Monday, June 25, 2012

Salmon In Parchment With Polenta - Yum!

I've been trying to eat more salmon lately.  Truth be told, I hate salmon.  It's too fishy for me, I don't like the texture or the flavor.  It's such a healthy fish though, so I find if I season it properly (and heavily) I'm ok with it.  I mask the taste as much as possible, and this is a great recipe to use for that.  Even the kids loved it, and it was a hit with hubby; that makes it a keeper!

The clean-up is quick and easy here, since everything is cooked in parchment paper.  The other saving grace is that fish cooks so quickly, it's always a great weeknight choice.

Salmon & Spinach In Parchment
8c spinach (I only used about 1/2 a bag)
1 T grated orange zest
3 oranges peeled and cut into 1/4" thick rounds (I used 2 oranges, and just sectioned them)
4 salmon fillets (I used 3, was only feeding 3 people)
2" piece of ginger cut in thin strips
1 shallot thinly sliced
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Divide the spinach among 4 (or 3) 16" long pieces of parchment.  Top with orange zest and slices, salmon, ginger and shallots.  Season with salt & pepper and drizzle with EVOO.  Bring the long ends of the paper together and fold down 3 times to make a seam.  Tuck ends underneath to secure.  Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until packets are puffed and salmon is cooked through, about 15-18 minutes.  Transfer packets to plates, pull open and serve immediately.

This recipe came from Everyday Food
Thanks Martha!

Per serving, the nutritional value is below:
Calories - 406
Fat - 18g
Protein - 37g
Carbs - 26g
Fiber - 5g

As a side dish to this I served Buddy's Cheesy Polenta - this was so great, and it made a ton of leftovers, so I froze a large portion in a container in the freezer for another dinner.  Delicious.

Buddy's Cheesy Polenta
4c chicken stock
4c milk
2c cornmeal
1c grated Parmesan
8oz herbed goat cheese
4 T butter
salt & pepper

In a large saucepan brink chicken stock and milk to a simmer.  Gradually whisk in cornmeal.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add parmesan, goat cheese, and butter.  Stir until cheeses and butter have melted.  Season with salt & pepper to taste (make sure you taste it first!  The stock and parmesan already make it very salty!).  Serve as a side dish.

This dish reminds me of a cross between mashed potatoes and cream of wheat.  It's creamy and delicious and goes well with most meals.

Happy cooking!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Garlic Cheddar Chicken & Savory Braised Green Beans

I always have a hard time coming up with different recipes for chicken.  I find chicken very boring, but it's low in fat (the white meat) and good for you, so when it goes on sale I feel the need to buy.  In bulk.  Large quantities.  Than I am stuck trying to figure out what to do with it.

So when I find a winning recipe like the one below, I am absolutely delighted.  This was a hit with the family, and of course, very easy (as are most of my recipes, with the exception of the 'special occasion' meals).  Hope you enjoy this as much as my family and I did!

Garlic Cheddar Chicken
1/2c butter (I used about 2 Tbsp - 1/2c is way too much)
4 garlic minced
3/4c bread crumbs (I eyeballed the panko - my new favorite thing.  I will never use breadcrumbs again!)
1 1/2c shredded cheddar (I used about 3/4c)
1/2c Parmesan
1/4tsp parsley (I omitted completely, none on hand)
1/4 tsp oregano (omitted again...oops)
salt & pepper
8 chicken breasts pounded thin (I didn't pound anything...I want my breasts plump and juicy!)
(for my seasoning on the chicken I used Emeril's Essence - the recipe is on my stuffed veal chops post)

Preheat oven to 350.  Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat and cook the garlic 5 minutes.  In a
shallow bowl mix crumbs (try panko, trust me), cheeses and seasonings (in my case, Essence).  Dip each breast in the garlic butter to coat (I just threw them all in the pan and tossed them around a bit), then press into the bread crumb mixture.  Arrange in a 9x13 baking dish and drizzle with any remaining butter and bread crumb mixture.  Bake 30 minutes.

So here are my tips - if you aren't pounding the chicken, cook at least 40 minutes.  Also, spread the bottom of your baking dish with panko so that the bottom of your chicken doesn't get soggy.  Enjoy, because this is a really great crunchy chicken.  Yum.

I served the above dish with braised green beans.  Double yum.

Savory Braised Green Beans
1 T margarine (I used butter)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic, finely chopped
1 lb green beans
1/2c chicken or veggie stock (I used chicken)
1 tsp lemon juice

In a skillet melt margarine (or butter) over medium-high heat and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.  Stir in green beans and cook 1 minute.  Add the broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil over high heat.  Than lower the heat and simmer about 6 minutes, or until the beans are tender crisp.  Add salt and pepper before serving, and enjoy!

Although my family and I rarely eat the same main entree twice, we tend to have veggie side dishes that we refer back to time and again.  This is one of those side dishes.  Find a few great ways to prepare veggies and it will allow you time to experiment with the main course.

What's on the menu for tomorrow?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Memories of Grandma and Kugel

So my first assignment for the writing course I am taking is to write a blog post (minimum 300 words). Describe in luscious detail the most memorable meal you ate as a child. Who made it? Who was at the table? What happened while you were eating it?

Oh boy...300 words is NOT a lot.  So get ready for my shortest entry we go...

When I think of a childhood food memory I think of Grandma Pearl, Kugel, and lip smacking. 

Grandma died when I was six.  I have only one strong memory of her.  She used to smack her lips when she would eat.  Specifically, when she would eat kugel. 

When I tasted kugel at a family meal for the first time (that my memory allows) I was in love.  I was never able to quite tolerate the lip smacking directly to the right of me but I justified it by thinking 'she must really love kugel'.  By the time I had taken my first bite, the utter delight I felt drowned out any aggravating noises that distracted me.  It was creamy and sweet.  It was crunchy and buttery.  It was a pasta dish, and a dessert.  It was everything.  It was brilliant.  

Since my grandmother's passing, kugel has become a dish that can regularly be found at the dinner table when my family and I get together.  My first instinct is to smack my lips when I eat it so that my kids might pick up on the enthusiasm that can be felt when enjoying a really great dish.  But they will probably just find it to be an annoying nuisance, since young ones tend to miss the important moments and don't realize what they have until it is too late.

Every time I have eaten kugel in the 27 years since her passing, I hear the lip smacking.  I'm sad that I no longer have the choice to either listen to it or drown it out, that choice was taken from me when she was.  Kugel is my reminder to sit back and attempt to enjoy the little things, see the beauty in the annoyances and interruptions.  Look deeper for what you might be missing.  I missed out on recognizing a woman who worked very hard to keep her family happy and united, and who thoroughly enjoyed having a great meal with the people she loved most.  Lesson learned.  Now pass the kugel.

Grandma's Kugel
5 eggs
1/2c melted margarine
1/4c sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 container of cottage cheese (500g container)
1 container of sour cream (500g container)
12 oz egg noodles
3c crushed cornflakes
1c sugar
1/4 c melted margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Blend together the first 5 ingredients.  Add sour cream and mix.  Boil noodles and drain (use package directions - no salt).  Put noodles into a 13" greased pan, our the mixture on top, and mix carefully.  Mix last 3 ingredients together by alternating the sugar and butter into the cornflakes, mixing in between.  Put on top of the noodles and spread carefully & evenly.  Bake 45 minutes.

Delicious!  Thanks Grandma!!