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Side Dishes: French Onion Casserole

 

final casserole

When I was home for Thanksgiving, I learned that I had missed out on this casserole. My sister-in-law, Tracie, had taken it to the big family get-together the weekend before. There was not a bite leftover by the end, so I am assuming it was a success. It sure sounds good.

I thought it would be nice to post it in time for this month’s various holiday get-togethers.

French Onion Casserole

  • 2-3 tbsp of butter
  • 3 large sweet onions (or 4 medium yellow onions),thinly sliced
  • 8 oz shredded Swiss Cheese
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup (substitute mushroom soup for vegetarian)
  • 2/3 cups milk
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • pepper
  • 8 slices of French bread

skillet, shallow 2 qt casserole or baking dish (glass)

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat and add onions. Sauté until onions are translucent, a little caramelization is ok.

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In baking dish, layer onions, 2/3 of the cheese and pepper to taste.

Onions

 

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In skillet, heat milk, soup and soy sauce, stirring to blend well.

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Pour soup mixture over casserole and fold in gently to mix.

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Top with bread slices.

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Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered for 15 minutes, bread should be brown and toasted. If not, turn oven to broil to crisp the bread (watch closely).

almost there

Remove casserole, return oven temperature to 350. Push bread slices into sauce, top with remaining cheese, return to oven and bake an additional 15 -20 minutes until cheese is melted.

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Yum

Final 1

 

I think Tracie should blog here more often. Looks great and love all the photos. – TaMara

Christmas balls

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Dinner Menu: Oven Baked Chicken and Garlic Baked Potatoes

Oven Baked Chicken

I’ve had this in my files to post for a while, so I thought it would make a good full dinner menu. I had run across two different techniques to improve on oven-baked chicken and decided to combine them to see what would happen. I will not make it any other way going forward.

The first thing that is different, you add the flour to the egg mixture, making a bit of a batter. Dip the chicken in it and coat completely. Hold up and let excess drip off, back into the bowl. Then place the chicken piece into the breadcrumb mixture.

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Take a spoon and generously spoon bread mixture over the entire chicken. Using a fork, press the breadcrumbs into the egg wash. Turn it over gently and repeat on the other side. Place on a baking sheet (I like to use parchment paper for ease of clean up).

Baked Chicken Prep

Bake according to directions below. This technique  works well with boneless or bone-in and any meat you would dredge in flour or breadcrumbs. It coats piece evenly, creates a tighter seal and you lose less of the breading. By adding flour to the egg mixture the batter keeps the chicken very most and creates a great, crunchy crust.

On the board tonight:

  1. Oven Fried Chicken
  2. Broccoli
  3. Garlic Baked Potatoes
  4. Sliced Pears

Oven Fried Chicken

  • 2 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
  • 2 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 2 chicken legs (or two additional thighs)
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups Panko
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup water**
  • 1/8 tsp ea. salt & pepper (or to taste)

large mouth bowl, large plate and baking sheet lined with foil or parchment

Wash and pat dry chicken. In large bowl, add water, eggs, flour, oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Spread breadcrumbs and panko evenly on large plate. I often use extra seasoning in the breadcrumbs – garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil and oregano, lots of pepper.

Take chicken pieces one at a time and dredge in the egg mixture, coating completely, dredge in bread crumbs until lightly coated on all sides. See technique above. Place on baking sheet. Bake  at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, or until temp registers 160 degrees. I usually cover for 10 or 15 minutes with foil at the beginning to avoid burning the crust. For even crisper chicken, place a wire baking rack on the baking sheet and cook chicken on that. I don’t have one big enough, so I haven’t tried it.

** add more if needed

Baked Potatoes with Roasted Garlic Butter

  • 4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 to 4 metal skewers

Spread

  • 1 or 2 large head of garlic
  •  olive oil
  • 1 to 2 sprigs of rosemary, minced
  • 4 to 8 tbsp of butter

Skewer each potato (depending on the size of the skewer you can sometimes get 2 on it, leaving room between potatoes). Rub oil liberally on potatoes and then coat with a light layer of salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, peel white paper skin from garlic and slice off 1/4 inch off the top. Coat well in olive oil, place in a small baking dish (I saw a great recommendation making several and using a 6-cup muffin tin). Cover with foil and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, or until cloves are soft when pierced. (Of course you can use a garlic roaster if you have one). You can cook this while you are prepping the chicken and potatoes, then reduce heat.

Once garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves out of their skins. Using a fork, mash garlic, butter, pinch of salt and minced rosemary to smooth paste. Serve with potatoes.

Shopping List:

  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, 2 bone-in thighs, 2 legs (or additional thighs)
  • 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups Panko
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large head Broccoli
  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 4 large pears
  • parchment paper (my preference) or foil
  • 2 heads of garlic

Also: rosemary sprigs, olive oil, salt, pepper, and butter

 

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Preparing for Thanksgiving

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Cornbread Stuffing Photo by JeffreyW

Bixby and I are hitting the road for the holiday, as long as the weather stays nice. I’m planning on arriving early so I can help with prep, because I like love to cook. Bixby is growing fast and you can see his latest photo here, along with a quick update. I hope he does as well in the car as he did last trip.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, next to 4th of July. Food, family, friends…and leftovers. I compiled some favorite recipes for tonight’s recipe exchange.

JefferyW makes Cornbread Stuffing,  part 1 here and part 2 here.

Roasted Butternut Apple Soup makes a great starter, recipe here.

I think I’m going to volunteer for mashed potato duty this year so I can make these again, a lost recipe found, Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes, link here. I made them years ago and then completely forgot about the recipe.

And this recipe is the reason I think I get invited to many holiday gatherings, my Cranberry Upside Down Cake, click here.

Since my brother is cooking again this year, we’ll probably have deep fried turkey, which is ok by me, as long as I’m not cooking it. I have a real fear of deep frying anything, which is why all the deep fried recipes on the blog are from JeffreyW. I will still cook a turkey, though, because, leftovers. This year I’m going to try the braising method from America’s Test Kitchen’s Braised Turkey technique, link here, minus the brining.

Not sure how you want to cook your turkey this year? I’ve listed some ideas from people smarter than I am: turkey four different ways, here.

What’s on the menu for your Thanksgiving this year? Do you have a must-have recipe for your holiday dinner?

I’m not a fan of traditional candied sweet potatoes, so tonight’s featured recipes are some non-traditional styles of recipes for sweet potatoes.

Cajun Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter,  melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cumin (opt)

Covered casserole dish, well-greased

Steamer and saucepan

In saucepan, add water, steamer and sweet potatoes. Steam until you can easily stick a fork in them. They don’t need to be completely soft. About 10-15 minutes. Add sweet potatoes to casserole dish. Combine oil, butter and spices. Pour evenly over potatoes. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are soft. You can adjust cooking time if you prefer your firmer or softer potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes w/Apples

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 apples, cored & sliced
  • 8 oz can sliced pineapple (including liquid)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

2 qt casserole dish, greased

Add ingredients to casserole dish. Stir gently and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes, uncovered, until apples and potatoes are very soft. Cover if it begins to brown too much

That’s it for this week. No recipe exchange next week I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.   – TaMara

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Dinner Menu: Kid Friendly Chili-Mac

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JeffreyW’s Cornbread Muffins. His recipe:  I always use the recipe on the round box that Quaker yellow corn meal comes in as a base, these also have cheddar cheese, minced fresh jalapeno, and a thinly sliced green onion, white part and all.  A half recipe yielded 4 muffins. I used 1 whole egg in the half recipe, and about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.

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Sorry I have been absent of late. Work has been busy and the deadline of another project I’m working on is looming, so I’ve barely seen my kitchen. Not to mention it’s fall in Colorado and I want to be outdoors whenever possible.

I doubt there will be a Bixby update this week, but he is doing well and growing daily, though he still has not caught up to his ears or his feet. Standing on his back legs he is 53 inches.

This menu tonight is from my Kid-Friendly series. I loved chili-mac as a kid and it’s still one of those quick comfort foods I make when it needs to be easy and tasty.

  1. Chili-Mac
  2. Corn Muffins
  3. Raw Vegetable Tray
  4. Apples

Chili-Mac

  • 12 oz elbow macaroni
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • ½ green pepper diced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 tsp to 2 tbsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 qt. saucepan, skillet

Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain.  While macaroni is cooking, heat oil in skillet, sauté onions & peppers.  Add hamburger, brown & crumble. Add hamburger, tomatoes, beans, chili powder & salt to drained macaroni.  Stir, let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

Corn Muffins

( you can’t beat those 33¢ Jiffy mixes, but this is a good muffin recipe)

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 egg (well beaten)
  • 8 oz can creamed corn
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

muffin pan, paper muffin cups

Mix dry ingredients, make well in the center, add egg, corn, milk & oil.  Stir until just moistened, don’t over mix.  Add paper muffin cups to pan, fill each 2/3 full.  Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes.

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Dinner Menu: Carne en su Jugo

mmmm-yummy1

I had big plans for cooking this week, which all went to hell by the end of today. So perfect time for a Men Who Cook/Guest Recipe.

Tonight we have a guest menu from my friend Alton Gunn, who has provided us with several good recipes.  It’s delicious, I’ve been lucky enough to have it several times (good are the friends who feed you).

On the board tonight:

  1. Carne en su Jugo
  2. Pico de Gallo
  3. Tortillas
  4. Margarita Melon Salad

Carne en su Jugo

  • ½ lb bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb sirloin steak, sliced thin and then cut in 1-inc pieces
  • 1 can (28oz) tomatillos
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt
  • 2 can pinto beans
  • sour cream for garnish
  • shredded cheese
  • chopped onions for garnish
  • fresh lime juice for garnish
  1. Brown the bacon in a large dutch oven. Add the beef and cook until brown (leave the bacon grease in the pot).
  2. Blend the tomatillos in your food processor and strain well to remove the seeds. Add about a cup of the tomatillo liquid back into the food processor and blend with the cilantro, and garlic.
  3. Add the tomatillo/cilantro/garlic sauce and the rest of the strained tomatillo liquid to the beef and bacon. Add salt to taste.
  4. Stir in pinto beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beef is tender, about 1 hour.
  5. Ladle into bowls  and garnish with pico de gallo (recipe below),  fresh lime, sour cream.
  6. Serve corn or flour tortillas on the side.

Al’s Notes: I’ve made this with beef and pork. The basic sauce is good for stewing pretty much any meat. Will try chicken next.  Works well in the crockpot

Pico de Gallo

  • chopped onion
  • chopped tomato
  • chopped cilantro
  • splash of lime

Mix together 20 to 30 minutes or more before meal.

Margarita Melon Salad

  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 shots tequila
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (I used Triple Sec)
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cantaloupe, seeded and cubed
  • ¼ honeydew melon, seeded and cubed
  • ¼ small watermelon, cubed

Many markets sell halved melons and wedges of watermelon, making it easy to prepare this salad closer to desired amounts.

Combine lime juice, tequila, liqueur, and sugar in a bowl. Add melons and toss to coat with tequila and lime. Serve in shallow bowls.

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Originally posted July 2010

Bourbon Baked Apple Crisp

Final Baked Bourbon Apple

Wandering around the web today, someone posted a recipe for Bourbon Baked Apples. Hmmm, I have bourbon. I have apples. Guess I need to bake some Bourbon Apples, stuffed with oatmeal crumble.

Bourbon Baked Apple Crisp

  • 4 large favorite apple
  • 1/2  cup oats
  • 1/2  cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup softened  butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup bourbon (depending on taste – you can substitute more cider if you prefer)
  • vanilla ice cream

In a bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon. Add softened butter and vanilla, and mix thoroughly. You want it to be crumbly.

apples stuffed2

Cut the top off the apple, enough to use as a lid. Scoop out core and seeds, being careful not to pierce the bottom of the apple. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired  and then stuff with the oats mixture, packing it in and covering out to the edges of the apple. Place the top of the apple back on and press down.

Place apples in a large baking dish. Pour apple cider and bourbon in the bottom of the pan. Place in a 400 degree oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until skin is soft and wrinkled and flesh is soft. During the baking period, baste every 10 minutes with the cider/bourbon mix.

Serve immediately with ice cream.

 

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Full Dinner Menu: Black Bean Soup

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Mouthwatering Photo by JeffreyW

Believe it or not, they are forecasting snow by the end of the week. From 90 to snow in 4 days. Fall in Colorado. If it does snow it will be quick and brief I’m sure, then back to warm days and fall leaves. But cool weather means soup to me, so that is what I chose for this week’s menu.

This is a recipe from a restaurant in Ouray, CO that was in an old bank. They gave it to me 20 years ago on my honeymoon and I make it all the time. This was my first experience at having to change a recipe meant for 60 into one for 6-8. It’s spicy, so ease up on the cumin and chili powder if needed, you can always add more during the last 30 minutes if needed.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spicy Black Bean Soup
  2. French Bread
  3. Red Grape Salad
  4. Apple wedges & Cheese

Black Bean Soup

  • 4-14 oz cans black beans
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 3 cubes beef bouillon
  • 1 tsp to 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green pepper, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine (opt)
  • 1 lb chopped smoked sausage
  • 12 cups water

Slow-cooker

Add all ingredients to slow-cooker and cook according to directions (usually 8-10 hours on low). Just before serving, take a potato masher or hand blender and blend/mash slightly to thicken

Red Grape Salad

  • ½ head red leaf lettuce, torn
  • 3 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 4 oz shredded carrots
  • Poppy Seed dressing

Serving bowl

Toss ingredients together, chill and serve

Shopping List:

  • 4-14 oz cans black beans
  • 4 -6 carrots or equivalent shredded carrots
  • ½ onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 green pepper
  • 4 oz dry red wine (opt)
  • 1 lb smoked sausage
  • ½ head red leaf lettuce
  • 3 cups seedless red grapes
  • 1 pear
  • Poppy Seed dressing
  • French Bread
  • Apple wedges & Cheese

Also: salt, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, chili powder, beef bouillon, cumin, pepper

Originally posted December 2009

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Dinner Menu: Stuffed Burgers and Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

Stuffed Burger Uncut Snap

Thought it was time for some end-of-summer burgers. I make these all the time because they really are easy and a great way to have a cheese burger without losing half the cheese to the grill. And the sweet potato cajun fries are the perfect sweet, spicy combo.  Grill some plums or peaches and dinner is done. Enjoy.

On the board tonight:

  1. Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers
  2. Kaiser Rolls
  3. Cajun Sweet Potato Fries
  4. Raw Vegetable Tray
  5. Plums

Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers

Stuffed Burger Final

Ingredients for each burger:

  • 4 oz ground beef
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed garlic (opt)
  • 1 oz sharp cheddar, sliced thin
  • 2 or more slices of pickled jalapenos

Mix salt, pepper and garlic into the ground beef. Form two, 2-oz patties. Place jalapenos on one burger, cheese on the other.

Prep2

Place the two sides together and seal the edges completely. Gently flatten the burger, but be careful because you don’t want the cheese busting out of the center.

Prep1a

The key to grilling or frying these is low and slow. Medium heat seals them and allows the cheese to melt without drying the burger out. I flipped at the 5 minute mark, but depending on the heat, 3-4 minutes may be enough to flip. They’re thin, so the beef cooks quickly, but you want to make sure the cheese melts. I would say minimum 4 minutes per side.

If cheese starts to leak out, flip and flip again as needed. DON’T press down on these burgers while you grill, you’ll have a cheesy mess.

Now the warning. Did I say WARNING? Yes I did. You’ll need to rest these burgers to let the cheese cool a bit. Otherwise you could be biting into a scalding cheese center. You’ve been WARNED.

That’s the basics, now let your imagination run wild. Maybe I should have titled this, How To Stuff A Wild Burger.

Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cumin (opt)

large bowl or baking dish and baking sheet

Cut potatoes into quarters lengthwise, then cut each quarter into 2 or 3 lengthwise slices. In bowl, toss with remaining ingredients and place in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes, turn and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown outside and tender inside.

Plums

If you grilled the burgers you can also grill the plums. Slice in half, remove the pits and grill over low heat

Shopping List:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar or jalapeno jack
  • sliced jalapenos (I use pickled)
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 4 large Kaiser rolls
  • Favorite raw vegetables
  • Vegetable dip
  • 4 to 8 plums

Also: cumin, Cajun spice, sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil, crushed garlic

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Friday Recipe Exchange: What To Do With All Those Tomatoes

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It seems everyone but at my house has a garden full of tomatoes. That’s okay, I know where all the good farm stands are located. What to do with all those tomatoes then becomes the question. Tonight’s recipe exchange will give you a few ideas.

First, let’s get this out of the way, Bixby’s weekly update is hereBixby 8 19 14

Now for the recipes:

JeffreyW takes some of his harvest and Oven Dries Tomatoes, here and here.

You can then use those dried tomatoes in place of sun-dried tomatoes in this Roasted Green Beans, with Tomatoes and Feta, here.

I love soups and while the weather is still hot, Cold Cucumber and Tomato Soup is a perfect way to use some of the garden’s bounty, recipe here.

Tired of tomatoes? This week’s dinner menu of Seared Ginger Tuna with Mint-Papaya-Pineapple Salsa has not a hint of tomato.

What’s on your menu this weekend? Anything good cookin’ in your kitchen?

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For tonight’s featured recipe, I’ve adapted JefferyW’s recipe for his sauteed cherry tomatoes and pasta, pictured above.

Pasta Tossed with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

  • 10 oz  favorite pasta, cook according to pkg directions, drain (don’t dry) and reserve water
  • 16 oz (or more) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup fresh basil, packed,  reserve a few leaves for garnish
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Fresh grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

Skillet

Heat oil in skillet, sauté onions until translucent, add minced garlic, cook for about another minute and then add tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, add tomato paste and basil. Stir and let simmer additional 5 minutes, ladle in some pasta water if needed for the desired consistency. Toss with pasta and top with cheese before serving.

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Weekly Dinner Menu: Seared Ginger Tuna with Mint-Papaya-Pineapple Salsa

I love tuna steaks. I live in a land-locked state. This is when it’s good to have a relationship with your butcher, because he’ll let you know when some really good tuna arrives.  I don’t make this every often, but enjoy it when I do. It very simple. I’ve also grilled it instead of pan-searing, which adds a depth of flavor. Remember to preheat the grill and oil the grate well before placing steaks on to cook.

On the board tonight:

  1. Seared Ginger Tuna
  2. Rice*
  3. Mint-Papaya-Pineapple Salsa
  4. Tossed Salad
  5. Sliced Apples w/Caramel dipping sauce

Seared Ginger Tuna

  • 4-4oz tuna steaks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced ginger, or 2 tsp dried
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

skillet

Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. While pan is preheating, rub tuna with 1 tbsp lemon juice, season with a little salt & pepper. Cook tuna for 1-2 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, and remove from pan. This will cook it rare (it will be cool pink in the center). Remove and place on serving platter. Turn heat down to medium and add remaining lemon juice & the rest of ingredients to pan and cook for 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper. Pour over tuna and serve immediately.  Serves 4

Mint-Papaya-Pineapple Salsa

  • 1 papaya, cut in small cubes
  • 8 oz pineapple chunks, canned or fresh
  • 1 cup fresh mint – chopped
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • chili pepper flakes to taste

serving bowl

Combine all & stir well.  I know it’s called salsa, but it’s a nice fruity side, or serve it over the rice. Serves 4

*Rice:  Change things up a bit and try a different style of rice – Jasmine, Aborio, Basmati or Brown rice, each one brings its own flavors.

Shopping List:

  • 1 lb tuna steaks
  • 1 small fresh ginger root
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 small white or yellow onion
  • 1 papaya
  • 8 oz pineapple chunks, canned or fresh
  • 1 bunch fresh mint (enough for 1 cup)
  • 1 oz white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup rice
  • Salad fixings of your choice
  • 4 apples
  • Caramel Dip

Also: olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, chili pepper flakes

Originally posted September 2009

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