Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup

I roasted a four pound chicken following Thomas Keller’s recipe for dinner the other night.  The roasted chicken was AMAZING.  I usually break down the chicken after dinner so that the chicken doesn’t take up too much room in the refrigerator.  It also makes it easier to just grab and go for meals the days after.  But I didn’t want random meals of chicken incorporated into salads, wraps, and such. I wanted something better. I wanted Giada’s lemon chicken soup with spaghetti. I enjoy chicken noodle soup, but it can be a bit boring.  This recipe just blows boring chicken noodle soup out of the waters!  It’s super flavorful, and warms you up from head to toe on a cold wintery day.  If you are not a citrus lover, I would suggest cutting the lemons back as it may be overpowering for some.  This is a wonderful lemony soup.  We heart our citrus.

Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
6 bay leaves (or a few dried bay leaves)
1 (four-inch) piece Parmesan cheese rind
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 cups (about 5 ounces) spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
4 cups diced cooked roasted chicken
2 cups grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt

In a large stockpot, bring the chicken broth, lemon juice, bay leaves, and Parmesan rind to a boil over medium-high heat.

Add the carrots and simmer until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the broken pasta and cook until the pasta is tender, for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken and heat through, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and the Parmesan rind and discard.  Stir in 1/2 of the cheese and the parsley.  Season with salt, to taste.  Ladle the soup into serving bowls and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Makes 8 servings.

Miso-Marinated Salmon

I’ve come across many recipes for “miso-marinated black cod” and “Nobu’s miso black cod,” while perusing foodie blogs and finally had the opportunity to make it.  My bestie was spending the night with us, and I wanted to make something light, but yummy.  So I brought the gourmet on and went with Nobu’s notorious miso black cod.  We went to Whole Foods to get ingredients for our salad and fish.  But to our dismay, Whole Foods rarely carries black cod unless it’s special ordered.  So onto plan B.  Unfortunately, I had NO plan B!!  After a somewhat stressful trip to the fish counter, we ended up leaving with salmon.  I prayed to the foodie gods that the recipe work just as well for salmon as it does for black cod.

And guess what?!  The recipe was perfect.

Miso-Marinated Salmon (adapted from Nobuyuki Matsihisa)

2 pounds salmon filet, skinned (about four 7-8 ounce filets each)
1 1/2 cups white miso
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups mirin
3/4 cups sake

Combine miso and sugar in the top of a double boiler.  Add sake and mirin, and whisk to combine, using a heavy whisk.  Cook over boiling water, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved and the color begins to darken, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool.

Place fish in 1 layer in a shallow dish.  Pour miso mixture over fish, turning to coat thoroughly.  Cover with plastic wrap, and marinate in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, turning once a day.

Heat broiler to high.  Remove fish from marinade, and place on a baking sheet. Broil until caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes.  With a flat spatula, turn fish, and broil 2 to 3 minutes more.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Pistachios

We love roasted beets.  We also love goat cheese.  We especially love when the two ingredients are combined to yield the yummiest result… roasted beet and goat cheese salad.  It’s the perfect pairing of the two ingredients.  If it’s on the menu, it’ll end up on our table for us to enjoy!

I’m always on the lookout for a recipe to one-up the last beet and goat cheese salad.  Before finding this recipe, I always found roasting beets to be time consuming because I always thought you had to remove the outer skin before roasting.  And the task was always seemed so daunting with a vegetable peeler!  After peeling the skin, I sliced the raw beets (which are hard to slice uniformly in it’s raw form!) very carefully not to cut myself into 1/2-inch slices, drizzled a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and threw it into the oven at 400 degrees.  I thought roasted beets should be a little crispy, and well, they always came out burnt and crispy.  Blech.  So I gave up making roasted beet salads and left it to the experts.  Well, I stumbled across this recipe and it was like magic.  A sense of cooking clarity.  You roast the beets with skin and all, and you can just simply “slip off” the skin once the beets are cool to handle!!  What?!  I wish I discovered this technique a few years ago!

Anyhow, this recipe is the perfect salad prescription to impress your dinner guests!

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad (adapted from Epicurious)

3 large red beets (1 2/3 lbs without greens)
2 large golden beets (1 lb without greens)
1/4 cup minced shallot
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces soft mild goat cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 ounce mache (aka, lamb’s lettuce) or watercress, trimmed (4 cups)

Special equipment: a 2.5 inch round cookie cutter (without handle; at least 2 inches high)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Separately wrap red and golden beets tightly in double layers of foil and roast in middle of oven until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Unwrap beets.

While beets are cooling slightly, whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a stream, whisking.

When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off and discard skins.  Separately cut red and golden beets into 1/4-inch dice and put in separate bowls.  Add 2 1/2 tablespoons dressing to each bowl and toss to coat.

Place cookie cutter in center of 1 of 8 salad plates. Put one eighth of red beets in cutter and pack down with your fingertips.  Crumble 2 teaspoons goat cheese on top, then one eighth of golden beets, packing them down.  Gently lift cutter up and away from stack.  Make 7 more servings in same manner.  Drizzle each plate with 1 teaspoon dressing and scatter with some pistachios.

Toss mâche or watercress with just enough remaining dressing to coat and gently mound on top of beets.  Serve immediately.

Note: beets can be roasted and diced one day ahead and chilled, covered, in two separate bowls.  Bring to room temperature before serving.  If you will not be serving all 8 salads, only dress the amount you need because I found that the already dressed beets were a little mushy the day after as leftovers.

Makes 8 servings.

Maple Bacon Pancakes

Breakfast has to my most favorite meal of the day.  There’s just something about the smell of a cuppa joe, pancakes or waffles, bacon and sausages.  I especially love breakfast for dinner.  It defies all the rules of a traditional savory dinner.  It’s what your Momma told you what not to do with having sweets before dinner.  Having breakfast for dinner means it can be sweet, savory, or a combination of both.  It’s like having dessert WITH dinner.  It’s just like heaven but better.

We intended on making vegan pancakes and vegetarian sausages for dinner, especially after a great workout at the gym; however, as our hunger set in while driving home from the gym, bacon all of a sudden started to sound real good.  Better yet, crushed, crispy bacon folded into the pancake batter sounded even yummier.  So what was supposed to be a vegan meal, ended up being a gluttony of bacon.  The end.  :)

Maple Bacon Pancakes

1 1/4 cups soy or almond milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup, plus more for serving
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup all-purpose flour or rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional: crushed, crispy bacon (for the non-vegetarian crowd)

Combine all the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Mix just enough to combine, but be sure not to over mix the pancake batter as this is the end result for tough pancakes.  At this point, if you want, add the crushed, crispy bacon and fold into the batter gently.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Ladle as many pancakes as possible onto your skillet.  Cook for about a minute and half on the first side or until the surface is covered with small bubbles and the underside is nicely browned.  Flip and cook for about a minute on the second side.  Repeat the process until you run out of batter.

Serve with maple syrup, and your favorite toppings.

We topped our pancakes with sliced bananas, a few slices of crispy bacon, and maple syrup.

Serving size: 3 or 4 (about a dozen pancakes)

Orange, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

I’ve been on a salad kick for the last few months because I enjoy eating them for lunch, but also because I’m watching my calorie intake to lose weight.  I’ve been addicted to my blue cheese, cranberries, and candied walnut salad for the last few weeks.  Actually, maybe even longer.  Although I haven’t gotten tired of eating it YET, I feel like I am heading in that direction very soon.  So I’ve been on the look out for new salads to mix things up a bit.  Unfortunately, my salad recipe index is very limited as making salads and wanting to eat them is a whole new adventure for me.  If you haven’t read my previous posts, I was anti-vegetables for the majority of my life.  I wanted meat and starch, and the occasional vegetable, if kimchee and pickled spicy radishes can fall into that category.  I always thought salads were a waste of stomach space, when it could rather be filled with other delicious non-vegetable foods.  Like I said before, I ate very unhealthy foods and was completely sedentary; that is, until I met my partner.

My second time visiting her (aka, our second date) in Oakland, I was greeted with a “detox salad.”  I had just finished a busy work week with lunches that consisted of either McDonald’s or Taco Bell, and she was horrified by how I ate.  So she made this salad for dinner with crusty bread.  No meat?!  I was initially disappointed, but once I delved into the salad I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it.  With a few pieces of buttered bread and a plate of salad, I was surprisingly full and felt refreshed.  And that was the beginning of my departure from just meat and starch to an enjoyment and crave for vegetables, albeit it took some time to get to this place.  But who’s keeping track anyways, right?

I came across a recipe that called for orange slices, thinly sliced fennel, and a salad topped with pomegranate seeds that immediately called for my attention.  We love oranges, we’re always looking for things that use fennel (again, limited fennel recipe index), and recipes that call for pomegranate seeds (not just to make POM juice)… so this was perfect!  We made this for our small dinner party, and the salad was a huge success.  The mixture of flavors really compliment one another.  In fact, this may just be my new favorite salad.  Yay!

Orange, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad (adapted from Good Life Eats)

Your favorite spring salad mix
2 medium oranges
1 carton of fresh pomegranate seeds (available at Whole Foods, or one whole pomegranate with seeds removed)
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Honey or agave syrup

Combine the vinegar, juice, oil, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.  Add honey or agave syrup to sweeten the dressing just a little bit.  Whisk all the ingredients together and set aside.  Add a little more extra virgin olive oil if you’d like, and conversely, decrease the amount of orange juice.  We like our dressing on the citrus-y, but on the light oily side.

Remove the peel and pith from the orange by cutting the top and bottom off, and the outside perimeter of the orange.  Cut the orange into into rounds.

Prepare salad on individual serving plates.  Arrange the salad with the lettuce, fennel slices, orange, and topped with pomegranate seeds.  Pour the dressing over the salad and enjoy!

Serving size: 2 individual salads

Posole Rojo

I was recently turned to shredded chicken red posole at a Christmas pot-luck while at work.  It was definitely authentic, as it was prepared by one of our coworkers who always brings the most delicious homemade Mexican dishes to our work potlucks.  I loved all the condiments that went along with the already flavorful soup itself.  I just about died and went to foodie bliss when I had my first bite of the posole.  It was the perfect blend of acidity from the limes and spicy from the chiles, plus other complex flavors of the stewed pork, cilantro, and hominy.  I only had one word to describe how it tasted… yum.

I was craving posole after my initial tasting.  In fact, I would go to bed dreaming of his red posole and wake up salivating for it.  So I sought out for the most “authentic” recipe that I could find.  I suppose I could have asked my coworker for the recipe, but some people can be very secretive about family recipes.  I digress.  I perused through a number of posole recipes, and came across one that seemed to be authentic.  We made this a few days before the New Year, and then realized that this is something enjoyed as a New Year’s celebration, which explained why there were only a few cans of hominy left at the grocery store.  This recipe yielded a very flavorful posole, one that we will certainly make again in the near future.  This is a wonderful prescription for a cold, wintery day.

Posole Rojo (from Rick Bayless’ Mexico One Plate At A Time)

3 1/2 pounds pork shanks, cut into 1 1/2-inch thick pieces (ask the butcher to cut this for you)
1 1/2 pounds (2 medium) pork trotters (aka, fresh pig’s feet), cut lengthwise in half (ask the butcher to cut this for you)
1 1/2 pounds bone-in pork shoulder, cut into 3 or 4 large pieces (again, ask the butcher)
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 white onions, finely chopped
8 medium (4 ounces total) dried ancho chiles (or dried New Mexico chiles), stemmed and seeded
Salt
2 cans of white hominy

Toppings

Lime wedges
6 cups thinly sliced cabbage
15 radishes, thinly sliced or diced
Cilantro, chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons coarsely ground dried hot red chile

Place all the meats in a large pot, cover with 4 quarts of water, add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil.  Skim off the grayish foam that rises during the next few minutes, then add half the chopped onions.  Partially cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat until all the meat is thoroughly tender, about two hours.  Cool the meat in the broth for the best flavor and texture, then remove it.

Skim the fat from the broth; you’ll have two generous quarts of broth.  Pull the meat from the pork shanks and pull the shoulder meat into large shreds.  Cut the bones and knuckles out of the trotters.  Discard the bones and knuckles, then chop what remains into 1/2 inch pieces.  Add the shredded meat (there will be about 6 cups of meat in all).  Cover and refrigerate if not serving within an hour.

While the meat is cooking, rehydrate the ancho chiles in enough hot water to cover (lay a small plate on top to keep them submerged) for about 20 minutes.  Puree the chiles, liquid and all, in batches if necessary, in a blender or food processor.  Press the chile mixture through a medium-mesh strainer (this removes tough chile skins) directly into the simmering liquid.  Add the pork broth and 1 tablespoon salt, partially cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

Add the meat and the hominy to the simmering posole, and allow to simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  The consistency of the stew/soup should look hearty – full of hominy with bits of meat – but brothy enough to be thought of as a soup or brothy stew.  If necessary, add water.  Taste the posole and season with additional salt if you think it is necessary; since hominy soaks up a surprising amount of salt, you may need as much as another tablespoon.

When you are ready to serve, set out bowls of the condiments for your guests to add to their steaming, fragrant bowlfuls or posole with the lime wedges, sliced cabbage, cilantro, sliced or diced radishes, oregano, and optional ground chile and onions.

Baked Tilapia Fish Tacos

I love a good Baja fried fish taco with cabbage, crema, and a fresh squeeze of lime juice.  I can eat six tacos in one sitting, which may not seem like much to some, but I’m usually pretty full by number three.  Everything just tastes better when you overindulge!  I haven’t had a fried fish taco in a really long time.  Mainly it’s because I am on a weight loss kick and on my way to reaching my goal weight, but also because of wanting to eat more healthy.  So I really try to limit my fried foods intake.  I know, I know.  What kind of foodie am I?!  A healthy one who will indulge in bad foods from time to time :)

I hate to deep fry foods at home.  However, at one point – probably at my most unhealthiest – I entertained the idea of buying an electric Fry Daddy to fry anything and everything.  Luckily, I never purchased the item.  Now the idea of deep frying at home disgusts me.  The smell of deep fried oil lingering in the house for days as it clings on to every surface of the house.  The clean up of splattered oil on the kitchen counters, back splash, and floors.  Reusing the oils to fry a few times later sounds vile.  And finding empty cans or containers to discard the used oils is painful enough.

I’d rather sear, simmer, broil, poach, grill or roast to attain the desired yummy end product.  I’ll pan fry with a little oil from time to time, but I never deep fry foods.  Instead, I’ve gotten very creative at using the oven to “fry” things.  And a fish taco just happens to be one of them!

This recipe embodies all the goodness of a crunchy fish taco minus all the fatty calories!  So for those of you who are calorie conscious, this recipe just might be for you.

4 tilapia or cod fillets sliced into strips
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
Small white corn tortillas
Napa cabbage, shredded
Limes, cut into wedges
Jalapeno-cilantro aioli

Pre-heat oven to 500.  Place cookie sheet in oven to pre-heat as well.

Combine the fish, olive oil and lime juice in a in ziploc bag to marinate for about 10-20 minutes.  This marinade gives it a nice lime-y flavor.

While the fish is marinating, blend together the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper, cayenne and paprika in a shallow dish.

Remove the fish and shake off excess lime juice and then coat with the flour/cornmeal mixture.  Place fish on HOT baking sheet that has been sprayed with PAM or olive oil, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.  Flip the fish on its other side and bake for another 5 minutes.  To note, this method of cooking does not make the fish crunchy as it would if you fried or or pan-fried it.  It just has a small hint of a crunchy texture.

Conversely, if you don’t want to bake the fish, you could also pan fry the fish fillets in a little extra virgin olive oil for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Of course the cooking time also depends on the thickness of your fish fillets.  Remove the fish from the pan and place on a towel-lined plate to absorb the excess grease.

Heat the corn tortillas in a microwave, and assemble!  I usually place two fish fillets onto each tortilla, add some shredded cabbage, a little jalapeno-cilantro aioli, and a squeeze of lime juice.  Of course, you can add what ever you desire onto your fish taco.

This meal really is the easiest prescription for a quickly prepared meal if you are in a hurry, or if you just want something yummy.

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