Sunday, December 4, 2011

Asian Lettuce Wraps with Ground Turkey

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I took quick trip down to SoCal to visit his family -- a trip that typically involves a lot of eating and drinking, with very little exercise.

Upon our return, I was craving something light and healthy, but had no specific hankering. Knowing I had some ground turkey in the freezer, I did what I often do when I'm in search of inspiration -- I headed over to, did a quick search for "ground turkey," and clicked on the most salivation-inducing delicacy I could find.

This approach led me to Kalyn's Kitchen, which appears to cater to South Beach dieters. I was pleased that these lettuce wraps were not only light and healthy, but also fun to make and eat. The finished product tasted amazingly similar to Pad Ka Prow, which my boyfriend and I order from Marnee Thai at least once every other week. Perhaps this recipe will have to become part of the regular rotation....

Asian Lettuce Wraps with Ground Turkey
(from Kalyn's Kitchen, adapted from California Sol Food)

  • 1 T vegetable oil (or peanut oil)
  • 3 T minced shallots (or red onions)
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T grated ginger root
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 4 T soy sauce
  • 1 T Chile Garlic Sauce (or more, depending on how much heat you desire/can tolerate)
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
  • 1 large or 2 small heads butter lettuce, Boston lettuce, or iceberg lettuce  
Chop onion and set aside.  Peel ginger root, then grate with the LARGE side of a cheese grater (*I did not read this closely, and had the most awful time trying to use the small side), and chop garlic.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add onion and saute about 2 minutes, then add garlic and ginger root and saute about one minute more.
Add ground turkey to frying pan (with a bit more oil if needed) and break apart.  Add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and fish sauce. Cook until the turkey is brown and crumbling apart, and the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
While turkey cooks, wash and chop fresh cilantro. Remove the core end from lettuce, separate leaves, and wash in salad spinner and spin dry (or wash under running water and dry with paper towels.) Chop peanuts (if using) and put in small bowl to serve at the table.
When turkey is done, add chopped cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes more.
Serve filling and lettuce leaves in separate bowls, with chopped peanuts in another small bowl. To prepare, take a lettuce leaf, fill with desired amount of turkey mixture, add chopped peanuts, fold the lettuce leaf over like a taco, and enjoy!  

Roasted Shrimp with Feta

Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm!

I am thrilled to post on one of my all-time favorite recipes. Nice enough for company, easy enough for a weeknight, this tends to be my go-to meal whenever I have shrimp in the freezer. It occurs to me that one of these days, I could try something new, but the thought of missing out on something something so flavorful (and so relatively healthy) is just too painful. 

I serve it with garlic and olive oil couscous, but I'm sure that rice would work just as well.

Just one word of caution: Don't touch the pan after you've removed it from the over. (Yes, I learned this one the hard way.)

Roasted Shrimp with Feta
(from Pink Parsley, adapted from The Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?) 
  • 4 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds (16-20 per pound) peeled and deveined shrimp -- I used ones WITHOUT tails
  • 5 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbs minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 lemons
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10 to 12-inch oven-proof skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and saute 5-8 minutes, until tender.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits.  Cook 2-3 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.

Add the tomatoes with their liquid, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and pepper to the skillet.  Stir to combine and simmer over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl.  Stir well to moisten the breadcrumbs.

Remove the pan from heat and arrange the shrimp, tails up (if necessary), in one layer over the tomato mixture.  Scatter the feta evenly over the shimp, and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked and the bread crumbs are golden brown.  You may want to turn on the broiler for the last few minutes.  Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp (Don't skip this step!!!), and serve hot with the remaining lemon cut into wedges.

Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

I have a feeling that I'm amongst the last to the table, but it's only in the past month that I stumbled across the divine food52 blog, which has quickly become one of my most beloved and trusted sources for new recipes.

This one immediately caught my eye. It's not hard to see why. I'm a sucker for chocolate and peanut butter -- and even MORE of a sucker for any cookie with fleur de sel on top. I figured there was no way I could wrong.

I was right. These cookies are FANTASTIC. The picture simply doesn't do them justice. They were fast, easy, chewy, delicious, and just surprising enough to make them special and memorable. My boyfriend's best friend (does that make him my BFBFF?), who incidentally is usually heath-conscious, came over with just 6 cookies left, and proceeded to eat each and every one of them with a big, guilty grin on his face. That, my friends, is a high compliment.

So, without further ado:

Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups creamy peanut butter (not all natural)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (I subbed peanut butter chips, with great results)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in peanut butter until just combined. Beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in peanuts (or peanut butter chips) and chocolate chips.

Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of cookie dough  two inches apart (as they will spread). Top each cookie with a few sea salt crystals.

Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes, until the edges are firm. It's OK if the centers are a tad soft. They'll firm up as they cool. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container, for up to 5 days.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sauteed Chicken with Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta

 Every once in awhile a recipe comes along that it so easy and so incredibly delicious that you simultaneously want to tell everyone you know about it AND keep it all to yourself. This is such a recipe. Perfect exactly as written (although it's also ok if you accidentally use 8 tablespoons instead of 8 teaspoons of oregano). Thank you, Epicurious.

Sauteed Chicken with Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta
from Epicurious
  • 6 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, trimmed, pounded to 1/3-inch thickness
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 8 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 30 pitted Kalamata olives, cut lengthwise into slivers
  • 16 grape tomatoes, stemmed, quartered lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Score top of chicken breasts with sharp knife; place in large glass baking dish. Whisk 1/2 cup oil, lemon juice, 6 teaspoons oregano, and garlic in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Chill 3 tablespoons dressing for tomatoes. Pour remaining dressing over chicken; turn chicken to coat. Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 6 hours, turning occasionally.

Toss olives, tomatoes, feta, remaining 2 teaspoons oregano, and reserved dressing in medium bowl. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to platter; season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon tomato mixture onto chicken.

Honey-Marinated Pork with Gremolata

Epicurious has become my go-to spot for weeknight recipes, primarily because its iphone app makes shopping so darn easy. This recipe caught my eye for a few reasons: (a) I almost always have a pork tenderloin in the freezer; (b) it possesses a coveted 4-fork rating; and (c) it is classified as both "low cal" and "healthy" (two factors that are more important than ever while my usual calorie-burning activities have been curtailed).

I prepared it exactly as written, and was satisfied (if not blown away) by the results. If I make it again, I will likely let it marinate a little longer, perhaps overnight, as one reviewer suggested. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it more the second night than I did on the first.

Honey-Marinated Pork with Gremolata

  • 2 12-to 14-ounce pork tenderloins, trimmed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
Place pork in 11 x 7 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk honey, garlic, and orange juice in small bowl. Pour over pork; turn to coat. Sprinkle pork with 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Transfer pork to plate; reserve marinade. Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork to skillet. Brown on all sides, turning often, about 4 minutes. Transfer to oven; cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 150°F, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to cutting board; let rest 5 minutes. Reserve skillet.

Pour reserved marinade into same skillet; add wine. Boil gently until reduced to 1/2 cup, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Mix orange peel, thyme, rosemary, and sage in small bowl for gremolata. Cut pork crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; transfer to platter. Pour sauce over pork. Sprinkle with gremolata and serve.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I chose these cookies  for my first blog entry for a few reasons:

1.   They're seasonally appropriate.
2.   They're easy to make.
3.    People REALLY seem to like them.

I know that within the foodie community, pumpkin cookies are nothing special. In fact, based on the browsing I've done, it seems that many commenters have a certain disdain for these cakey, somewhat mishapen concoctions. Myself, I've never minded the puffy softness of a pumpkin cookie, and the feedback I've received upon sharing them with others suggests that among those who do not bake on a weekly basis, the cake-like texture is a welcome departure from the usual crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside cookie fare.

That said, I'm afraid that I have to count my boyfriend amongst those who would prefer a more cookie-like cookie, and for that reason, I set out to find a recipe that would preserve the flavor of my old standby, while reducing the aforementioned fluff.

I settled on the following version, making a few changes here and there to keep the spice ratio that I enjoy. My boyfriend and I are not sure that the texture is really so very different from the ones I usually make, but they certainly did not disappoint.  I've had 2 already, and am hoping that they last long enough to take to work for Halloween :-)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Adapted from the Boston Globe and Erin Cooks)

Yields ~3 dozen cookies

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Set the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla; beating just until blended. Mix in the dry ingredients. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. With a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate and cinnamon chips.

Using a cookie scoop drop the dough 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let the cookies cool on the sheets for two minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.