Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pesto Salmon with Green Beans

I could never cook professionally.  My godfather (who is an AMAZING cook) always says this and I've always kind of wondered about it, especially because my roommate does.  (P.S.  Naha was delicious!  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera at the office so I have no pictures.) 

I agreed to do like a competition thing with my friend and co-worker, Val, tomorrow.  She recently started a blog about all things crafty and delicious.  She is getting really into food, which means I have someone to share my excitement with over a properly risen dough.  On the surface, it's a great idea so I jumped right in and sent her these Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Cream.  She sent me these Strawberry Cream Puffs, which I have yet to start and it's 8 p.m.  (My school night bedtime is around 9 p.m.)  

When I say I'll do something and give myself a deadline, then it is so hard for me to want to do it.  I could never do this professionally - I think it'd make me crabby about cooking.  Right now, cooking is my relaxation and joy!

On top of my crazy procrasination, I've felt sick most of the day.  My stomach was acting horribly this morning, which means my day has consisted of me napping on the couch with Monkey and hiding out in the bathroom.  I'm just now starting to feel better; however, now my motivation is lost and I don't have any whipping cream...

Can I come up with another excuse?!  I'm sorry, Val, but I think I'll be bringing in my entry late.  I'll take the points deduction!

This morning, I woke up to a loud clash as my laptop fell from my bed.  Apparently, I fell asleep with my computer beside me.  I didn't move all night but this morning...  It broke my charger cord, so I'm rushing to share this delicious Pesto Salmon with Green Beans before the 40 minutes left of battery life disappear and I'm computer-less for the next week or so while my charger is getting sent to me.

I made this the night of the Super Bowl.  I know - not nachos, chili or mexican dip - but I ended up working and watching it (the commercials) by myself.  I've been wanting to try steaming fish in a pouch for a while since I have a great fear of cooking fish.  It's an irrational fear of the fish falling apart so all I'm left with are dry flakes of fish...

This was delicious and oh so easy!  I started with a layer of green beans.  (They've been frozen in our freezer from last summer's roommate's dad's garden crop.  They were a little freezer burned...)

Next, put your fish fillet on the green beans.  I cut the skin off.  Squeeze some lemon juice on the fish (or a splash of white wine would be good too).

Spoon some pesto over the fish.  I love pesto and almost always have some in my fridge.

Fold up the foil around everything and stick in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes.

Open up your little package and it comes out all wonderful, juicy and in one piece!!

I made some couscous to go with the fish.  Squeeze some lemon and crack some pepper on the couscous - it'll help accent the fish.

Enjoy with a glass of wine!  (I definitely felt better than all my co-workers the day after the Superbowl, which made me happy.)

Again, I'm sorry Val!  I'll make it one night this week - after getting some whipping cream.  I'll be back once I get my charger, until then lovely thoughts towards everyone!

P.S. My computer says I have 34 minutes left.  I didn't do this whole post in 6 minutes - crazy computer!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Honey Oatmeal Knots

I've been feeling all warm and fuzzy for the last few days.  Bare with me for a few moments and I promise to get to these delicious Honey Oatmeal Knots from the January/February 2009 issue of Cooking Light!

Being gone for approximately the last two weeks, as much fun and love as I had, made me realize how much I love my home.  Oh! The joys of sleeping in your own bed and having your monkey snuggle up close to you with the little lioness gently resting by your feet.  The overly hot apartment that is often just faintly aware that there are two cohabitants instead of just one who is home a lot!

I don’t think I’ve even mentioned my roommate on here, yet.  She is a very dear friend who I met 4 years ago (already!) at Mizzou.  I was stumbling up the stairs (I was in college, Mama Bear) and ran into her.  She told me to go on into the apartment below mine, which was thankfully hers because I went on in.  We’ve been good friends ever since – sharing a love of food, family and laughing.  

I have to admit, our relationship has been a little rocky lately, due to living together.  Living with someone is not easy – no matter how much you love them.  Certain things just have to mesh and our certain things just do not.  However, when our lease is up we have decided to get a divorce and not be roomies anymore. 

We haven’t really hung out in a while.  She works as a pastry cook at Naha, which I will be going to tomorrow evening for restaurant week – and I am super jazzed.   This nifty little piece of information also means that we never see each other.  I work a nine to five office job and she works a three to elevenish job.  This is nice for getting ready in the morning or singing at the top of your lungs in the evening – but also sometimes a little lonely.  
We made time for each other last night and it was good to have time to just be me with one of my best friends.  The living is weird – but the friend is not.  I’m thankful to call her one of my best friends.

I did promise food – so here is the Honey Oatmeal Knots, which also make me very happy.

Start with a cup of oats.  These start healthy (and stay fairly healthy - 138 calories per roll)!

Add in 1/2 cup of honey.  I love honey bears!

Throw in some butter and salt.  

Add 2 cups of boiling water. 

Mix and let cool to room temperature.  (Unnecessary to use a mixer...  I'm still excited about my new mixer!)

Add yeast to warm water to wake it up.  Let sit for a few minutes while it has it's coffee.

Add flaxseed meal to cooled oatmeal mixture.

Slowly, add flours into the oatmeal mixture.  Mix with the dough hook, if you have one.  If not, just mix with a mixer slowly.  Make sure not to over mix or the rolls will turn out tough.

Mix until just combined.

Knead in the rest of the dough.  The dough will be sticky - so there is no pictures.  It was messy so I didn't want to pick up my camera.  Put in a oiled bowl and let rise for a few hours.

This is also not pictured - I just didn't think about it.  However, it's easier than I thought it'd be.  Divide the dough into 12ish equal portions.  Roll each portion into a log - make sure you do this on a well floured area or it will stick.  Tie the roll into a pretty knot.  Let sit covered to rise for approx. 30 minutes.

Prepare your toppings - oats, seeds, spices.  This is my favorite part and they make them so pretty.

Brush roll with egg and water mixture.  Sprinkle the toppings over the top.  Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool and enjoy! 

Honey Oatmeal Knots from the January/February 2009 issue of Cooking Light

  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/3 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour (I used 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups), divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoons regular oats
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (or whatever you have on hand)
  • Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and add 2 cups boiling water, stirring until well blended.  Cool to room temperature.
  • Dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes.  Add yeast mixture to oats mixture; stir well.  Stir in flaxseed meal.
  • Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Gradually add 3 cups whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour to oats mixture; stir until a soft dough forms.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
  • Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top, cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size.  (Press two fingers into the dough.  If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)  Punch dough down, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Divide dough in half; cut each half into 12 equal portions.  Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent from drying), shape each portion into an 8-inch rope.  Tie each rope under bottom edge of roll.  Place each roll on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Cover with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray; let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine 1 teaspoon water and egg in a small bowl; brush egg mixture over rolls.  Combine 1 tablespoon oats, poppy seeds, and caraway seeds; sprinkle evenly over rolls.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until golden.  Cool on wire racks.  Makes about 24 rolls.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Warning:  There is no food in this post.  But for good reason...  And I do promise to post some food soon - oatmeal honey rolls, citrus salad, granola, Columbia... I figured out what was wrong with uploading my photos so I shouldn't struggle with that in the future.

My mom's birthday was last weekend so my sister and I surprised her!  She had no idea - she kept yelling, "What are you doing here?!  What are you doing here?!  You little..."  My sister has a video that shows us surprising her - and I'll update when that becomes available.  In the meantime, her face was priceless!

"I got you some socks." - Sam (my niece)
"My favorite!!" - Mom (in the moment)

She'd been out working in the yard to clean up the branches that fell during the ice storm.  Even though she was a little stinky, we still loved her!

She was like a princess - as every woman should feel on their birthdays.  Her tiara just happened to be some goggles from working out in the yard.

This was her watching the video of her getting surprised. 

Have you ever seen the Invention of Lying?  If you haven't, you should.  I've never seen it, but I could probably quote half the movie for you.  My sister re-enacted it for us about 5 times.  I called her out for it.  She wasn't happy.

Mom was happy though.  On our way to dinner, Sister and I were taking so many pictures that it was like paprazzi.  We were just so happy to all be together.  (Isn't my mom so pretty?!?!!)

Sister Bear, Brother Bear and I were pretty happy too.  (Even Brother Bear is smiling!)

Mom's cheeks were hurting from smiling to much.  That's a problem I'd like to have every day!

We went to mom's favorite mexican restuarant.  (Here is where I could include food, but I was too excited to be with my family that I wasn't even thinking about it.  Now that's excited!)

My family (more specifically, my mom, sister and me) do this thing where we start laughing so hard that we scream and can't talk.  Since we were all so happy (and a few beers didn't hurt) we were screaming and laughing and screaming...  We ran out the rest of the restaurant patrons.  Oops!

When they sang ¡feliz cumpleaƱos!, Mom climbed up on the table!!!!

And danced!!!  It was awesome!

I'm so glad that I got to make my mom so happy for her birthday.  I love you family!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Coconut Blueberry Muffins

Last weekend, I went to visit a good girlfriend of mine at my Alma Mater - University of Missouri (Go Tigers!).  I would be posting about that right now; however, I can't get my pictures to upload from my camera to my computer.  I'm going to spend more time trying to figure it out over the weekend.  Surprising, Columbia, Missouri is all about delicious food (and amazing margaritas!).

Instead, I dug into my "To Do" folder and found these muffins.  The recipe was from Easy Food by Jean Cazals.  It's the very last recipe in the book and they are so moist and delicious.  (I still have some in my freezer - so it's not a too long ago food adventure.)

Start with some butter and sugar and make a creamy texture.  

Add in some milk and a few eggs, one at a time dearies.  You don't want lumps.  (I have to admit, I got really excited about this picture...  I'm slowly improving!)

Slowly mix in flour and baking powder.

Add in the coconut and fold in.  (I didn't do this step, so I don't have a picture.  I did not like coconut.  So I made most of my muffins without the coconut.  I had some coconut left over from when I made the cereal bars for my family, so I figured I would throw in a small handful for my last little bit of batter.  I do like coconut.  The two or three that I added the coconut to were amazing!  I think I don't like the little shreds of coconut texture - but these baked into the muffins and were amazing!)

Fold in the blueberries.  All I had was frozen, which worked fine (for the winter) but they did all sink to the bottom.  (I also didn't save any to sprinkle on top as the recipe said to do.)

Pour into prepared muffin tin.  (I put some coconut on top so I would know which ones were the coconut ones.  Although, the coconut melted into the batter so I couldn't tell.)

Bake at 350F for about 20 to 25 minutes.  (The recipe says it makes 8 muffins; however, I made 11.  I probably could have filled mine about more, but then they'd already be all gone.)

These muffins really are super moist and freeze really well.  

  •  1 stick (8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • scant 5/8 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup coconut
  • generous 1 cup blueberries
  • Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a muffin tin with 8 paper baking cups.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy, then stir in the milk.  Beat in the eggs, a little at a time.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together over the mixture, add the coconut, and fold in carefully.  Gently fold in most of the blueberries and spoon into the baking cups.
  • Scatter the remaining blueberries on top and bake for 20-25 minutes until firm to the touch.  Cool on a wire rack.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Beans - the Magical Fruit...

Hehe - I know.  I'm childish.  I blame my dad...

I thank my mom for loving this dish though.  She's been talking about beans, cornbread and fried potatoes for the last month so I made them this weekend.  I've been craving it!  I skipped the fried potatoes - but a bowl of good ol' fashioned beans with some magical cornbread! 

It's been snowing for approx. the last 24 hours and it looks magical outside.  I love a good snowfall!  Snow seems to make everything peaceful - even the big city!  There was just a minor earthquake outside of Chicago and it woke me up (hence the 5 a.m. post).  I'm going to go for a walk before others can start messing up the snow to bad.  It's dark out but I'm going to bring my camera along.

I'm glad I have this warm dish for lunch today!  Start with rinsing your beans and picking out anything that's not a bean.  To shorten the cooking time, soak them in water overnight.  (I didn't do this...)

I kind of varied my mom's recipe a little bit.  She just uses ham or bacon to flavor the beans, but I thought we could do a little better than that. I started with some carrots, onions (and herbs, which I'll talk about shortly).

Chop them up.

I couldn't ignore my mom's recipe completely.  I diced up a ham steak.  

Brown it slightly in the bottom of the pan.  It'll produce it's own fat - so no need for oil.

Thrown in the chopped veggies and let soften for a minute or two.

Add in about 2 cups of chicken broth.


Add the beans.

Add just enough water to cover the beans by about two inches.  Also add about 1/4 tsp thyme, 1/8 tsp savory (I had this on hand - and I think it might be my new favorite soup herb.  It'd be perfect in chicken noodle soup.), a couple bay leaves and the bone from the ham steak.

Let simmer for 1 to 3 hours (or more), depending on if you soaked your beans or not.  Your beans should be tender but not mushy.  I made cornbread during the last 20 minutes of cooking.  It's the perfect side.  (You can see it poking up behind there - teasing you.)

Enjoy!  I know that I will today (but my neighbor at work probably will not...)!