jicama-lime slaw

Summer seems to be upon us here in Arizona, even though I think spring only officially got started a couple of weeks ago.  So, with temps in the 90s, and our grill performing its usual work-horse duties, I wanted a side that could herald summer.  Spring is fleeting.  Summer, well that just seems to go on forever.

I have my faithful stand-by recipes, but I like to experiment early in the season to find out if there’s anything worth making for upcoming picnics, get-togethers with friends, etc.  And I’m always enticed by oft-overlooked veggies.  Like the jicama, for instance.  You can find them in pretty much any grocery store, but it’s rare you see recipes calling for this uber-nutritious, fibrous root veggie.  And I’m surprised it took me this long to think of it as perfect for cole slaw.  The flavor and texture are spot on – crisp and sweet, somewhere between a water chestnut and a pear.  The jicama’s flavor is enhanced by the lime and doesn’t give way to sogginess when the dressing is applied.

If you’ve looking for a change of pace from a traditional mayo-based slaw, this one is perfect.  It’s tangy, zesty, and perfectly fresh for summer.  Enjoy!

 

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Jicama-Lime Slaw (recipe adapted from Cooking Light Superfast Suppers)

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium jicama, peeled and shredded
  • 1 c green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 c red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 c fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine first three ingredients in a medium bowl, tossing well.  Set aside. t
  2. Whisk together lime juice, EVOO, sugar, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over slaw mixture and toss well to coat.
  4. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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***Cook’s Notes:  I was in time-saving mode, so I grabbed a bag of pre-shredded cabbage in the produce aisle.  Turns out it was the angel hair variety, so a bit too flimsy for my taste, but worked fine.  Next time I’ll either shred my own or make sure I buy a thicker shred.

 

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sausage and egg fried rice

One of my favorite things to order at our neighborhood Chinese restaurant is chicken fried rice.  Even better, wrap it up in a soft tortilla and call it a Chinese burrito.  Either way, it’s comfort food through and through.  But we all know the fried rice at your favorite carry-out is, while incredibly delicious, not exactly scoring high marks for health food.  Also, we don’t eat out that much – have you seen the portion sizes?  And, frankly, we get a healthier meal at home.  Which is why I’ve always been curious about making my own fried rice.

Last night was the perfect night.  My people had gone off to have dinner with relatives.  Earlier in the day, in anticipation of dinner-for-one, I cooked up some rice (halving the recipe below) and set it aside to cool.  Fried rice is a great way to use up leftover rice from a previous dinner, but since I’m apparently so good at portion control, I rarely have leftover rice on hand.  Note to selves:  If you’re ever just hanging out with an hour to spare, make some rice and tuck it away in the fridge for dinner later that week.

The original recipe called for diced ham, but I used an organic turkey sausage, instead, since it’s what I had on hand.  I think it’s a perfectly good substitute, lower in sodium and fat, while still adding a nice boost of protein.  Since it’s a recipe that loans itself to personal adaptation, pick your protein for what suits your lifestyle.

I wasn’t sure what to expect since I believed it would be nearly impossible to recreate the goodness of Chinese carry-out in my own kitchen.  But this recipe came pretty darn close.  I thought it was delicious…and much, much healthier.  The green beans added crunch and a pretty burst of color.  Onion and garlic gave it nice, heady flavor in combination with the soy sauce and sesame oil.  Prep first and it all goes together really fast, as a stir-fry should.  Can’t wait to try the leftovers after the flavors have a chance to mingle, a bit.  Definitely a keeper on the first run, though.  Enjoy!

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Sausage and Egg Fried Rice (recipe adapted from Cooking Light, September 2008)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cold cooked long-grain rice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup thinly horizontally sliced green beans
  • 3/4 cup diced turkey kielbasa (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup (1-inch) slices green onions

Preparation:

  1. 1. Break up rice with hands to remove large clumps, if necessary.
  2. 2. Heat a 14-inch wok over high heat. Add canola oil to wok, swirling to coat. Add 1 1/2 cups onion and garlic to wok; stir-fry 1 minute or until onion begins to brown. Add beans and ham; stir-fry 2 minutes or until ham begins to brown.
  3. 3. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add cold rice to wok; stir-fry 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, sesame oil, and black pepper. Push rice mixture up sides of wok. Pour eggs in open space in center of wok; cook 30 seconds or until set, stirring to scramble. Gently stir scrambled eggs into rice mixture. Sprinkle with green onions.

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pan-seared steak with red wine-cherry sauce

I’m a huge fan of the sweet cherry – being a native Michigander, and all.  My husband, a native Ohioan, believes Michiganders are willing to put cherries in anything; pies, bread, wine, soda, sausage, you name it.  And, on that count, he’s right.  Frankly, I think it’s just a jealousy thing.  He’s from Ohio who managed to marry a girl from Michigan.  Ohio has….um, well, no cherries.  Their state tree breeds a poisonous nut, for Pete’s sake.  Yeah, it’s totally jealousy.  Not to mention, Michigan is full of peninsulas and Ohio is pretty square.  Not a peninsula to be found.  Hence, I dubbed this syndrome “Peninsula Envy.”  He thinks I’m being funny.  Denial is the first sign.

If you’re married to a Michigan girl who grew up spitting cherry pits into the sand on the front porch of the family cottage, and cherries start to show themselves in grocery stores (sadly, not Michigan cherries) round about Father’s Day, it’s a good bet you’re getting something for dinner with cherries in it.  Fortuitously, the July issue of Cooking Light arrived at the house late last week.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Cooking Light is one of my all-time favorite cooking magazines.  Everything I’ve cooked from the magazine has been consistently good.  This issue certainly doesn’t disappoint – it’s full of amazing looking dishes, and even gave a shout out to Traverse City, Michigan, home to the Cherry Festival, on The Hungry Traveler 2013 top 10 list of delicious food excursions across America.

The red wine cherry sauce was quite good, especially infused with the star anise.  I had to make two alterations; one discussed below and the other being obvious from the photo.  The recipe called for beef tenderloin steaks, but I sent the man to the store and he came home with filets.  Cooking time quickly adjusted and they came out pink and perfect!  I served the steaks with garlicky almond green beans (poo poo’ed by the kiddo…too much garlic, apparently), which were delicious, and the man of the day gave the meal two thumbs up.  A perfect manly meal for a perfectly wonderful dad.  Enjoy!!

Seared Steaks with Red Wine-Cherry Sauce (recipe courtesy Cooking Light, July 2013)

Ingredients:

  • 4 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 cup sweet cherries (such as Bing), pitted and halved
  • 1 star anise
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine (Merlot or Pinot noir)
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425°.

2.   Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Sprinkle steaks evenly with salt and pepper. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add steaks; cook 4 minutes. Turn steaks over; bake at 425° for 5 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove steaks from pan.

3. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sauté 2 minutes or until just tender, stirring frequently. Add cherries and star anise; cook 1 minute. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Discard star anise. Stir in butter. Spoon sauce over steaks.

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Cook’s Notes:  I couldn’t get whole star anise in the bulk spice section at my local organic grocer, so I ended up with anise seed, instead.  Very fragrant, but supposedly not as flavorful.  Because it was anise seed, I didn’t add it with the cherries.  Instead, I bound the anise seed in cheese cloth and let it steep in the wine for about 30 minutes ahead of cooking.  The wine really picked up the anise flavor and it definitely flavored the sauce.

chicken and herb white pizza

The first thing my husband said to me after eating this pizza was, “You can make that one anytime!”  Need I type more?  This pizza was so good I don’t even have words for it.  If you’re bored with same-same pizza (we eat ham and pineapple pizza almost every time we eat pizza since it’s Kat’s favorite), this recipe is a breath of fresh air.  It’s full of incredible flavor from the savory white sauce and plentiful fresh herbs.  Better yet, it doesn’t come with the overwhelming guilt of a regular pizza.  The nutrition info provided with the recipe was for a six-slice pie, but I cut mine into 8 pieces.  Taking that into consideration, the 8-slice pie contains approximately 272 cal, about 6 g of fat, and a little less than 20 g of protein per slice.  See?  Practically no guilt.  Have seconds.

Truth is, I had two slices and never saw another slice of this pizza again.  A certain someone (a-hem) called dibs on the leftovers for lunch the next day and that was that.  Next time I’ll make two.

Chicken and Herb White Pizza

Recipe courtesy Cooking Light, October 2011

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound refrigerated fresh pizza dough
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray; let dough stand, covered, for 15 minutes.
3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add flour and pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 3 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.
4. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal; roll dough into a 12-inch circle on prepared baking sheet. Spread white sauce over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Top with chicken and onion.  Bake at 450° on bottom oven rack for 17 minutes or until crust is golden.  Sprinkle with herbs.
Kitchen Notes:  I used a raw pizza dough from Sprouts Farmers Market and followed the baking directions provided with the dough: 375 for 20 minutes.

beer-braised brisket

Sunday after church, if all goes as planned, and if the moon is in the Seventh House, and Jupiter aligns with Mars, I do a menu plan for the week.  In other words, sometimes I don’t do a menu plan for the week.  But, I try.  Planning meals for the week makes life so much easier:  greatly reduced amount of time spent staring into the fridge wondering what to serve, and greatly reduced stress levels during one of the more frustrating parts of the daily grind; the two hours between getting home from school (snack, homework, etc), and actually getting dinner on the table.

When I have it all planned out, I can get a lot of the prep work done ahead, not stress over which veggie to serve, and (added bonus), I actually cook less – can you give me a woot woot for leftovers, and I have a lot less organic food waste.

This week was one of those great weeks when all the necessary interplanetary alignment occurred without interruption and I was able to sit down for a while with my old-fashioned recipe box, my computer, and the latest issue of Cooking Light.

This recipe is so simple and there’s very little to do once the brisket is browned and in the oven.  With that said, though, it’s not a slow-cooker recipe, so you can’t walk off and leave it cooking unattended, either.  There are a total of three turns of the meat, and the veggies go in during the last hour.  Serve immediately over the carb of  your choice.  I plated it with wide egg noodles for a very hearty, seasonal autumn dinner.  Enjoy!

Kitchen Notes:  My brisket was just over two pounds as compared to a slightly larger brisket used in the original recipe.  Even reducing the baking time accordingly, my brisket was so tender it practically shredded when I sliced it.  This is quite a departure from the photo in the magazine which clearly shows a very neatly, evenly sliced piece of beef.  Although the meat was delicious, if I’d been looking for a perfect and pretty slice of cooked meat, I’d have been disappointed.  On the other hand, the leftover meat made for a really nice improvised pulled beef sandwich.  Adjust your baking time accordingly.  Also, the gravy is very intensely flavorful.  Use it!

Beer-Braised Brisket

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 1/2 pounds flat-cut beef brisket, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups pale ale
  • 4 cups lower-sodium beef broth
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 6 carrots, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 celery stalks, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, each cut into 12 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup water
Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Rub spice mixture evenly over both sides of brisket. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add brisket; sauté 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove brisket from pan. Add beer; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add broth and garlic; return to a boil. Return brisket to pan. Cover and cook at 325° for 2 hours. Turn brisket over; cook an additional 2 hours. Turn brisket over. Add carrot, celery, and onion; cook an additional 1 hour or until brisket is very tender.
  3. Remove brisket and vegetables from pan using a slotted spoon. Skim fat from cooking liquid; discard fat. Bring cooking liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Place flour in a small bowl; stir in 1/2 cup water. Add flour mixture to pan, stirring until smooth; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve the sauce with beef and vegetables.