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Salmon with Pepita-Lime Butter

15 Aug


Hello, again! I’m back from Canada, and I don’t think I even picked up an accent while I was away :) Toronto was a really fun city, and Niagara Falls is BEAUTIFUL. If you haven’t been, be sure to add it to your list of places to see. Didn’t you all love the Meatless Monday guest post from Sarah while I was away? She did a great job, and that recipe is definitely going on my menu soon. *round of applause for Sarah*

Now, I honestly haven’t done ANY cooking since we got back to town last Monday. Can you believe that? Well, I have a small excuse… last week was my birthday! And I got spoiled royally which meant quite a bit of eating out to celebrate. That’s the way it should be, right? Right. So I pulled this recipe from a folder of posts that have yet to be written, and I have to tell you, I’m wondering why I didn’t post this much sooner!

This is the perfect weeknight recipe, coming together in just a matter of minutes, and has a really nice, complex flavor. The crunch and nuttiness of the pepitas paired with the brightness of the lime and the richness of the butter is a fabulous combination for topping off the salmon, and the chili powder just adds a dab of spiciness. All in all, one of the best salmon dishes I’ve tried in a while, and definitely worth a taste.

Salmon with Pepita-Lime Butter
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon butter, melted
the juice and zest of one lime
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
4 4-ounce Atlantic Salmon Fillets

Place pumpkin seeds in a small bowl with butter, lime zest, lime juice and chili powder. Set aside.

Generously coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook until browned and just cooked through in the center, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the salmon to a plate. Add the butter-lime mixture to the hot pan; stir until the butter is melted. Serve the salmon topped with the sauce.

Serves 4.
From Eating Well.

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CEiMB: Chicken Pepian

4 Aug

I am currently out of town so please bear with me if I don’t respond to your comments in a timely manner. I promise to get back to you as soon as I’m settled back home. Be sure to check back Monday for an awesome guest post!

Several weeks ago, my good friend Bri of Yoshimi vs. Motherhood was the CEiMB host of the week and chose this Chicken Pepian. Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t have my food processor readily available, and I was afraid the blender I had would not stand up to the task of making this tomatillo sauce. I was incredibly disappointed to not be able to cook along with the group that week, particularly once I read the positive reviews. I used this recipe as an excuse to dig my food processor out of storage, and it was well worth the effort.

Even though this recipe sounded a little complicated at first, the dish was very easy to make and came together quickly. I only have two notes for the next time I make this dish: First, I will probably just grill the chicken then serve it alongside the Pepian sauce OR I will use cutlets instead of thick chicken breasts because the pan-frying method didn’t work well for me with this recipe. Second, I will either only make half the sauce or be ready to freeze the other half. I’ve got about half the sauce in my freezer right now as the recipe yielded way more than what we used with four pieces of chicken, but I’m looking forward to having it on-hand when I’m looking for a quick chicken dinner.

Chicken Pepian
10 medium tomatillos (about 3/4 pound)
1 poblano pepper, halved, seeds removed
1 medium onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 cup no salt added vegetable broth
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
5 whole peppercorns
2 whole allspice
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 tsp salt
4 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat the broiler. Remove papery outer layer from tomatillos then rinse them in warm water to remove some of their natural stickiness. Pat dry, then cut into quarters. Toss tomatillos, poblano, quartered onion and garlic with 4 teaspoons of the oil, place on a baking sheet and broil until charred, about 10 minutes.

Place tomatillos, poblano, onions and garlic, cilantro, broth, jalapeno, pumpkin seeds and spices and salt in a blender and blend on high until totally smooth, about 30 seconds.

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in skillet and cook the chicken until browned on both sides and nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Add Pepian sauce to skillet, covering chicken pieces. Bring to a simmer and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Serve chicken topped with sauce and garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.

Serves 8.
Modified from Ellie Krieger.

CEiMB: Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage with Tofu

14 Jul


As many of you know, my life has taken a huge turn over the last three months, and as I’ve waded through rather murky waters and climbed some rather steep hills, it’s my friends that have gotten me through. And included in that group is each member of the fantastic blogging group Craving Ellie in My Belly. Each week they cheer me on, and the sense of camaraderie in our intimate circle of chefs is something that means the world to me. Cooking and being in the kitchen has been like therapy to me, and to be able to share that with my CEiMBistas and all my readers has been a fantastic joy. Thank you all!

Now, before I get any mushier, let’s get to the recipe. This week was my turn to host, and I always feel such excitement to look through my books for a new recipe to try out. Unfortunately, with all my cookbooks in storage, I had to turn to an older Ellie Krieger book for inspiration this month. In “Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life,” Ellie describes this stir fry dish as a calcium heavy hitter. She explains that it’s a great source of calcium even without the presence of dairy, and we all know how important it is to get enough calcium, especially for women.

I’ve mentioned before how supportive my parents have been both in life in general but also when it comes to my cooking. So far they have tried everything I’ve served with a good bit of enthusiasm. I was afraid the tofu might scare them off, but they were even open-minded about this meat-free dinner. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a hit. My mom said, “It just doesn’t have the same depth of flavor as the other dishes you normally make,” and my dad said, “Hmm. I don’t really like it, but I’ll eat it.” Ha! Overall, I just felt like it turned out a little bland. I had been most afraid about the tofu, but it ended up being the sauce, or lack thereof, that turned us all off from this dish. We did all agree, however, that with a little Sriracha hot sauce, it was MUCH better. I think I liked it the best of the three of us, but it’s still not something I would make again as written. I have conquered my fear of tofu though because that is one part of this dish I would definitely eat again.

Hopefully those of you who cooked along with me this week enjoyed this dish a bit more than my family did, and I hope the tofu didn’t scare anybody off too much :) I can’t wait to see what all the other CEiMBers made, and if you want to follow along, be sure to check out the blogroll or consider joining in the fun!

Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage with Tofu
3 small bunches bok choy (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped scallion
1 pound cooked, marinated tofu cubes (recipe to follow or buy store-bought)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (which I completely forgot… oops!)

Cut 1 inch off the bottom of bok choy and wash the separated stalks. Chop the bok choy crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips.

Heat the oil in a wok or large deep skillet over a medium flame. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the scallion and bok choy. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.

Stir in the tofu, soy sauce, 1/4 cup water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced slightly and the tofu is warmed, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Marinated Tofu
1 pound extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon canola oil
cooking spray

Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch-thick slabs and lay the slices on top of paper towels. Use more paper towels to firmly pat the tofu in order to remove as much of the water as possible. This should take about 3 paper towels and 2 minutes. Cut the tofu into cubes.

In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, orange juice, sesame oil, and canola oil. Add the tofu cubes and toss gently. Cover and let the tofu marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Place the tofu in a single layer in the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serves 4.
Source: Ellie Krieger’s “Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life,” p. 186 and 221

Meatless Monday: Spicy Asian Green Beans

11 Jul


Normally for Meatless Mondays, I prefer to post main dishes, not side dishes, but this week I’m saving my meatless main dish for Thursday, so you’ll have to be sure to check back for it :D Instead, I’ve got a bit of a cheater recipe for you because of course green beans are meatless. And more so, this dish is super easy to prepare. That’s why I call it a cheater.

My only complaint about this dish is that if you’re going to call something “spicy” right there in its name, it should be SPICY. This was more sweet than spicy, but of course I rectified that situation with my favorite condiment, a little Sriracha. I think this would be perfect for those who prefer things on the mild side, but if you have a “hot tooth” instead of a sweet tooth like me, consider upping the amount of crushed red pepper flakes.

Spicy Asian Green Beans
1 pound fresh green beans
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced

Steam green beans to desired doneness.

Meanwhile, in small saucepan, mix sauce ingredients until well blended. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened and clear.

Stir sauce into cooked green beans to coat.

Serves 6.
From Pillsbury.

CEiMB: Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

23 Jun


I really love participating in Craving Ellie in My Belly. Ellie Krieger has some truly delicious recipes, and it’s a great excuse to make a new one every week. Plus, the bloggers that faithfully cooks along each week are just an amazing group of ladies, and I feel so lucky to be part of their club! This week’s host, Margaret of Tea and Scones, not only makes some of the most delectable looking breads and pastries I’ve ever seen, she is so sweet.

And just like Margaret in a game of Words With Friends, this recipe was a winner! I had to make a few changes based on what I could find at the store – like subbing yellow squash for zucchini and leeks with a little fennel seed for a bulb of fennel – but the roasted vegetables came out delicious! Unfortunately my other substitution, using boneless chicken breast with a lemon pepper rub did not turn out as well. The flavor was great, but our chicken got a little overdone. Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to try the bone-in chicken, or maybe I will just cook the chicken separately, either way, I’ll definitely be making these roasted veggies again. Delicious!

Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

6 Roma tomatoes
3 medium yellow squash
2 leeks
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon salt-free lemon pepper seasoning blend
3 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the tomatoes lengthwise into quarters and remove the seeds. Trim the squash and cut it in half crosswise and then cut each piece in half lengthwise once if the piece is thin and twice if it is thicker, so that the pieces are relatively uniform. Do the same with the leeks so they are cut twice lengthwise, into thin strips.

Put the vegetables into a large baking pan. Toss them with garlic, oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, then give the vegetables a stir and add the rosemary and fennel.

Rub the lemon pepper seasoning on the chicken breasts then arrange the chicken pieces in the pan with the vegetables. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes more until the chicken is done and the vegetable are tender and beginning to brown.

Serves 3.
From Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life” p. 210

CEiMB: Apple-Pecan Muffins

9 Jun


A couple weekends ago, I decided to try baking some lemon muffins. From a box mix. And it was a disaster. Despite coating the pan with cooking spray, the muffins all stuck and had to be scraped out into a crumbly mess. It was such a disappointment and also the perfect example of what kind of baker I am. A horrible one. As I mentioned yesterday, I love to cook, but a pastry chef I am not.

I really envy those of you who are bakers. We have some fantastically talented women in CEiMB that baked up breads, tarts, souffles, and anything else you could think of. It all looks so delicious, but I always have to enjoy it from afar because I don’t dare tackle some of the recipes these ladies whip up with ease. Well, this week is my turn to participate along with them as we all bake these Apple-Pecan Muffins chosen by our host of the week Joanne of Apple Crumbles. Joanne is a faithful CEiMBista; I don’t think I’ve seen her ever miss a week posting! I find this particularly inspiring since she has to vegetarianize all the recipes, yet every week she makes it work. I love seeing what she makes, and reading about both her meals and racing triumphs is so inspirational.

But back to the muffins. I was starting to get worried because I was missing two ingredients: baking soda and buttermilk. After a little internet research, I learned that using 2 teaspoons of baking powder in place of 1 teaspoon baking soda should work out OK. And then I decided to just use regular milk instead of buttermilk. Oh well. I have to say, these turned out great! They are so incredibly moist, and I just love the crunchy sugar/pecan topping. I was so impressed with my baking abilities that I just might try it again next week! :D The only recipe note I have is that even though I halved this recipe, I still ended up with 9 rather large muffins, so keep that in mind when deciding how much to make!

Apple-Pecan Muffins
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch + 7/8 cup whole wheat flour (or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup fat free milk
1 medium Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray or foil muffin liners.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the pecans and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the milk. Whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the apple chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pecan mixture. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove muffins from pan, and cool completely on the rack.

Makes 18 muffins.
Source: Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life,” p. 22

Pasta with Chicken and Pepper-Cheese Sauce

8 Jun


I love to cook. I always have. I remember being quite young and being in the kitchen helping my grandmas and mom cook. I am comfortable in the kitchen, and cooking is something I feel I do really well. And I love to feed people. Especially my family. So when my brother gets excited when he finds out I’m cooking dinner, it’s a huge compliment to me. And luckily for him, this is the dish I had made.

Spicy? Cheesy? Yes,please. Those are two of my favorite words when it comes to recipes, so I was all about this one. I basically followed the recipe except that I did “healthify” it a bit by substituting in reduced fat and fat free dairy products, which cut the saturated fat in half without compromising any of the flavor! This was a bit on the spicy side, especially topped with the fresh jalapeno slices, so if you prefer a milder flavor, you may want to use only half a pepper.

Pasta with Chicken and Pepper-Cheese Sauce
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 4 ounces each
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 medium bell peppers, chopped
1 medium jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup no salt added chicken broth
1/2 cup fat free milk
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced (optional)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.

2. In a small mixing bowl combine 1 tablespoon flour, salt, red pepper and black pepper. Toss flour mixture with chicken to coat. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet heat the cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, chopped jalapeno pepper, and garlic; cook and stir until the vegetables are tender. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon; set aside.

4. Add chicken to the skillet. Cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken from skillet.

5. Stir 2 tablespoons flour into drippings in skillet. Add broth, milk, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add the cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir 1 cup of the hot mixture into the sour cream; return all of the sour cream mixture to skillet. Stir in chicken and vegetables. Cook until heated through. Do not boil.

6. Arrange pasta on individual plates or a large platter. Spoon the chicken mixture over pasta. If desired, garnish with jalapeno pepper slices.

Serves 4.
Source: Better Homes and Gardens “Easy Everyday Cooking,” p. 187

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