Monday, January 30, 2012

Potatoes and Peas in Red Curry Sauce

Whenever my dear friend, Kim, posts a status on Facebook about cooking, I'm always extremely curious to hear what she's making. She recently mentioned this curry when I told her about my Roasted Sweet Potato Salad, and we immediately decided to share each others' recipes! I have no idea where she got this recipe, but as I always say, she's the one who gave it to me, so she's the one who gets the credit!
Thanx again, Kim!

2 pounds small red potatoes cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 yellow onion cut vertically in to sections
1 can coconut milk/cream (unsweetened)
2-3 Tablespoons red curry paste
2 Tablespoons Turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 cup fresh/frozen peas
Salt to taste
½ cup dry-roasted cashews (garnish)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Wash the potatoes and place them with the onion into the slow cooker.
In a separate bowl mix the coconut milk, red curry paste, sugar, and soy sauce together and pour over the potatoes. Cover and cook on low for about 3 hours (or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork).
Add sweet potato, cover and continue to cook on low for another 2-3 hours (or until all the veggies are tender). Add the peas along with salt to taste and continue to cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle each portion with 1-2 Tablespoons cashews and some cilantro and serve with steamed rice.

If you don't have Turbinado sugar (which is unprocessed raw sugar), just go ahead and use regular granulated sugar.
Although I've not tried this recipe, it seems to me that you could just throw everything into a large dutch oven and place it in a 350F oven for 1-2 hours, or until everything is tender. Hmm...I think I'll give that a try!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Basil

I've never met a sweet potato I didn't like. From candied sweet potatoes to casseroles and even to cupcakes, I love them all. But this time, I was kind of feeling like it would be nice to set aside the sugary sweet and go for something a little more savory. I wanted to keep with my latest "fresh and light" mood, so I decided to do a yummy salad. And here it is! Just a few fresh ingredients, tossed with a simple home made vinaigrette and there you have it. It was SO delicious! Perfect for a light lunch. I think I need to make this again.
 Hope you like it!

4-5 large sweet potatoes or yams
a few glugs of canola oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tbs chopped scallion
big handful of fresh basil, chopped
Dijon Vinaigrette

 Heat oven to 400F.
Peel sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks. In a large bowl, toss them with the canola oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Arrange them in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until tender. Cool completely. In the meantime, chop the bell pepper, scallion, and basil, and make the vinaigrette. Toss everything together and serve. That's it!

For me, the key to this dish is the fresh basil. Be generous with it!
This is actually better if you make it in advance, just enough to let the flavors get to know each other a little.
Be careful not to add too much of the green onion. As much as I usually say "more is more", in this case, it can easily overpower the whole salad. You just need a little hint of onion flavor!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Joey's Fettuccine with Chunky Avocado Cream Sauce

Every so often, when I "just throw something together", I hit the nail right on the head (if I must say so myself!). I just mean that sometimes I REALLY like the new dish on the very first try, with no plan to tweak or try another version of the recipe. Such was the case with this dish. I had just bought some beautifully ripe avocados, and I wanted to make something other than guacamole. So I did some googling, and saw a few different pasta sauce recipes. I was about to follow one of them, but then I thought, "wait, I don't need to follow a recipe!" I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and it turned out great!! It's ready in a snap too! You can literally make this sauce in as much time as it takes to boil the pasta! And btw, I have to say...usually when you think of a cream sauce, you think of something heavy and filling, right? Not so!!  It's really not as heavy as you might think and it's actually kind of fresh, while still being rich and buttery! I also love that it's a little different from your usual pasta sauce.
So give it a try. I think you'll love it!

1 lb fettuccine (or other long pasta)
3 tbs butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs all purpose flour
2 cups milk
Parmesan cheese, to taste
2 tbs fresh basil, chopped
2-3 ripe avocados, diced
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

In a large pot of boiling salty water, boil the pasta until desired tenderness. In the meantime, make the sauce.
Melt butter in a large saute pan. Add onions, and saute over low-medium heat for just a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and continue to saute. Now add the flour. Stir together to make a paste. Cook for a few minutes (to get rid of the raw flour taste). Add the milk and whisk to get rid of the lumps of flour. When the sauce thickens, add the Parmesan cheese, basil, diced avocados, salt, and pepper. Whisk again to break up some of the avocados.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it well, and then toss with the sauce. Top with more Parmesan cheese and enjoy!!!

A lot of the amounts are just guidelines. If you like a lot of something, add a lot!!
When you stir the avocados into the sauce, don't completely puree them. I think it's MUCH better when the sauce it's chunky!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tilapia with Spinach and Sun Dried Tomatoes

After all of the holiday celebrating and indulging, I was kind of in the mood for something a little lighter and a little more healthy. So I threw some spinach into a pan with some sun dried tomatoes, piled it high on top of a few tilapia fillets, and that was it!  It couldn't have been simpler! It's pretty amazing how you can put together just a few simple ingredients and come up with a delicious, healthy, and elegant dinner! And it was SUPER easy! Seriously, anyone can do this one.
Give it a try!

4 or 5 fillets of tilapia or other fish
1 small onion, diced
1 bag fresh spinach, chopped
1 small jar sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
bread crumbs
grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350F.
Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray. Place fillets in the dish. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Place diced onions in a saute pan with a a little oil from the jar of tomatoes. Saute for a minute or two. Add spinach. Cover the pan so that the spinach will wilt. After a few minutes, add tomatoes, garlic, and more salt and pepper. Toss until well combined. Pile the spinach mixture on top of each fillet. In a small bowl, mix together about a half cup EACH of the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over each heap of spinach mixture. Place in oven and bake until the fillets are cooked through, and the bread/cheese mixture is lightly golden.

Since the flavors are so bold, serve it with something that serves as a blank canvas, such as plain white rice.
The amounts are just guidelines. If you like a lot of something, add a lot!
If you're not a fan of tilapia or fish fillets in general, try this same topping over some thinly sliced boneless chicken breasts.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Joey's Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Pie

 I was trying to think of something easy and inexpensive to bring to Michael and Karen's for my family's New Year's Day get together. I don't know what made me think of it, but I got the idea for a buttermilk pie. So I searched a few recipes and read a few reviews. This was the result! I decided that a plain buttermilk pie needed something on top of it, hence the blueberries, and I liked the tangy tartness of the buttermilk, so I decided to pump it up a little more, hence the lemons. The flavors go really well together and the texture is a lot lighter than you might expect it to be. Delish!! Everyone gave it two big thumbs up!
I hope you'll give it a try!

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust, either from scratch or store bought
 3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1/8 tbs nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
 blueberry pie filling

Heat oven to 350F.
Roll out pie crust and place in a pyrex pie plate.  Crimp the sides to make a decorative edge.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy.
Add sugar, butter, and flour. Beat until smooth.
Stir in vanilla extract, lemon juice, lemon zest, nutmeg, and buttermilk.
Pour into pie shell. Bake for 40-60 minutes or until the center is set.
Cool completely. Top with pie filling.

Not a fan of lemon? Try orange instead! Not a fan of blueberries? Try strawberries or raspberries! Any combination will work!
The original recipe was a bit too sweet, so this is the tweaked version (I reduced the amount of sugar, and added lemon zest!) The blueberry filling is already very sweet, so you need the tangy to balance it. My brother, Jimmy, suggested adding fresh blueberries to the canned pie filling (just like his wife, Janet, always does), just to add a little more tart to the sweet. Sounds good to me! Thanx Jim!