It's my first Secret Recipe Club post!!! I had been wanting to join the SRC for a while, but wasn't sure that I met the posting requirements, because I don't always post every week. I also didn't have a recipe index for a long time, so that is something that I have been working on. I finally felt like the time was right and asked to join, and here I am with my first post! Yay!
My assigned blog was Renee's Kitchen Adventures, and I had such a great time looking through it. Renee is a stay-at-home mom and former nurse (labor and delivery - what a special unit!), and her story reminded me a lot of my mother. She talks about trying to be healthy and lose weight, and posts healthy recipes based on Weight Watchers points. I, too, am trying to be healthy and lose weight, so I loved that about this blog. Even though our ideas of what constitute healthy food are a bit different (I think fat is healthy), I think this blog will be a great resource and inspiration for me. I also love how accessible and family friendly Renee's recipes are. I think I tend to only post about the really complicated stuff, which maybe isn't so great.
As I was reading through Renee's most recent recipes, I saw a lot that I wanted to try. I love that she has a lot of s'mores recipes, and especially that she made s'mores krispy treats - because I did the same thing! I also really liked the sound of this Almond Joy Poke Cake made with coconut oil, coconut oil is the best! She writes that she isn't ashamed to use boxed cake mix as a shortcut, and I feel the same way! I don't post about them much, but I love to make poke cakes or dress up cake mix in other ways (pro tip: use 1 extra egg, milk instead of water, melted butter instead of oil).
I've been baking way more than usual lately, though, and what jumped out at me the most was this Creamy Lemon and Fresh Basil Chicken Salad. It has been super hot and humid lately, so this is exactly the kind of thing I want to be eating right now.
Everyone knows that crab legs go perfectly with drawn (melted) butter, especially if it had lemon and garlic in it. But what do you do if you are craving that combo in a lighter dish? Melissa and I decided to make a quinoa salad incorporating those flavors, along with fresh avocado, to keep things nice and light. Yum.
Step 1 - acquire crab legs. I got a pretty good deal on pre-cooked king crab legs at Costco.
Step 2 - remove crab meat. This was both thrilling and frustrating. I felt compelled to extract every last shred of meat from those suckers - not an easy task, but very rewarding. This will take a while, so start cooking your quinoa in the meantime (Step 1.5? 2.5? I give up). We used a 3:1 mixture of white and black quinoa because we thought it would look pretty (we were right), you can use whatever you like.
I have made this salad multiple times in the past two years, but never managed to photograph it or blog about it - until now! Which is a shame, because it is so delicious and satisfying, and you could have been making it, too. I'm so sorry! But I'm sharing it with you now, and I hope that you know how serious I am about loving this salad, because I rarely ever make things more than once. I even bought pomegranate molasses for my parents so that I could make this for them!
Special thanks to Melissa at Smells Like Brownies, for making it with me again two years after our first time making it together so that we could photograph it.
First thing is first, you must cook some lentils! I use French lentils for pretty much everything because they retain their shape and texture. Plus, they are a pretty green.
Meanwhile - prep your other ingredients. Chop your vegetables: onion, garlic, bell peppers. I love how colorful the bell peppers are, and how pretty they make the salad. So buy one of those 3 packs that has red, yellow, and orange. It will make you so happy. We also had a little bit of a green pepper left over, so we threw that in.
Also use this time to rehydrate some sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water. The water will become infused with tomato flavor, and will later become part of the dressing - neat! Not pictured - toast some walnuts. It releases the oils and makes them so much more flavorful.
On Monday, I promised you a recipe for the side dish I served with the Garlic Butter Salmon with Dill. And here it is - a Greek style salad made with shredded raw zucchini, so healthy! The dill in this dish helps tie it in with the flavors in the salmon (plus it helps me get rid of more dill).
The raw zucchini - along with mint, dill, green onions, and feta - is marinated in a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and garlic. The original recipe recommends chilling for several hours to allow the flavors to meld together, but we found that 30 minutes was enough.
This salad is bright and fresh, perfect on it's own or as a side. Make it all summer, take it with you anywhere, and enjoy!
I grew a monster dill plant - I'm talking like 3 feet tall with stems as thick as pencils. So I went to Melissa and begged her to help me use up a ton of dill. We brainstormed for a bit and came up with this salmon recipe. I mean, what goes better with dill than salmon?
This recipe couldn't be easier - pour melted butter over a flank (or filet) of salmon, spread on minced garlic, top with dill, lemon slices, salt, and pepper. Then just pop into the oven for 10 minutes, for a regular sized fish. I picked up salmon from my favorite fish shop (MediterraFish at Mosaic, if you are a local), because their Norwegian salmon is healthy, sustainable, fatty, and HUGE. Like really, really thick. So it was more of a 15 minute fish (though I cut off a piece for me a bit early because I like my salmon medium - not quite opaque in the center, but still able to flake).
The house smelled Ah. Maze. Ing. while this was cooking, and just a few ingredients imparted a lot of flavor. It would have been just fine on it's own, but we also made a sauce with sour cream, horseradish, lemon, shallot, and dill that took it to the next level. So good, simple, and summery - get on it, people, and make this! Stay tuned for the side dish recipe - Greek style zucchini salad.
It's time for another collaboration with Smells Like Brownies (although we actually made this back in June, oops!) - not vegetarian this time, but rather pescetarian. A hearty tomato based broth filled with all kinds of seafood - Cioppino. Melissa actually chose this dish for her blogging group, the Secret Recipe Club. For more info on that, check out her post here.
Making the broth takes up the most time in this recipe, but you want to let it simmer and develop deep flavor, so it's worth it. Olive oil, garlic, shallot, oregano, and a bay leaf go in first; followed by bell pepper, tomato paste, and red wine. Oh yeah, and red pepper flakes - watch it here, this is where you determine your spice level. Next comes canned tomatoes in their juices, clam juice, lemon juice, and veggie broth (not stock). Let it do it's thing for 30 minutes before adding in some mussels.
I meant it when I said this soup was full of all kinds of seafood. While the mussels simmer away; prep the rest of the seafood - scallops, red snapper (or something similar, like halibut), and shrimp. Who knew a bunch of raw seafood could look so pretty?
After the rest of the seafood is cooked through, top with fresh basil and parsley and dig in. Serve with some crusty bread for dipping and eat right away! This Italian stew is perfect for any time of year - hearty and warming, but not heavy - so enjoy!
I'm really trying to be better at waking up early enough to get to the Farmer's Market. I love the scene with all the booths and crowds of people, all the adorable puppies and babies. The Mosaic Market even has live music and food trucks. But I am not very good at cooking by the seat of my pants, so after I pick out some yummy looking veg, it usually ends up getting tossed into a pasta. Even more so when the market offers amazing artisan pasta from Pappardelle's Pasta. C'est la vie!
My first batch of veggies (asparagus, tomato, and leek) went into a white wine, lemon, and butter sauce with the garlic chive artisan pappardelle. I cooked the leek down in butter and olive oil, then added some white wine, lemon juice, and pasta water along with chopped tomatoes. When that had cooked to a good sauce consistency, I tossed in blanched asparagus and the cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente). I finished it off with lemon zest, Parmesan, and black pepper and served it with salmon.
I still had tomatoes and a random eggplant that I picked up for no reason, so I decided to do a riff on this pasta. I really should have used a whole wheat pasta, but I just love gemelli and I can't find it in whole wheat anywhere. It's the perfect short shape because it has good structural integrity (meaning it cooks evenly and doesn't get mushy edges).
Anyway, I roasted the eggplant while I caramelized an onion (I really wish I had a red onion, but I didn't). After adding garlic, a splash of sherry, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, I added some chopped tomato and a pat of butter (trying to get the essence of the Marcella Hazan sauce without cooking it for 45 minutes). Then I added in the eggplant, cooked pasta (1 minute shy of al dente), and a splash of pasta water and let it come together. Then I topped it with fresh basil and black pepper and served it with some hanger steak from the market (one of the few places where I can find it - there's only 1 per cow and they sell fast).
This salad is so pretty! And yummy! And easy! And healthy! And did I mention how pretty it is? Light and fresh, and perfect for Spring or Summer. This would be great to bring to a potluck or picnic.
All you do is cook and cool quinoa (I really like the tri-color for this), which can be done in advance. Then top with cut watermelon, strawberries, and feta. Drizzle with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper. Then finish with basil and sliced almonds. That's it! I used some purple basil from my garden, isn't it pretty? It tastes just like regular Genovese basil.
You can serve it in a platter, or individual containers - up to you! I think it would travel pretty well, especially if you pack the dressing separately. It's also really satisfying - you have crunch from the watermelon, almonds, and even the quinoa (which is also very filling), and a salty-sweet combo that is just awesome.
Hello, Spring! I am so glad that you have finally come to stay! I'd like to welcome you with this lovely little tart made with fresh peas, creamy homemade ricotta, scallions, herbs, and lemon. Please stick around for a bit.
Well, Spring, I know that fresh English peas are kind of your thing, so I used them two ways just for you! I pureed some peas and ricotta together with lemon juice, mint, and basil to make a creamy spread. Then I mixed some whole peas with scallions, more mint and basil, and lemon zest.
I baked some puff pastry until golden, puffed, and crispy; then I spread the creamy ricotta mixture over the top; and sprinkled the whole pea mixture over that. Look at all that green!
Happy Easter! It has been a long, crazy winter. We had just a hint of spring before a cold snap hit again, but it looks like we are on our way back and hopefully it will last this time!
I took advantage of the nice weather to plant my container herb garden. I've got chives, French thyme, English thyme, lemon thyme, and oregano thyme in one pot. The big one has common sage, purple sage, rosemary, spearmint, tarragon, Greek and Italian oregano, and dill. And the last one has sweet basil, thai basil, amethyst basil, lemon basil, and parsley.
I also cleared out and cleaned up my tiny backyard, and while I was removing dead leaves, I accidentally uncovered a nest full of baby rabbits! I was totally shocked and didn't know what to do. I yelled for my husband to bring me a box to put them in while I hit the internet for advice. Leave them alone and put them back was the unanimous decision. Mama rabbits only visit the babies 2 times a day to feed very quickly (1-2 minutes) so that predators won't know where they are. So baby rabbits have not been abandoned and they don't need to be rescued (unless injured by lawnmower, dog, cat, etc...). In fact, trying to take care of them yourself will likely kill them!