Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dill Dusted Red Potatoes

My step mom made these this summer for me and I loved them so I had to recreate them. You can increase the level of dill intensity according to your taste.

Start with a few red potatoes, I used 5 small red potatoes for 2 people.

 Wash them and remove any bad parts.
 
 Then half, quarter and eighth or until they are bite sized/no knife required. 
Boil for about 8 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork. 

Toss with butter, salt, pepper and dill and place on baking sheet. 
Broil for 5-10 minutes or until crispy on the outside. 

The boiling and baking combination gives them an outer crunch plus a soft inside.
These are a delicious side along with chicken, beef or fish.




Dill Dusted Red Potatoes
The Apron Gal

Serves 2
Ingredients
5 small red potatoes
1.5 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoon dill weed
pepper to taste

Directions
Wash potatoes. Cut potatoes into eigths/bite sized. Boil in water for 8 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork. 

Gently toss potatoes with salt, pepper, butter, and dill. Place on foil lined baking sheet and broil for 5-10 minutes or until potatoes have a nice crisp on the outside. 

Toss with more butter, salt and pepper to taste, if desired. 

Enjoy!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos with Cream Cheese

These are another great football season finger food. Plus with only 3 ingredients they are pretty easy!

 I made these for a game for some of my husband's friends and they devoured them. Then the following week they asked me to make them again! 

These are pretty easy once you know a few key things. 

I am so sorry I don't have step by step photos but they really aren't too hard!

Here are my main tips:
  • Wear plastic gloves when de-seeding and cutting the jalapenos. If you are comfortable with hot peppers and it doesn't phase you go ahead. One time I made these without gloves and my fingers burned for hours after. So I don't take any risks I just wear gloves or have my husband do the deseeding since it doesn't seem to bother him!
  • If you want a fun gadget, a jalapeno corer works great for this. Here is the one I have but this one works well too. If you don't have one of those, just cut the jalapenos in half and use a spoon to scrape out the insides.
  • Secure the bacon with toothpicks so mid cooking it doesn't fall off. 
Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos with Cream Cheese
The Apron Gal 

Ingredients
12 jalapenos
1- 8 oz package cream cheese
12 slices bacon, cut in half 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400. Cut off stems of jalapenos and then deseed with a jalapeno corer or spoon. 

Cut cored and deseeded jalapenos in half. Stuff each half with cream cheese and then wrap a half slice bacon around each jalapeno. [use toothpicks to secure bacon if necessary]
Arrange in single layer on baking sheet. 

Bake for 40 minutes or until bacon is crispy.

Serve with ranch dressing.

 Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Honey Lime Glazed Salmon

This is a flavor packed but easy "go-to" marinade for salmon.
It only has 4 items that you should already have in your kitchen!
Remember when buying any seafood, the best is usually wild caught and ask them if it has been frozen. Fresh and wild is the best scenario but of course, farm raised is often cheaper so you can definitely still get that. Frozen filets work too. Whatever you have. 

So make your marinade and coat the filet in the marinade. 



Then cook according to your prerogative in the oven or on the grill.

I grilled and then baked to finish and it amazing!! Serve with fresh green beans or asparagus and wild rice or red potatoes. 

A perfect fast and healthy dinner!



Honey Lime Glazed Salmon
Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

Serves 4 people with 1/4 lb portions or 2 people with 1/2 pound portions

Ingredients
1 pound salmon filet or 4 1/4 pound filets
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt

Stir together honey, lime zest, salt and pepper. Brush on flesh side of filets.

For grilling: Place salmon skin side down on grill for 5-6 minutes and then flip, cooking 5-6 minutes for other side, or until salmon is tender and flaky with a fork.

For grilling then baking: Place salmon skin side down on grill for 3-4 minutes and then flip, cooking 3-4 minutes for other side. This is to lock in the flavor and get those great grill marks.
Finish in the oven by cooking at 400 for 8 to 10 minutes or until salmon is tender and flaky with a fork. 

Baking only: Heat oven to 400. Bake 15-18 minutes or until salmon is tender and flaky with a fork.

Enjoy!!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I fought the urge to make delicious fall treats as long as I could.

These came to mind and I couldn't resist. These are rich but so great for taking as dessert to an event. I intended to make them as "bars" but I now realize I made a fatal mistake! I used a 9 by 13 pan which made it into cake since it was so much thicker. So if you want cake use 9 by 13 if you want "bars" use a 15 by 10 pan aka a cookie sheet like this one.

These are rich. So you can't really eat more than 1 or  2 pieces in a sitting.

Begin by mixing your wet ingredients. Then add in your dry ingredients. Then add your chocolate chips to make this delectable. Or add in  raisins if you are feeling healthier, I definitely wasn't. Or neither and just have a pumpkin spice cake. 


Spread in a 9 by 13 greased pan and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Make your frosting while the cake bakes. 

I forgot to take step by step of the frosting but the key it to have your cream cheese and butter softened before you begin. 

Once your cake is finished, let it cool at least 1 hour or it will be so hot the cream cheese frosting will turn to mush. 

Next here are your options:
1. serve warm with cream cheese frosting-this makes the chocoalte chips all melty-my friends liked it this way
2. Let cool at least an additional hour or 2 until room temperature. Then frost. This is the way they are inteded ot be and my personal favorite. 
3. Serve cool. I refrigerated my leftovers and some people even liked this cold as more of a cold/carrot cake consistency.

The possibilities are endless. You can chop nuts for the top or not. Or grate chocolate on top too. 

If you make the cake version, you might have some extra frosting. If you make the "bars" then you will have the perfect amount!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
slightly adapted from Betty Crocker.com

Makes 49 "bars" or 21 pieces of cake

Bar Ingredients
 4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup applesauce [I used applesauce instead of oil to make it slightly healthier]
1 can [15 oz] pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

1 package cream cheese [8 ounces], softened
3 TBS butter or margarine, softened
2 to 3 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 cups powdered sugar [taste sweetness to decide]
1/2 cup chopped walnuts optional

Directions

Heat oven to 350. Spray 9 by 13 or 15 by 10 pan. Grease bottom of desired pan.

Beat eggs, sugar, applesauce or oil  and pumpkin with whisk until smooth. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Sir in chocoalte chips. Spread in greased pan.

For bars bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and bars spring back when touched lightly in center. For cake bake 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool at least 1 hour or to cool compeletely 2 horus.

For frosting: Beat together cream cheese, butter, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time on low until spreadable.

Frost bars and sprinkle with nuts or chocolate if desired.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kung Pao Chicken

Here is another recipe to practice using your Asian ingredients. This is one of my husband's favorite dishes and he always asks me to make it!


Here are a final few tips:
  • Feel free to interchange vegetables. You can use whatever vegetables you want with this recipe and most other Asian recipes. I prefer onions, bell peppers and broccoli but whatever your favorites are just substitute those! 
  • The heat level is up to you based on how much you add and of what. This recipe originally called for dried red hot chilies but I changed it to red pepper flakes. You could also use the garlic chili paste I mentioned in the last post. 
  • If you forget to marinate the chicken for the minimum time, do the best you can. I usually do the meat first, so I can let it marinate while I chop up other veggies, set the table and clean up the kitchen. Some marinades, like this one with soy sauce is potent enough that 30 min was adequate. 
  • Use whatever nuts you have, traditional Kung Pao has peanuts  but cashews could work too just for texture! 
  • Use white or brown rice depending on how healthy you want to be!

Again, if you don't have every one of these Asian ingredients use as many as you have. You would still get the main flavors as long as you have soy sauce, ginger, green onion, red pepper and cornstarch. But if you have the sesame oil, white cooking wine, even better!

I decorated our table with any Asian decor we had and it made for such a fun dinner! 








Kung Pao Chicken 
adapted from TheNest.com
Serves 4

Ingredients
Chicken Marinade 
2-3 chicken breasts
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry or Shaoxing rice wine (omit or use white cooking wine)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Sauce 
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry or Shaoxing rice wine (see above)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or Chenkiang vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt

Additional Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Desired vegetables: red/green bell pepper, broccoli, onion, snap peas, carrots etc.
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger (or dried)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped green onion
3/4 cup peanuts
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil 

Directions

Cut chicken into bite sized chunks. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch and vegetable oil then toss chicken to coat. Let marinate for 30 minutes or up to one day in refrigerator.
 
Heat vegetable oil in deep skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding vegetables and garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and green onion. Cook until chicken is cooked through. 

To make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir to dissolve the dry ingredients, and mix everything together well.

Stir the sauce, and add it to the pan. Cook another minute, tossing often, and then add the peanuts and sesame oil. 

Serve with rice and enjoy!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thai Chicken Pizza

I posted this recipe a long time ago when I first started blogging and I have been wanting to re-blog it ever since. This is a great recipe that uses a lot of those great Asian ingredients I showed you in the last post. The flavors are very unique and are definitely a crowd pleaser!


This is a copycat recipe of the Thai Chicken Pizza at California Pizza Kitchen. I think it is pretty close! 

There are a few ways you could do this. You could go easy: use a premade pizza crust and a premade peanut sauce or go homemade with homemade crust and homemade pizza sauce. 

I usually meet in the middle with store bought pizza dough [which often goes on sale and there are off brands that work fine] and make my own peanut sauce [there is really only brand at my grocery store and it is about $4.00 a small bottle, but it is good if you want to splurge!].

My only other recommendations are these before proceeding:
  • I heat my oven to 350 and toast the sesame seeds for exactly 5 minutes. They should be lightly golden. You could try 1 minute more but I have burned one too many batches so I stick to 5. 
  • For the chicken, you want to have it cooked before you make the pizza. Just a basic grilled/baked/sauteed chicken is perfect. Don't worry about the seasoning since you will be tossing it in the peanut sauce anyways!
  • Don't forget to add your carrots and cilantro at the end but DON'T BAKE THEM! I have accidentally baked those before and its still good but so much fresher and more vibrant if you add those fresh at the end. 

 Just to show you the consistency of the peanut sauce.
If you like it saucier then shown above, be sure to make extra peanut sauce! 

On to the recipe. Don't be intimidated by this long list! Remember just make as much as you can handle!


Thai Chicken Pizza
adapted from allrecipes.com

If you use the pizza dough recipe here it will make a round pizza to feed 2. If you use the refrigerated pizza dough that is rectangle it should serve four but you will probably need to double the peanut sauce and add a few more toppings.  

Ingredients

Pizza Dough
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
 Peanut Sauce
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons honey
Pizza Toppings 
  • 1 boneless chicken breast, cooked and sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tablespoons peanuts, crushed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Directions

Dough [skip if using premade dough]
  1. Pour warm water into a small bowl; stir in honey until dissolved. Add the yeast, stirring until dissolved. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add yeast mixture and olive oil; stir well to combine. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  4. Punch down the risen dough on a floured surface. Divide into two equal portions. Allow the dough to relax for a minute, then roll each portion out into a thin circle. Place on lightly oiled pizza pans. 
Peanut Sauce [skip if using premade sauce]
  
Whisk peanut butter, rice vinegar, and soy sauce until combined. Add chili oil, ginger, and honey; whisk until smooth. [If whisking doesn't give the consistency you desire you could use a food processor too]. 

Pizza 
In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, sesame seeds, paprika, salt, and 3 tablespoons of the peanut sauce. Mix until the chicken is evenly coated. Spread the remaining peanut sauce evenly over pizza dough. Top with chicken, green onions, cheese, and crushed peanuts.  

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Garnish with carrots and cilantro.

Enjoy!

Note: For added spice, chop one red chili pepper and combine with chicken and peanut sauce. 
I know that was a lot so please leave a comment if you have a question!

Monday, October 3, 2011

How to Start Cooking Asian Food

Some of my favorite recipes to make and post on The Apron Gal are Asian inspired. 

Some are more Chinese and others are Thai but a lot of them have similar flavors. And almost all of them work with a basic set of ingredients no matter what you are making. 

Cooking food from other cultures [even if its usually very Americanized] can still be intimidating and I'm sure many people skip over recipes that seem to complicated or have too many ingredients. 

I want to show you the base of all my Asian cooking that I have in my home and I rarely am unable to make any Asian dish I want to!

Nearly all of these items can be purchased at your local grocery store. Go to the "Asian" section of your store or if you want a new adventure check out a local Latin or Asian market. Typically grocery stores that are "Asian" or "Latin" also have food from many other cultures as they are more of an  "international" grocery store.

Most of the specialty bottled ingredients will run you $3-5 per bottle. But you will notice these last forever [except soy sauce]. I recommend just gradually building your Asian repertoire by picking up one item each time you grocery shop. 

Before you know it you will have everything you need! 

Ok so here is my list:

 1. Soy Sauce-Most everyone probably has this on hand and the only recommendation I would make is to always buy low sodium. You will never notice a difference and its a lot better for you. I usually buy La Choy or Kikkoman. 

2. Seasoned Rice Vinegar- Often used for dressings and sauces, recipes only call for 1-2 TBS usually. 1 bottle will last you a year. 

3. Sesame Seed Oil. This adds a rich sesame taste to dressings/sauces but it also only uses 1-2 TSP per recipe. You can buy light or dark [dark will have a stronger flavor].


4. Chili garlic sauce-This adds heat and flavor to a lot of Asian dishes. Again, usually just a few teaspoons is enough for most meat dishes to get your tongue sizzling. 

5. Sesame seeds- These are untoasted and I toast mine for a few minutes in the oven before using. You can also buy toasted sesame seeds for a higher price. These are used in dressings, sesame chicken etc. 

6. Crushed red pepper-Another way to add heat, I recommend having this on hand for other recipes anyways so this should be an easy one!

7. Powdered and/or fresh ginger- Adds a little zing to many dishes. Powdered is a lot more convenient but the flavor is a lot less powerful, fresh and rich. I recommend having both on hand. Fresh ginger is purchased in the produce section by other roots like carrots or sometimes in the unrefrigerated produce section. It is expensive per pound but you only need one small "branch" of it. Keep it in your freezer and it will last for months. 


8. Cilantro- A must have for me normally but also a key ingredient in Thai cooking. 

9. Limes and Lemons- Limes are also common in Thai cooking and lemons are more East Asian I feel. Cheap and easy to just always have on hand. I guess you could keep bottled but often recipes call for the grated rind for extra flavor so I would try to keep fresh if possible. 

10. Minced Garlic- This big jar is my best friend. Perfect for all cooking its fast, easy, and flavorful. Fresh garlic is great but since this sits in liquid the garlic flavor is actually stronger. Not to mention its much faster and greater for larger batches of food. 

11. Peanuts/Cashews- Peanuts show up in Thai cooking a lot and peanuts or cashews are great for Chinese recipes as well. I buy mine in the bulk food section.

There you have it! I try to always have these on hand so I am ready for any Asian recipe!

Other things that are nice to have:
  •  Hoisin Sauce for cooking
  • Canned water chestnuts for stir fry or lettuce wraps
  • Canned coconut milk for curries
  • Oranges for orange chicken
  • Rice Noodles for Pad Thai
  • Other Asian noodles like vermicelli
 Also many recipes use brown sugar and cornstarch but I figure most of you have those on hand!

I hope that helps demystify some of those ingredients you have seen before! 
Start picking up a couple today!

I will share some great Asian recipes this week to inspire you with these ingredients!

Does that help? Any questions? What are your go-to Asian ingredients?

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