Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Baked Salmon with a Coconut Scented Soy Sauce Glaze

Tonight's recipe is based off of this one here. I made one change (coconut oil for butter) and it made an amazing glaze that was good on everything on our plates. I served this salmon alongside steamed broccoli, butternut squash ravioli and homemade "pizza bread" (this french bread recipe, with sun-dried tomatoes and chunks of mozzarella mixed in).

Salmon with Coconut Scented Soy Sauce Glaze
(Adapted from Pots and Pins)

Yield: glaze for up to 5 salmon filets

Salmon filets
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. regular soy sauce

Preheat oven to 325 and use a paper towel to blot your salmon filets dry. Prepare a cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper, sprayed with cooking spray. Arrange your filets on the sheet, and bake for 12 minutes.

While the fish is baking, prepare your glaze: Combine coconut oil, sugar and soy sauce in a microwave safe bowl and stir to combine. Microwave as needed to get everything combined with few or no lumps of coconut oil remaining.

When your 12 minutes are up, remove fish from oven, carefully turn each fillet over with a spatula, divide the glaze between the filets. Bake another 8 minutes, and then broil for 2-3 minutes if desired to crisp up the edges.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autumn Mash-Up with Marshmallow Sauce

This is what happens when Mommy starts mixing up leftovers. Roast acorn squash, roast sweet potatoes (that came out just too dry for snacking) and half a can of sweetened condensed milk, leftover from a weekend of making moon cakes for Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. It's a riff on a Thanksgiving classic, but not as cloyingly sweet. (Spoiler alert - there aren't any marshmallows in here, but sweetened condensed milk makes a fairly convincing substitute! At least it convinced my three year old son.)

Aunt LoLo's Autumn Mash-Up
Serves 6-8

2 pounds roast autumn veg (acorn squash, yams, sweet potatoes, butternut, etc.)
1 can mandarin oranges (or pineapple), with its juices (11 oz)
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk (about 7 oz., or to taste)
1 tsp. salt

Mash up your veg as finely as you like, and stir in your sweetened condensed milk, fruit (oranges or pineapple) and salt. Heat on the stove, in a large pan, stirring occasionally. (Alternately, spread your mash into a 9x9 pan and heat in a medium oven until hot through, approximately 30 minutes.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pasta with Béchamel and Peas

Fancy name, eh? My daughter hangs out with Grandma, Grandpa, and her favorite cousin every week. One of their favorite dinners on "Grandma Days" is Grandpa's pasta with white sauce and peas. He keeps jars of Alfredo sauce on hand, just for this dish, and the kids eat it up!

Today was a really long day, and the kids were total troopers. (We hit up the aquarium after school. Coming home, I made a few wrong turns, and ended up stretching a 20 minute drive into nearly 90 minutes. Ouch.) I decided to make something I knew the kids would love, but it had to be QUICK. Quicker than frozen pizza. I already had some leftover (plain) pasta in the fridge, so this came together in about 5 minutes. Easy peasy! (Heh. See what I did there?)

(Oh, and about that name? My daughter asked me to please add this to our dinner rotation...so I told her she had to learn the proper name if she wanted me to remember what I made. No doubt this isn't a real béchamel, but...whatevs. It's cute to see a 6 year old asking for béchamel!)

I learned the recipe for this white sauce from my father when I was about 12. He, in turn, learned it from his grandmother. It's fool-proof, and easily customizable. Add cream cheese and rock shrimp, and you have an incredible dip. More cheese, and it's a great mac and cheese. Less cheese, and it could be a simple topping for poached eggs. This can also be used in white lasagnas, or over vegetables. Oh, and a classic béchamel would also have nutmeg in it, just a pinch.

LoLo's Pasta with Béchamel and Peas
Serves 4-6

1 pound pasta (cooked, drained and set aside)
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup flour
approximately 2 cups milk (I use skim, but nearly anything will work. Even evaporated, from a can!)
1 cup shredded cheese
3 cups frozen peas
Salt, Pepper to Taste

In a sauce pan, combine your knob of butter and flour over medium low heat. Whisk it as the butter melts - you need it to be lump free. It should be runny enough to not just clump up in your whisk. Add more butter if necessary.

Let your butter and flour cook for about 1 minute, until it starts to get slightly golden brown, and slowly whisk in your milk. Just a bit at a time, then let it cook. You want the consistency to be like melted ice cream, or just a bit thicker. The flour thickens as it cooks, so make sure you take your time, and keep whisking!

When the sauce is the right consistency, whisk in your shredded cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Add your frozen peas, heat through, and taste. Depending on your cheese, you may or may not need the salt, pepper, nutmeg, etc. (This is where you can make the sauce your own - White pepper is nice here, because it won't put black flecks in your sauce. Cayenne pepper would surprise people, too!) Pour all of your sauce over your pasta and fold to combine.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Asian Pear and Pork Stirfry

Myrnie, my partner in crime on this blog, brought up a really great point - none of us are getting any MORE free time, and we are quickly losing track of our favorite recipes while we wait for beautiful posts with beautiful pictures to happen.


Before I lose track of this one, here's a recipe to use up the Asian Pears (or pear apples) that are coming into season right now. It's delicious, and a really unexpected addition to your dinner table!

Aunt LoLo's Asian Pear and Pork Stirfry
Serves: 4-6

1/4 pound lean pork (I buy pork chops, trim them, and slice them into 1/4" strips)
3-4 small pear apples, cored and sliced (or 1-2 large)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. oil (I use olive oil)
slurry (1 spoon cornstarch, 1 spoon soy sauce, 1 spoon sugar, enough water to total 1/3 cup)
Optional: Rice wine

In a saute pan, combine oil and garlic. Heat over medium heat until fragrant, and add the pork strips. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add your pears. Cook until the meat is cooked through, and the pears are just starting to soften. Add your slurry, and cook until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Thin down with water, or season with soy sauce to taste. (If using the rice wine, add it to the pan BEFORE the slurry. Cook until the pan is dry again, and then add your slurry. You are just using the wine to deglaze the pan - it's not part of the sauce's liquid.)

Serve over rice.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Freezer Jam made with Plain Gelatin

My absolute favorite freezer jam is made with raspberries, rhubarb, and raspberry-flavored Jell-O.  It sounds like a crazy combination, but it tastes amazing.  I love the "set" of the jam, too- it's a soft, spreadable jam that's just perfect.

This year, we had lots of raspberries, but the rhubarb crop failed completely.  I searched for a plain-gelatin based jam for just raspberries, but found very little.

Here is why I like using gelatin in my freezer jams:
1)  Gelatin does not need sugar to gel- you can add sugar to taste.
2)  It is easily adaptable to how much fruit you have on hand.
3)  It is not dependent on certain temperatures to make a successful batch of jam.

Here is why you need to be careful when you use gelatin to set your jam:
1)  It can not be canned safely.  Don't try.  This MUST be a freezer jam.  Gelatin has protein in it, and must be kept frozen or refrigerated to be safe.
2)  If you keep the jam at room temperature, it will turn runny.  It's only firm when it's cold.
3)  This isn't vegetarian.  Nope.  See #1.

I wish I could remember the handful of links I used to cobble this recipe together, but I'm working from a scrap of paper I jotted my cooking notes on.  Use this as a starting point, and a reference for ratios- this recipe would work with any juicy fruit.  The basic equation is 1 cup of sugar and 2 packets plain gelatin per quart of mashed fruit (measure it after mashing to the texture you want the final jam to be.)  The sugar can be to taste. I actually had a bit of cantaloupe leftover from dinner the night before and chopped it up fine before adding it to the pot. See?  Versatile.

Raspberry Freezer Jam

5 quarts of raspberry mash
5 cups sugar
10 packets plain gelatin.

Bring it all to a boil, and boil one minute.  If your fruit isn't very juicy, let it sit in the pot with the sugar for a bit to macerate, and then add the gelatin before bringing to a boil.  Ladle into clean containers, leaving 3/4 inch headspace.  Freeze or refrigerate immediately.