Bowl Meal

Bowls seem to be the trendy thing right now – your whole meal in one dish, think of the time savings – you should read my sarcasm in that statement. Silly me.

As I was doing my meal planning this weekend, I scrolled across a recipe in Epicurious, I saw the picture and I was hooked. Then I read the ingredients and the amount of work and I was sold.

It’s August in Michigan, everything is in season, but most importantly CORN. Michigan corn is the best, I might be biased. If you live in another part of the country, I will say buy local corn if you can, it is less starchy and far more delicious. I bought mine today at 5:45, we had dinner at 8:15 when my son finished mowing the lawn.

The ingredients for both the bowl and the sauce are simple:

I don’t normally use quick barley, but I had it, and I wanted to see if it was any good for my college kid. He wants to cook, but needs easy meals that you can cook in a closet sized kitchen. I used skirt steak, flank would also work…you can see my preference. I trimmed it thoroughly before grilling; I also let mine sit at room temperature for an hour, steaks simply grill better when they are at room temperature.

I modified the bowl recipe a bit (way too much oil and barley, needs more cheese); otherwise the recipes are good as is. They were a huge hit tonight for dinner.

Grain Bowls with Grilled Corn, Steak, and Avocado

Beef and Lamb, College Option, Entrées, Grilling, Tested and Approved!

Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour Servings: Yield 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

lb. skirt or flank steak

tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more

4 ears of corn, shucked

1 cups cooked barley

4 oz. crumbled feta

4 scallions, thinly sliced

cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 avocado, peeled, thinly sliced

Creamy Jalapeño Sauce (for serving)

DIRECTIONS

Season steak with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Let sit at room temperature 30-60 minutes.

Prepare a grill for high heat or heat grill pan over high. Grill steak and corn, turning occasionally. Steak should be grilled until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of steak registers 120-125°F for medium-rare (~3-4 minutes per side for skirt; 4-5 minutes per side for flank). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes or until cool. Meanwhile, grill corn until charred on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let cool.

Slice corn off cobs into a large bowl. Add grains, feta, scallions, oil, lime juice, and 1/2 tsp. salt and stir to combine. Divide corn mixture among bowls.

Thinly slice steak against the grain. Top bowls with steak and avocado. Drizzle jalapeño sauce over; season with salt and pepper.

NOTES

Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Do Ahead: Steak and corn can be grilled 3 days ahead. Transfer to separate airtight containers and chill; allow to come to room temperature prior to serving.

If you don’t have access to fresh corn, frozen corn can be substituted, char it in a medium skillet over high heat in a neutral oil for 3-5 minutes until well charred.

Creamy Jalapeño Sauce

College Option, Sauces and Marinades, Tested and Approved!

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Servings: About 1 1/4 cups

INGREDIENTS

5 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled

5 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup neutral vegetable oil (such as grapeseed or canola)

¾ cup (packed) fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems

DIRECTIONS

Pulse jalapeños, garlic, lime juice, and salt in a blender or food processor until puréed. With motor running, slowly drizzle in oil until a thick sauce forms. Add cilantro and pulse a few times until chopped and incorporated. Taste and add more jalapeño, if necessary.

Do Ahead

Sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.

NOTES

Sauce will be thin.

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Instant Pot

I got an Instant Pot for Christmas; to be honest I didn’t even know it was a thing much less a full movement in cooking. I had been talking about getting out the pressure cooker I store in the basement (I’m fairly certain it’s older than me) to figure out how it works so my husband suggested to my MIL that it would make a good gift.

The first week I just looked at it in the box, uncertain, it simply wasn’t a tool I knew how to incorporate in my cooking. I’m still not fully sure, but I’ve done a bit of reading, joined a couple of facebook groups, and eventually started trying.

I began with Detroit Free Press’ Susan Selasky’s recommendation for Beef Barbacoa. I followed it exactly and was very pleased that it came out well.

I neglected to mark it as a tested recipe and thought that this would be a week to try it. It was so good, that today I came directly here to my blog to write it up and post it and found this half completed post.

If you are looking at your instant pot and debating what to do, this is the reason to use it. The meat used is a chuck roast, not an expensive meat, it takes a lot of work to get it tender. It is one of the meats that I like to use for crock pot recipes since they cook long enough to make it tender. The instant pot reaches this accomplishment with much less work and time and an equally amazing result.

Today I served it with a homemade salsa using tomatoes from my mini-garden, even my husband and eldest who are anti-fresh tomatoes enjoyed it thoroughly. Both recipes are originally from Epicurious.com, one of my favorite sources.

Grilled and Fresh Tomato Salsa

Appetizers, Sauces and Marinades, Tested and Approved!

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Servings: About 3 cups Source: epicurious.com

INGREDIENTS

4 medium tomatoes (about 3 ounces), divided

Olive oil (for brushing)

1 large white onion, cut into 1/4″ rounds

1 jalapeño, seeded if desired, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

Prepare a grill or grill pan for medium-high heat. Slice 2 tomatoes in half and brush each half with oil. Brush onion with oil. Transfer onions and tomatoes halves to hot grill and cook, turning occasionally, until slightly charred and softened, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Remove seeds from remaining 2 tomatoes and cut into 1/4″ cubes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add jalapeño and salt and toss to combine. Finely chop cooled onions and tomatoes, then add to raw tomato mixture and toss to combine.

Do Ahead

Salsa can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to an airtight container and chill.

Beef Barbacoa Tacos

Beef and Lamb, Entrées, Instant Pot, Mexican, Tested and Approved!

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour Servings: Yield 6 servings Source: epicurious.com

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of most fat and cut into large chunks

1/2 cup reduced-salt chicken broth or All-Purpose Chicken Stock

2 bay leaves

Small (6-inch) corn tortillas, for serving

Salsa or pico de gallo, for serving

Cotija cheese, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, garlic, chipotle, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and cloves in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Press Sauté and use the Sauté or Adjust button to select the highest temperature. Place the vegetable oil in the inner pot. Wait until the display reads “Hot,” about 5 minutes, then add the beef. Cook with the lid off, turning the beef every 2 minutes, until the beef is browned on most sides, about 8 minutes.

Add the vinegar sauce and the chicken broth, and then the bay leaves. Stir to combine.

Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing. Press Cancel, then press Manual or Pressure Cook and use the Pressure or Pressure Level button to select High Pressure. Use the – or + button to set the time to 30 minutes.

When the cooking cycle ends, press Cancel. Allow the appliance to cool and release pressure naturally, about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid. Discard the bay leaves. Use tongs or a large spoon to remove the beef from the inner pot and place it on a cutting board. Shred the beef using two forks: Use one fork to pull off a chunk and then use two forks to shred that piece, holding down the meat with one fork and pulling at it with the other. Repeat with the remaining beef.

Serve the beef hot, piled into corn tortillas and topped with salsa and a sprinkling of Cotija cheese, if desired.

NOTES

Beef Barbacoa and its juices will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. To reheat, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the beef in a shallow baking dish with enough of the juices to reach a depth of about 1/4 inch. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake until hot, about 15 minutes.

Linguine with Clam Sauce

It’s summer and the eldest will be headed back to college soon, with a new challenge: apartment living. Both of these are pushing me towards a simple food portfolio. For a recent Sunday dinner I elected to make an antipasto salad and linguine with clam sauce.

An antipasto salad is really simple and incredibly delicious, it can be served as a salad course or on its own. I found this recipe and modified it just a touch to make it perfect, the original recipe was a bit onion and pepper heavy, this allows you to taste all of the independent flavors. The “lettuce” of the salad is the basil, so the trick is to be gentle with the leaves when washing them so as not to bruise them.

Antipasto Salad

Italian, Salads, Tested and Approved!

Servings: 4 servings Source: bonappetit.com

INGREDIENTS

1 garlic clove, minced

cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ tsp. crushed dried oregano

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1-2 Cubanelle or Shepherd peppers, thinly sliced into rounds

½ small red onion, thinly sliced, rinsed

1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry, halved

8 oz. ball fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces

¼-⅓ salami, preferably fennel, thinly sliced

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 lemon

2 cups basil leaves

DIRECTIONS

Mix garlic, oil, vinegar, oregano, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Add sweet peppers, onion, artichokes, mozzarella, and salami and toss to coat; season with salt and black pepper. Let sit, tossing occasionally, at least 15 minutes.

Zest half of lemon over salad and add basil; toss to combine. Season with more salt and black pepper if needed.

Do Ahead: Salad (without lemon zest and basil) can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Linguine with Clam Sauce is a little more complicated, but there are some tricks to make it simpler. The biggest time saver is frozen clam meat: no scrubbing and they are typically precooked. With the eldest’s fish allergy, I skip the anchovies, but enjoy them if you can. With any pasta dish, the most important ingredient is the pasta, select a good pasta, Italian if available, and for a simple sauce like a clam, a rustic (rough) pasta that the sauce will stick to is best.

Linguine and Clams

Entrées, Italian, Pastas, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

Servings: 4 servings Source: bonappetit.com

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more

10 cups water

12 garlic cloves, divided

4 ounces sourdough or country-style bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch pieces

2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for serving

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 oil-packed anchovy fillets (optional)

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving

cup dry white wine

2 pounds littleneck clams (about 24) or cockles (about 32), scrubbed*

12 ounces linguine or spaghetti

½ cup finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

Bring salt and water to a boil in a large pot.

Meanwhile, pulse 3 garlic cloves in a food processor until chopped. Add bread and pulse several times until fine crumbs form.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add breadcrumb mixture and cook, stirring often, until crumbs are golden and crisp, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add lemon zest, season with salt, and toss to combine; set aside.

Wipe out Dutch oven. Using a mandoline if you have one (if not, use a really sharp knife), very thinly slice remaining 9 garlic cloves. Heat ¼ cup oil in Dutch oven over medium. Cook garlic, stirring often, until golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add anchovies, if using, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden all over and anchovies are dissolved. Quickly stir in wine and simmer until only a couple of tablespoons of liquid are left in pot.

Add clams and toss to combine. (If using clam meat, add and proceed to next step.) Cover and cook until clams are open, 5-7 minutes (about 4 minutes for cockles). Uncover pot and transfer clams to a medium bowl, leaving liquid in pot. If any clams are still closed, cover pot again and cook a few minutes longer, then transfer to bowl with others (discard any that have not opened at this point). Tent clams with foil.

Cook pasta in boiling water 5 minutes. Using a ladle or heatproof measuring cup, scoop out about 2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with clam liquid. Add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Cook, tossing constantly and adding more pasta cooking liquid a splash at a time if needed, until pasta is al dente and sauce is glossy and thick enough to cling to noodles, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add parsley and butter and toss until butter is melted. Sprinkle about one-third of breadcrumbs over pasta and toss to combine (you can add more or less depending on how much liquid is in bottom of pot-you want them to absorb some of the sauce but not make it dry). Give pasta a taste; you probably won’t need additional salt, but you can add some if you’d like. Divide pasta among shallow bowls and top with reserved clams, more breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of oil.

NOTES

*Fresh clams can be replaced with frozen meat: ¼ lb. frozen meat/ 1 lb. fresh clams

Dining at Disney – Morimoto Asia

Knowing that we would be well in the midst of cold weather in Michigan, we planned a long weekend in Disney to cure the winter blues and visit family who winter in Florida.

We took the opportunity to visit an Iron Chef Restaurant, Morimoto Asia. My husband and I remember watching the original Iron Chef from Japan dubbed over in English, Chef Morimoto was always awesome to watch there and on Iron Chef America.

The restaurant offers a variety of dishes that represent several Asian countries, on our last visit we had Peking Duck, which is delicious, and reminded me of when I enjoyed it in Beijing.

This time we started with a Spicy Salmon Roll and Toro (tuna) Tartare and our youngest had the Chicken Wings. (Note: he said the wings were really good, but that the sauce that was described as spicy in the menu was very mild.) I also tried the Morimotini with sake and vodka, it was a very nice cocktail.

For dinner, my husband selected the Ebi Chili, a stir fried jumbo shrimp with a chili sauce (wonderful heat, actually spicy for those of you who avoid it) and fried rice with a slow cooked egg that’s added at the table.

My son selected the duck ramen, the flavor was rich and delicious.

I selected a Korean dish, one that Chef Morimoto originally served to win an Iron Chef battle: Morimoto Buri-Bop. It is a rice dish served in a clay pot heated to 400F. When they bring the dish out the fish and egg yolk are raw.

They move the fish to the side of the bowl to give a light sear meanwhile they break the egg yolk over the hot hot rice.

Finally they toss the ingredients together.

It was amazing.

For dessert my husband and I split a 12- year Yamazaki; my son elected the Chocolate Cream and Crunch to be able to enjoy a tempura Oreo.

If you get the chance, enjoy!

Time to Cook

I have been absent from my blog, I have sat down to write, in fact I have 9 drafts in my folder, but I haven’t seem to have had the time to finish any.

I have decided to write about a favorite I had forgotten, Roast Salmon with Sweet Chipotle Glaze and Hominy Purée. It was from a a Bon Appétit in April 2011, unfortunately it was a rarity that I got to make it since my eldest is allergic to fish. I was scrolling through my recipes to pick a menu for this week and came across this recipe; with him off to college it was an easy selection.

The recipe needed no modification, it scales easily to serve more as needed.

This is the recipe scaled for 4:

Roast Salmon with Sweet Chipotle Glaze and Hominy Puree

Cook Time: 10 minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings: 4 servings Source: Bon Appétit | April 2011

INGREDIENTS

6 chipotle chiles, from canned chipotle chiles in adobo

4 Tbsp apricot jam or preserves

tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp ground cumin

4 salmon fillets with skin, about 6-7 ounces each (scant 1 inch thick)

30 ounces hominy, canned, drained, juice reserved

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450°F. Using back of spoon, press enough chipotles through fine sieve into small bowl to measure 4 teaspoons puree. Mix puree, jam, vinegar, and cumin in bowl; season glaze to taste with salt.

Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil then coat with nonstick spray. Arrange salmon on sheet; sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Spread one quarter of glaze over each fillet. Roast until just opaque in center, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree hominy and 6 tablespoons reserved juice in food processor until almost smooth. Transfer to skillet. Add butter and cilantro. Stir over medium heat until warmed through, mixing in more reserved juice by teaspoonfuls if too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide hominy between 4 plates, top with salmon, and serve.

Simple Pasta

I have been focusing a lot lately on recipes I have found and fixing them to something I like. Today, however, I approached dinner with my husband out of town for the week after all of us were gone for the weekend. You may have guessed, I have not been grocery shopping so it was time to test my other skills.

My examination of the the possibilities yielded 3 Italian sausages, two partial packages of farfalle pasta, and two cups of cherry tomatoes. I always have herbs outside (until the hard frost), cream, butter, and garlic…my idea formed.


It came together quickly. I minced my garlic, chopped the herbs, cut the tomatoes, and sliced the sausage while the water came to a boil.

    

After adding the pasta to the pan and setting it to cook a couple minutes shy of al dente, I heated a touch of olive oil in my skillet and added the sausage over high heat. It was already cooked, so I simply wanted to heat it through and start browning the sides of the slices.


I added in the garlic with a quick stir and followed with the tomatoes and herbs.

  
It only took a few minutes for the tomatoes to start to soften, at that point I added the pasta and a cup of the pasta water to continue the cooking. While stirring I added about ½ cup more of the water and just a dash of pepper flakes.

  
When the pasta was done and the liquid mostly gone, I added just a bit of cream and stirred in some Parmesan.

  
A tablespoon of butter and some fresh basil brought it all together at the end with a slice of garlic bread.

  
A perfect meal.

Chorizo and Shrimp Burgers

I started my planning for this meal yesterday while making my grocery list, I didn’t have a recipe for is simply the concept above listed as the title. Because my youngest says that everything is better with bacon, and that I have to have extra beyond what the recipe calls for just for him, I am starting with 12 slices of thick-cut hickory-smoked bacon.

And, typical for me, I am baked them at 400°F. I don’t preheat the oven, I simply put the tray in the cold oven and turn it on.
While they were cooking, I cleaned the shrimp.

      

I placed these in a bowl where I chopped them with my Pampered Chef Mix ‘n Chop.

  

Then I added in the chorizo and some basil from my garden which I chopped; I also set aside some basil to use as lettuce.

 

I mixed these together with a bit of salt and pepper.

 

After that, I took the bacon out of the oven.

I decided to make very thin burgers, with the intent of double stacking them. I placed each on a sheet of foil brushed with olive oil.

I also added some parsley to my basil “lettuce” and thinly sliced a red onion as condiments to go with my guacamole.

Then I shucked my fresh Michigan corn and waited for everyone to be hungry.

  

With the weather not cooperating, I elected to grill inside.

Knowing that the chorizo has a tendency to stick, I left the burgers on the foil to cook.

      

The burgers took ~2 minutes per side and the corn was done in 5.

 

Yum!!!!!

Tortellini with Pesto

It’s the second to last dinner for my eldest before he heads off to college so I picked an old favorite from his childhood. It’s one that we all love and has carried through as the years go by, of course it’s hard to go wrong with homemade pesto. 

When we found out that he was allergic to nuts I went on a mission to find one that I liked that was nut-free. This one has stood the test of time. 

I started with my basil: a mix of Thai and regular basil (any basil works, I had extra since I’m using it in my dessert tomorrow too). Once it was cleaned I pulled off my leaves and separated it out into portions.


The portion for the pesto went into the food processor with a few cloves of garlic. 

      

Then I started the grill and the water. The Italian sausage took 10 minutes so I started those first, then came in and blanched the basil for tomorrow in my pasta water.

.              

Then I cooked the pasta in the basil water and turned the sausage.

  
I blended up the pesto in the food processor just before the pasta finished, adding salt, pepper, and olive oil after the basil was chopped and finishing with the Parmesan.  

         

While the pasta drained I pulled the sausage off the grill.

  

Then I came in and tossed the pasta – dinner is served and I have a happy boy. 

    

Tortellini with Pesto
Entrées, Pastas, Tested and Approved!

Cook 10 minutes ∙ Makes 4 ∙ Difficulty Easy 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups basil leaves, fresh, packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1½-2 pounds tortellini, cooked

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor, pulse the basil and garlic until roughly chopped. With the machine on, slowly pour in the oil until just blended. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper and mix until just blended. 
Toss the pesto into cooked tortellini. 

This can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Dinner for One

It’s been a long time since I prepared a dinner for only myself, in this typically busy house it’s more common to cook for extras. Today was an oddity, my eldest is off with his friends for the week enjoy the last bit of summer before they head in their separate directions, my youngest had an opportunity to go out with friends, and my husband is at a work event.

We had a busy weekend after arriving back from vacation, and today was actually my first full trip to the grocery store so I tossed my original plan for dinner and picked myself up something simple.


I chopped up my tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives, then brushed the naan with the oil from the marinated tomatoes and mozzarella.


I decided to cook on my grill pan over medium high heat, and after turning the bread I topped it with the tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives, along with my fresh basil and torn prosciutto.

    

At the end, I sprinkled it with cracked pepper and some pepper flakes and enjoyed it with my wine.


Perfect.

Dining at Disney – Sanaa

Time for another disclosure, this is my second favorite restaurant at Disney World and there are days I have difficulty making that ranking decision between Sanaa and California Grill. They are dramatically different restaurants both in food and price, but the quality shines through in both locations. The food is so unique here that we verify all of our dishes are nut and fish free so that we all can share bites of everything.

I remember our first visit to Sanaa and encouraging my husband and boys to try the bread service with all of the toppings, they weren’t sure about it, but I had visited India and knew how good this could be. Sanaa executes this perfectly and we now order it every time we visit; yesterday was no exception and it vanished quickly.


We ordered a South African wine to pair with our food; most of the menu is African and Indian flavors and my husband and I learned long ago that a wine local to the type of food will pair well.


All of our dishes were amazing, and I have sincere compliments to the chef; that original visit inspired me to bring lamb into my own cooking. My eldest ordered the lamb shank, on our original trip it was the youngest, and I tought them both to make sure they get the marrow from inside the bone as well as the meat from outside. After the duration of cooking it’s perfect. The meat simply falls off of the bone when you pick it up: perfection.


I selected the duck; I can’t get it fresh and I haven’t had success reproducing recipes with frozen so this has not made it into my repertoire. It was served a perfect medium rare, with very crispy skin and duck confit (made from the legs and thighs) on the side. Like the lamb and other red meats, when cooked correctly it simply melts in your mouth.


My husband opted for the Braaivleis, a trio of grilled meats; the meats aren’t ever listed on the menu as they are subject to change. His came with pork tenderloin, lamb chops, and a boar meat sausage. All were perfect and flavorful, with the sausage as a clear favorite of my husband and boys due to the unique flavor profile.


My youngest selected the Spicy Durban Shrimp with Aloo Masala after researching all of the terms so that he knew what he was ordering. Again, another amazing dish, the shrimp were full of flavor, and we may have to start ordering extra bread to soak up the sauces.


When it comes to nuts, the desserts are different story and my eldest made sure he ate enough that he didn’t want dessert. My youngest got the Spice Trade Candy Bar and my husband and I split the Kenyan Coffee Petit Entremet. Both were amazing.

  

If you are willing to be a bit more daring in food options, definitely try Sanaa.