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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 31

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Mine was full of cooking, house hunting, cleaning and working out. Saturday morning started off with a bowl of oats full of apples, peanut butter, raisins and ground flax while I updated my blog with the seared scallops from Friday night’s dinner. Then I headed out for a quick 3 mile run with Sullie before meeting with our realtor to look at houses.

On Saturday night we finally tried Lebowski’s for dinner. It’s a local bar and grill that actually has great food. I had two sliders – one turkey burger and one “beef on weck.” I’d never had a beef on weck before – delicious! I also had a side of garlic fries because I heard they were the thing to order. This was a big splurge for me – I’m usually all about the sweets and pass on fried food – but they were totally worth it. They had some great looking salads and healthier fare that I’ll have to check out next time. We’ll definitely be going back to Lebowski’s!

When we got home I put together an overnight French toast to have for breakfast the next morning. I was not feeling French toast after our feast but my feelings had changed Sunday morning when I woke up! I’ll be blogging about the French toast soon. It was the perfect weekend treat.

Sunday was devoted to mostly cleaning and organization (our apartment desperately needed it) and of course, my 90 minute hot yoga class at Charlotte Yoga with my very favorite teacher, Suzanne. I look forward to this class all week! Seriously amazing. I saw on the schedule that Grace, the founder of Charlotte Yoga, was assisting in the class so I knew I’d better get there early. I’m so glad I did, the class was packed and they ended up having to send about 20 people away. The room was packed with almost 50 sweaty, hard working yogis!

I actually planned on making Duck a l’Orange last night for 68 Days of Gourmet but I just did not have the energy for it after my day of cleaning and the yoga class. I ended up making Teriyaki Chicken with the chicken breasts I got on sale at the grocery Friday. I was browsing chicken breast recipes from Gourmet online and thought this looked simple and healthy. Brandon and I decided that while this was a nice basic dinner it wasn’t anything special. Neither one of us is super fanatical about teriyaki chicken but if you are then this is a great recipe for you to try. It’s so simple, healthy and the homemade teriyaki sauce is way better than the stuff you buy in a bottle. We didn’t dislike this; it’s just not something I think we’ll make again. I adapted this by changing the sauce to pretty much double it after reading a lot of reviews to do so. Was definitely necessary. I also used boneless skinless chicken instead of boneless, skin on.

So the duck is on the agenda for tonight. Wish me luck! This is my first time preparing duck. Blog update to come soon!

Teriyaki Chicken
(Recipe adapted Gourmet, May 1990)

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger root
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon medium-dry sherry (I did not double this as I’m not the biggest fan of a strong sherry taste)
2 tablespoons white-wine or rice wine vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Directions:

In a large, shallow dish, whisk together soy sauce, ginger, honey, Sherry, vinegar and garlic. Pound chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to about ½ inch thickness. Place chicken in marinade and turning to coat. Marinate for at least 20 minutes, turning once.

Preaheat the broiler to high. Transfer chicken to the oiled rack of a broiling pan, reserving marinade. Broil about 6 inches from heat for 5 minutes. While chicken is cooking, boil the reserved marinade until reduced by half. Remove chicken from oven and flip chicken breasts. Brush marinade on tops of chicken and return to broiler for 5-8 more minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, careful not to overcook.

Yield: 2 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 22

I didn’t plan on making this pork tenderloin recipe. It happened out of desperation. I originally planned on making this Fennel Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fennel Wedges. I bought all the ingredients for it and everything. Then I found out that my husband hates fennel – how did I never know that? I said “too bad, I’m making it anyway” but then the recipe would not load on Epicurious and it’s not in The Gourmet Cookbook. I looked everywhere online for it with no luck. It was 8:30 and I had to start something for dinner. I was hungry and cranky. I begged Brandon just to take it out and grill it but he refused…it was freezing out. I sulked off to The Gourmet Cookbook and began browsing through the pork tenderloin recipes. I was pleased to find Island Pork Tenderloin. It sounded like something we would love.

I will honestly say that I’m happy our original recipe didn’t happen because this Island Pork Tenderloin was wonderful. The spice rub is a great combination of warm flavors and the glaze is such a nice finish with brown sugar, hot sauce and garlic. Sounds strange but it totally worked. Also, I love recipes where I can start meat in a skillet and finish it in the oven. It frees me up to prepare the side items. I served this with roasted potatoes, salad and rolls.

Island Pork Tenderloin
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)
Printable Recipe: Island Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

FOR PORK
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pork tenderloins (a little over 1 pound)
1 tablespoons olive oil

FOR GLAZE
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon hot sauce (Tabasco)

Directions:

FOR THE PORK
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I had my oven at 375 because of the potatoes. Just watched the internal temperature closely)

Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and cinnamon and coat pork with spice rub.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat until just beginning to smoke. Brown pork on all sides, about 4 minutes total. Remove from heat.

FOR THE GLAZE AND TO ROAST THE PORK
While the pork is browning, stir together brown sugar, garlic and hot sauce. Once you remove pork from heat, spread glaze onto top of each tenderloin. Roast in oven until thermometer inserted in center of  tenderloin registers 140 degrees, about 20 minutes. Tent with foil and let pork stand in skillet at room temperature 10 minutes. (Temperature will rise to about 150-155 while standing.) Slice and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 21

I have to admit that I had a mini-meltdown during menu planning this week. I was all over the place and couldn’t make a decision. Sometimes menu planning is so simple for me – it all just comes together. Other times – not so much.  I was just really over thinking it for some reason. While we were unpacking groceries, I was rambling off the menu selections for the week. Brandon seemed pretty pleased with his options so I guess I pulled it off.

We decided to keep it simple tonight with salad and a baked potato. But not just any salad…Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs. I flagged this one in The Gourmet Cookbook because a) Brandon loves bacon and b) he thinks pretty much any food is even more delicious topped with an egg. One of his recent favorites has been a fried egg on hamburgers. Extra protein?

I actually made several changes to this recipe but it still turned out fabulously. First, we don’t love frisee – we usually pick it out of the salad mix or its left uneaten on the plate. You can’t even buy it on its own at the grocery store  where we shop and I was not going to make  a special trip for it. I had some baby arugula mix in the fridge so decided to go with that. Second, I realized I was out of red wine vinegar so I used a splash of white wine vinegar and a splash of balsamic instead. And last, I opted to use my egg poacher rather than use the written method for poaching eggs.

I will definitely be making this salad again. How can you not love this combination? And the warm bacon dressing is amazing…although I had to put it in the back of my head that it was essentially bacon grease and vinegar. This is a great easy weeknight dinner paired with soup or a baked potato. It would also be an impressive first course for a dinner party.

Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs
(Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, printed in Gourmet February 1999)
Printable Recipe: Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs

Ingredients:

1/2 pound frisée (French curly endive)
6 ounces slab bacon or thick-cut bacon slices (about 6 slices)
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Directions:

Tear frisee into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. If using slab bacon, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Then cut bacon slices crosswise into 1/4 inch thick strips (these are your lardons).

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally. Remove skillet from heat when bacon is golden and beginning to crisp. Set skillet aside.

In another skillet, place 1 inch of warm water and set aside. Fill up a 4-quart saucepan halfway with water and stir in white vinegar. Bring liquid to a simmer. Break each egg into a teacup one at a time and slide into simmering liquid. Immediately push white around yolk with a slotted spoon, working gently. Egg should be oval in shape and yolk should be completely covered by white. Using the same method, add the remaining 3 eggs. Simmer eggs for about 1 1/2 minutes for runny yolks up to about 3 minutes for firmer yolks. Immediately transfer eggs to skillet of warm water.

Reheat bacon in its skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook for about 1 minute, stirring often. Add red wine vinegar and boil 5 seconds. Immediately pour hot dressing over frisée and toss with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide salad among 4 plates and top with drained poached eggs. Season eggs with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 19

I have said this before but I have to say it again. Weekly menu planning and shopping makes life so much easier. I have converted so many friends to this practice and believe me, it’s life changing. First, you save tons of stress by not having to worry about what to make for dinner and having time to make it to the store. Second, you save money by planning meals based on weekly specials and only making one trip. On average I spend between $65-$80 a week on our groceries. Whenever I go to the store for just one meal, I never leave without spending $20-$30. That would quickly add up if you were making nightly trips. Also, if you don’t already have a plan, there’s the added temptation to go out instead of cook.

All that said, tilapia was on sale for $3.99 a pound this week. It was just too good of a deal to pass up and tilapia is one of the few fish that I can get Brandon to eat without grumbling. I found this recipe on Epicurious and was surprised to see that it had received 456 reviews and had a 4-fork rating. It sounded like something we’d really enjoy. This recipe was so simple to make. You could have this on the table in 20 minutes – easy. The chili lime butter was so full of flavor and wonderful melted over the pan sauteed tilapia. Brandon told me at least 5 times during dinner that he loved this preparation and wanted to add it to the regular rotation. We also decided that the chili lime butter would be good melted over grilled flank or skirt steak.

Don’t be scared of the peppers in the butter. The flavors are very balanced and it’s not overly spicy. I had a couple bites with some kick but nothing too bad. The lime juice and zest really add a brightness to the dish. This is a great fish dish to add to your collection.

Chili Lime Tilapia
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, July 2003)

Ingredients:

FOR CHILI LIME BUTTER
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lime zest, finely grated
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh Thai or serrano chile (preferably red), including seeds (I used jalapeno because it’s all I had)
1/2 teaspoon salt

FOR FISH
6 (5- to 6-oz) pieces skinless tilapia fillet or farm-raised striped bass fillets with skin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

FOR THE CHILI LIME BUTTER
Mix together the butter, peppers, shallots, lime zest and juice and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

FOR THE FISH
Rinse fish and pat dry. Generously salt and pepper and then dredge in flour and shake off excess. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmers. Carefully place fish into skillet and cook about 2-3 minutes per side, until fish is golden brown and reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees.

TO SERVE
Serve each piece with a dollop of chili lime butter. The butter will melt and spread over the fish.

Yield: 6 servings
(I made the full recipe of butter and only 2 tilapia fillets. We had a little bit of leftover butter but not tons – we are fatties and it was delicious! We kept spreading more on! :) )

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corndip

While we were living in Birmingham, this corn dip seemed to pop up at a lot of parties. Who would think that a cold, creamy corn mixture would be delicious and addicting with Fritos Scoops? Yes, you heard me right…I said it – Fritos!  This dip is a cinch to put together and will bring people back to the dip bowl over and over…and over…and over.

This week I volunteered to bring appetizers to a family barbecue and I knew this dip was the perfect thing! My friend Lindsey from Birmingham sent me the recipe. As I expected, no one in the Charlotte crowd had tried the dip before but they all loved it.

Bring this dip to your next party!

Summer Corn Dip
(Recipe source my friend Lindsey)
Printable Recipe: Corn Dip

Ingredients:

1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup light mayo
2 cans Mexi-corn, drained
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup red and green peppers, finely diced
Directions:

Mix together and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with corn chips – recommended Fritos Scoops.

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tunaherbaioli

Before we get started on the tuna let’s talk about my absence from blogging the last couple weeks. My husband just graduated from law school in Birmingham, Alabama and will be practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina. Moving has been a gigantic pain but we’re so excited to finally be in Charlotte and getting settled in our new place. Unfortunately, with all the business of moving and starting a new job, there just hasn’t been much time for blogging.

I’m happy to report that as of this week I’m back in the kitchen. I made a menu for the week  and took my weekly Sunday grocery trip for the first time in over a month. My new kitchen is considerably smaller than the old kitchen and we don’t have a dishwasher (gasp!) but I’m trying to embrace it and work with what we have. So if you have any tips to share on maximizing small kitchen space, I would love to hear them (seriously…you should see the tiny amount of counter space I have).

Now on the the tuna…last Tuesday was my birthday and we’d been in our new place for all of two days. Needless to say, we weren’t very unpacked. I was really sick of eating out so I tried to brainstorm a simple dinner that I could prepare quickly for my birthday dinner. Tuna is one of our favorites and I was looking to do something different than our usual tuna with wasabi aioli.  I remembered a good herbed tuna recipe that I tried in college from Bon Appetit and decided to make my own variation of it. I used some of my favorite herbs and it turned out to be a great summer dish.

Seared Tuna with Herbed Aioli
(Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

2 tuna steaks (recommended sushi/sashimi grade)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided (3 for marinade and 1 for pan)
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use reduced fat)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients from olive oil through garlic clove to create the marinade for the tuna. Place mayonnaise in a separate small bowl and stir in about 2 tablespoons of the marinade mixture to create the aioli.  Refrigerate.

Season tuna steaks with salt and pepper. Pour reserved marinade over the tuna and leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Preheat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan and add fish. Cook for about 45 seconds per side for rare (you just want to get the sear and warm it a little). The inside should still be red.

Top with aioli and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

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goatcheeseveggiepasta

I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and it reminded me of an old favorite I hadn’t made in a while. One of my favorite easy pasta dishes is to saute vegetables and mix them with pasta and flavored Boursin cheese (usually garlic and herb). I love goat cheese so when I saw the recipe on SK I wanted to try my recipe with goat cheese instead of Boursin.

The beauty of this dish is that you can use whatever veggies you have on hand or prefer. Tonight I was feeling zuchinni, broccoli and sun dried tomatoes. This is a great meat-free dish. I’m looking forward to the leftovers!

Goat Cheese Veggie Pasta
(Recipe inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1/2 box pasta (penne or spiral)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 zucchini
1 small head broccoli
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, rehydrated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 -4 ounces goat cheese, depending on how cheesy you want to get
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

In the meantime, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add zucchini and broccoli and saute for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute.

Remove from heat and stir in sun dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, goat cheese and pasta. Stir until cheese is melted and coats pasta. Add in some of the reserved pasta water if needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 2-4 servings (depending on how hungry you are!)

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