Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shrimp and Red Pepper Pasta

Here is a weeknight meal you can make in less than 1/2 hour. It's light and tasty making it great for these hot days of summer.
Shrimp and Red Pepper Pasta
15 - 20 Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 roasted red pepper, cut into small pieces
3 Roma Tomatoes, cut into small pieces
1 Tbs Lemon Olive Oil, plus some for drizzling
4 oz of pasta, 2 oz is approximately 1 serving, I used whole wheat Angel Hair

Put the past water on to boil.

Clean the shrimp and cut the vegetables. Toss the shrimp and vegetables in a bowl with the oil. Heat a pan for the shrimp mixture.

Toss the pasta in the water to cook. When the pasta has about 5 minutes left throw the shrimp and veggies in the pan and cook them.

Remove the pasta from the boiling water and drain. Toss the pasta with the shrimp and vegetables. and plate. I garnished with baby basil leaves and then drizzled a little of the lemon olive oil over the pasta.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blueberry Muffins


As you know I am not a baker! I don't like all of the rules and equations that you have to follow. I am a color outside the lines kind of guy. Luckily my wife is a nurse and is used to measuring things precisely, so she is good at baking. They are the best muffins I have ever had. This recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated The Best Light Recipe cookbook.

These are the best blueberry muffins ever. They are light and moist. The lemon juice and zest add just a hint of flavor surprise that brings out the sweetness of the blueberries. They freeze well and can be thawed one or two at a time in the microwave for a little treat anytime. But the best secret about these muffins: they are much lower in fat than other muffins because of the yogurt. They are only 250 cal each, according to the recipe--but they used low-fat yogurt. I use non-fat yogurt, so I guess that makes them even better!

2 Cups (10 oz) plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Cup (4 oz) cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Cup (7 oz) sugar
1 tablespoon raw (Turbinado) sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons juice from a lemon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 Cups non-fat plain or vanilla yogurt
2 Cups fresh blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare muffin tins with papers or vegetable spray.
2. Whisk 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1/4 Cup of sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat an additional 3/4 Cup sugar and the butter together with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until light & fluffy (3-5 minutes.)
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
5. Beat in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla.
6. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture until just incorporated, followed by 1/3 of the yogurt. Repeat this twice more until all the flour and yogurt is added. Do not over mix.
7. In a separate bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, then fold them into the batter.
8. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with remaining tablespoon of raw sugar.
9. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.
10. Cool muffins in the pan for 5 minutes then flip them out onto a wire rack and cool 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 15-18 muffins

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Spicy Chickpeas with Poached Egg

 The day after my daughters and I ran the 10K in April we went out for brunch. I ordered spicy chickpeas with an egg on top. The dish consisted of chickpeas, spinach and mushrooms in a spicy tomato sauce. It was topped with an egg. I am not sure what kind of an egg it was supposed to be. It consisted of mainly a yoke. My guess is it was fried egg where the white part got overcooked so they cut it off. Here is my version, I poached the egg but it over cooked while I was photographing it, so thats why the yolk is chunky in the picture above.

This is another recipe where you can use the leftover vegetables in your refrigerator. If you don't have one of the vegetables I mention substitute another or add more of another one.

2 eggs
1 can Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 yellow squash or zucchini
4 mushrooms, sliced
small handful of spinach, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Add the olive oil to a pan on medium heat. When it shimmers add the squash, mushrooms. Cook until the squash starts to softens. Add the chickpeas and cook for a minute. Then add the tomatoes, red pepper and spinach. 
For the poached egg put 1 cup of water in a 2 cup microwavable measuring cup. Crack 1 egg into the water.  The egg should sink, but not settle to the bottom. Microwave for 1 minute to 1 1/2 minutes. The egg should take on a white color all over. Take egg out with slotted spoon and drain. Place egg on top of plated chickpeas. If the eggs are going to sit for a few minutes you may want to dip them in cold water to stop the cooking.  Repeat with other egg.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Blueberry Balsamic Salmon

Over the Fourth of July I told my wife I was going to cook a different region of the country everyday. We did southwestern, New England (you saw the lobster boil), New Orleans and what my wife called northern woods. I look at the northern woods as more of a childhood memories meal. The main entree for the meal was salmon with a blueberry balsamic sauce. Growing up just about every weekend we went fishing, whether it was pan fish or larger fish like salmon. I had an uncle who was a fishing guide so every year we made 2 or 3 trips to fish for salmon. My wife lived at the top of a hill, at the bottom of the hill was a blueberry farm. It was only natural that I eventually tied the 2 things together. Sorry about the pictures for this recipe, I am not sure what happened but I didn't get 1 good shot out of the bunch. Most of them looked like the camera wasn't focusing.

Salmon with Blueberry Balsamic Sauce
1 salmon fillet
1 pt blueberries, reserve a few for garnish
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

For the sauce combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook until the sauce starts thickening, the blueberries will begin to explode. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly. With a stick blender
(or pour it in a blender) blend until smooth.
Grill the salmon as you normally would. The last 3 or 4 of minutes on the grill spread the blueberry balsamic sauce on the salmon. Garnish with the reserved blueberries.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Grilled Steak Sandwich

I know you have looked in your refrigerator and wondered what that thing is in the plastic bowl in the back.  The only way you can figure it out is by tasting it and your just not that brave, so off it goes to the garbage can. This sandwich was born because I cleaned out the fridge while I could still identify the ingredients. However I do think that the Food Network should create a new show where contestants have to identify the left over or eat it. For the sandwich feel free to add or subtract ingredients, just use up the meat or vegetables in your refrigerator.

Grilled Steak Sandwich
4 oz leftover steak, cut into bite size pieces
2 oz spinach, raw
2 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 oz roasted red pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
1 ounce onion, diced
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in 1/2
enough Mozzarella to cover the sandwich
Olive oil to brush on baguette
1/2 small baguette, cut in half horizontally so you have 2 long pieces

Preheat a grill to medium heat.
If you have a grill basket you can use that or get a piece of aluminum foil and spray it with a nonstick spray. Toss everything but the spinach, mozzarella and the baguette on the grill in the basket or on the foil. Cook until everything is heated through. While the mixture is heating spread a light coating of the olive oil on the baguette halves and lay them on the grill. When the baguette starts to brown flip it over and brown the other side. To assemble spread the spinach on the bread, top with the meat and vegetable mixture and then add the mozzarella on top and let it sit on the grill until the mozzarella starts to melt.