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Well, I think it’s safe to say I’m the most erratic blogger ever.  When it’s cold outside I can’t think of anything I’m interested in enough to blog about, and when it’s warm outside, I’m too busy enjoying it.  C’est la vie, I suppose my many devoted readers (Josh, Meleah and my dad) will just have to suffice with what I can manage to post!

I’ve made this particular salmon recipe for some notoriously picky eaters and they LOVED it.  It’s also a particular favorite of Josh’s so here’s hoping it makes YOUR list of quick and easy favorites!  Here we go:

For the salmon, you’ll need:  One pound of salmon – one cup of soy sauce – one quarter cup of brown sugar.

**A quick note about salmon from a girl who was raised on it:  Salmon are spawned in freshwater, swim out to the ocean, then return to the exact spawning grounds they were hatched in to reproduce when they reach full adulthood.  The later in life the salmon is caught, the worse the meat tastes, imho.**

For the asparagus:  One bunch asparagus – one tablespoon kosher salt – three cloves of garlic, pressed – one cup EVOO

We also made instant rice pilaf to go with this meal.  If you wanted to serve this to guests I’d suggest a risotto or couscous instead, but frankly, we’re lazy.

Place your salmon steak or filet in a bowl or deep dish and pour over the soy sauce.  Add brown sugar next, using your hands to rub the sugar into the surface of the salmon.  Allow the salmon to soak in the mixture as long as you like, though I would prepare this the same day you plan on cooking it.  The salmon grills on medium heat for eight to ten minutes a side, depending on the thickness of your piece.

It helps to have a lovely and talented assistant to work the grill:

I would suggest having your asparagus and salmon prepared for cooking so that you can start both at the same time, as each dish takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to cook completely.

To prepare the asparagus, you want to wash each stalk thoroughly then snap off the ends.  Most people I know cut their asparagus to a size they deem reasonable, but nature really does this for you.  If you simply bend each stalk until it naturally breaks (it actually makes a snapping sound!), you will lose any part of it that isn’t fit for consumption.  If the stalk bends without breaking, lose the piece all together.

Once you’ve washed and “snapped” all your asparagus, spread them out onto a baking sheet covered in tin foil.

The mixture to pour over the asparagus is simple.  Combine your olive oil and garlic in a small, microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 20 seconds or until you can smell the garlic cooking.  Brush this over your asparagus, paying special attention to the heads.  Sprinkle on your kosher salt and broil at 400 until crispy.

voila!

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Banana Bread Recipe

I can still remember silently creeping up the stairs in the house I grew up in, all the way breathing deeply, taking in the aroma of my mother’s fresh banana bread.  This isn’t her recipe, but the aroma is just as heavenly, and it’s nothing compared to the taste!  I used a recipe I found on line and tweaked it a little bit to my taste.  Here’s how it ended up: The directions are pretty self-explanatory and you don’t even need a mixer.  Melt your butter in a ceramic bowl and slice your bananas into the hot butter.  (Dirty) Next add your vanilla and beaten egg.  After all the liquidy ingredients are in your bowl, use an old fashioned hand masher to mush everything together. Add your dry ingredients and stir until everything is blended.  Per the directions above, butter a loaf pan and pour in your “dough.”  Really, it’s more like a batter, which is appropriate because the end result is closer to a cake than a bread.   Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Voila!  Josh and Derek say this is my best batch ever, but they were being fed banana bread so their opinions can’t be trusted.  The outside should come out crunchy on the top and the inside should be moist and cakey.  Good luck and enjoy :)

I am so excited about this recipe!  I have been spending the last seven years in North Carolina listening to different versions of the same fried chicken to find out what works best, what’s really considered “fried chicken” by the people that know it best and what makes southern fried chicken so unbelievably epic.  I think I may have finally done it!

This recipe takes as long as it takes and is not an exact science, so bear with me:

Ingredients for the chicken:

A bowl full of flour – salt and pepper – a small container of buttermilk – canola oil – about two pounds of white meat chicken tenders

Ingredients for Kale:

One large bunch of kale (we use the organic kind because it tastes better) – extra virgin olive oil – two cloves of garlic – soy sauce – a splash of water

Start with your chicken tenders.  I’ve gotten guff for this, but I don’t eat dark meat cause it’s slimy to me, though I am sure that this recipe would work just as well with any other part of the bird.  Cut all the junk off and try to shape the tenders to be roughly the same size for cooking ease.  As you trim the tenders, go ahead and drop them in your bowl full of buttermilk.  You want them to soak for a while as you prepare the rest of the meal.  Put your flour in a separate bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.

Go ahead and fill the bottom of a large skillet with canola oil and set the burner on medium/medium high depending on your stove top.  The oil is hot enough if you splash a little water into it and it pops.  Take each tender from the butter milk individually and coat in the flour, then place the coated tender in the oil.  It should immediately begin to sizzle loudly.  If it doesn’t, your oil isn’t hot enough.  The chicken should be golden brown when you remove it from the oil to a paper towel covered plate.  Use your best judgement, though the coloration on home made fried chicken is much lighter than KFC, so don’t over cook it.

Go ahead and prepare the oil for your kale as soon as you get the last tender into the oil.  Coat the bottom of a deep frying pan with extra virgin olive oil and press into the oil two cloves of garlic.  If you don’t have a garlic press, finely mincing it will do just fine.

Put the pan on medium and as soon as the oil begins to sizzle around the garlic, add your torn, washed and dried kale.  Toss the kale in the oil until it turns a nice emerald green color like the following picture:

Once you’ve coated your kale with the hot EVOO, get your hand full of water and splash it on the kale to wilt it.  You’ll notice it relatively immediately diminish in size.  Add soy sauce to taste and stir.  Set on low and allow to cook while you finish the rest of the dish.  It should look like this:

To go along with the chicken and the kale I took the easy way out and made mashed sweet potatoes and crescent rolls from the tube (I know, cop out). Now that Ore-Ida has come out with the pre washed, peeled and cut potatoes, I never have to mess with potato prep work again.  They taste just as good as the more slaved over kind, and they require less dishes and time, so win-win there.

I also chose to pair this with a Belgian Ale called “Hells Bell” that we really like around here.  It’s got a good citrus-y undertone to it and since its nice and light it pairs well with the savory/salty/sweet tastes of the meal.

Enjoy!

Josh and I love this recipe because it’s full of fresh ingredients and takes under ten minutes!

Ingredients:

One half pound of easy peel uncooked shrimp – Two servings fresh angel hair pasta – Three table spoons lemon juice – Two lemons, sliced – About a tablespoon of fresh dill – Half a tablespoon minced garlic – Half a cup of a dry white wine (a sauvignon blanc works best) – Extra virgin olive oil – A pinch of salt – Three tablespoons capers

Peel your shrimp and rinse them in cold water.  I like to spray a little lemon juice on them to get any “fishy” smell off.  Coat the bottom of a large saute pan with olive oil and put it on medium heat.  Add the garlic and let the oil warm and the garlic brown just slightly.  Add wine, lemon slices and dill.  You’ll be removing the actual slices of lemon later in the process (and if you put them in your garbage disposal, it will make your kitchen smell nice and its a natural way to clean the blades on your disposal).

I use fresh dill, ball up approximately a tablespoons worth, and tear it until its as small as I like it.  Of course, some people prefer less dill, its truly at your discretion.

When the sauce begins to thicken, go ahead and toss in the shrimp.  After they’ve cooked for about two minutes, I start the water for pasta.  I’m fairly certain most people already know to do this, but just in case: its good to put about a tablespoon of olive oil in your water for pasta to keep it from sticking.  Remove the lemon slices and toss them in the sink.  Add lemon juice and simmer.

By this time your water should be boiling.  Fresh angel hair pasta cooks in 60 seconds precisely so the last part of this recipe goes quick.  Add the pasta to the boiling water and add capers to the sauce at the same time.  It helps to have a husband standing by for this one.

Stir sauce, drain pasta, combine and enjoy!

note:  Josh and I like to get a large bottle of wine to drink with dinner AND cook with.  We also pair this with an Italian Peasant Boule for an *almost* authentic taste of the Amalfi Coast :)

DSC_0693I’ve been INCREDIBLY neglectful with this blog (last entry June 30th, yikes!) but I’m coming back with a bang!  This is my mom’s recipe for Swedish meatballs!  I can remember her cooking these a handful of times growing up and they were always a family favorite.  Josh has been bugging me about making these for a month or so and I finally relented.  Truth be told, this recipe is pretty complex and labor intensive so be prepared to spend some time cooking.

Meatball Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef (the fattier, the better) – 1/2 lb pork – 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs – 1/4 cup whole milk – 1 egg – 1/2 small onion, very finely chopped – 1 1/2 teaspoons salt – 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated, if you can find the pods) – 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Sauce Ingredients:

3 tablespoons flour – 3/4 cup water – 1 cup half and half – 2 teaspoon beef bullion – 1/2 teaspoon salt – a dash of nutmeg – fresh parsley

You will also need a bag of extra wide egg noodles.

DSC_0683

Chop your onions and toss them into a frying pan on medium heat and let onions cook while you combine the rest of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl.  I recommend beating the egg before mixing it in.  Add the onions and mix thoroughly.  To truly attain the correct texture, I use my hands to mix the meat and binding agents.  Roll the meat into one inch balls on an ungreased, rimmed cookie sheet.  Bake for twenty minutes at 350 degrees.

DSC_0690

While the meatballs are cooking, boil water for your noodles and chop up about a half cup of parsley.  When the meatballs are cooked through, remove them from the cookie sheet and place them in a serving dish.  Turn the oven on low and put the meatballs back into the oven to keep them warm.  From the cookie sheet, spoon three tablespoons of grease into a saucepan on medium heat.  Add the flour, stirring constantly.  Almost immediately it will turn smooth and almost foamy.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Stir in remaining sauce ingredients (not including parsley) and bring to a boil, constantly stirring.  I used a Swedish style whisk for this, as they are flat and keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, but a conventional whisk will work just fine.  Remove the sauce from the heat and pour over meatballs and noodles, sprinkle on the parsley.  Enjoy!

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PS.  I promise that posts will be more regular again, now that the weather is cold and there isn’t as much to do outside :)

One of my favorite hobbies is flower arranging!  Harris Teeter carries wonderful, freshly cut hot house flowers in single bunches.  Most of these are only $3.00-$4.00 a bunch, so my arrangements usually end up costing somewhere around $20.00, which is approximately what you’ll pay for a decent bouquet, and this is much more fun!

Today the delphiniums at HT looked so beautiful I decided to work around them.  This is usually how I start a bouquet, by choosing a single type of flower to center it around.  All together I ended up choosing a periwinkle colored delphinium, cream gerbera daisies, green spider mums (LOVE these), and white spray roses.

I always start by unwrapping all my flowers to lay them out.  Then, based on the brightest color (or the color I am trying to feature), I chose a vase.  Here I used a blue Ball mason jar.  I love the way summer arrangements look in mason jars, tea pots, metal pails, even watering cans.  Using unusual items as vases can add a unique look to an otherwise relatively plain arrangement.

flowers

I started with the delphiniums, choosing to keep them tall.  I knew I would want room underneath the delphiniums blooms to place other flowers, so that none of the blue would be lost in the greens and neutrals.  I ended up needing to cut off about two inches from the stem.

delphiniums

Next to come were the roses, which I kept longer than the mums and daisies.  I always tee-pee my stems, this creates a fuller, more angular look.  After the roses came the mums.  Both the mums and the roses had a lot of lower leaves.  These must ALWAYS be removed.  The leaves carry bacteria and pesticides that will contaminate the water and cause your flowers to wilt prematurely.  A good rule of thumb (and a better look, aesthetically) is to keep all leaves and greenery above the rim of the vase/vessel.

mums

Finally I finished with the daisies.  I like to create layers of color, patterns with texture.  I like that this arrangement has soft and spiky flowers in it, and two bright colors broken up with neutrals.

fini!

voila!

todd2Josh and I have been going tubing on the New River for the last three years through a company called “River Girl” in Todd, North Carolina.  Last year, and then again this year, the neighbors came with us.  We’ve also dragged our friends Heidi and Matt along for the ride, as well as Andrew and Sarah.  Every year has been its own adventure, though I have to say this year was probably the most eventful because of all the fishing!  Josh and Derek must have caught at least ten fish combined over the nearly four hours we were on the water.  Me and Jill decided just to float instead of bothering with fishing poles and, thanks to the water proof camera my husband agreed to go to walmart for VERY late last night, we got to take pictures.

We had a great time, though Jill had a close call with a snake, but she handled it very bravely, and I’ve decided she has amazing buoyancy and must take up kayaking.  The trip took approximately four hours.  We were put in at the “three hour” mark, so the river wasnt moving terribly quickly, which meant some serious sunburn for everyone but me.  Thanks for the Swedish skin mom.  This also meant that Jill favored us with several renditions of the Gilligans Island theme song.  Hilarity.

Because we used a disposable camera, I had to make the pictures black and white to make them passable, but I like the way they turned out, more authentic somehow.  We are all completely exhausted, and Jill, who got the worst of the sun burn, is probably nursing her poor skin as we speak.  All in all, a great day on the river :)

bw7Derek with the first fish of the day!

bw4Josh with one ticked off fish!

bw6The mountains!  Such a nice setting for a beautiful day!

bw2Another one!

bw3And another!

bw1Jill and me enjoying the cool water :)