Monday, July 22, 2013
I'm smack dab in the middle of some serious summer vacationing. Last week, we spent 4 days up in New Hampshire with my family. We hung out by the lake, lounged in the water, waterskiied, did some paddleboard yoga, and ate more delicious food than anyone actually needs to eat in a 4 day period. Needless to say, it was awesome. But of course the best part was the family time with my parents, grandparents, aunt and cousins. I wish we all lived closer!
This past weekend, we took a trip up to Wisconsin to camp and catch a Brewers game. It was meant to be a test-run for our camping gear, since we just got a whole bunch of new stuff to take on our big trip out West. It was also a chance to check another baseball park off of our lists. I've been to 3 new parks so far this summer and will be at one more (I hope) by the end of the week! Despite the fact that traffic in both directions was pretty horrific, limiting our ability to actually do any hiking, we had a great time. I'm excited for us to do the real thing next week.
Before we left, I had sent this recipe to the Monkey Scientist's mom. I didn't really read it, or think about how much work went into making granitas. I just thought it looked good. I should have known better - by the time we got back she'd stressed over making it all day and bought these cute little serving bowls for it. I was so excited! She's the sweetest.
I tried to help out by making the coconut whipped cream, but it didn't work out great. The taste was spot on, but it never really stiffened up. Not quite sure what I did wrong; maybe I overwhipped it in the electric mixer? It didn't really matter though because these were so delicious that we all slurped them down pretty quickly. When they started melting it almost turned into a soft coconut-watermelon ice cream. What a refreshing and tasty summertime treat!
Next, we're off to the West Coast for our big summer trip. I'll be sure to tell you all about it when we get back!
Boozy Watermelon Granitas
from How Sweet It Is
4 cups fresh cubed watermelon
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup coconut rum
1 (14-ounce) can of full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1. In the blender or food processor, completely puree the watermelon. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve over a measuring cup and use a spoon to press every last bit of liquid out of the watermelon pulp.
2. Add the watermelon juice and sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and once the liquid comes to a boil, turn off the heat.
3. Pour the juice into a 9x13-inch baking dish and whisk in the rum. Freeze for 4 hours.
4. Use a fork and scrape the mixture into small icy bites. Freeze again and repeat the scraping one or two more times within the next two hours or so.
5. When ready to serve, open the can of cold coconut milk (don't shake it first!) and remove all of the liquid. Scoop the cream into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed with a whisk attachment until peaks form, about 2 minutes. If desired, you can sweeten your coconut whipped cream with a little sugar.
6. Serve the granitas by layering a spoonful of the whipped cream, the granitas and more whipped cream. You can garnish with a sprig of mint if you have any on hand.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
One of the many things I love about the Monkey Scientist is that he's really willing to try just about anything I tell him to eat. Even if he doesn't like it, he'll at least give it a shot. I once made him try tripe in a Chinese restaurant (without telling him what it was) and even though he will never try it again, the fact that he did made me smile. Case in point was this meal - I told my Mom I was making Indian lentils and lamb for dinner and she said "oh, interesting" (which in our family means "please don't expect me to be eating that"). The Monkey Scientist, on the other hand, was excited! It makes cooking for him so much fun!
Despite this recipe not being my usual style of cooking, I knew this would be a recipe we'd like because of the spice factor. Curry powder + cayenne + jalapeno is a spicy combo. Right up our alleys. Fortunately for me, the greek yogurt cools the palate back down. Also, by serving this on top of rice, it made the whole dish a lot more mild - definitely something I'd recommend if the spiciness scares you (and to add more substance to the whole dish).
I liked that this recipe was fairly low-cost. Although lamb can be expensive, you don't need that much of it in this meal. Lentils are one of my favorite money savers because they are filling and tasty, but only cost about 89 cents/bag (which is enough to make this recipe 2-3 times!). My biggest cost-grief is the coconut milk. My grocery store only has 1 brand and its nearly $4/can. Do you know where I can buy it cheaper (and maybe in half cans)?
This was one of my favorite low cost, healthy recipes I've made in a long time. Bold flavors do so much to make up for lower fat content in dinners. The spicy flavor combined with the sweetness of the coconut milk and tomatoes elevated inexpensive lentils. The little bit of lamb brought an otherwise vegetarian dish to an new level - but could be left out if you wanted to keep it vegetarian. The tang of the Greek yogurt was the perfect finishing touch. The color of the whole dish is gorgeous from the curry powder, tomatoes, and coconut milk. We both loved this one!
Indian-Spiced Lentils and Lamb
slightly adapted from Cooking Light
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 lb lean ground lamb
1 teaspoon red curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped and seeds removed
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup brown lentils
2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1 (15-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped (I actually added the juice too)
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (2% or fat free)
white rice, cooked (optional)
1. In a large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium high heat then add lamb, curry powder, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes until it starts to brown.
2. Add onion and jalapeno and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes until the lamb is fully browned and the onions are soft.
3. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minute more until fragrant.
4. Add tomato paste, cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
5. Add lentils, cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.
5. Add chicken broth, water, coconut milk, and tomatoes and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for 40 minutes or until lentils are tender.
6. Serve either in a bowl or over white rice and top with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
You might have noticed, we aren't big red meat eaters. I don't have anything in particular against beef, and I'm pretty sure the Monkey Scientist grew up eating loads of steaks (he is from Chicago), but it has some drawbacks. It really isn't that good for you. And more importantly, it's expensive. So when we do have beef, it's a special treat and we usually buy pretty cheap cuts.
The key to enjoying these cheaper cuts is not to eat them in a steak-and-potatoes kind of way. While the Monkey Scientist does broil a mean teriyaki flank steak, tacos might just be the best way to eat flank steak. Tacos are such a simple recipe to throw together on a weeknight, and I loved the Asian twist in this recipe. Definitely made for a unique dinner!
The Monkey Scientist did a lot of work to help me put this recipe together. He made the mango salsa! Since the mango salsa on our pork tenderloin a few weeks ago was too spicy, we left the jalapeno seeds out this time around. I liked it so much better! The shallots were much milder than onions and the mango brought out the sweetness of the coconut milk in the marinade. It was a great addition to the tacos.
These were some of the best tacos I've ever made. The Monkey Scientist said this was one of his favorite dinners - I think he was happy to have some red meat, plus he's a big Chipotle lover. I think marinading for longer than 2 hours (I should learn to prep ahead of time a little better) would have been a good idea, but it was still great. I particularly liked the peanuts on top. They brought out the Asian flavors from the marinade while adding a nice crunch. This is an easy weeknight meal that you will really enjoy!
Thai Beef Tacos
every so slighty adapted from How Sweet It Is
1-1 1/2 pounds flank steak
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup light (canned) coconut milk
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 mango, chopped
1 shallot, diced
1 jalapeno, diced (seeds removed)
a sprinkle each of sugar, salt & pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
8-10 flour tortillas (I used burrito sized, but you could go smaller)
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce or hot salsa
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
1. Sprinkle flank steak with salt and pepper. Combine coconut milk, chili sauce, garlic, ginger, and sugar in a bowl and whisk.
2. Add flank steak to a ziplock bag or a shallow baking dish and pour marinade overtop. Refrigerate and let sit for 6-24 hours. (I only waited about 2 hours because I don't plan ahead well)
3. When ready to prepare, remove steak from fridge and let sit for 20-30 minutes. (Yep, I skipped this)
4. In a bowl, combine mango, shallot, jalapeno, salt, sugar and pepper, mix thoroughly, then set aside.
5. Heat a large oven-safe skillet (like cast iron) over high heat. At the same time, preheat the broiler in your oven. (You can also grill the steak if you wish.)
6. Using a pastry brush, brush oil onto the skillet so there is only a very thin layer. (CAREFUL! The oil may jump when you start to brush it!)
7. Remove steak from marinade with kitchen tongs, placing in the skillet. Sear on both sides for 1-2 minutes per side.
8. Remove skillet and place is the oven directly under the broiler. Cook for 3 minutes, then flip and cook for 3 minutes more. (Less time if you like it rarer, more if you like it more well done.)
9. Remove skillet from over, and place steak on a cutting board to rest for 15-20 minutes.
10. At this time, assemble your tortillas (warm them if desired), salsa, extra chili sauce for drizzling and peanuts. After the steak has rested, slice it into thin strips. Assemble tacos as desired and eat!
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
|photo by Amanda Farr|
I've been busy going to happy hours and Red Sox/Orioles games, so I haven't been cooking too much this week. However, I couldn't leave you hungry. I'm going to welcome back my coworker, Amanda, who tested this recipe and took some photos to share with you today.
|photo by Amanda Farr|
Massaman Curry is my absolute favorite dish to get at a Thai restaurant... the only thing I probably order more often is Pad Thai. We usually order beef, but lately I've been wanting to cut down on my red meat intake. Massaman Curry is complemented by sweet and delicious coconut milk. You can't go wrong with coconut milk.
|photo by Amanda Farr|
There definitely are some unusual ingredients here so you may need to take a trip to the Asian market. If you're buying fish sauce, BUY SQUID BRAND. It's the best I've ever used, and I have most frequently bought it at Asian markets. I have to admit though, Amanda used some really good looking brand, so that might be better. Either way, don't sniff the fish sauce... it smells terrible but it blends with all of the other ingredients to create the most amazing flavors.
|photo by Amanda Farr|
Amanda did make some adjustments from the original recipe. I know when I make this, I'll probably use ground cardamom out of laziness. If you use whole, and for the star anise, make sure you take them out when you're done making it. Amanda almost broke a tooth at lunch the other day when there was a star anise left in the curry.
|Photo by Amanda Farr|
I really want to try this one myself. Amanda really enjoyed it, and it looked scrumptious. You can serve it up with a big side of jasmine or sticky rice... perfection.
|Photo by Amanda Farr|
adapted from the very hungry cook
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 tbsp massaman curry paste
8 whole cardamom seeds, crushed with the side of a knife and your palm
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 star anise
1 can coconut milk
1 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
3-4 tbsp roasted, unsalted peanuts
2 tbsp peanut oil
1. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces
2. Add 1 tbsp of oil and the massaman curry paste to the chicken. Mix well, set aside to marinate.
3. Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Once the oil is hot, fry the cinnamon, cardamom and star anise for 30 seconds. Add the onion and fry until golden brown.
4. Add the chicken and turn to low. Let cook 3-5 min.
5. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, water, potatoes and peanuts. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 min or until potatoes and chicken are cooked through. If needed, remove the lid and cook until the curry reaches desired thickness. Check seasoning and then remove the pan from the flame.
6. Stir in the tamarind paste and brown sugar. Serve hot with jasmine rice.