Monday, June 20, 2016

Grilled Corn with Cilantro-Mint Butter

It's just not summer without corn on the cob!  My mom hails from the midwest and has been dubbed the "corn snob" of our family.  She's passed that trait on to my boys who love when they see corn on their dinner plates.  My five year-old recently ate two ears of corn and then complained when I wouldn't give him a third!  Grilling the corn gives it a gorgeous color and a lovely flavor that is really complimented by this fresh summery herbed butter!  I just know you're going to love it!

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
zest of 1/2 a lime
4 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked

For the butter, combine butter, herbs, salt and pepper, and zest in a mini food processor and give them a whirl until combined.

Preheat a grill to medium-high and brush grates with oil.  Grill corn, turning often, until slightly charred, about 10 minutes.

Spread 1/4 of the butter on each of the ears of corn and serve hot!

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home, August 2015.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Grilled Lobster Tails with Cilantro-Mint Butter

Lobster always seems like such a decadent meal that it's easy to be intimidated.  But when I came across this recipe in one of my favorite magazines, I knew I needed to get over my fears and go for it.  After all, I had an anniversary coming up and work schedules were getting in the way of a nice dinner out.  To celebrate our eighth anniversary with a dinner date at home, I surprised my husband with lovely grilled lobster tails and corn on the cob.  It was a light meal full of warm-weather flavors (perfect for April, which is when we ate this meal) and special enough for a celebration!  The next time you need to impress your special someone, try this.  It's not as hard as you'd think and you'll definitely get the same wow factor you'd see at a quality seafood restaurant!  Enjoy!

For the butter:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
zest of 1/2 a lime

For the lobster:
2 lobster tails, split
1 lime, halved

Preheat grill to medium-high.  Brush grates with oil.

For the butter, combine butter, herbs, salt and pepper, and zest in a bowl.  Giving them a whirl in a mini food processor works just as well and only takes a few seconds!

For the lobster, split the tails in half lengthwise, discarding the vein if present.  Gently loosen the flesh from the shell without removing it completely.  Pat the tails dry and season the meat with salt and pepper.

Grill tails, covered, flesh side down, until slightly charred, about 3 minutes.  Flip tails and grill, covered, until cooked through and shells turn red, about 4 minutes more.  Grill lime halves, cut side down, until charred, about 4 minutes.

Spread 1/4 of the butter on each of the warm lobster tails and serve with grilled limes.

Serves 2.

Serve with grilled corn-on-the-cob, using remaining herbed butter on the corn.

Recipe adapted from Cuisine at Home, August 2015.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

Growing up, I thought the fish taco craze was a bit strange.  I couldn't wrap my arms around it, and told myself that anyone who wanted anything other than a sizzling chicken fajita was insane.  But then I tried the fish tacos at a neat little restaurant that used to be down the street from my church.  I was hooked!  After that, we moved to California, where fish tacos reign supreme, and I remember eating them on the pier in Santa Cruz, even though it was February!  my husband still stood firmly on the non-fish side of the taco debate.  Until I made these and didn't tell him!  After he devoured two tacos, he asked me what he was eating and he couldn't have been more surprised!  That evening, he agreed with me that fish tacos aren't that bad, but he still prefers steak on his tortillas over fish (or even chicken).

2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Avocado Cream:
2 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 medium avocado, chopped
1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 10-ounce can Rotel tomatoes, drained
1 4.25-ounce can diced green chiles
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 pound mahi mahi filet
1/2 lime
10 white corn tortillas

For the slaw, combine the cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, and salt together in a large bowl.  Toss well and set aside.

In a blender, combine all ingredients for the avocado cream plus 2 tablespoons water.  Blend until smooth.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Add the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring to combine the flavors.  If the mixture seems dry, add about 3 tablespoons water to the pan.  Reduce heat to medium and place fish in the skillet.  Cover and cook until the fish is opaque in the center and flakes easily, 6-7 minutes.  Use a wooden spoons to break up the fish and mix it into the tomatoes.  Squeeze lime over the fish.

To serve, heat the tortillas in a hot skillet over high heat, about 30 second per side.  Fill each tortilla with 1/3 cup fish, top with 3 tablespoons slaw, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon avocado cream.

Serves 5.

Recipe adapted from The Skinnytaste Cookbook, by Gina Homolka.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Funky Fusion Fajitas

I realize I missed Cinco de Mayo here on the blog, but I didn't at home!  Mexican food is my favorite, so you better believe we had a South of the Border feast at our house.  I remember watching the episode of Throwdown! where these fajitas were prepared and I knew I needed to make them at home.  I'm so glad I did, too!  My husband loves steak fajitas, so these were a huge hit, even though I typically prefer chicken.  I went right from stove to table, serving these right out of the cast iron skillet, with plenty of salsa and sour cream on the side, allowing each person to fix up their fajitas according to preference.  This would be a fabulous party meal, creating a buffet-style Fajita Bar.  I sense a theme party brewing!!  Ole!

1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground ginger
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/4 pounds flank steak
1/2 red onion, sliced into half-moons
1 green bell pepper, sliced into 1/4-inch wide strips
1 yellow or red bell pepper, sliced into 1/4-inch wide strips
4 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
12 8-inch flour tortillas
Screamin' Sour Cream (recipe linked)

Combine the wine, soy sauce, vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, ketchup, brown sugar, 2 garlic cloves, ginger, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder in a large bowl.  Whisk together to mix well.  Set aside about 1/2 cup of the mixture for serving.

Tenderize the steak (pierce it all over with a fork on both sides) and place in a container with the marinade.  Refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 4 hours, turning occasionally.  Remove meat from fridge about half an hour before grilling.

Heat the grill to medium high.  Remove steak from marinade and discard the marinade.  Season with salt and pepper (optional) and grill about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare.  Allow the meat the rest for 10 minutes while you cook the veggies.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet.  All the red onion, bell peppers, green onions, remaining garlic, and a couple tablespoons of the marinade you reserved earlier.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender.

Slice the steak into thin strips across the grain.  Spread each tortilla with some guacamole, then top with a few strips of meat, veggies, sour cream, and a drizzle of the reserved marinade.

Serves 6.

Recipe adapted from Throwdown! by Bobby Flay.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Screamin' Sour Cream

1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Serve with tacos, burritos, fajitas, or any of your favorite Mexican dishes!!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Corona-Steamed Shrimp

Many, many, many years ago, on the side of Jefferson-Davis Highway, there was a ramshackle place that served up the best steamed shrimp to go.  They sold crabs, too, but the shrimp were what had my family going back week after week.  Years would pass and I'd buy steamed shrimp from the seafood counter at the grocery, but I'd still remember that place on the side of the road, even though the family that owned it would come to have several more locations and a riverfront restaurant.  Nostalgia aside, I saw a steamer basket in the kitchen gadget aisle a while ago and decided that this was the year I started steaming my own shrimp...and loved all the wonderful memories that came flooding back with the first bite!

2 12-ounce bottles Corona
2 pounds large shrimp, deveined, but unpeeled, with tails on
1/4 - 1/3 cup Old Bay (more or less to taste)
Cocktail sauce, for dipping.

Pour the beer in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed pot with tight-fitting lid (I used my soup pot).  Place steamer basket in the bottom of your pot.  Rinse shrimp and toss with Old Bay according to preference.  Place shrimp in steamer basket and arrange in an even layer.  Cover the pot and raise heat to medium-high.  Keep an eye on the shrimp and toss a few times.  Using your own judgement, you may choose to raise the temperature to high for the last few minutes of steaming.  Shrimp is done when it's bright pink and fragrant.

Serve hot, with cocktail sauce and extra napkins to clean the Old Bay off your fingers!

Serves 2-4, depending on your appetite!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Chicken Pasta Caprese

I love just about any type of pasta salad.  And I also love Caprese salads.  So when I saw this recipe, I just knew I had to try it!  And it didn't disappoint, of course!  In fact, my husband even raved about this recipe, which wasn't totally shocking, but I was a little surprised he liked it that much.  When dinner was over, I added some balsamic vinegar, pine nuts, and crushed red pepper and turned this into a cold pasta salad to take for lunch at the hospital, where heating time eats too far in to the five minutes I might have to wolf down my lunch between rounding on patients!  Either way you serve it, this pasta is a crowd pleaser and travels easily, making it perfect for a Spring Potluck or picnic in the park!

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized bits
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
cooking spray or oil mister
9 ounces pasta (gemelli is pictured, but any will do)
4 teaspoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
4 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes, or buy the smaller pearls (bocconcini)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat.  Season the chicken with dried basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste.  Spray the skillet with oil and add chicken.  Cook until cooked through, then transfer to a plate.

Cook the pasta to al dente.  Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, increase the heat until the skillet to high.  Add the olive oil and garlic, stirring until golden, about 1 minute.  Be careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the tomatoes, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until tomatoes become tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the pasta to the tomatoes.  If pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.  Add chicken and toss well.  Remove the pan from heat and stir in the fresh basil and cheese.  Serve hot.

Serves 5.

Recipe adapted from The Skinnytaste Cookbook, by Gina Homolka.