Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shrimp Fried Barley

I'm nothing if I'm not a weirdo. I like peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. I dance like a crazy person around my apartment all by myself because sometimes music makes me hyper. I spend a few hours cleaning my desk at work and then the following day cannot figure out for the life of me where I put a specific piece of paper that I need. Let's not even talk about the assortment of music I have on my iPod.

So here I am, weirding up (or it is out?) your life with fried barley instead of rice. It is a nice change that I fully support.

Get down with your strange self. :)

Shrimp Fried Barley
1/2 tbsp peanut oil
2 green onions, diced, white and green parts separated
4 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup chopped green beans
1 cup cooked barley
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp fish sauce

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the white parts of the onions and saute for about 1 minute until softened. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, for about 1-2 minutes until no longer completely pink. Add the green beans and saute for another minute. Add the barley and toss to mix everything, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Push the barley mixture to the side and slide the beaten egg into the pan. Scramble. Mix the cooked egg into the barley. Sprinkle in the soy sauce, sriracha and fish sauce and toss to combine.

Serve topped with the green parts of the onion.

Serves 2.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mom's Potato Salad

Let's talk about the miracle of life for a few moments.

My friends in college used to laugh at me because I told them that I was really excited one day to be pregnant. I mean, it is a little baby growing inside of you. It starts as two little cells and becomes a person! How amazing is that?! It truly is the miracle of life.

No, no, this is not a pregnancy announcement. I was just reminded of this perfect creation of new life when I went to visit my new baby niece this past weekend. She is this little bundle of joy (and squeaks) that makes everyone in the room glow with happiness. She is so tiny yet so full of life. I could have sat there holding her and staring at her precious face forever. My sister and her husband have this baby making thing down to perfection--they make the most adorable little kiddos. Both of my nieces are probably the prettiest little babies ever (not that I'm biased at all). Who would dare to contradict these faces?

Speaking of family, today I'm sharing my mom's potato salad. Feel free to double it if you are feeding a large family. I love that mine keeps growing.

Mom's Potato Salad (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
1 lb yukon potatoes
1/2 cup miracle whip light
1/2 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp dill pickle juice
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, thinly diced
2 small dill pickles, diced
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until just tender. Drain well. Cool. Peel and cube potatoes.

Mix together the miracle whip, mustard, pickle juice and salt and pepper.

Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, pickles and eggs in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least 6 hours.

To serve, top with paprika.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Garlic Chipotle Chicken Tacos


They are quite funny creatures, right? You'd be hard pressed to find a college campus (at least the ones that I have been to) that is not crawling with the little guys. Somehow squirrels are afraid of people yet seem to long to be around them.

We used to have this one squirrel on Hope College's campus that didn't have a tail. We called him squabbit because he looked almost like a rabbit. The squirrels on Duke's campus were not quite as noticeable to me-- probably because I didn't walk through the quad often. But since I've been back to the midwest, I've been observing quite interesting behavior from the squirrels. One of my first times through the quad, a squirrel was sitting on this girl's lap. No joke, she was sitting on a bench feeding a squirrel while her friend took a picture. Crazy. Today I was walking between buildings and a squirrel noticed me walking by and became as still as a statue while giving me the stink-eye. Why do the squirrels love campuses so much?

Maybe it is the food. There is always someone eating something while walking through campus. Plus there are lots of garbage cans for them to play around with... 

Anyway, I'm not sure how the squirrels will feel about these garlic chipotle chicken tacos but I'm guessing you will like them. They make a great summer night meal-- charred peppers and onions on top of flavorful grilled chicken. 

Garlic Chipotle Chicken Tacos (adapted from Cooking Light June 2012)
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (or you can use chicken breasts)
freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp chili powder
1 small red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 small red onion, sliced
6 corn tortillas
shredded lettuce

Combine garlic, chipotle pepper and 1/2 tbsp oil in a small bowl. Rub evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Preheat indoor or outdoor grill. Grill chicken for about 6 minutes, flipping halfway through, until cooked through. Remove from grill and keep warm.

Combine 1/2 tbsp oil, chili powder and freshly ground pepper in another bowl. Toss with the bell pepper and onion to coat. Place the vegetables on the grill and cook for about 5-6 minutes until soft and charred.

Thinly slice the chicken. Serve the tortillas topped with chicken, vegetables and shredded lettuce.

Serves 2.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Corn and Crab Cakes

I think they are pumping something into the air of my building at work. No matter how many hours I sleep during the night, I am always exhausted getting up in the morning. And it isn't just me. I've been doing my investigatory research and found that I'm not the only one that is having this issue. Everyone seems to be drained of their energy these days.

Today I wanted to head home and nap in front of the pool. Unfortunately that did not happen. Instead I ran a few reactions, treated some cells, and updated my CV. Ah, the life of a postdoc.

Let's talk now about these crab cakes. They are summer on a plate (especially if you serve with grilled asparagus as I did). It is essential that you take the time to freeze the cakes after you form them-- this allows you to cook them without crumbling. To tell you the truth, I was really worried before I made this recipe; I wasn't sure I was going to like them. I used canned crab and I was worried it would be tasteless and just okay... But I'm telling you that the resulting product surprised me in a great way! They were delicious! Now I've checked crab cakes off my bucket list and my brain is whirling about flavors to play around with for next time.

Corn and Crab Cakes (adapted from Cooking Light August 2012)
1/4 cup canned corn, rinsed and drained
1/8 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 1/2 tbsp chopped green onions
1 1/2 tbsp light mayonnaise
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
4 oz canned crab, shell pieces removed
1 egg white
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tbsp butter

Combine the corn, pepper, onions, mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay, crab, and egg white in a bowl until well blended. Stir in 1/3 cup panko. Divide into 4 equal pieces and form each into 1-inch thick patties. Place them on a baking sheet and freeze for about 20 minutes until firm.

Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium high heat. Add the remaining 1/3 cup panko and cook until toasted while stirring frequently. Remove to a shallow dish and wipe out the skillet.

Coat the crab cakes in the toasted panko. Spray both sides of the cakes with cooking spray.

Melt the butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the crab cakes to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Serves 2.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Barley Salad with Chickpeas

Salads are perfect for hot, humid summer evenings. They come together so quickly. They require no heating source so your air conditioning doesn't have to go into overdrive keeping your apartment cool. However, lettuce topped with chopped veggies can get a little boring. Adding grains is a great way to step up your salad to that next level. If you really want to put it over the top, add some dried fruit and nuts. Make your way to the fresh greens section of your grocery store and try something new. Chickpeas make a great alternative to meat as your protein source.

This recipe is adapted from my cooking for one cookbook, Serve Yourself. Originally it was designed with farro but I subbed barley because I had that in my pantry. It was refreshing and delicious!

Barley Salad with Chickpeas (adapted from Serve Yourself cookbook)
2 tbsp chopped pecans
1 cup cooked pearl barley, cooled
1/3 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup lightly packed arugula leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup canned diced tomatoes including juice
2 tbsp dried cherries
1 green onion, thinly sliced
6 large mint leaves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until they turn dark brown and smell fragrant. Remove to a plate to cool.

Combine the pecans, barley, chickpeas, arugula, tomatoes, cherries, green onion, and mint in a bowl. Mix. Drizzle with the oil and vinegar and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Chorizo, Potato, Corn and Poblano Tacos

Tacos and pizza are two foods with which you can be extra creative. You have a blank canvas of pizza dough or tortillas and you can use your imagination to make whatever your heart desires. The other day my heart soared when I saw the recipe in Cooking Light for potato and poblano tacos with chorizo and corn. Perfect for a summer evening.

Chorizo, Potato, Corn and Poblano Tacos (adapted from Cooking Light May 2013)
1 poblano chile
1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup diced potato (about 1 large)
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 ear of corn, kernels cut off
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz chorizo
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
6 corn tortillas
1 green onion, sliced
shredded cheddar cheese
lime wedges

Preheat broiler.

Cut the poblano in half lengthwise and remove seeds and membranes. Place cut sides down on a baking sheet. Broil for about 8 minutes until blackened. Remove from the oven and place in a paper bag. Fold to close tightly and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove, peel and coarsely chop.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the potatoes to a large bowl. Add the onion to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes until softened. Add the poblano, corn and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes until fragrant, stirring frequently. Remove the onion mixture to the bowl with the potatoes. Add the chorizo to the pan and cook about 2 minutes, stirring to crumble. Return the potato mixture to the pan. Add the broth and stir to mix. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, partially cover and simmer for about 6 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.

Meanwhile, lay the tortillas on a baking sheet and broil for about 1 minute on each side until golden brown. Alternatively, you could char them over a flame of a gas oven.

Serve the tortillas topped with the chorizo mixture, green onions, and cheddar cheese. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the tacos right before eating.

Serves 2-3.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Wine Slushies!!!

We know that I like to recreate recipes at home that I find at restaurants. Remember the potato pizza? And the immaculate reception inspired pot pie? And crab meat rangoons? What about the restaurant style dark dinner rolls? So from the moment I tasted the wine slushie at Sleepy Creek Vineyards, I knew I needed a homemade version. I loved the taste but could not justify buying both the wine and the slushie mix... especially since I was certain the mix consisted of sugar and only a few other ingredients. As is my norm, I immediately google-ed "homemade wine slushie mix" when I got home and found myself a recipe. And y'all, it is so simple. I've already made it twice! I plead the 5th in answering your question of how long it took me to finish the first batch (it was >1 day, however). Then my parents were in town for Sunday and I made it again because I like to be a bad influence on my mom and introduce her to alcoholic beverages that I think she will enjoy (she doesn't like beer or wine and will only occasionally drink a margarita or daiquiri). I was correct. The tartness and ice-y-ness of the drink was perfect for her. My dad enjoyed it too.

Here it is important to appropriately pick your wine. If you use a sweet wine, then your slushie will be sweet; if you use a drier wine, then your slushie will be even more tart. I like the latter best. This recipe only requires 4 ingredients: sugar, citric acid, a lemon and wine (I guess 5, if you include the water). FYI: Citric acid can be found in the canning section of your grocery store or Lowe's/Home Depot/etc.

I cannot express my enthusiasm for this drink enough. It is perfect for the summer. Do the darn thing!

Homemade Wine Slushies (adapted from Celebration Generation)
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp citric acid
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
750 mL bottle of red wine*
3 cups water

Combine the granulated sugar, citric acid and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for about 3-4 minutes until the sugar is processed and everything is mixed well.

Place a gallon size freezer ziploc bag in a bowl. Pour the sugar mixture into the bag. Add the wine, water and lemon juice. Gently mix with a spoon to dissolve. Place into the freezer and allow to freeze for at least 3-4 hours until it reaches your desired consistency.**

*Note: the sweeter the wine you use, the sweeter the slushie will be. Also, I have only used red wine, but I imagine you could use white wine as well.

**Note: This will keep in the freezer for multiple days but will take on more of a granita or flavored ice texture. This is no problem- eat it with a spoon. Or remove it from the freezer and squish the bag with your hands after it has been sitting on the counter for a few minutes.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wheat Garlic Rolls

My sister and her college friends did this thing that impressed me. They made a pact to find a part of their own bodies that they found most attractive. That way any time they were feeling self-conscious or unpretty, they could look at it, smile, and feel better about themselves. This is a great idea for people (not just girls) that sometimes struggle with the physical standards our society holds as attractive. And by a raise of hands, who else has had one of those frumpy, feeling fat and ugly days? I see you all out there with your hands up.

As for my sister, she really liked her forearms. Let me tell you, she has nice forearms.

I have been thinking about this lately and concluded my favorite part of my body is my ankles. I'm not going to lie but they look pretty darn cute when I wear crop pants with boat shoes or sandals. It makes me happy when I get to show them. :) Somehow they are one of the skinniest parts of my body and the bottom of my calf meeting the top of my foot is just attractive. Now, this is probably not the first thing that anyone notices when they see me (actually most people probably don't check out my ankles), but it is the fact that when I see them, I hold my head a little higher, remind myself that I am beautiful, and have a little better day.

Now, I'm giving you homework. Think about your favorite body part. Pick something with which you are always happy (okay, maybe my ankles may turn to cankles if I'm on a long plan ride without walking around much, but that is not very often). Remember this always... especially if you are having a bad day. If you care to share below, I'd love to hear what you have picked.

Now on to delicious garlic bread that can make me smile as much as my ankles. These rolls can compliment any Italian feast and come together quite easily on a lazy day at home. I made them into cloverleaf rolls by dropping three balls into muffin tins. Alternatively, you could roll them into logs for breadsticks or simply make buns.

Wheat Garlic Rolls (adapted significantly from White on Rice Couple)
a little less than 1 cup warm water (about 115 F)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tbsp active dry yeast
75 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cup)
75 grams whole wheat flour (about 1 1/4 cup)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/8 cup freshly chopped herbs (combination of parsley, rosemary, basil)

Combine the water, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the flour and knead for about 3 minutes until the flour is completely incorporated. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Grease a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Lightly punch down the dough and separate into 11-12 pieces. Separate each piece into three equal pieces and roll into a ball. Place three balls into each muffin tin. Cover with a towel and let rise until puffy over the sides of the tin, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

While the rolls are baking, heat the 1 tbsp olive oil and butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped fresh herbs and set aside.

Remove the rolls from the oven and brush with the garlic herb mixture.

Serve warm. Reheat in microwave or oven if you have leftovers.

Makes 11-12 rolls.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Spanish Shrimp and Rice

You know you are old when...

...every week after playing softball, a different part of your body falls apart.

After the first game, my shoulder was sore from throwing the ball for the first time in almost 2 years. After the second game, my shin splints were acting up after running. Of course, I compensated the next week and totally pulled a quad. And then I twisted my ankle when getting to third base and had to walk funny for a few days. This past week I slid into second base (and was safe) just to rip up my knee. Yeah, no joking here. Completely true stories. Apparently my body hates softball. My mind, on the other hand, is really enjoying being out in the fresh air and playing on a team.

Our softball team is actually pretty good. We're 8 for 9 on wins this season. Not bad, right?

You know what also makes a good team? Shrimp and rice. Especially when they are backed by a variety of vegetables and seasoned with tumeric and a drizzle or two of hot sauce. Pull some spinach, strawberries and freshly grated parmesan off the bench to make a nice rounded dinner. It'll be Spanish fried rice for the win!!

Spanish Shrimp and Rice (adapted significantly from Food Network Magazine May 2013)
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
2 green onion, diced, white and green parts divided
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 medium yellow tomato, chopped
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tbsp vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste
hot sauce, for serving

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and turmeric and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato, carrot and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the shrimp and cook until they begin to turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and broth and cook until hot through about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the peas.

Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Top with green parts of onion and hot sauce.

Serves 2-3.