Category Archives: recipes

Pasta Alfredo with Peas and Salmon on a Bed of Arugula

In case you don’t live in Southcentral Alaska, it’s sockeye salmon season. If you do live in Southcentral Alaska then you, your brother, your coworker and your landlord’s cousin have a freezer full of salmon. My husband came home with 36 gorgeous fish and after 4 hours of processing we now have to come up with ways of eating this healthy, delicious animal.

Last night we grilled up simple salmon steaks with just butter and lemon pepper, but tonight I wanted something fancy. No, I just wanted pasta.

This turned out amazingly. Here’s how to make it. Please keep in mind that I eyeball everything so these measurements are approximate.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
1 small salmon fillet
butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 lb. pasta of your choice
fresh baby arugula
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon fillet, skin side down, in a baking dish. Spread butter all over your fillet. Salt and pepper to taste.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Bake your salmon for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it. When you see white “sweat” coming out of the edges of the filet, it’s done. Remove from oven and set aside.

Cook your pasta al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, about one minute. Add the cream, cream cheese, and milk. Stir until cream cheese is melted. Add the nutmeg and cheese and pepper to taste. Turn down heat as soon as sauce thickens.

When pasta is almost done, add the peas to the sauce. Drain the pasta and add it to the saute pan. Mix till pasta is thoroughly coated in the sauce.

With a fork, flake the salmon into bite-sized pieces.

Line each serving plate with baby arugula leaves. Add the pasta and top with a serving of salmon.

Deeeeeelish!

White Bean Pesto Hummus

My husband is back on the South Beach Diet, which means I have to get creative in the kitchen. This evening he was planning on herbed chicken bits with asparagus. He was just going to pile some canned black beans on top of his chicken, so I decided to get a little more creative.

I had a can of cannellini beans in the cupboard and some leftover homemade pesto so I decided to bust out the blender. What I came up with was a smooth and flavorful dip perfect for topping his chicken bits with. I cleaned up the rest of the dip with pretzel chips. Divine!
Ingredients:
One can of white beans
1 clove of garlic
juice of 1/4 lemon
3 or so tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pesto
Directions:
Drain the beans and toss them into a blender. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice, garlic and pesto. Turn on the blender. If your mixture is struggling to mix, add a little more oil while the machine is running. Once it loosens up, let it run for a few more seconds.
Serve with pita chips or spread on a chicken sandwich. Be creative!

Lemon Almond Quick Bread

I don’t bake much. That seems to require a little more precision than normal cooking, where you mix flavors together. With baking everything has to be just right or things come out too dense or too dry and crumbly.

But after my second successful attempt at making almond milk I was left with a quantity of byproduct — almond meal, which I dried in the oven and stored in a plastic container.

So I decided to venture into the baking world. I looked up various recipes using almond meal and came across one with so few ingredients I didn’t think I could screw it up.  It was for a quick bread. I like the word quick. It makes me think “less effort.”

I actually wanted a little more zing in my bread, so I added some lemon zest. Also, I didn’t have enough almond meal so I subbed white flour for the remaining I needed. When I mixed everything together it was really thick and pasty, so I decided to add some of my own almond milk to make it more dough-like. For the yogurt I used my very own concoction of honey yogurt I made earlier in the week. I also wanted some sweetness, so I put in some honey.

Success! This dessert bread came out moist and flavorful. I think I’ll make it every time I make almond milk.

To make the almond meal yourself, just follow this recipe for almond milk and save the almond grounds. Spread the grounds on a cookie sheet and bake in a 275-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the grounds are dried out.

Almond meal after straining out the almond milk

Place the dried meal in a food processor and process till it’s as fine as you can get it, sort of like corn meal.

Otherwise, just buy almond meal or flour!

Lemon Almond Quick Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups almond meal or flour
1.5 cups white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3 eggs
1 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup melted butter
zest of one lemon
2/3 cups almond milk
1-2 Tbs. honey

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bread loaf pan. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium bowl then add to the dry ingredients. Pour batter into the bread pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Let cool on a drying rack then slice up and serve with butter and jam.

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

I’m not much of a baker, but when I saw a recipe on my BabyCenter.com app for pumpkin muffins, I thought I should try it out. Pumpkin is high in vitamin A and I tweaked the recipe to make it even a little bit healthier.

My muffins turned out moist and flavorful. I decided against the orange cream cheese frosting, but it was mainly that I lacked the ingredients and I was too lazy to go to the store.

Pumpkin muffins

Makes about 14 muffins

Ingredients:
1 TBS butter (I might try cooking oil next time)
1 egg
3/4 cup + 2 TBS canned pumpkin
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking power
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, egg, milk, sugar and pumpkin. In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Slowly mix the dry ingredients in with the wet till everything is combined. Add the raisins if you desire.

Spray a muffin tin with Pam. Pour batter into the pan, almost to the top of each.

Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on a rack.

Muffiny goodness!

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

I’ve never really cooked Thai food before. I love to eat it and I respect those who are able to concoct it, but I always thought I was unable to create the spicy, sweet flavors on my own.

I was inspired by a recipe that called for five ingredients for Thai soup. I decided to try it out but to add my own flair to it as well. Turns out I can make something that tastes like Thai! Watch out, it’s spicy!

It’s worth noting that you could probably find these ingredients at a normal grocery store, but usually it’s a lot cheaper and there’s a lot more variety at an Asian market. I found all of my ingredients at the Red Apple Market in Mountain View and it probably cost about $7. I wish I was able to find bean sprouts, but my grocery store didn’t have them. I would add that next time.

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 oz. of yellow curry paste (I chose a 4 oz. can that looked like it had Thai writing on it. It also had a photo of soup on it, so that’s why I went with it).
One 13.5 oz. can of coconut cream (not milk or water)
1/3 package of rice noodles (again, I wasn’t sure what to get so I looked at the photos on the packaging)
1 cup chicken stock
1.5 cups water
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced (optional if you want less spice)
1/2 brick of extra-firm tofu, cubed
1/2 cup or so of cooked shredded chicken
2 tbs. cooking oil
a couple of dashes of fish sauce (the magical Thai ingredient)
a couple of tablespoons of fresh cilantro
several sprigs of fresh basil
squeeze of fresh lime

Directions:
Cook noodles according to packaging. I boiled mine for six minutes and then strained and ran under cold water for one minute and set aside till I was ready to add to soup.

Bring the 1.5 cups water and chicken stock to a boil. Set aside. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and add the curry. Stir and cook for 30 seconds or so. Add the coconut cream, the water and the stock and stir till the coconut cream is melted and soup starts to simmer. Add the noodles, fish sauce, tofu, chicken and jalapeños to the soup and return to a simmer. Turn off heat and serve into bowls. Top each bowl with cilantro and broken up pieces of basil. Squeeze a wedge of lime over it all.

This soup was quite filling. It made more than I expected, and I’m happy to have leftovers for tomorrow!

Peppers stuffed with Italian Sausage

I’ve never been a big fan of bell peppers, but since I’m pregnant and I’m supposed to eat my veggies I thought I should give them a chance. They’re high in dietary fiber and vitamins A, C, K, and B6.

My husband is on the South Beach Diet in an attempt to lose weight (I think there’s some truth in husbands gaining weight when their wives are pregnant). I want to cook him yummy carb-free food.

The best South Beach Diet Web site I’ve been able to find is www.kalynskitchen.com. It’s full of recipes that would be appropriate for people on the South Beach Diet, but these recipes are also awesome for anyone wanting to eat healthy food.

I found a recipe there for stuffed bell peppers and they looked delicious and right up my alley. What a great way to get me to enjoy bell peppers — mix it with italian sausage and cheese. I tweaked the recipe a bit by adding ground up pistachios and garlic and using pork sausage instead of turkey (which I realize is a less healthy choice, but I freaking love pork sausage). The pistachios acted like bread crumbs and added a little more bulk and depth to the dish. I’m also spoiled because I used homemade Korshin Italian sausage.

I served the peppers with steamed green beans and it was truly a meal worth repeating.

Serves 3

Ingredients:
3 bell peppers, a mixture of red and green
1/2 pound ground beef
4 Italian sausages, removed from casings (or 1/2 lb. loose sausage)
1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
pepper
dash of dried basil
dash of oregano
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup or so freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup shelled pistachios

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown the beef and sausage together over medium heat. Break up the meat as much as possible while you cook. Meanwhile, chop a couple of the bumps off the bottom of each pepper so they sit flat. Reserve the chopped bits. Chop the tops off the peppers and clean out each one. Cut around the stem of the cut-off tops and chop finely with the pepper bottoms.

Add the pistachios to a small food processor and grind till it’s the consistency of coarse corn meal. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

When the meat is browned, set aside and add the oil to the pan. Add the peppers and onions and saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, basil and pepper and cook till garlic is fragrant, stirring often for about 4 minutes. Return the meat to the pan and add the marinara sauce and pistachios. Cook for another few minutes. Turn the heat off and let cool for 5 or 10 minutes. Add all the cheese, but reserve some mozzarella to sprinkle on top of the peppers.

Make sure all the ingredients are combined and fill the peppers, packing in the filling tightly and letting it mound on top of the peppers. Top with mozzarella cheese and loosely cover with a foil tent so the foil doesn’t touch the cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes or till the cheese is brown on top.

Serve with steamed green beans tossed with butter, pepper, parmesan cheese and lemon juice.

Quick and Healthy Mini Pizzas

I’ve been trying to think of healthy dinners for my pregnant self. Whole grains and protein are essential for a healthy pregnant diet. Also, I really like pizza. While perusing the grocery store this evening, I came across Oroweat Sandwich Thins.

Mini pizza instantly came to mind. Mozzarella has protein and calcium and the thin breads are whole wheat. Hello, healthy pizza!

This recipe is pretty much a no-brainer. It would be a fun idea if you have kids because picky eaters could pick the toppings they prefer.

Ingredients:
Oroweat Sandwich Thins
Marinara sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Pizza toppings of your choice (I used one mushroom, sliced, and five olives, sliced)

Turn on your toaster oven to bake at 450 degrees. You could also heat up your oven to this temp, but the toaster oven is really convenient if you’re only making one serving, plus you can conveniently through the window.

Spread the marinara on the open faces of the Sandwich Thins. Sprinkle lightly with mozzarella. Add your toppings.

Place in oven till cheese is melted and starting to brown on edges, about 7 minutes.

Enjoy!

Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry with Tofu Steaks

My mom dropped off some baby bok choy yesterday. I’ve never cooked with it before, so I thought I’d make something healthy for dinner.

My husband wants to start the South Beach Diet and I’ve been researching recipes to make for him. I found a yummy-sounding recipe for baked tofu steaks and I thought that would go great alongside some sort of Asian-style bok choy.

Here’s the recipe for the tofu, from a really informative cooking site http://www.kalynskitchen.com.

And here’s how I prepared the baby bok choy. All liquid measurements are approximate as I eyeball pretty much everything.

Ingredients:

6-8 baby bok choys, cut in half lengthwise
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp hot sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
2 packages of top ramen, spice packets discarded
sesame seeds

When there’s about 10 minutes left on the tofu steaks (they take about an hour), bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat oils in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Toss in the garlic and begin to brown it. A couple of minutes later add the green onions. When the garlic is lightly brown, add the chicken stock, soy sauce and vinegar. Then add the bok choy, turn the heat to high, and cover the pan for about 6 minutes.

When the water is boiling, add the two noodle packets and cook for about three minutes, or until al dente. Drain the noodles and add to the bok choy. Add more stock if you want a little more liquid. Toss all of the ingredients together and fry until bok choy is tender, just a couple of more minutes.

Serve with tofu steaks and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Brown Rice Primavera

I love parmesan cheese, and I mean the real stuff, not the pre-grated kind that comes in a bag. The real stuff is extremely expensive up here in Alaska so it’s pretty much a treat when I decide to shell out at Costco for a big wedge of it.

I saw a recipe the other day for a quinoa primavera dish that sounded really delicious. I decided to make that, but to use brown rice instead of quinoa. Yes, I know quinoa is amaaaaazing and super good for you, but heck, I just love brown rice.

The dish I came up with was cheesy, nutty and full of flavor. Also, it’s chock full of veggies so I don’t feel so bad about myself when I stuff my belly.

This makes enough to feed four plus lunch leftovers.

Ingredients:

For the rice
1.5 cups dry brown rice
2.5 cups chicken stock
1 tbs. butter

Rest of the ingredients:
1/2 brick of cream cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbs. olive oil
4 cups frozen mixed veggies (or fresh if you happen to be fancy)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded leftover chicken (optional)
salt and pepper

I ALWAYS use Alton Brown’s recipe for brown rice in the oven. It comes out perfectly every time. This time I used chicken stock instead of water and did not add any salt to the rice.

To make his oven rice, preheat oven to 375 and bring the water (or stock) to a boil in a saucepan. Place dry rice in a square baking dish and add the butter. Pour the boiling stock over the rice and stir till butter is melted. Cover tightly with foil and bake for exactly 1 hour. It’s foolproof fluffy, tasty rice.

When there’s about 10 minutes left on the rice, start steaming the veggies. Then heat the olive oil in a small pan and add the garlic. When garlic is lightly browned, add the cooked brown rice, the cream cheese, basil, parmesan cheese, steamed veggies and chicken. Toss over low heat till the cheeses are melted. Season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Pickled Beets = yum yum yum

I love most things pickled. Never give me sugar again, but I wouldn’t survive without salty snacks. Being pregnant and all, I’m supposed to be eating well, namely cramming veggies down my throat every meal of every day.

Beets are a great source of nutrients such as vitamin C, dietary fiber, iron and calcium. I never had them as a child and wasn’t quite sure how to prepare them as an adult. One of my coworkers introduced me to canned pickled beets and I was hooked.

I decided to try out Alton Brown’s pickled beets recipe, since any time I want to cook something new I just Google the food with Alton Brown’s name next to it.

He has you roast the beets with shallots, olive oil and fresh rosemary. Since shallots cost a lot up here, I just used some red onion instead.

He also instructs you to put the beets in jars. I didn’t have any big jars so I just used a big tupperware container with a tightly fitting lid and that worked just fine.

After several days in the fridge, I tasted them and they were fantastic. There were a little on the crunchy side (I think my beets were larger than the recipe called for so they probably didn’t cook as quickly in the oven) but the beets were infused with rosemary. I felt the flavor would be more balanced with a little more sweetness so I just added a bit more sugar and let the beets pickle another couple of days.

These will last in the fridge for a long time, but I think I’ll eat through them pretty quickly.

Here’s his recipe:

Ingredients

  • Roasted Beets, recipe follows
  • 1 large red onion, frenched
  • 1 cup tarragon wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Directions

Remove the skin from the Roasted Beets and slice thinly. Arrange in 1-quart jars alternating layers with the onion. In a small pot boil the rest of the ingredients and pour over the beets. Tightly lid the jars and place in the refrigerator for 3 to 7 days before serving.

Roasted Beets:

  • 6 medium beets, cleaned with 1-inch stem remaining
  • 2 large shallots, peeled
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl toss all of the ingredients. Place into a foil pouch and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.