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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

With the Texas heat here to stay, I try to keep the kitchen cool.  It’s hard to resist my brand new oven, it’s so shiny.  It calls out “please cook some more!” 

Sorry oven, I know cookies would be awesome right now, but no I can’t.  

Instead, we’ll have to make something out of the left over rotiserie chicken and the eggplant that is softening in the fridge.  A wrap sounds good!  Here’s what I grabbed out of the ol’ ice box: 

  • the eggplant, it’s a small Rosa Bianca, diced         

    Left Over Chicken Transformed

  • half a yellow bell pepper, diced
  • small Serrano pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 key lime
  • handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • salt and pepper

This is simple, just sauté the eggplant in plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  

Add the garlic for the last minute.  When it’s soft and slightly golden brown, remove from the pan and throw in the remaining ingredients.  

Sauté to your desired tenderness, add the eggplant back in to incorporate and heat through.  Pour the lime juice over and adjust the salt to taste. 

I put the warm veggies and chicken into a tortilla with some romaine lettuce.  You could eat it on its own or even as a side dish with something else.  

 

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Since starting to blog about my kitchen experiments I have found others with the same passion for food.  One provided a recipe for these frozen lime watermelon bars.  It looked so cool and refreshing on ateenagegourmet‘s blog that I wanted to try it.  

Lime Ginger Watermelon Bars 

I made the watermelon layer with only the fruit itself, the melon we had was so sweet and dense it didn’t need any help.  The semifreddo has two limes worth of zest and a good teaspoon of crystalized ginger added.  Just because I like ginger.  Ben liked the watermelon layer and thought it belonged on top. 

 

Either way, we all enjoyed a cool snack when we arrived home on a very hot Texan day!  Even Sierra had a little taste.
Thanks Sam for the great recipe 🙂

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Happiness on a bun!

 

This lunch came together with my first ever smoked pork butt and kwik kimchi I made with the leftover cabbage leaves from the attempt to make my grandmother’s cabbage rolls. 

Smoke Some Butt

I’m a big fan of Alton Brown when it comes to the right way to prepare certain foods.  There’s a science behind the method to execute it safely and make it tasty.  A brine is one of those things I looked to Alton for.  I used molasses, salt and water in a large stock pot to brine the piggy overnight (12 hours) in the fridge.  The rub was my mix of favorite flavors: brown sugar, salt, cumin, garlic powder, and chipotle chili powder.  

The smoker intimidated me slightly.  My hubby is usually the one who deals with outdoor cooking.  Although, it’s sad that I can’t do a better job of it after spending every summer growing up at Sylvan Lake where at least half of the cooking was over the fire pit.  I also had to start a fire in the sauna house, in a little old-fashioned wood stove with rocks on top and a huge pot of H2O.  The pork needed to get on the grill early if I had any hope of eating it before going off to bed that night.  I tried to start it with sticks and paper.  Paper and small branches.  Small branches, charcoal and lighter fluid.  Ah ha!  I really don’t like to taste jet fuel on my food, so lighter fluid is always a last resort.  Trust me, I had been trying for an hour before the big guns had to come out.  By this time the sun was out and hot, and I was stinky! 

All day I checked the pork and the coals.  Added a few pieces of oak for added smoke.  Ten and a half hours later, exhausted because somebody didn’t take her long afternoon nap as usual, the butt was smoked.  

This hunk of meat didn’t look pretty, but OMG it tasted like bacon, smoky salty bacon.  I had a flash back to my friend Jills’ parents’ house where I shared a dinner of salt beef (a Newfoundland dish).  The salt beef was so far outside of my saltiness spectrum at the time because I had learned somewhere when I was about 7 years old that salt was “White Man’s Death” and refused to add it to my plate ever since.  Silly girl – salt is GREAT in moderation 🙂  I digress… 

The Kwik Kimchi

I had the center of the cabbage left over from making cabbage rolls and made a kimchi out of it. 

  • some cabbage, blanched, diced
  • equal parts water and vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar), just enough to soak the cabbage, don’t make it soupy
  • tsp sugar
  • tsp salt
  • red chili flakes
  • minced fresh ginger
  • slices of ginger (optional)

Combine the water, vinegar, salt and sugar until dissolved.  Add chili flakes and ginger.  Toss in the cabbage and turn it all around to coat.  Let this sit in the fridge for half an hour to pickle.

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Fish Tacos

I’ve only recently jumped on the fish taco band wagon. When I first moved down south, and Lent came around, I was bombarded with fish tacos every where. “Yuck! Who in their right mind would eat that?” Well, I’ve matured since then and so have my taste buds. Also thanks to the Spanish influence of my hubby, I found a way to embrace this odd dish.

Basa fillets on a bed of red onion and yellow bell peppers

I start with fillets of striped pangasius, which were pretty cheap (2.49 per lb). Sprinkle the fish with garlic powder, paprika, sea salt, pepper.

Heat a large skillet, big enough for your fish with space to party in the pan. Heat some oil until nearly smoking, then gently add the fillets. Cook on each side until crisp and golden. Remove the fish and add slices of red onion and yellow bell pepper. If the pan is a little dry, you can add a little more oil. Sea salt over the hot fish fresh out of the pan gives it the best enhancement of flavour. You can spritz some lime juice over top as well.

Serve with warm tortillas, chopped cilantro, tomato slices and avocado. Enjoy 🙂

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Food makes my soul happy.  I’m sure this is true for many, many people.  I’m not talking merely of the eating of food either.  I love to cook for my family, friends, or neighbours.  Sharing food, sharing the kitchen with Benjamin, sharing the joy food brings to people.  All that.  As I grow older (to the tender age of thirty) food, cooking, baking, playing in the kitchen keeps becoming more fun.  Watching my kiddos devour a creation is fantastic, but as they get bigger and bigger, I realize that I’m not a spring chicken anymore.  

I wanted something that looked healthy and tasted good, and was not hot because the days of summer are here to stay for a good while here in Texas.  What do we have in the kitchen today… chicken breasts?  How ’bout a salad.

You will need:

Spring Chicken Pasta Salad with a side of Naan

2 chicken breasts (prepare in a grill press or sauté pan)

1/2 lb rotini pasta, cooked al denté, drained

3 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh if you’ve got it

1 tsp dried tarragon

2 tsp finely chopped cilantro (sub. parsley)

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

3 Tbsp mayo

3 Tbsp ranch dressing (lite) or sour cream or plain yogurt should do the trick, note that you will want some pepper if ranch is not used.

1 tsp white champagne vinegar

1/2 of a large cucumber, seeded and diced small

3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced small

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

Cool the pasta and chicken as the dressing is assembled.  In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing (lemon juice, tarragon, cilantro, salt, mayo, ranch, and vinegar).  Keep this cool in the fridge.

Prepare the veggies in a similar size dice.  Slice or shred the chicken.  Toss the pasta, veg, and dressing together.  Top with the chicken.

Enjoy!

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