Green Curry with Shrimp and Tofu with Brown Rice

Green CurryThis curry dish is simple and delicious. I added a whole jalapeno (seeds included!) and it gave it just enough heat. This is a kind of recipe that you can change up and use chicken, salmon, scallops, ground pork – you can do anything to your liking. Enjoy and have a glass of milk ready if you can’t stand the heat!

INGREDIENTS

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp green curry paste

1 can light coconut milk

1 – 1 ½ tsp brown sugar

½ lb shrimp

4 oz extra firm tofu, cut into cubes

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 jalapeno, diced

½ cup chopped fresh basil

DIRECTIONS

Zest and juice lime, separate and set aside. Heat oil in a wok or a heavy skillet. Add paste and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add coconut milk, lime juice, and brown sugar, whisk until smooth. Add shrimp and tofu and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, jalapeno, and lime zest. Simmer an additional 4 minutes and toss in ½ of fresh basil. Serve in bowls over brown rice and top with additional fresh basil.

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Seared Scallops and Barley Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans

I’ve discovered a new favorite food and it’s called barley. Barley is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with a rich nutlike flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency.  In addition to its robust flavor, barley’s claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese. Barley is also good for keeping you “regular”, lowering cholesterol, and protecting your intestines.

This recipes was so easy to make and quite delicious. It’s refreshing and looks like it comes off the pages of a gourmet food mag. The pecans and cranberries, along with sliced scallions and fresh tarragon create a beautiful medley of colors among the canvas of barley. The seared scallops take only 2-3 minutes per side to get that beautiful coated color. A friend on Facebook asked if I would share the recipe so that she can make it for Valentine’s Day. This meal would be perfect.

INGREDIENTS for SCALLOPS

3/4 lb scallops (I used frozen and they tasted great, you just have to thaw them overnight)

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning

2 tsp olive oil

INGREDIENTS for BARLEY

1 cup barley, cooked

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 scallions (green onions), sliced

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Season scallops (if using frozen, make sure they are thawed and dried) with salt and pepper. Brown scallops 2 – 3 minutes per side in hot oil until golden.
2. Make ahead. Cook barley according to package directions. Cool and combine with cranberries, pecans, olive oil, vinegar and green onions. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Allow to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Serve salad at room temperature topped with seared scallops. Sprinkle with fresh tarragon.

Serving size – about 4 (2-3 scallops per person and 1/3 cup of pilaf)

Seared scallops

Jalapeno Turkey Burgers

I came up with this idea for turkey burgers while I was driving home from work. It’s simple and easy to put together. There’s no real measurements for any of the ingredients. That’s one of the things I do love about cooking. You can play around with ingredients and add a little bit of this or a little bit of that. Just eye it and try it.The burgers came out juicy and very tasty and had a little spice to them.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 of a medium-sized red bell pepper, chopped finely

2 medium-sized jalapenos (1 seeded, 1 with seeds), chopped finely

1 egg

3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

fresh ground black pepper and sea salt for seasoning

1/4 cup shredded Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack Cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Shape into 4-5 patties.

2. Grill until done. About 8-10 minutes per side (depends on thickness of burgers and the heat of your grill)

 

Grilled Corn, Cilantro, & Black Bean Salad with Balsamic Dressing

The other night I had this creative idea for turkey burgers. Instead of pairing the burgers with fries, I decided to go with a salad. I didn’t want a traditional leafy green salad, so I looked in my fridge at all the produce I bought this past weekend. I saw 4 ears of corn, Roma tomatoes, cilantro, red onions, and jalapenos. I went to my pantry and found a can of black beans. I searched around on Google for some recipes and after finding a few with these ingredients, I came up with the recipe below.

Not only is It refreshing, but very colorful and quick (less than 30 minutes). This is a great summer recipe and you can eat it warm or cold. It’d be a great side dish to bring to a picnic or BBQ.

INGREDIENTS

4 ears of corn

1 tablespoon of olive oil

15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

4 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

2 tsp jalapeno, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

FOR DRESSING

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat grill to high. Rub olive oil on the corn and grill, covered, for about 6-8 minutes. Continue to rotate the corn every 2 minutes for even cooking. Set aside to cool.(TIP: to get the corn cooked evenly, PRIOR to rubbing olive oil, wrap corn with damp paper towel and microwave two at a time for about 6 minutes. Let cool then rub the olive oil on the corn)

2. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.

3. Slice the corn off the cob and place in a bowl. Add the chopped tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, jalapenos, and black beans.

4. Add dressing and gently toss. Serve warm or cold.

Friday’s Focus Ingredients #3: MINT

Mint is widely used in commercially manufactured products, cooking and medicine for its aromatic and flavorsome qualities. Peppermint is one of the most popular species and can be found in toothpaste, chewing gum, mouthwash, soaps, sweets, balms or creams and cough medicine.

Apart from peppermint, spearmint is probably the most widely used species of mint. It is not as strong as peppermint in flavor and is therefore used in cooking and added to sauces, dressings, cakes and can be added as a garnish to dishes.

MINT HISTORY

Mint is known to have originated in Asia and the Mediterranean region. In many cultures, mint symbolized hospitality and was offered as a sign of welcome and friendship to guests as they arrived. In the Middle East mint tea is still served to guests on their arrival, while in ancient Greece, the leaves of mint were rubbed onto the dining table, which was a sign of warm greeting.

Mint was also often used as an air freshener and was placed in the rooms of houses, synagogues and temples to clear and freshen the air and rid the smell of unpleasant odors from the room. The Greeks and the Romans used mint as a perfume and bath scent, as well as using it in medicine and in cooking.

Mint was so revered by the ancient Greeks that they named the plant after the mythical character Minthe. According to Greek myth, Minthe (or Menthe as she is also known) was a river nymph. Hades, the God of the Underworld, fell in love with Minthe and wanted to make her his lover. However, Persephone, Hades’s wife found out and in a fit of rage turned Minthe into a plant, so that everyone would walk all over her and trample her. Unable to undo the spell, Hades gave Minthe a wonderful aroma so that he could smell her and be near her when people trod on her.

MINT & HEALTH

Mint contains a number of vitamins and minerals, which are vital to maintain a healthy body. Mint is rich in Vitamins A and C and also contains smaller amounts of Vitamin B2. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant and may help to decrease the risk of certain cancers such as colon and rectal cancer. Although mint may be consumed in small quantities, the vital nutrients obtained are still beneficial to one’s health.

Mint also contains a wide range of essential minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, potassium and calcium.

Mint has always been used medicinally to aid digestion and relieve indigestion. If you suffer from frequent indigestion, drinking a cup of peppermint tea after your meal may help.

The chemical compound menthol, which is obtained from peppermint oil, is well known for its healing properties on the chest and respiratory system.

Mint is also said and in many cases proven to:

  • Relieve symptoms of indigestion, heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome by relaxing the muscles in and around the intestine.
  • Act as a powerful antioxidant, protecting the body against the formation of cancerous cells.
  • Inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria and fungus.
  • Ease and unblock the breathing and respiratory passages and airways.
  • Relieves the symptoms of colds and flu.
  • Mint can help with nasal allergies.
  • It can relieve congestion, head colds and headaches.
  • Act as a mild sedative and has calming properties.
  • Relieve minor aches and pains such as muscle cramps and sprains.
  • Combat bad breath.
  • Provides a cooling sensation to the skin and can help to treat minor burns, itching and skin irritations.
  • Mint is a very good cleanser for the blood.
  • Mint tea can help clear up skin disorders such as acne

MINT STORAGE

The two most popular types of mint that you may use for cooking are peppermint and spearmint, with spearmint being the milder of the two. Mint is extremely popular in Middle Eastern cooking, especially Iranian and Lebanese cuisine, where it is used in an extensive range of sweet and savory dishes.

Fresh mint can be bought from your local supermarket and should be stored in the refrigerator for the best freshness. If you buy a bunch of mint, it should be placed in a container of water, stems down, with a plastic bag loosely covering the top. Ideally change the water every two days and the mint should stay fresh for up to a week.

Dried mint can also be bought but the flavor is so much more diluted.

MINT COOKING TIPS & HINTS

Here are some minty flavored recipes to try, whether you’re in the mood for a hot or cold drink, or something sweet or savory. Enjoy.

MINT JULEPS

2 cups water

2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

32 fluid ounces Kentucky bourbon

8 sprigs fresh mint leaves for garnish

1. Combine water, sugar and chopped mint leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow syrup to cool, approximately 1 hour. Pour syrup through a strainer to remove mint leaves

2. Fill eight cups or frozen goblets with crushed ice and pour 4 ounces of bourbon and 1/4 cup mint syrup in each. (Proportions can be adjusted depending on each person’s sweet tooth). Top each cup with a mint sprig and a straw. Trim straws to just barely protrude from the top of the cups. Serve juleps on a silver platter.

FRESH MINT AND CILANTRO MELON SALAD

4 cups 1-inch chunks honeydew

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves and stems

1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

white sugar to taste

Combine the honeydew, lime juice, cilantro, mint, and sugar in a bowl; toss to combine; refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

MASHED NEW POTATOES WITH FRESH MINT

2 pounds red new potatoes, scrubbed

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in chunks

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and put them in a mixing bowl while they are still nice and hot. Add the chopped mint and mash so the potatoes are chunky and green in spots. Fold in the butter and stir everything together so the butter melts. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with a healthy amount of salt and pepper.

FRESH CHOCOLATE MINT DOUBLE CHIP COOKIES

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh chocolate mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease a baking sheet.

Cream the butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla slowly.

Sift together flour, salt and baking soda and then add to the wet mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped mint and mix together until just combined.

Form the dough into 2 inch balls. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake until golden, about 9 minutes for chewy and 12 for crunchy. Cool on rack. Store in airtight container.

Additional usages for mint:

  • Add chopped mint to sauces for red meat, particularly lamb.
  • Add several sprigs of mint to peas, green beans or new potatoes while boiling.
  • Add mint to ahomemade or store-bought chocolate sauce for a chocolate and mint sauce.
  • Use as a garnish for cool drinks and fruit desserts.
  • Use dried peppermint leaves, added to boiling water to make a refreshing and digestive tea.
  • Make a yogurt dressing with chopped mint leaves, natural yogurt, garlic and salt and pepper for salads especially cucumber salad.
  • Add to cold soups or hot tomato soups.
  • Use to make curries.
  • Use mint to flavor cakes, meringues and biscuits.
  • Use to make a marinade for lamb.
  • The Middle Eastern salad dish, Tabbouleh contains mint, bulgur, parsley, red onions, tomato and lemon juice.
  • Add chopped mint to rice, chickpea, couscous or bean dishes.

30 Minute Turkey Chili

It’s officially getting colder  in the Bay Area. Soon the sun will be gone and we’ll get days of rain and windy weather (the temperature will remain at low 40s and 50s at the most). For Californians, that’s cold (and I grew up in Minnesota, so go figure…), but yes, these days it will be colder, which means I need warm comfort food. A few Saturdays ago I made my quick 30 minute Turkey Chili. This is one of my favorite meals to make during the fall/winter season. I make it 2-3 times during the year. Our favorite thing to eat with the chili is sprinkling some shredded cheddar cheese on top and using Fritos Scoops as our eating utensil. This recipe is quick and easy and has so much flavor. Enjoy and bon appetit!

INGREDIENTS

1 ½  teaspoons olive oil

1 pound ground turkey

1 medium or large onion, chopped

2 cups water

1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

1 can (16 oz.) black beans (or kidney beans) – up to you

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon cayenne

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1. Heat oil in medium-large pot on medium heat. Cook turkey in pot until brown. (You won’t need to drain oil since turkey is very lean)

2. Add onions and cook until tender (about 4-5 minutes)

3. Pour water into pot. Mix in tomatoes, beans, and garlic. And all spices and herbs (I usually add all the spices into a small mixing bowl – see the picture below – aren’t the colors beautiful?)

4. Bring chili to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Feel free to make this chili for a football game or on a cold and dreary night. It is a winner. Enjoy it with your favorite chili condiments. It’s so easy to make and so good!