101 in 1001

#83 – Done

Posted by Katie on May 16, 2010
101 in 1001, Cooking / No Comments

#83 – Try a completely new recipe once a week (6 weeks).

New recipes, week 6…fish tacos.

Fish tacos are one of those things that sound kinda funny if you grew up in the midwest, but trust the people from southern California, they can be really delicious.

I will post the fish part of this recipe, but I did tweak it a bit.  For garnishes and sides, just be creative.

I used cod as the fish, because that is what looked the best at the store.  I used olive oil instead of canola oil and cayenne pepper instead of ancho chili powder, because those were the things that I had already in the kitchen.  And I didn’t use a grill, but just cooked the fish in a hot pan on the stove.

As I was making the marinade, I started to worry that the fish was going to taste like the fires of hell, with ALL the spice involved.  Don’t worry, most of the marinade comes off before you cook the fish and you end up with a flavorful, but not overwhelming spicy fish.

I served the fish on corn tortillas, with salsa as the topping and homemade guacamole and black beans on the side.

Yummy!

Ingredients

1 pound white flaky fish, such as mahi mahi or orata
1/4 cup canola oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoons ancho chili powder
1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
8 flour tortillas

Directions

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  Place fish in a medium size dish.  Whisk together the oil, lime juice, ancho, jalapeno, and cilantro and pour over the fish.  Let marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the fish from the marinade and place onto a hot grill, flesh side down.  Grill the fish for 4 minutes on the first side and then flip for 30 seconds and remove.  Let rest for 5 minutes then flake the fish with a fork.

Place the tortillas on the grill and grill for 20 seconds.  Divide the fish among the tortillas and garnish with any or all of the garnishes.

Spaghetti squash

Posted by Katie on May 15, 2010
101 in 1001, Cooking / 3 Comments

New recipes, week 5.

Last week’s new recipe wasn’t about learning a whole new main dish, but about learning what to do with a certain ingredient.  It turns out that spaghetti squash is exceptionally easy to make.  I paired it with grilled chicken and pasta sauce for an easy and healthy weeknight meal.

While it is very close in consistency to spaghetti, be prepared for the squash to be juicy.

Oh, and I simply followed the cooking instructions on the sticker that came with my squash.

Directions

Cut lengthwise.  Remove seeds.  Bake cut-side down for 45 minutes at 350.  Turn over and continue to bake until tender (for me, that was another 30 minutes).  Shred squash with a fork and enjoy!

#6 & # 24 – Done & Done

Posted by Katie on May 13, 2010
101 in 1001 / 2 Comments

#6 – Get a full physical.

#24 – Get full family medical history from both families.

Ugg…going to the doctor.

All I will say is that Dave and I both survived, but it wasn’t pretty.  Actually, Dave didn’t really mind so much.  It was I who wasn’t pretty.  I seem to have developed an intense hatred of going to the doctor.  No, hatred isn’t the right word.  If I’m being honest, the right word is fear.  Just ask my sister about that time she called me to let me know about her dream…the one where I was diagnosed with cancer and died suddenly.  These things are not to be joked about.

But now Dave and I know that we are both basically alive and healthy.  We both need to eat more veggies, loose a bit of weight and exercise more.  Hearing these things has been a motivating factor, and we both have been back on the healthy wagon this last week.

Oh, and let’s all say a quiet prayer that our future children get my charming personality, but Dave’s genes.  I have to say that in going through both family medical histories, I learned that I married up in the gene pool!

Ultimate veggie burger

Posted by Katie on May 02, 2010
101 in 1001, Cooking / No Comments

New recipes, week 4.

I let my suppressed inner vegetarian select this week’s new recipe.  And after searching the internet for a veggie burger recipe, I found myself interested in this.  The recipe solves the dry veggie burger problem by eliminating the bread.  Basically you make a veggie sandwich, with the burger as the bread, and whatever you want as the stuffing.  Weird, I know, but give it a chance!

I increased the recipe by 50%, which yielded 13 mini burgers.  I cooked 9 of the burgers (3 per person) for dinner on Friday night, and filled each burger with a different stuffing.  One with sauteed mushrooms, one with fresh avocado and one with brie.

I was mentally prepared for grumbling from Dave and Michael about the lack of meat, and my feelings would not have been hurt if they wanted to order take-out, but the recipe was actually really good.

The burgers have a hearty veggie flavor to them, which is very much complemented by the fresh cilantro and the fresh lemon zest.  They were surprisingly filling, and not dry at all.  The brie veggie burgers were the favorite, because the cheese melted very nicely between the warm burger and bound the two pieces together.

The consensus was that while this is not the best thing ever (Dave and Michael are still talking about the shrimp from a couple weeks ago), the burgers had a good flavor and consistency, and the recipe was one to keep.  I have to say that it is a healthy meal, and the ingredients are fairly cheap.  And I finally know what to make when vegetarian friends come over.

Oh, and the 4 leftover mini burgers saved perfectly in the fridge.  I cooked them up for lunch today.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups sprouted garbanzo beans (chickpeas) OR canned garbanzos, drained and rinsed
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 onion, chopped
Grated zest of one large lemon
1 cup micro sprouts, chopped (try broccoli, onion, or alfalfa sprouts – optional)
1 cup toasted (whole-grain) bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or clarified butter)

Directions

If you are using sprouted garbanzos, steam them until just tender, about 10 minutes.  Most of you will be using canned beans, so jump right in and combine the garbanzos, eggs, and salt in a food processor.  Puree until the mixture is the consistency of a very thick, slightly chunky hummus.  Pour into a mixing bowl and stir in the cilantro, onion, zest, and sprouts.  Add the breadcrumbs, stir, and let sit for a couple of minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture.  At this point, you should have a moist mixture that you can easily form into twelve 1 1/2-inch-thick patties.  I err on the moist side here, because it makes for a nicely textured burger.  You can always add more bread crumbs a bit at a time to firm up the dough if need be.  Conversely, a bit of water or more egg can be used to moisten the batter.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium low, add 4 patties, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown.  Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes.  Flip the patties and cook the second side for 7 minutes, or until golden.  Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.  Carefully cut each patty in half, insert your favorite fillings, and enjoy immediately.

Chicken piccata

Posted by Katie on April 29, 2010
101 in 1001, Cooking / 1 Comment

New recipes, week 3.

With guests in town last weekend, I broke out a new recipe.  Usually this is a trick I only pull on immediate family, as I’m nervous about cooking new things for guests.  There are really terrible recipes out there.  Fortunately, this was not one of them.

I was very pleased with the chicken piccata recipe from celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis I found on Food Network’s website.  I served the chicken over angel hair pasta, with a hearty salad on the side.  I quadrupled the recipe, and did as much prep work as possible before the guests came over…squeeze lots of lemons, cut and season the chicken, drain the capers, etc.  When it was close to dinner, all I had to do was dredge the chicken, cook it, make the sauce and make the pasta. 

I will confess that quadrupling the recipe was not necessary for 6 adults.  Doubling would have been just fine.  But the leftovers we ate all week were delicious!

Ingredients

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil.  When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes.  When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes.  Remove and transfer to plate.  Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil.  When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner.  Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers.  Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor.  Check for seasoning.  Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously.  Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

How to write a memoir

Posted by Katie on April 18, 2010
101 in 1001, Memories / 3 Comments

I recently read an autobiography written by Dave’s paternal grandfather.  The book, which I understand to be the first of three books which encompass his life, focused on his early married life.   His family self-published the book through the online publishing site, Lulu.com.

I was not fortunate enough to meet Dave’s grandfather in this life.  And while I never met him in person, reading his words helped me to better understand not only the history of the man that I never met, but also his personality, his family and my husband.  It was fascinating for me to see glimpses of Dave in the words of his grandfather.

The tradition continues on Dave’s side of the family with his Nana, his maternal grandmother, who I have met on several occasions and hope to spend more time with in the future.  She also wrote her memoirs which I read last year.  Nana’s story focused on her childhood in Rudyard, Michigan.

Both of these stories gave me glimpses into a lifestyle which seems entirely foreign to me in modern times, although in light of human history it wasn’t all that long ago, and a great wealth of family history.

On my side of the family, I don’t know of anyone who as attempted such an autobiography.  I do know that my Mom’s two sisters have done quite a bit of research into the genealogy of the family, but that includes mostly names and dates.  And my Dad has boxes and boxes of old family pictures, but unfortunately a lot of them are of unidentified family and friends.

This all fits into my goals #58 (Start a project to scan, save and file all of the old pictures from both families) and #59 (Start a project to research and write down the stories and biographies from both families).  How do you properly document and store all of the family information (names, dates, pictures and stories) so that present and future family members have easy access to it?  And how do you encourage people to record family stories, both their own and the things they remember about past generations, so that your family history has more than just names and dates?

This seems such a big project, that I can’t quite wrap my mind around it.  I think it’s a project well worth the time and effort, I’m just not quite sure how to approach it.

Any ideas?  Do people in your family write their memoirs?  Have you used any type of online shared resource that allows various family members to contribute like Ancestry.com?  Or is the internet really the way to go when we’re talking about family sensitive information and creating records that will hopefully last for future generations?

I would love to hear how your family records information.

Spicy coconut shrimp with mango basil salsa and lime jasmine rice

Posted by Katie on April 17, 2010
101 in 1001, Cooking / 3 Comments

New recipes, week 2.

I’m not really a big shrimp person.  Something about the mental image of “cockroaches of the sea” has held me back for many years.  Dave, however, loves them, so I decided to focus on shrimp for this week’s new recipe.

Let me say, “Wow!”  I made this for dinner last night with Dave and Michael, and it was a big hit.  The spicy and hearty flavor of the shrimp was exceptionally well balanced, and it paired very nicely with the sweet mango salsa and the tangy lime rice.

I found this recipe in one of my cookbooks, although it can be found online as well.

I started by making a trip to Whole Foods, the only place in Chicago that I trust for seafood.  I doubled the entire recipe, which turned out to be the right move because I (and 2 grown men) devoured it.  There were enough leftovers for a lunch.  I pan cooked the shrimp in several batches, but they cook so quickly it wasn’t really an issue.  And I did hold back on the jalapenos a bit, only using 3 total and cleaning the seeds out of 2 of them.  The result had a little kick, but wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy.

Ingredients

Salsa:

1 mango, peeled and finely diced
3 scallions, sliced
5 basil leaves, julienned
1 lime, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shrimp:

2 fresh jalapenos, sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2–inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 lime, zested
1/4 cup coconut milk
Small handful basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
15 grinds pepper
1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
Lime Jasmine Rice, recipe follows

Directions

For the salsa: Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Make up to a day in advance. Keep covered in the refrigerator.

For the shrimp: In a mixing bowl, combine jalapenos, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime zest, coconut milk, basil, vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Add the shrimp and marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours, refrigerated.

Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat. Use tongs or a fork to remove the shrimp from the marinade and place in an even layer in the pan, reserving the marinade.

Cook the shrimp until well browned on each side, turning once, about 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer cooked shrimp to a serving plate.

Add reserved marinade to pan, bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Pour over the cooked shrimp and serve with Lime Jasmine Rice and Mango Salsa.

Lime Jasmine Rice:

1 cup jasmine rice
3/4 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup water
Pinch salt
1/2 lime, zested

Put the rice, coconut milk, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and gently simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in the lime zest. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

What to do with a ham bone?

Posted by Katie on April 11, 2010
101 in 1001, Cooking / 2 Comments

Make split pea soup.

I should make this the first of my six weeks of new recipes for #83 on the 101 list.

In the interest of full disclosure, the official review from both Dave and Michael was, “Wow, this tastes WAY better than it looks.”

1 package (16 oz.) dried green split peas, rinsed
1 ham bone
OR
2 cups diced ham
3 carrots, peeled & sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery plus leaves, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon seasoned salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper
1 1/2 quart hot water

Directions:

Layer ingredients in slow cooker, pour in water.  DO NOT STIR.  Cover and cook on high 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours until peas are very soft and ham falls off bone.  Remove bones and bay leaf.  Serve garnished with croutons.

I increased the recipe by 50%, which fit perfectly into the crock pot.  And I added several large chunks of ham in addition to the ham bone, which made the result pretty meaty and hearty.  I left out the salt too, because the ham was salty enough.  This would be a perfect meal for a cold winter’s day.

#97 – Done

Posted by Katie on April 06, 2010
101 in 1001, Moxie / 3 Comments

#97 – Teach Moxie to scratch something other than that chair.

Dave tells me that I should go ahead and count this as being done before Moxie changes her mood and goes back to scratching our chairs.  She’s actually been good lately and is USUALLY scratching the scratching post…like the good cat she is usually not.

The fancy organic citrus anti-scratch sprays that we used religiously on our furniture did not work.  The ugly sticky plastic strips that we used on our furniture did not work either.

What seems to be working in the end is simply moving the scratching post to the middle of the room…located right between our two chairs.  A little positive reinforcement…making Moxie feel like the center of attention…is what she responds to.

St. Francis puzzled

Posted by Katie on March 25, 2010
101 in 1001, Daily Life / 6 Comments

Check out the cool puzzle Dave and I did recently.

This doesn’t count towards my puzzle goal (#33 – Completely assemble a 5,000+ piece puzzle).  It was only 1,000 pieces.