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup to 1 cup sugar or Splenda, depending upon how sweet the strawberries are, and how sweet you like your desserts
pinch salt (optional)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups full fat yogurt (if using low or non fat, then add 2 Tablespoons cream to enrich)

If using sugar, dissolve it with the lemon juice in a small pot over medium heat; allow to cool.

Place the strawberries, lemon juice, salt, and sugar-lemon syrup or Splenda in food processor bowl, fitted with metal blade. Process until smooth.

Add the milk and yogurt to food processor bowl, process until thoroughly mixed. Chill mixture in refrigerator for at least an hour (or several hours) before adding to ice cream maker.

This usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes to freeze in my Cuisinart ice cream maker.

Serve immediately or keep in freezer until served. *

Makes about 1 quart.

* Note: It is best to enjoy this frozen yogurt the same day you make it, as it will get icy if it stays in the freezer for more than 8 hours.

If you want to be able to store it longer and prevent it from getting icy, add a tablespoon of vodka or kirsch to the mixture right before churning.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cream Cheese Filled Strawberries

This recipe first appeared in Martha Stewart Living a couple of years ago. So simple to assemble and they pay back big rewards for such easy prep.

Filled Strawberries
Yields 12 filled berries; recipe is easily increased

With an electric mixer whip 6 ounces of room-temperature cream cheese on medium speed until slightly fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 1 1/2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar.

Trim tops and bottoms of 12 strawberries to level. Use a small melon baller to scoop out tops.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip with cream cheese mixture; pipe into berries decoratively.

Toast 1/4 cup sliced almonds in a 350 degrees oven until toasty brown, 3 to 6 minutes; arrange slices over filling.

The berries are best made just a few hours (or less) before serving, keep loosely covered in the refrigerator until serving time.


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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Homemade Infused Vinegars

Homemade Infused Vinegars ~

Fun and easy to make; homemade infused vinegars can add variety to salads, as well as a piquant finish to sauteed chicken, fish and chops.

This time Lemon & Garlic, Basil, Red Pepper, Bay Laurel, and the smallest bottle contains Sage-Rosemary & Thyme. You can easily use this same method with many fruits and flowers ~ just make sure to always use organic, unsprayed fruits and flowers.

Garlic has a tendency to float, so I skewer the peeled cloves before inserting them into the bottle. I slice the lemon slices very thinly, roll them gently, then slip them into the bottle. I always add some tendrils of lemon rind as well, since it contains intense oils-- the thin tendrils will settle on the bottom of the container. (You can thread the lemon slices on a skewer as well, roll them and gently work them into the neck of the bottle, but I don't bother ~ it's fussy work.) :)

I keep my eyes open for unusual bottles, and wash them thoroughly before use. This little bottle with the wooden stopper originally held imported Italian Balsamic vinegar.

You can use any vinegar you like ~ I prefer using a lighter vinegar rather than dark. The most economical vinegar to use is plain white distilled vinegar, it is perfectly acceptable.

For the Bay infused vinegar I just pluck some young leaves from one of the bay bushes. If you don't have access to fresh you can use dry Bay leaves instead. I like to add a couple of whole Allspice berries (Juniper berries work well too), and a couple of whole Cloves to add a flavor twist to the Bay vinegar.

I thread the dried red peppers on a skewer as well but you don't have to use a skewer, you can just drop them into the bottle and add the vinegar; just shake the bottle gently once or twice a week as the vinegar ages to distribute the pepper throughout.

If you don't want to find or save bottles, you can usually find them for a reasonable price sometimes they will come with their own dispensing spout~ like this Italian bottle by Quatro Stagioni. The hand painted pepper bottle came complete with the metal spout ~ for $1.99 (from Ross). I bottled the Bay Laurel & Spice vinegar in a small Sake bottle, from dinner out recently ~ I used a sparkling wine cork for the stopper.

Once you bottle the vinegar, allow it to age and infuse in a cool dark place for at least a month ~ it will last indefinitely.

Fresh or dry Bay leaves hold up very well, but tender leaves such as fresh Basil will soon discolor and wilt in the vinegar during the aging process, so you may want to age it in a jar then strain out the fresh herbs after a month, then place in a pretty bottle with a label.

Red pepper vinegar will be very spicy within a few days ~ so you may want to strain and re-bottle far short of the 30 days. (Or just use it as a decoration in the kitchen area ~ it's pretty!) :)

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Capellini with Olive, Artichoke and Tomato Sauce

Capellini with Olive, Artichoke and Tomato Sauce
This recipe is very loosely based on a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis
4 servings ( I halve this recipe to serve 2 generously)

1 pound dried capellini (angel hair pasta, or other pasta of your choice)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups tomato sauce, recipe below (may be made in advance)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup basil leaves, julienned

For the sauce~ (Can be made ahead)

Olive and Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 1/4 cups mixed olives, pitted and halved
1 (14 oz.) can of artichokes, coarsely chopped (may use marinated artichokes, drained)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more if desired
2 dried bay leaves

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

In a large saute pan, heat oil. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaf and red pepper flakes; simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hours until thickened. If too thick, add a bit of water to thin. Near the end of cooking time add olives and artichokes, continue simmering for 10 to 15 minutes. (The sauce may be made ahead and refrigerated.)

To assemble the dish:

In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. When water comes to a boil, add pasta, stirring constantly for the first minute . Cook until al dente.

In the meantime, heat the sauce in a large pot, and keep hot.

Drain pasta in a colander, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water. Add pasta to the sauce and toss to coat completely. Add pasta water if you need to thin out the sauce a bit. Plate pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and basil.
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grilled Shrimp & Grapefruit Spinach Salad with Sweet Curry Dressing

... and toasted pecans!

The salad assembly is fairly straight forward as you can see from the photo, so I'll give you my rough proportions for the dressing. Please ~ by all means, adjust the amount of ingredients to your own tastes.

Sweet Curry Ginger Dressing
Easily doubled, tripled or quadrupled

Very good on grilled shrimp, chicken, pork tenderloin, or grilled seafood

1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon canola (or other mild vegetable oil)
1/2 to 1 heaping teaspoon Madras brand curry powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard (such as Coleman's)
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh ginger; peeled and finely minced, or grated on a microplane to taste. (We love ginger so I use about 2 teaspoons of finely grated. Reduce or increase to your taste.)
2 to 3 teaspoons agave syrup, or honey; more or less depending upon how sweet the grapefruit juice is
Pinch of sea salt

You may also like a little freshly grated garlic as well; it's up to you! :)

Whisk all ingredients and chill until ready to serve. Whisk again before serving.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sweet Kate's Sweet Mustard Shrimp

I call her SWEET Kate because she so generously shares her fabulous recipe with us...
Do stop by her wonderful blog and say hello!

Sweet Mustard Shrimp

I (Mari) put my notes in brackets ~ I had to adjust because of a family member's dietary restrictions.

1/4 cup Old Style Dijon Mustard (Maille)
2 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 Tbsp sugar [I have to substitute agave syrup because of diet restrictions] ---it worked GREAT!
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil [I reduce, again because of dietary restrictions]
2 Tbsp fresh dill, minced (dried can be used)
2 Tbsp red onion, chopped (I slivered it)
2 lbs medium shrimp, cooked (fresh or frozen)*

Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl. Whisk in the oil. Stir in the dill and onion. Chill, tightly covered.

If you are using fresh shrimp, peel and de-vein the shrimp. Steam until done. If you are using frozen cooked shrimp, defrost in a colander under cool water.

Place the marinade into a large Ziploc bag and add the shrimp. Seal tightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve over a bed of greens.

Variation: The fresh uncooked shrimp may be marinated and then placed on a skewer and grilled on the barbecue. Grill over medium heat. When the tails begin to turn pink flip the skewers over and continue to cook until the shrimp tails are pink and the meat is opaque (white.)

Kate notes: *I have used both fresh and frozen shrimp. The dish turns out perfect with either one.

This recipe is... From Kate at A Spoonful of Thyme (click to visit!)

Thank you Kate!

I recently served it with "Good Old Pea Salad", it was a good side for these shrimp. It is listed just below this recipe, or click HERE if you would like the Pea Salad recipe.

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Good Old Pea Salad

This recipe has been around for decades, almost everyone seems to like it and you can vary it to suit your own preferences.

Lately I've been cutting the fat/calories in old favorites so I substitute low or non-fat sour cream or plain yogurt in the dressing. I like the simple version of this but I've listed optional ingredients below the recipe ~

Quick Pea Salad
(I usually reduce the recipe by half if I'm just serving our small family)

3 cups fresh green peas or 2 (10oz) pkgs frozen, thawed (I always use petite frozen peas ~ they are more tender.)
several stalks crisp celery, thinly sliced
sliced water chestnuts (I use the entire can, drained for half the recipe because we love the crunch)
1 /2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper. to taste
mint or fresh dill, as desired
2 or 3 green onions, thinly sliced (green and white portions) ~ optional

I never use fresh peas in this recipe... Place frozen peas in colander and rinse with cold water; drain well (it's okay if they are still somewhat frozen if you are making this ahead as they will thaw in the refrigerator in no time as the salad sits.)

Combine dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl, fold in peas and other ingredients you choose to use, then cover refrigerate until ready to serve. If using bacon, I sprinkle it on top right before serving so it stays crisp.

Serve on lettuce leaves.

Options & substitutions:

Can use Buttermilk Ranch dressing instead of the sour cream/mayo combination
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
4 to 5 slices crisply cooked bacon; crumbled
1/2 to 1 cup grated carrot
1 cup (or more) diced ham
1 cup (or more) diced chicken
1 cup (or more) chilled salad (Bay) shrimp, or other small shrimp
Fresh mint or dill (can used dried dill) to taste
Can omit mayo and use all sour cream
teaspoon of Dijon mustard
a pinch, up to a teaspoon of sugar (I never add this)

Recently I made the basic pea salad and I served it with Kate's Sweet Mustard Shrimp (click) it's a really good combination together!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Crispy Oven Fried Chicken Breasts ~ Very Low Fat

Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Breasts ~ Very Low Fat

I've taken a few steps to make this even lower in fat than before, it still tastes great!

Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken ~ Very Low Fat
(for 2 medium size half-breasts)

Preheat oven to 350* (F)

For easy clean-up line a shallow rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

Next prepare the chicken~

The most efficient way of doing this is to line up three shallow plates, or pie plates~

The first with flour (I use whole wheat), about 1/2 cup for two breasts
Another with an egg beaten with a tablespoon of water
The third with dry bread crumbs (Panko, plain, seasoned, or whole wheat/grain.), about 1/2 cup
To the crumbs, mix in a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan, Romano or other dry, grated cheese, and any herb or seasoning you like. I also like to add a couple of shakes of garlic powder, a few generous pinches of dried thyme, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Salt and pepper both sides of each breast.
One at a time dip each breast, (both sides), first in flour, shake off excess.
Then dip in egg, completely coating; allow excess to drain off.
Finally place in the dry bread crumbs, patting to help the crumbs adhere.
As each is breaded place on the prepared baking pan, with a bit of space between each.
Spray the top of the breasts with a light to medium coating of cooking oil spray.
Bake in center of oven until lightly browned and crispy. In my oven this takes about 20 to 30 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the chicken.

I like to serve with lemon slices, halved and dipped in paprika, smoked paprika, or cayenne pepper.

A very quick, simple and satisfying dinner!

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Anchovy Lover's Caesar Dressing ~

So easy because you just place everything in a food processor and blend! I like this best within a few hours of making it; cover and refrigerate until serving time. I use very sparingly as it is intensely flavored. It's great on romaine leaves as in a traditional Caesar salad, and also drizzled on steamed vegetables or Salad Niçoise.

Anchovy Lover's "Caesar" Dressing

With processor running, drop the following into the work bowl to mince:

-2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled
-1 small shallot(to equal about 2 teaspoons minced), peeled and cut into quarters
-Fresh Italian parsley leaves, (the leaves from about 5 or 6 sprigs of parsley, rinsed and dried of moisture.)

Then add the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth:

-1 can anchovies in oil, the entire contents of the can ~ oil and all
(1 weight watcher's point); you can reduce the amount of anchovies if you like
-Juice of 1 medium size lemon
-2 generous teaspoons Dijon mustard
-1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
-2 to 3 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, Romano, or Dry Jack cheese
-Freshly ground pepper to taste

Note: After ingredients have been pureed, taste; add a splash of red wine vinegar if you desire more acidity.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until serving time. I like it best within 8 hours of preparing it.

Recipe is adapted from one I saw on This Mama Cooks blog.
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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fast and Healthy Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Fast and Healthy Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
Makes one 12-14" pizza, dough may be divided into 2 or 4 smaller pizzas

1 (scant tablespoon) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon up to 1 tablespoon honey, agave syrup, or sugar (I use 1 teaspoon)
I add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, to make a more tender crust


Place oven rack in lowest position, and If you have a pizza/baking stone place place it on the rack. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl, stir in sweetener of choice until well blended. Allow to stand until yeast begins to activate and becomes bubbly or creamy looking, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl (or food processor bowl) combine flour, wheat germ and salt, stir or pulse to combine. Add liquid ingredients (and olive oil, if using), to bowl and pulse or stir to combine completely. Cover and place in a warm area to relax dough for a few minutes.
Note: Can be made ahead up to this point, cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 12 hours.) Remove from fridge and allow to warm up to room temperature, about 45 minutes to an hour, then form and bake.

To form pizza, form into a rough ball and roll dough on a floured pizza pan; dock dough (poke a few holes in it with a fork.) I like to divide dough into 4 portions to make 4 individual pizzas. I roll and bake on parchment lined baking sheet directly on pizza stone which is preheated on the bottom rack of oven.

You can proceed one of two ways from this point ~

Either arrange pizza toppings on dough and bake in preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes or so, or until desired crispiness is achieved.

OR ~ (the way I prefer...)

Brush top of dough lightly with olive oil, bake the dough (without toppings) for a few minutes, remove from oven, arrange toppings on partially baked dough then return to oven and bake until as crisp as you like.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Low-Fat Banana-Blueberry-Walnut Muffins

Low-Fat Banana-Blueberry-Walnut Muffins
Makes 36 mini muffins or 12 regular size muffins

By using half whole wheat flour and either egg substitute or mostly egg whites, the fat and cholesterol in these muffins is reduced, while the fiber is increased. Plus antioxidant-rich blueberries and bananas (high potassium), with a bit of orange zest make these muffins pleasantly sweet and tangy.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar, or 1/3 cup Brown Sugar Splenda
1/2 cup honey, or 1/4 cup Agave Syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons Smart Balance butter substitute, melted (you can use butter if you prefer)
1/2 cup egg substitute, or 1 large egg and 4 egg whites
2 very ripe bananas (about 1 cup or so), cut into slices
zest of one large orange
1/3 to 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh, or unthawed frozen)
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Place rack in center of oven, preheat to 375 degrees F.
Spray muffin pan with cooking spray, or use paper liners and spray inside of liners with cooking spray.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir well, set aside.

In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, combine brown sugar/Splenda, agave, vanilla, Smart Balance, and egg/substitute; beat at medium speed until smooth. Add the bananas and orange zest and lightly beat until blended, there may be lumps because of the banana (that's okay.) Add this mixture to the flour mixture, mixing on medium-low speed until just combined. Avoid over mixing. Using a silicone or rubber spatula, fold in the blueberries and nuts.

Portion the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Regular size muffins will take about 15 to 20 minutes (I always check at 13 minutes ~ ovens vary.) Mini muffin size usually take 10 to 15 minutes. In any case, bake until the tops are golden and a cake tester, poked into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove pan/s from oven and place on a rack to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove muffins from pan to rack to continue cooling.

Sprinkle tops with a dusting of powdered/confectioners sugar just before serving, if desired.

I devised this recipe from several others.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Smoked Salmon Capellini with Creamy Garlic-Wasabi Sauce

Smoked Salmon Capellini with Creamy Garlic-Wasabi Sauce

For 2 servings ~ easily doubled, tripled, etc.

Low, medium or high fat ~ the choice is up to you. Simply adjust the amount of fat in the finished dish by choosing the ingredients that you prefer ~ (I select the low to non fat products because of dietary needs.)

Just keep in mind this is a method, not a recipe set in stone ~ adjust the ingredients and amount of seasonings to suit your own taste.


-Dried Pasta (2 to 4 ounces dry per serving)
-Plain/Original Soy Creamer, Milk, or Cream (3/4 to 1 cup)
-2 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a wide-blade knife (try to keep the clove whole for easy retrieval later)
-Smoked salmon (2 to 3 ounces, or so), broken into small chunks
-Snipped fresh chives or scallions (green onions), I like to use the green tops in this recipe, reserving the white for other uses
-Fat free or whole milk Greek yogurt, or Sour Cream, as desired
-Low Sodium chicken broth, as desired
-Wasabi, I use about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon wasabi paste


For 2 servings~

1. Cook the pasta of choice until al dente (I use 2-3 ounces of dried pasta per serving.)

2. While pasta is cooking ~ Break smoked salmon into small chunks, set aside.
Steep the smashed garlic in the milk or cream: In a small saucepan gently simmer 2 smashed cloves of garlic in 1/2 to 3/4 cup Silk (soy creamer ~original), Milk, or Cream for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the smashed garlic, (you may discard, but I press them in a garlic press and stir back into the pot.) Over low heat whisk in the wasabi paste and as much yogurt or sour cream and chicken broth to make the sauce the consistency you like. Add half of the smoked salmon and chives or scallions; mix gently.

3. Gently stir the salmon cream sauce into the pasta pot, place over medium low heat until warmed completely, adding more milk/cream and/or chicken broth to loosen the sauce as necessary.

4. Plate up on warmed plates and garnish with remaining smoked salmon and chives.


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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Thai-Style Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken and Spicy Peanut Dressing

Here are the general guidelines I use to assemble this salad; certainly you can adjust the amounts to your own liking, for both the dressing and the salad components.

I like a medium thick dressing with a good balance of sweet, tangy with a bit of bite from the red pepper.

For about a cup of dressing:

Unseasoned Rice vinegar (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
fresh lime juice (about 2 medium limes)
smooth peanut butter (2 to 3 Tablespoons)
canola oil (I don't use much) 2 to 3 Tablspoons
small amount of toasted sesame oil (a teaspoon or so)
garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (1 to 2 cloves)
finely grated fresh ginger (2 to 3 teaspoons)
sweetener of you choice: light brown sugar, Agave syrup, Splenda, Honey, etc. (about 2 Tablespoons or more to taste)
hot red pepper flakes
salt and ground black pepper (to taste)

Salad Ingredients:

Grilled, roasted or poached ~ Chicken, Prawns, beef or pork as much as you like, sliced (you can also use tofu if you prefer, in lieu of the animal meat.)

cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
carrot, peeled and grated on large holes of box grater
scallions (green onions), white and green parts, sliced thinly on diagonal
As much as you like: baby spinach greens, or young tender lettuce leaves, or sliced/chopped cabbage
minced fresh cilantro leaves


chopped toasted peanuts
Toasted Sesame seeds if desired
Sweet red bell pepper slivers if desired

Mix dressing ingredients together (I use a mini-food processor), taste and adjust seasonings, you may like yours sweeter, or may prefer more peanut butter, etc.

Dressing can be made up to 3 days ahead, kept covered and refrigerated.

Cook the meat of your choice (or use leftover), slice/cut into bite size pieces, set aside.

Prepare remainder of salad ingredients except garnishes and arrange on serving platter or individual plates. Arrange meat or tofu on top, drizzle dressing over, garnish with peanuts and sesame seeds.


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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sole Meuniere ~ Super Easy

Sole Meuniere2 servings

•1/2 cup all-purpose flour
•Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
•4 fresh sole fillets, 3 to 4 ounces each
•6 tablespoons unsalted butter *
•1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
•6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)

•1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Have 2 heat-proof dinner plates ready

In a large shallow plate (or pie plate) mix the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper, set aside. Rinse the sole fillets and pat dry with paper towels then sprinkle one side with salt.

In a large (approx 12-inch) skillet melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until it just begins to brown. in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Dip 2 sole fillets in the seasoned flour, coating both sides lightly, then place them in the hot butter. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes. Turn carefully with a metal spatula and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. While the second side is cooking, add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to the pan.

Carefully place the fish filets on the ovenproof plates and pour the sauce over them. Keep the cooked fillets warm in the oven while you repeat the process with the remaining 2 fillets. When they're done, add the cooked fillets to the plates in the oven. Sprinkle with the parsley, salt, and pepper and serve immediately.

* Note: To reduce cholesterol in this dish I substitute half of the butter with olive or canola oil.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa

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