Monday, March 31, 2008

Seared Ahi Tuna

I've never made seared Ahi Tuna before. I had Carl in mind when I was searching for a recipe because he LOVES seared or raw Ahi Tuna. I was thinking about the seared tuna he orders when we are on vacation in Kauai. I found a recipe that had a lot of great reviews on . I made a couple changes to the ingredients in red below. Based on the reviews I read, I decided not to coat the tuna with sesame seeds. Instead, I toasted them, then sprinkled them onto the seared tuna right before serving. I served it with a salad of mixed baby greens with Annie's Shiitake Sesame Viniagarette. It was pretty good. Carl loved it. He gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars. I gave it more like 3, but he is the Tuna lover and I trust him when he says this was GOOD. I cooked mine longer since I dont like raw tuna, but his was very rare and he said it was wonderful. Next time I make this, I will probably only use 1Tbsp of Sesame oil, since I felt like it really over powered the dipping sauce.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (I left this out because I didnt have any)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
4 (6 ounce) tuna steaks
1/2 cup sesame seeds
wasabi paste
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used Peanut Oil because it is better for high heat)

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, honey and sesame oil. Divide into two equal parts. Stir the rice vinegar into one part and set aside as a dipping sauce.

Spread the sesame seeds out on a plate. Coat the tuna steaks with the remaining soy sauce mixture, then press into the sesame seeds to coat.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot. Place steaks in the pan, and sear for about 30 seconds on each side. Serve with the dipping sauce and wasabi paste.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fried Pickles and Fish

Ive really wanted to try fried pickles for quite some time. I love pickles and I love pretty much any veggie or anything fried. Who doesn't? So I decided to search for a recipe for a good beer batter. I found this one from Cooking Cache. I used a Corona beer, since we had some here, but I would think that any kind of beer would work great. I also decided to double the recipe since I was going to fry some fish as well. That probably wasnt necessary as the batter expanded alot when it was resting and I ended up throwing a bunch of it away. I just have to say that this batter was so good! I will always use this recipe in the future when I fry fish or veggies. Since we hardly ever eat deep fried stuff at home, that wont be very often. Anyways, the batter is so versatile. I ended up throwing some mushrooms in there too. And did these pickles meet my expectations??? YES. They were so good and crisp. I will definatly make those again sometime.

Beer Batter (from
1 Cup plus 1 tablespoon of flour
salt if desired
1 tablespoon oil
3/4 cup beer at room temperature
2 tablespoons luke warm water
1 egg separated

Put flour and salt in bowl and add oil, add beer and water. While stirring with a wire whisk beat in egg yolk. Cover with cloth and set in warm location for 2-3 hours. Beat egg white until stiff and fold into batter right before frying.

For frying the pickles, slice the pickles about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Pat with paper towels to remove moisture. Get some oil going on medium heat. I filled up a large skillet about half way up the side with oil. Then just dip into the batter and drop in the hot oil. Fry until golden brown.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Firecracker Grilled Alaska Salmon

This was yummy. Very flavorful. I marinated mine for 8 hrs and it was heavenly. Even Sam ate it!

4 (4 ounce) fillets salmon
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place salmon filets in a medium, nonporous glass dish. In a separate medium bowl, combine the peanut oil, soy sauce, vinegar, green onions, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame oil and salt. Whisk together well, and pour over the fish. Cover and marinate the fish in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.

Prepare an outdoor grill with coals about 5 inches from the grate, and lightly oil the grate.

Grill the fillets 5 inches from coals for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at the thickest part, or until fish just flakes with a fork. Turn over halfway through cooking.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spanish Tortillas

From Everyday with Rachael Ray April 2006. I thought it was delicious! I used sweet onions and they were so good. They caramelized so nicely on the bottom of the pan. Carl wasnt so keen on it though. He said it was bland. I say, use some salt then!

1/3 cup olive oil
2 spanish onions
5 medium russet potatoes
Salt and fresh pepper
6 ounces sliced smoked salmon
7 large eggs

In a 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it ripples. Lower the heat to medium and add a layer of onions. Top with a thin layer of potato slices, season with salt and pepper, then add another layer of onions, potatoes, salt and pepper. Add the smoked salmon in a single layer. Continue layering the onions and potatoes, seasoning as you go. Let the layers cook, pressing down gently to flatten. After 10 minutes, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the vegetables soften, up to 25 minutes more. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and pour them into the skillet, lifting the layers with a spatula to let the eggs in. Jiggle the skillet to prevent sticking. Return to low heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and shake gently.

Preheat the broiler. Place the skillet about 3 inches from the heat and cook until golden, about 6 minutes. Let rest for 20 minutes. Shake the pan gently to loosen the tortilla, place a serving plate over the top and flip to release.

I only used 4 potatos because there just wasnt enough room in my pan. I ended up only using 5 eggs since I had used less potatos. I also mixed some Franks Red Hot sauce into the eggs to give it a bit of a kick. Oh and I had no salmon, so I used some jamon serrano (Spanish style cured ham) and chopped it up for the filling.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

PB&J Cookies

From Everyday with Rachael Ray April 2006
I just had to try this recipe since I love peanut butter cookies and PB & J sandwiches. What a great combo! These turned out sooo good. I followed the instructions exactly and they came out chewey, but crispy on the bottom. Perfect!

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp strawberry jelly (I used raspberry because its what I had)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp confectioners sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, blend 3/4 cup of the peanut butter with the butter on medium speed. Add the white sugar, then the brown sugar. Continue to mix until well blended. About 5 minutes. Beat in the egg until incorporated. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Using a Tablespoon, drop the dough 2 inches apart on 2 ungreased baking sheets. Using the back of your thumb, press a small indentation into each cookie. Spoon about 1/2 tsp jelly into each cookie. Bake until lightly golden, about 12 minutes. In a small bowl, beat together the remaining 1/4 cup peanut butter and the confectioners sugar. Whisk in the milk, alittle at a time, until the frosting reaches a good consistancy for piping. Using a ziploc baggie with the corner cut off, pipe the frosting onto each cookie.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Best Garlic Bread

This is how I always make my garlic bread and it is awesome. I love using fresh garlic rather than garlic powder or garlic salt. It just gives it such a fresh taste, especially with the basil. If I dont have the fresh or frozen basil on hand, then I just omit and its still wonderful with just garlic.

1 loaf of fresh French or Italian bread
4 Tbsp of butter at room temp
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (this time I used frozen basil from Trader Joes)
3 garlic cloves, crushed in a garlic press

Mix the basil and garlic into the butter. Slice the loaf of bread long way down the middle. Spread the butter onto both cut sides of the bread. Preheat a broiler and broil the bread until the top is browned (about 2-4 minutes). Keep checking it constantly as it can burn very fast!

My Famous Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Everyone always asks me to make my spaghetti sauce. Its Carl's favorite dinner I make. Im not really sure where I came up with this recipe. Spaghetti sauce was one of the first things I set out to perfect when I started cooking in my early 20's. So now Im going to attempt to write out all the ingredients I use. I change it up all the time based on what I have on hand though. You can add other veggies, or just use ground beef and no sausage. I will write it up exactly how I am making it today.

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground italian sausage
1 large onion
1 large bell pepper
2 zucchini
1 container of sliced mushrooms
2 cans (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
2 cans (29oz) tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2Tbsp dried basil
2 bay leaves
1Tbsp sugar
fresh ground pepper

While the meat is browning, chop up all the veggies. When the meat is browned, add the cans of tomatos and tomato sauce. Then add all the chopped veggies and stir to get it all mixed up. The sauce will be really thick and chunky but dont worry, it will all cook down.

Now add the garlic, basil and bay leaves and sugar and wine. Season with some fresh ground pepper. Dont add any salt yet. I always wait until the very end to salt the sauce as alot of times it just naturally salty enough and you may not even need it. Now the fun part...let it simmer at least 2 hrs...more if you have the time. Sometimes when I dont have time to stay home and let the sauce simmer, I will brown the beef and then pour all the ingredients in the crock pot and let it simmer in the crock pot all day. Then in the last 30 minutes or so I will take off the lid and let it simmer without the lid so it can thicken up a bit.

This will make a large batch of sauce. I like to use it for spaghetti dinner, then have some leftovers in the fridge. I also will freeze half of the sauce for another night when I need a quick easy meal.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Salmon Burgers

These are sooooo good. Way lighter than a hamburger and much healthier too. I took parts from all different recipes, so this is what I came up with.

1 lb salmon, chopped up really small
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 T chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I sometimes use crushed saltines)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh pepper
1 large egg white (I used the whole egg)
1 T hot pepper sauce

Mix the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. In another small bowl, mix the egg and the hot pepper sauce. Mix with the salmon mixture. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before forming into 4 patties. Saute in a pan with some olive oil on each side for 5 minutes. Serve on focciacia rolls or hamburger buns with lettuce, tomato, pickles mayo and mustard.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Trader Joe's Coastal Cabernet

I cant say enough about this wine! I just love it. We buy this wine by the case and every single bottle is consistantly good. Its got a smooth taste and nice and dry. And for only $3.99 a bottle, it's the biggest bang for your buck. So many times my husband and I buy more expensive wine (usually in the $12-$20 price range) and we think this cheap Trader Joe's wine is so much better. If you are ever looking for a crowd pleaser, this is it!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Corned Beef with Roasted Potatoes

Since its St. Paddy's day, I decided to do a corned beef. Carl doesnt really like it much and I had a bad experience with my last one so it had been years since I cooked one. This year, I decided to do it in the crock pot. When I pulled it out of the packaging, I was so grossed out by the way it looked with the pink jelly stuff that seasons it and the huge amount of fat on it. I honestly didnt know if i could even eat the thing. I decided to brown it first to fry off some of that fat. I ended up with a wonderful corned beef. Carl was just as suprised as I was how good this turned out. I cant wait to make Rueben sandwiches for dinner tomorrow night with the leftovers.

In the crock pot:
1 corned beef and seasoning packet (I browned mine first)
enough water to just cover the meat

Set on low and let cook for about 6 hrs. Then add 3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut and a head of cabbage cut into quarters and set around the corned beef. Let cook an additional 2 hrs.

For the potatos:

1 lb red potatos, cut into quarters
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp dried parsely
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the potatos into a large ziplock bag. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, 1 tsp dried parsely, 1 tsp garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Close the bag tight and shake it all up until the potatos are evenly coated with oil and seasonings. Bake for an hour, or until they get nice and brown, stirring once or twice during baking.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fran's Fiesta 9-Layer Dip

This is the best 9-Layer dip Ive ever had. I used to beg my stepmom, Fran, to make this for parties when I was in highschool. Its always a hit and there are never leftovers. The secret is in the home made guacamole and the taco seasoned sour cream. I also sometimes use black beans in place of pinto beans, or put green chilis or jalepenos on top. Today my mom requested this for my grandfathers 80th bday party.

2 cans of refried beans
1 container (16 oz) sour cream
5-6 avocados
1 envelope Lawry's taco seasoning
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can sliced olives
1 large tomato, diced

In a small bowl, mash the avocados with a Tbsp of sour cream and a Tbsp of salsa. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. In another small bowl, stir the taco seasoning into the rest of the sour cream.

In a large 9x13 baking dish spread the first can of beans in the bottom. Then spread 1/2 of the guacamole over the beans. Then spread 1/2 of the sour cream over the guacamole. Repeat the layers. (its easier to take the beans from the 2nd can and stir them in a bowl first, to soften them up so they are easier to spread.) Top with shredded cheese, olives and tomato. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

Pink Pancakes

Adapted from Deceptively Delicious

These pancakes are so easy and you cant detect a bit of the beet taste. If you dont have beet puree, you can use applesauce or any other pureed fruit.

1 cup of your favorite pancake mix
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup pureed beets
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Stir all ingredients until blended. Mixture will be lumpy. Spray griddle with non stick cooking spray. Let heat 30 seconds.
Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto griddle and cook 3 minutes on one side, or until little bubbles form on the surface, then flip and cook another minute or until done.


From Everyday with Rachael Ray

Earlier when I made this, I had the pork chops out on the counter defrosting alittle. I decided to take my kids for a quick walk so I put the cutting board with the chops into the oven because my dog, Dude loves to steal food off the counter. When I got home, I go to make the Schnitzel and I preheated the oven like the recipe says. I forgot to take out the chops! Doh! I realized this pretty quickly, I figured the damage was about as much as happens when something defrosts in the microwave too long. They ended up being good, even if they were precooked in the oven a bit.

1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
2 large eggs
1 tsp hot sauce (I used Franks Red Hot)
1/2 cup of flour, on a plate
One 1-lb pork tenderloin cut into 8 pieces and pounded flat
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lemon cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a wide shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan and 2 pinches each of salt and pepper, set aside. In another shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the hot sauce. Turn each piece of pork in the flour, then the egg mixture, then the crumbs to coat well, then transfer to a plate.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Add 4 pork cutlets and cook until golden-brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with 1/4 cup olive oil and the remaining cutlets. Serve with lemon wedges.