Thursday, January 7, 2010

One Big Variety!

Hello all! This will be a bit of a bizarre post, as I have decided to merge most of the things that I have eaten or made since I've gotten back from holidays up until now into one big post! So enjoy, here is a bundle of photos and recipes for you to try! I only put up the outstanding things I ate in the past while, promise!

Here is something very nummy that I had for breakfast not too long ago! Another twist on basic oats (you can find a quick and easy recipe for that here).

First of all, I have discovered something incredible...hazelnut milk! I have never tasted anything so silky and flavorful and complex before! It is a great alternative to milk, or soy milk if you don't like the taste of soy! Or if you're just looking for a delicious beverage, like me.

Anyways, this hazelnut milk was the inspiration for this particular morning's bowl of oats.

Once I decided that I wanted to use the hazelnut milk instead of regular milk, I searched high and low for the perfect accompaniment, chocolate hazelnut spread!

I whipped up these delicious oats stove-top, then topped them with a little butter and brown sugar, then dolloped on the choco-hazelnut spread, and finished off the oats with a splash of the hazelnut milk. So good! Another addition to my many takes on oats!

Now here's a dish you'll definitely be able to make even if you're repertoire of dishes consists of oats alone, and it's full of flavor and bound to impress!

Spicy Scallops with Rice

For the Rice:

2 cups long grain white or brown rice
3 cups water
pinch of salt

Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear.
Bring the rice and water and salt to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat.
When the rice is boiling, turn the heat down to medium low. Place the lid on the pot, so that it is not completely on tight, to allow steam to escape.
After the rice has been cooking for a few minutes, check for little holes in the pot of rice.
When you see the holes, put the lid on tight and turn the heat down to low.
Simmer the covered rice for another 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and fluff up with a fork!

For the Scallops:

1 1/2 pounds large scallops, cleaned
1 shallot or small onion, diced finely
3 cloves of garlic, diced or crushed
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning or hot chili sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Clean your scallops and pat dry with a paper towel.
Sprinkle the scallops with paprika, oregano, cajun seasoning or chili sauce, and salt and pep.
Dice your shallot or onion, and garlic.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over high heat and add the onions/shallots and garlic.
Just before the onions/shallots and garlic start to burn, place your scallops in the pan, not too close together (this prevents them from steaming each other, and allows the scallops to get a nice bit of crispiness on each side).
Let cook 2 minutes per side, then remove from heat.

Serve this dish with a quick steamed or pan fried vegetable of your choice! I quickly dropped some rapini into a bath of boiling water, took it out, and then sprinkled with salt and pepper to go with our dinner!

Corn Muffins!

Corn muffins are delicious little treats that you can eat with any meal you'd like! They are fast, easy and a great alternative to boring old potatoes or rice. Here's a great recipe:

1 cup corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease muffin pan or line with paper liners.
In a large bowl, mix together corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add the egg, oil and milk; stir gently to combine.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean!

You can really expand on this basic recipe by adding anything you like into the batter, such as jalapenos, cheddar or real bits of corn, or onto the muffins when they've cooked, such as honey!

Here's another delicious meal that I've had the pleasure of enjoying recently! I have to tell you, Mama F whipped this one up, she's really been on a roll recently! It was to die for!

Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 6 ounces
Large plastic food storage bags or waxed paper
1 package, 10 ounces, frozen chopped spinach
2 tablespoons butter
12 small mushroom caps, crimini or button
2 cloves garlic, cracked
1 small shallot, quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano or Romano, a couple of handfuls
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated or ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sopressata salami, enough to wrap the breasts

Place breasts in the center of a plastic food storage bag or 2 large sheets of waxed paper.
Pound out the chicken from the center of the bag outward using a heavy-bottomed skillet or mallet.

Defrost spinach in the microwave.
Transfer spinach to a kitchen towel, then twist towel around spinach and wring it out until very dry. 
Transfer to a medium-mixing bowl.

Place a nonstick skillet over moderate heat.
When skillet is hot, add butter, mushrooms, garlic and shallot.
Season with salt and pepper and saute 5 minutes.
Transfer mushrooms, garlic and shallot to the food processor.
Pulse to grind the mushrooms and transfer to the mixing bowl, adding the processed mushrooms to the spinach.
Add ricotta and grated cheese to the bowl and the nutmeg.
Stir to combine the stuffing.
Return your skillet to the stove over medium high heat.

Place a mound of stuffing on each breast and wrap and roll breast over the stuffing.
After you have done this, wrap the rolled breasts in the sopressata salami.
Secure breasts with toothpicks.
Add three tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.
Add breasts to the pan and brown on all sides, cooking chicken 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove breasts; add butter to the pan and flour.
Cook butter and flour for a minute, whisk in wine and reduce another minute.
Whisk in broth and return breasts to the pan.
Reduce heat and simmer until ready to serve. 
Remove toothpicks.
Serve breasts whole or, remove from pan, slice on an angle and fan out on dinner plates.
Top stuffed chicken breasts or sliced stuffed breasts with generous spoonfuls of the sauce.

This was a fabulous dinner, and it looked gorgeous too! The chicken was so moist and tender it was unbelievable! We ate the chicken with the eggplant salad from The Hippie Gourmet, but on a bed of baby greens instead of spooned into endive leaves this time. Delish!

Now here's a quick little trick for you to try out, to dress up a regular baked brie or camembert cheese!

What these gorgeous girls are munching on is one of the most simple and impressive appetizers you will ever serve up!

Baked Brie with Maple and Walnuts

wheel of brie or camembert cheese
pure maple syrup
chopped walnuts
freshly ground black pepper

Simply drizzle the un-baked cheese with the maple syrup, sprinkle with walnuts and load on the fresh cracked black!
Bake this in the oven at about 350 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your wheel.
Serve with the crackers of your choice!

Yes, I have even MORE recipes for you to try! We had a little dinner party at our house a little while ago, and there were quite a few guests coming! This meant that whatever we were going to serve up had to feed a lot of people, and be relatively stress-free to prepare! Since the holidays had ended not too long before our dinner party, we decided we should make a dish that was NOT turkey, ham, or roast beef...assuming that most people were a touch sick of these main courses by now. What did we serve? Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya!

1 pound medium shrimp
2 boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces smoked sausage, such as andouille or Polish sausage, 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 (14.5 ounces) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cups long-grain rice

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, boil the shrimp over high heat just until they turn pink, about 2 minutes. 
Cool, peel, and devein the shrimp, reserving the shrimp and their shells separately.

In a large saucepan, combine the chicken breasts, the reserved shrimp shells, 4 cups of water, half the chopped onion, half the chopped celery, 1/3 of the garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. 
Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. 
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, until the chicken juices run clear yellow when pierced with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes. 
Remove the chicken breasts from the cooking liquid.

In a strainer set over a large bowl, drain and reserve the cooking liquid, discarding the shells and vegetables. 
If necessary, add enough water or chicken broth to make 4 cups. 
Chop the chicken coarsely and set aside with shrimp.

Heat the oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy kettle. 
Add the sausage, green bell pepper, green onion, remaining 1/2 cup onion, remaining 1/4 cup celery, and remaining garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring often, about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. 
Stir in the reserved cooking liquid, the remaining teaspoon of salt, the tomatoes with their juice, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and cayenne pepper. 
Bring mixture to a simmer, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon. 
Stir in the rice; simmer over medium-low heat, tightly covered, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid, or about 25 minutes.

Remove the kettle from the heat, stir in the reserved shrimp and chicken, cover, and heat through. 
If desired, sprinkle jambalaya with green onion or parsley before serving.

It was perfect dinner party food: stress free, filling, and full of flavors! We served our jambalaya up with some corn muffins (from the same recipe as above) and a simple green salad. Yum!

To finish up this jumbo post I've got a slightly healthier meal for you to try! I had this for dinner the other night and it was perfectly light, but still bursting with intense flavors!

Panko Breaded Halibut with Mediterranean Couscous and Grilled Broccolini

For the Halibut:

4 fillets of halibut
4 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 cup of panko breadcrumbs (you can use regular too)
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon wedges to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to gas 7/220 C/425 F. 

Lightly grease a baking tray, or line with baking paper. 

Season the fish with salt and pepper and pat them into the fillets. 

Have one dish to hold the beaten egg and another dish to hold the bread crumbs. 
Add oil to the bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. 

Taking one fillet at a time, coat first with the egg and then with the bread crumbs. 

Pat the bread crumbs around the fillets to make sure they stick. 
Place the coated fillets onto the baking tray. 

Cook the breaded fish in top shelf of the oven for 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are lightly golden. 

Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

For the Mediterranean Couscous:

 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
2 small tomatoes, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Bring the broth to a boil. 
Reduce the heat and add the garlic, cumin, oregano, parsley, and couscous, stir well. 
Remove the mixture from the heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, fluff up the couscous with a fork

In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and the olive oil. 
Season to taste.

Add the vegetables to the couscous, and dress with the lemon juice/olive oil.

For the Grilled Broccolini:

1 bunch of broccolini
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Crank the oven up to 375 degrees F.

Spread the washed broccolini out onto a baking sheet.
Drizzle with the E.V.O.O. and then generously grind on the salt and pepper.

Pop this into the oven for about 10 minutes or so.

I really like my broccolini slightly crispy at the ends, but you can pull them out of the oven whenever you like!

These three things are so simple and quick to make, and make for a very healthy and satisfying meal! The flavors also compliment each other quite well, it's a great light dinner!

So there you have it, a ton of recipes! And now I consider myself caught up, whew! Prepare yourselves for daily posts once again (so much easier to do them daily I find)!




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