Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Spicy grill night!

Last night the weather turned sooo beautiful - Cool, no humidity, nice breeze.  Time to fire up the grill and eat outside on the deck before the heat cranks up again this weekend.

Last night's feast:  Glazed Chicken and Szechuan Noodle Salad from Cooking Light Magazine.

 This was a super tasty, zesty dinner with Asian notes.  And...It was ready in 30 minutes with very little clean up!  If you like your feasts a little spicy, this is the dish for you!

Glazed Chicken and Szechuan Noodle Salad 
with Sesame Broccoli

Glazed Chicken
1 Tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lower-sodium soy sauce
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
(I used half thigh and half breast cuz I like white meat better)
Cooking spray

Szechuan Noodle Salad
6 ounces uncooked udon noodels (thick, fresh Japanese wheat noodles) or whole-wheat linguine
1/4 cup bottled Szechuan Sauce
1 Tablespoon reduced-fat creamy peanut butter (I used regular)
2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 cup matchstick carrots
1/2 cup thin sliced green onions

1.  Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
2.  Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stir well.  Add chicken; toss to coat.
3.  Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side until done.  Remove from grill; cover.
4. Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well. Combine Szechuan sauce, peanut butter, soy sauce, and juice in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add noodles, carrots, and green onions; toss and serve immediately with chicken.

Sesame Broccoli:
Add water to a large saucepan to a depth of 1 inch; set a large vegetable steamer in pan.  Bring water to a boil over high heat.  Add 1 (12 oz) package broccoli florets to steamer.  Steam broccoli, covered, 4 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Place broccoli in a medium bowl.  Add 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to broccoli; toss well.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Salmon is Smokin' !

On a cedar plank anyway!  Tonight's feast was Cedar Plank Salmon with Mango Kiwi Salsa.  

The recipe was out of this month's Cooking Light Magazine- my favorite go-to for weeknight dinners that keep me on my weight loss path.   The fish was really moist and delicious and - oh my! - the smell of that cedar plank really gave it some great smoky flavor.  The best part...Sooo easy!

Just soak the plank for 25 minutes in water in the sink.  Throw the plank on a medium high grill for 3 minutes to get the char going.  Season the fish with salt and pepper. Flip the plank over and set the fish on the charred side and grill for about 8 minutes.  After is the best part...Throw the plank away!  No clean up!  How good is that?

I served it up with the last of the farmer's market treasures - baby squash - and some orzo flavored with a tiny bit of butter and garlic chives from the garden.  Pretty edible for a Thursday!

What are you feasting on this HOT summer day?

Peace baby!

Or should I say "Piece?"  I have the second panel of the pillow pieced.  Just need to embellish the patches and seams.  Progress!  :-)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More Farmer's Market Treasures

Tonight was one of our favorite meals - Swiss Chard, Potato and Parmesan Frittata.  I got the beautiful rainbow chard at the farmer's market on Saturday and it really needed to be used tonight.  So I pulled out the trusty recipe that I found on Susan Russo's Food Blogga site.  And here is the beautiful result!  A hit every time!

Swiss Chard, Potato, and Parmesan Frittata

Served with a mixed greens and herb salad with strawberries, blueberries and some slivered almonds, it is the perfect dinner for the hot weather we have been having here in NoVA.

Swiss Chard, Potato and Parmesan Frittata
1 small red potato, diced
1 small bunch Swiss chard, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups - I use more)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1 shallot or small yellow onion
6 eggs (Egg Beaters or whites are also fine)
1 tablespoon each fresh basil and parsley, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
a few dashes of salt
1/4 cup part skim shredded mozzarella cheese 
(I use whatever is in the cheese drawer.  Tonight it was some shredded pepper jack)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, divided

Par boil the potatoes by cooking them in a small pot of boiling water for 3 minutes or until barely fork tender.  Spoon the potatoes out into a bowl and put the swiss chard in the potato water to steam/wilt for about 2 minutes.  Drain the chard and press to get some of the water out.  

Over medium-low heat, add olive oil to an 8 inch non-stick skillet.  Add shallots and potatoes; saute until golden brown, about 5 min.  Add swiss chard and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a small bowl; add fresh basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt, mozzarella, and half the parmesan cheese and gently whisk until well combined.  Pour the egg mixture into the skillet.  With a fork, gently move the egg mixture from side to side as it begins to cook to ensure that it cooks evenly.  Do this until the eggs start to solidify and a crust begins to form around the edges.  This take about 5-8 minutes.  Give the pan handle a jiggle and when the eggs appear nearly set, remove the pan from the stove top.

Sprinkle the top of the frittata with remaining half of parmesan cheese and place under the broiler.  (Be sure that your pan has an oven-proof handle or wrap it in foil to protect it.)  Broil for 4-5 minutes, or until the top begins to puff up and turns golden brown.  Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn.  Once nicely browned, let cool for a couple of minutes before slicing.  

Serve hot or at room temperature.  Enjoy your summer time feast!

Bonus post:  
Last night I got treated to dinner at my sister's house.  She made some amazing Thai-spiced Red Snapper.  

Doesn't that look like something from a fancy restaurant!  How lucky am I to have my sis right down the street!  

Oh...I found the freezer paper at Shopper's Food Warehouse this afternoon while I was replenishing our poor empty fridge.  So...I should be able to make some progress on the crazy pieced pillow tomorrow. I have a few errands to run in the morning then I'm going to try to carve out a bit of time for sewing.  The first week of summer is always a big catch-up week for me.

Hope everyone is staying cool in the heat!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pillow Progress

Summer is officially here!  I am making progress on the pillow project:

The whole front panel is complete with embellishments.  Now to put together the other two panels.  The challenge is...Where to find freezer paper for the crazy patch quilting?  Safeway didn't have it.  Giant has it online.  I'm stopping by Giant this evening to see if they have it at the brick and mortar store.  I tried calling to see, but they don't answer the phone up there...Grrrr!

Anyone have ideas on where to buy freezer paper?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Farmer's Market Season

Ahhh...The first visit to the Farmer's Market.  Even though it is kind of between seasons - Spring produce is finishing up and summer produce is not quite in - Carolyn (my daughter and favorite sous chef) and I were able to score some pretty patty pan squash and some beautiful baby zucchini and yellow squash.

We googled a recipe and came up with this "Pretty in the Pan Patty Pan Squash" winner from Oh She Glows.
The original recipe was vegan and I am decidedly not vegan so I gilded the lily by adding a bit of shredded Romano cheese on top.  I  am also not a patient person so I used quick cooking brown rice in place of regular short grain brown rice.  It cut at least 20 minutes off the cook time and was still delish.

  Pretty in the Pan Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

This recipe was definitely a winner!  I added some rotisserie chicken from the grocery store (Why roast chicken when it is right there in the store for like $5?) and our favorite taste of summer - tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil from the garden.  

What a perfect way to start off Farmer's Market Season!

Here's my version of Pretty in the Pan Patty Pan Squash:

Pretty in the Pan Patty Pan Squash

10 Patty Pan Squash
1 small zucchini
1 large carrot
1 large green onion
1cup Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Fast and Natural Instant Brown Rice
1 3/4 cup Water mixed with one Vegetable bouillon cube
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 Tbsp Butter
Pinch or two of Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Fresh parsley to garnish

1) Make rice according to package directions except add the crushed garlic cloves to infuse flavor while the rice is cooking.
2)While the rice is cooking, fill a large pot with 1-2 inches of water and bring to a boil.  Place the patty pan squash in the pan and cook 7-8 minutes until the squash is just barely tender.
3)While the rice and squash are cooking place the carrot,  the zucchini and green onion and process in the food processor until finely chopped.
4) In a small bowl, mix the sauce for the rice by combining the butter and tomato paste
5) When the rice is done cooking remove garlic cloves and and add the butter and tomato paste.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
6)  Remove squash from the pan and cool slightly.  When cool enough to handle, cut a small "lid" off the top of each squash.  Remove the centers of each squash leaving a squash bowl.
7) Add the squash innards to the rest of the veggies in the food processor and pulse quickly.
8) Combine the chopped veggies and the rice mixture.
9) Place the squash in a 9 x 13 pan. Stuff each squash with rice mixture and top with shredded romano or parmesan cheese.  Arrange any extra filling around the squash in the pan.
10) Top with the squash lids and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

When done, Sprinkle with fresh parsley and Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

No Feasts or Fabrics...But...

Too tied up in finishing the school year to post anything but the end is in sight! Here's a preview of possible future feasts biding time in the garden soaking up summer sun and storing up deliciousness!
Two more school days and a couple work days til Sweet summer!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jump Starting Summer Sewing

Summer is just One Week Away!!!  For me that means finally having some time to sew the way I like to sew - total immersion.  I have actually been itching to start something, but have been reluctant to start a big project with all that goes on with wrapping up another school year.

Sooo...time to work on some UFOs  (Unfinished Objects).  Those of you who know me know that I head to Charleston, SC each February for an amazing week called Stitchin Charleston Style.  It is five glorious days of fine hand stitching led by the amazing Laura Jenkins Thompson.  Each year there is a new project - or five - and some years I finish them...

I actually finished this year's project thanks to some enforced quiet time on the flight to Scotland to visit my daughter this spring.  This year's project was a small linen table cloth with a unique spray of native flowers in each corner.

We worked on one corner each day of the weekend.

 So now...To kick start summer sewing I've re-started the project from 2 years ago.  It is a crazy-patch pillow made with little "sampler" patches that we completed in class.  I finished the final patch today and now I'm ready to put it all together.

Here are all the patches complete.  The middle section of the pillow is already basted together waiting for embellishment.

 My favorite is the little dragonfly!

Here is what the pillow will look like when complete...

Sew...Here's to the start of the summer sewing season!  I can't wait!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday comfort food

Fridays are always a tricky dinner day for me. I'm tired after the work week and the refrigerator is a bit echo-y.

Today I had the last of the memorial day pork tenderloin that needed to be used up ASAP. So... I googled leftover pork tenderloin. I found a website that listed several ideas but the winner had to be pasta - the ultimate comfort food for me. The website paired pork, white beans, and spinach. But no recipe Hey! I have all of that! I thought it sounded a bit dry so I added some fire roasted tomatoes and -whala- dinner was born!

Here are the basics of the recipe I came up with, but use whatever you have left in your fridge on Friday!

Fabulous Friday Comfort Pasta 

1 cooked pork tenderloin cubed
1 onion minced
2 ribs of celery finely chopped
3 (or more!) cloves of garlic minced
4-5 cups fresh spinach roughly chopped
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes with juice
1/2 can tomato sauce
1/2 pound whole week rotini
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons basil cut in ribbons
Parmesan cheese to top the pasta