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Dinner Menu: Coconut Shrimp, Cucumber Sea Salad and Ice Cream

Winding our way to Thanksgiving I thought something as far away from holiday food would be good this week. This light menu, highlighting tropical flavors, should help you forget about holiday prep and cold fall days.

The shrimp is a bit of a different recipe, instead of traditional coconut shrimp which is fried in a coconut batter, this one is simmered in a coconut milk sauce. I like Jasmine rice and if you haven’t tried it, now is your chance, it’s a great side with this shrimp. I actually use a nice brown Jasmine rice that fluffs up almost as well as its white counterpart. And of course, vanilla ice cream is only a suggestion here, it won’t ruin the entire menu if you go all wild and choose something like mango.

On the board tonight:

  1. Shrimp in Coconut Milk
  2. Jasmine Rice
  3. Cucumber Sea Salad
  4. Crushed Pineapple & Coconut over Vanilla Ice Cream

Shrimp in Coconut Milk

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 4-6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 8 oz sliced frozen carrots
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh shrimp, de-veined
  • 14 oz coconut milk
  • ¼ cup tequila (opt)
  • 1 tbsp limejuice
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut

wok or skillet

Heat oil, sauté onions, pepper, carrots, garlic until tender (2-3 minutes). Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes. Serve immediately over rice. Garnish with coconut.

Cucumber Sea Salad

  • 1 cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz crab meat
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 6 oz frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed

Combine cucumber, crab, & celery into bowl. Mix vinegar and apple juice concentrate, pour over mixture and refrigerate until served.

Shopping list:

  • 8 oz crushed pineapple
  • 1 qt premium vanilla ice cream (or other favorite)
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 4-6 green onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 8 oz sliced frozen carrots
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh shrimp, de-veined
  • 14 oz coconut milk
  • ¼ cup tequila (opt)
  • Fresh Thai basil leaves
  • Cilantro
  • 2 oz shredded coconut
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 oz crab meat
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 6 oz frozen apple juice concentrate

Also: peanut oil or vegetable oil, crushed garlic, ginger powder, limejuice, brown sugar,

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Dinner Menu: Grilled Salmon with Orange Glaze

This is one of my favorite menus. The salmon is based on a dish from a restaurant and my whole table raved about and the garden fresh soup can be served hot or cold. Substitute any garden fresh fruit for dessert.

  1. Grilled Salmon w/Orange Glaze
  2. Tomato & Bell Pepper Soup
  3. Hearty Bread
  4. Raspberries & Blackberries w/whipping cream

Grilled Salmon w/Orange Glaze:

  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil (or olive oil)
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4-6 oz salmon fillets, boneless, skinless
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds (toasted, opt)

Combine marmalade, oil, ginger, garlic & vinegar. Brush glaze on each side of salmon, grill 5 minutes each side. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Tomato & Red Bell Pepper Soup:

  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red onion, peeled quartered
  • 1 large red bell pepper, halved & seeded
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled

grilling basket &  saucepan

Toss tomatoes, onions & bell pepper with oil, season with salt & pepper. Place vegetables in grilling basket, cut side down and grill for 6 to 8 minutes. Add vegetables, garlic, chicken broth, vinegar, sugar to blender and puree. Pour into saucepan, bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, add cream & basil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with bacon when served.

Shopping List

  • 4 oz orange marmalade
  • 2 oz white wine vinegar
  • 4-6 oz salmon fillets, boneless, skinless
  • 2 oz  sesame seeds (toasted, opt)
  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • fresh basil leaves
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 pint blackberries
  • hearty bread loaf

Also: toasted sesame oil (or olive oil),  ground ginger, crushed garlic, apple cider vinegar

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

Originally posted April 2011.

I’ve always liked stuffed peppers, they’re a bit of work, but pretty foolproof.  This is a nice twist on an old favorite:

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

  • 4 large red bell peppers (or you can use green)
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage (substitute fresh mushrooms for a veggie version)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.  Cut off the top from the peppers (about the top 1/4 inch),  remove seeds and membranes.  Add peppers to boiling water, remove from heat and let soak 5 minutes.  Remove stem and then chop pepper tops.  Brown beef with chopped peppers and onions in skillet.  Remove whole peppers from water and turn upside down on a paper towel to dry.  Add tomatoes, spices, rice and water to hamburger mixture, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover until rice is tender (about 15 minutes)  Stir in 1/4 cup cheese and fill whole peppers.  Place in a lightly oiled 8×8 baking dish and top with remaining cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees until cheese if bubbly and golden.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Tomato Soups

Soooo…anything happening this week I should know about? :-)

It’s been a flurry of activity here. Saw Pitch Perfect and really liked it. I roasted my first turkey of the season, it turned out pretty good, I may post about that later this weekend. A friend had knee surgery so I went and did a bit of gardening for her. It was a beautiful, warm day to be in the garden and she has a fabulous yard.  But all good things must come to an end, and the weather is about to turn and be quite chilly. This put me in the mood for tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, so I dug around and found two of my favorite tomato soup recipes that I haven’t made in a while, mostly because I’m been making batches of spinach tomato soup. I thought it was time to add some variety. Both of tonight’s recipes are almost as quick as opening up a can of soup, but much more satisfying.

First up is the  Hearty Tomato Soup and Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese (recipe  here). I use roasted tomatoes when I can for a more complex flavor. The featured recipe of Tomato Bell Pepper Soup was originally part of a menu that included Orange Glazed Salmon, but it’s just as good with a nice sandwich for a quick dinner.

How about you, when the weather turns cold, what do you start to crave? Do you make your own tomato soup and how do you jazz it up? What are your favorite, go-to soups on a cold fall day?

The photo above is JeffreyW making the simplest lunch look delicious.

And finally, tonight’s featured recipe:

Tomato & Red Bell Pepper Soup:

  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes, halved (or equivalent canned diced tomatoes)
  • 1 red onion, peeled quartered
  • 1 large red bell pepper, halved & seeded
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled

grilling basket &  saucepan

Toss tomatoes, onions & bell pepper with oil, season with salt & pepper. Place vegetables in grilling basket, cut side down and grill for 6 to 8 minutes. Add vegetables, garlic, chicken broth, vinegar, sugar to blender and puree. Pour into saucepan, bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, add cream & basil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with bacon when served.

Black Bean and Cheddar Burgers

Originally published 08/25/12:

Now for something completely different to grill.  I love black bean burgers, but the frozen ones can leave a lot to be desired.  So I’ve been looking around for a good recipe.  I found this one, but cannot tell you where, sorry to say.  I’ve changed up few things, made it a bit spicier and a bit moister.  Grill or fry on medium heat to keep the burgers from drying out.  Makes 4 good sized burgers, though you may want to double the recipe to serve 4-6 people.

Black Bean and Cheddar Burgers

  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (about 1-1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs* soaked in 1 to 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped, pickled jalapeno
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsps minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Serve with:

  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Tomato and avocado slices for garnish

In a mixing bowl, with a potato masher, mash half of beans into coarse puree; add remaining ingredients.  Work mixture together by hand until it holds together easily. Shape mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. Oil a large piece of aluminum foil, place on a grill set to medium heat and place burgers on the foil. Cook for about 8 minutes per side or until browned on outside and heated through to center. Serve on buns, topped with tomato and avocado.

You can also fry these on medium heat in a covered, well oiled skillet.

*for gluten free, use quick oats instead.

Week one of burger week…

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Vegetarian Delights

Cross posted at Balloon-Juice

I’m travelling, en route to San Diego, so you’re on your own – no keggers and try not to riot. Tonight we’re going vegetarian with two recipes. I’m often asked for vegetarian recipes, so I’m always on the lookout for good ones, can’t wait to see what you guys come up with. Next week: Fruit Desserts

I love black bean burgers, but the frozen ones can leave a lot to be desired.  So I’ve been looking around for a good recipe.  I found this one, but cannot tell you where, sorry to say. I’ve changed up few things, made it a bit spicier and a bit moister.  Grill or fry on medium heat to keep the burgers from drying out.  Makes 4 good sized burgers, though you may want to double the recipe to serve 6-8 people.

Black Bean and Cheddar Burgers

  • 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained, or dry equivalent
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded (about 1-1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs soaked in 1 to 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped, pickled jalapeno
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsps minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Serve with:

  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Tomato and avocado slices for garnish

In a mixing bowl, with a potato masher, mash half of beans into coarse puree; add remaining ingredients.  Work mixture together by hand until it holds together easily. Shape mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. Oil a large piece of aluminum foil, place on a grill set to medium heat and place burgers on the foil. You can also fry these on medium heat in a covered, well oiled skillet.  Cook for about 8 minutes per side or until browned on outside and heated through to center. Serve on buns, topped with tomato and avocado.

The pasta caprese has appeared here before.  I make it both vegetarian and gluten free, so it’s my go-to recipe for company.  From one of our Thursday Night Menus (link includes my favorite chocolate cake):

Pasta Caprese

  • 9 oz dry pasta
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 oz cubed mozzarella
  • salt & pepper to taste

saucepan and large serving dish

Prepare pasta according to package directions. While it’s cooking, mix remaining ingredients together. Drain pasta completely (dab with paper towels, if necessary) then add to tomato mixture. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to let flavors blend. Serve warm or you can refrigerate and serve cold. Add a nice loaf of bread for a complete dinner.

I use a fairly expensive mozzarella for this dish because it’s softer, tastier and absorbs more flavors. Any locally produced mozzarella would work. Also, my local farmers’ market has a pasta vendor, who hand-makes many flavors of pasta. This dish works very well with flavored pastas – fire roasted chili, lemon pepper, tomato basil, red bell pepper – the list goes on. You can also change-up the cheese to a Queso Blanco (again, use a fairly expensive or locally produced one), use cilantro instead of basil and use a chili flavored pasta for a whole new dish. The possibilities are endless.

Mmm…pasta salad

TaMara’s macaroni salad had me jonesing for my own this fine day.

I didn’t follow a recipe, exactly.  I knew there needed to be pasta of some sort and a half bag of these bowties seemed to fit the bill.  I knew I wanted to use some of the cherry tomatoes our patio plantings are bearing for us.  Half the battle, right there.  Mayo seemed obvious, and that took me to the sour cream right there by it in the fridge.  So far, so good.  OK, celery, diced a few stalks, and that suggested celery seed, in went those things.  Onion, check-red bell pepper, check-dill weed, check-a little minced dill pickle? Why not, check.  Hmm..hard boiled eggs!  Yes, absolutely!  A little touch of sour?  Aah, some rice vinegar is pretty mellow, some sweet to balance the sour?  Splenda-splendid!  Some kosher salt and some black pepper and Ta Da!

Ah..Just Having Some Eggs…You?

These just keep getting better!  This one has feta, shrimp, broccoli, mushrooms, and diced red bell pepper.  I grated some romano on the top.  I wish I could take credit for the loaf of bread.  Bought that at Kroger’s yesterday.  It’s a “whole clove” loaf of garlic bread.  Pretty good stuff.  I may look for a recipe to make a loaf or two of it just to keep TaMara off my case.

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Thursday Night Menu: Not Turkey Edition

What better way to combat turkey fatigue than with a crab and shrimp menu? It was a toss up between this and a nice Vegetable Beef Soup. We’ll do the soup next week. Maybe JeffW and I can coordinate and he can come up with a nice hearty bread recipe for next Thursday to post along with the menu (that’s a hint, Jeff, in case you missed it). I’m travelling again this week, but I’ll do my best to answer any questions you might have.  The shrimp is a bit of a different recipe, instead of traditional coconut shrimp which is fried in a coconut batter, this one is simmered in a coconut milk sauce. I like Jasmine rice and if you haven’t tried it, now is your chance. I actually use a nice brown Jasmine rice that fluffs up almost as well as its white counterpart. And of course, vanilla ice cream is only a suggestion here, it won’t ruin the entire menu if you go all wild and choose something like mango.

On the board tonight:

  1. Shrimp in Coconut Milk
  2. Jasmine Rice
  3. Cucumber Sea Salad
  4. Crushed Pineapple & Coconut over Vanilla Ice Cream

Shrimp in Coconut Milk

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 4-6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 8 oz sliced frozen carrots
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh shrimp, de-veined
  • 14 oz coconut milk
  • ¼ cup tequila (opt)
  • 1 tbsp limejuice
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut

wok or skillet

Heat oil, sauté onions, pepper, carrots, garlic until tender (2-3 minutes). Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes. Serve immediately over rice. Garnish with coconut.

Cucumber Sea Salad

  • 1 cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz crab meat
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 6 oz frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed

Combine cucumber, crab, & celery into bowl. Mix vinegar and apple juice concentrate, pour over mixture and refrigerate until served.

Shopping list:

  • 8 oz crushed pineapple
  • 1 qt premium vanilla ice cream (or other favorite)
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 4-6 green onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 8 oz sliced frozen carrots
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh shrimp, de-veined
  • 14 oz coconut milk
  • ¼ cup tequila (opt)
  • Fresh Thai basil leaves
  • Cilantro
  • 2 oz shredded coconut
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 oz crab meat
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 6 oz frozen apple juice concentrate

Also: peanut oil or vegetable oil, crushed garlic, ginger powder, limejuice, brown sugar,

Gadget Post

Just about every one of the cooking shows has had an ad for one of these skillets: The Calphalon “Slide”.  I’ve been enjoying the 10″ non stick omelet pan I have and have been itching to get one a tad larger.  Finally clicked the button at Amazon for the 12″ version of the pan that the food just “slides out of”.  It came today, and to break it in I decided to go with a stir fry recipe to make use of the baby bok choy I bought today.  I followed the recipe pretty closely (for me, anyway) and tho I can’t imagine that all the measurements are correct in my iteration I believe it came out pretty well.  I used some rehydrated shiitake mushrooms along with some fresh buttons I had left from the frittata instead of the mushrooms called for in the recipe.  I used more garlic than called for, and I didn’t have any fresh ginger root but I did have a large jar of  ginger paste.  I used a heaping spoonful of it in the sauce.  Also, I marinated the chicken chunks in soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine.

First impression of the pan?  Very positive-the stuff does slide right out.  I used some cooking oil in it but the oil didn’t seem to form a film on the pan, it kinda “beaded up”.  I didn’t cook the chicken by itself for very long, but it appeared that it was going to brown alright.  Clean up was about as I expected:  A couple of swipes under a hot faucet with a dish rag and it was clean.  This pan came with a glass lid-very handy at times to have a lid, and with glass you can see what’s going on in there without taking it off.

The pictures will tell the story:

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