Monthly Archives: March 2012

Teriyaki Blue Marlin Skewers

Grilled Teriyaki Blue Marlin Skewers

Our family eats a lot of fresh fish for dinner at our home.  So, it’s not unusual for me to prepare fish for my family at least once a week.  Here in Southern Oregon we are fortunate to have fresh local salmon, steelhead, and trout.  We live close to the Oregon Coast so we also have access to fresh red snapper, dungeness crab, ling cod and tuna.  So let me tell you… It’s not too often when my favorite fish counter carries exotic fish such as fresh caught blue marlin!

Fresh Blue Marlin Steak

Whenever I purchase fish, I make sure that the clerk behind the seafood counter lets me smell the fish before I purchase it.  I used to be shy and embarrassed when I asked to do that but not anymore…  Nothing makes me madder than spending ten dollars a pound on fish, taking it home and opening the package only to find that it is not fresh.  Trust me… I’m confident that the seafood counter clerk would rather see me quietly and politely refuse to purchase the fish on the spot than to see me back in the store a couple of hours later with a bad attitude and stinky fish in hand.  A lot of people I know will not eat fish because they say it tastes “fishy” and strong…  Well, I say duh!  Fresh fish is not supposed to be that way!  Preparing a meal with fresh fish is quick, easy and tastes great!

Spiny scales on the skin of the Blue Marlin

My Teriyaki Blue Marlin Skewers are wonderfully exotic and easy to make.  If you have never had Blue Marlin before, you will find that it is a dense meaty fish that can be grilled, skewered or fried.  You can use fresh tuna, shark or any other firm fleshed fish when making this dish.  Serve with a scoop of jasmine rice and cucumber salad.  Serves about 6 – 8 people.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 pounds Blue Marlin Steaks
  • 1 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 cup Mirin
  • 2 Tbs white sugar
  • 2 Tbs corn starch
  • juice of one lime

Begin by trimming the Blue Marlin Steaks.  Remove any skin.  Be careful because I found that the skin has sharp spines!  Cut the fish into one inch cubes.  Set aside.   Soak 16 – 20 bamboo skewers in water.  Soaking the skewers prevents the bamboo from burning on the barbeque grill.

Whisk together in a saucepan the light soy sauce, Mirin, sugar, cornstarch and lime juice.  Heat on stove to a boil and remove immediately.  Let cool completely.  Add half of teriyaki sauce to the bowl of fish.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for about a half an hour.  When ready to grill, place fish cubes on 10″ bamboo skewers, 4 – 5 cubes at a time.  Grill on your barbeque or indoor grill about 3-4 minutes per side or to your liking.  I prefer the fish to be cooked medium rare.  Brush with remaining teriyaki sauce and serve with lime wedges.  Makes 16 skewers.

Strawberry Bread

Strawberry Bread

As an accountant I am required to pay attention to detail.  That’s how I am and that’s my job.  Today while at home in my kitchen I did not pay attention to a recipe and as a result, I goofed up…  This morning I decided to make some Strawberry Bread with a bunch of leftover strawberries that I had stashed in my fridge.  Years ago, I made up an awesome recipe for Lemon Zucchini Pineapple Bread that I used as a model for my Strawberry Bread.  Today, as I was measuring ingredients, mixing the batter and talking to my son at the same time, I looked down into the bowl and realized that the batter did not look right…

Succulent strawberry

I noticed that the batter was unusually dry and lumpy.  Oh geez!  What the heck did I do?  I yelled to my son upstairs and asked him how many cups of flour I added to the bowl.  He yelled back with “Mom, I saw you adding four!”…  I knew then that was the problem because when I wrote the recipe I was supposed to only add three.  OMG!  What to do now?  Well, those who know me know that I’m rather stubborn and I was determined to not toss it all out, and start over.  So, I decided to improvise.  To correct my mistake, I added an about an extra 1/4 cup canola oil and a splash of water to the mixture.  After a bit of fiddling with the recipe, I got the bread batter looking like it should. So I prepared the loaves for baking, crossed my fingers and tossed them in the oven.

An hour later, I pulled them out, let them cool, and sliced.  Crisis averted!  Talk about lucky!  They looked and tasted wonderful.  Next time I bake I will make it a point to pay extra attention when measuring my ingredients.  If you follow my recipe below and don’t put in too much flour in the mixture like I did, you will make 2 wonderful loaves of Strawberry Bread.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped strawberries (washed and hulled)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs lemon zest

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.   In one bowl add your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Whisk to mix well.  In another bowl whisk together the eggs, canola oil, vanilla extract and lemon zest.  Gently add the strawberries.  Don’t over mix.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Place batter in two greased 4 X 8 baking pans in the oven for one hour or until done.  Cool on wire rack and slice.  Makes 2 fabulous loaves.

Spicy Strawberry Salad

Spicy Strawberry Salad

Many people when they think of strawberries they conjure up images of sugar and spice and everything nice…  I don’t.  When I think of strawberries, I think of them as the sassy little bad girls of the fruit world.  Of course strawberries are pretty and sweet however, they are feisty enough to stand up to hot and spicy flavors like nobody’s business.  Strawberries are cool…

My Spicy Strawberry Salad is reminiscent of an Indonesian hot fruit salad also known as Rudjak Manis.  My Spicy Strawberry Salad is made with fresh picked sweet juicy strawberries tossed with fiery sambal oelek, sweet Indonesian soy sauce, ginger, tamarind, and brown sugar.  If you have wimpy friends, you can control the heat by adding less sambal oelek.  Next time you pick or purchase a pound of fresh strawberries, try this easy to make exotic salad.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, washed, cored and sliced
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek (chili pepper paste)
  • 2 1/2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 Tbs water

In a bowl whisk together the sambal oelek, brown sugar, ginger, tamarind and water.  Add the strawberries.  Toss to coat and refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavors marry.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  If you don’t like it too hot, then use less sambal oelek.  Makes 4 servings.

Lamb Tomatillo Tacos

Lamb Tomatillo Tacos

You might be surprised but lamb is a relatively new ingredient to my kitchen.  I never enjoyed it because my family simply never prepared it.  The first time I ever ate lamb was several years back.  And what I remember about it is that it was a plate of perfectly grilled succulent chops.  It was outstanding.  After that, I was completely hooked on lamb.

Whenever I purchase lamb at the store I always buy the local organic lamb.  It’s not exactly cheap and not all grocery stores carry it. However, I make it a point to support our local farmers and ranchers.  Not to mention, I truly believe that organic ingredients taste so much better!  I have found that buying the lamb stew meat is one of the least expensive ways to go if I want to add lamb to our plates.  Little lamb chops run over well over ten dollars a pound and the stew meat is about half that.  So, for everyday occasions, I generally buy the stew meat.

Lamb tomatillo tacos are simple to make and taste wonderful.  I like to cook the lamb until it is fork tender and then add it to warm tortillas topped with shredded purple cabbage, sliced jalapenos and a squeeze of lime.  Sometimes I serve it with a bit of sour cream or salsa on the side.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lamb stew meat
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 6 tomatillos (husked, washed and quartered)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 taco sized tortillas
  • 2 – 3 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • garnish with limes, jalapenos, salsa or sour cream

In a medium sized pot with a lid brown the lamb meat in canola oil until golden.  Add tomatillo and onion.  Cook until onion is opaque.  Add cumin, bouillon cube, water, salt and pepper.  Cook covered on low until lamb is tender.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Add additional water if necessary.  Using a slotted spoon add lamb to warm tortillas.  Fill with the shredded purple cabbage and garnish.  Makes 6 tacos.

Asian Slaw

Asian Slaw

I can’t even believe it… I completely forgot that I bought a head of purple cabbage late last week and I went ahead and purchased another one yesterday.  That’s not usually a problem but there’s just the two of us living in the house now.  Bruce does not know it yet but we are going to be eating an unusually large amount of purple cabbage in the next week.  I guess it’s time for me to start getting creative and make tasty dishes so he does not notice my little mishap that occurred in the produce section yesterday…

Unlike my sweet husband, I love purple cabbage.  It’s brightly colored and adds interest to many dishes.  However, in my opinion, purple cabbage is one of those vegetables that is best served raw.  Once cooked, the purple cabbage seems to lose its gorgeous color.  So, that’s why I believe that purple cabbage does best in chopped up in salads or shredded in a slaw.  My Asian Slaw is a perfect application for that beautifully colored cabbage.  I like to toss freshly shredded purple cabbage with bright orange carrots, crunchy snow peas and a tangy Asian dressing that has a hint of peanut butter and sweet chili sauce.  My Asian Slaw is quick and easy to make and my Asian dressing can easily be used as a salad dressing or a marinade.  Word of advice, do what I should have done the next time you go to the grocery store…Make a list.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound purple cabbage (sliced thin)
  • 1/8 pound carrots (sliced into matchsticks)
  • 1/8 pound snow peas (sliced thin on the bias)
  • 2 Tbs Asian Dressing (see below)
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro

Begin by making the Asian Dressing and set aside.  Prepare your vegetables and place in a mixing bowl.  Add dressing to taste, toss to coat well.  Garnish with fresh cilantro.  Serve immediately.  Makes 2 gorgeous salads.

Asian Dressing

In a small bowl mix whisk together the following ingredients.  Store in refrigerator in a jar with a tight fitting lid for about a week.  Makes about 3/4 cup of a zesty salad dressing. Shake well before using.  Enjoy!

  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/8 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/8 cup mirin (sweet wine)
  • 1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbs creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • juice of 1/2 lime

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

I’ve learned that cooking good food does not always start in the kitchen.  So, every year I plant a little garden in my backyard.  I don’t have a lot of space for a big garden so my husband Bruce built me a couple of raised garden beds that I stuff with all kinds of vegetables.  We compost our kitchen scraps and yard clippings to make the soil in the little garden fertile and perfect for planting.  It’s amazing how many vegetables a little patch of earth can produce.

Since it is mid March in Southern Oregon I was able to plant snow peas, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and onions.  This year instead of starting my plants from seed, I decided to buy a bunch of vegetable starts.  Planting starts allows me to harvest my vegetables a few weeks earlier than planting directly from seed.  Preparing meals with home grown fresh picked ingredients does not get much better!

Plant starts waiting to be put in the ground.

Snow Peas…

I will be picking fresh crisp snow peas in about 6 weeks!  I can’t wait!

After I planting my little spring garden I decided to make a pot of White Chicken Chili.  White Chicken Chili is hearty, flavorful and perfect for a cool spring day.  Garnish with fresh chopped red bell peppers, sharp white cheddar cheese and sliced green onions.  Serve with a slice of cornbread or a green salad.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • big pinch of salt
  • 2 – 15 ounce cans of great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 4 ounce can diced roasted green chilies
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbs ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried ground jalapeno
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • salt to taste

In a large sauce pan with a lid, saute the onion, bell pepper, salt and olive oil until onion is opaque.  Chop the chicken into 1 inch sized pieces.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook until a light golden color.  Add remaining ingredients, cover and cook on medium low for about half an hour or until the beans are cooked to your liking.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Garnish with shredded white cheddar cheese, diced red bell pepper, and sliced green onions.  Makes about 2 big fabulous bowls of White Chicken Chili.

Note:  Next time I make this, I am going to try it in my slow cooker.

Sloppy “Lentil” Joes

Sloppy “Lentil” Joes

I have got to tell you that a Sloppy Joe is one of the very first dishes I ever learned how to make.  A Sloppy Joe is without a doubt an American “kid friendly” sandwich.  If you never had a Sloppy Joe, it is a tasty, messy burger made with ground beef and a tangy sweet tomato sauce.  To make a Sloppy Joe, all you have to do is brown up some ground beef, add some Sloppy Joe sauce, ladle on a burger bun and there’s dinner.  Easy.

I was in the mood the other day for a Sloppy Joe sandwich and I had no ground beef stashed in the freezer.  I did not even have ground bison or turkey either.  However, I had lentils in my cupboard…  I had heard of people preparing Sloppy Joes with lentils before and I knew that when lentils are cooked they have a meaty like texture. So, I made my standard Sloppy Joe sauce and added cooked lentils instead of beef.  I tasted it and it was good!

When Bruce came home that evening, I told him that I made these for our dinner.  He gave me his me his famous dirty look and quickly reminded me that he hated beans.  I looked back at him, smiled, handed him his Sloppy “Lentil” Joe sandwich, crossed my fingers, and said “sorry hon, I forgot”.  I then watched him out of the corner of my eye while he ate the sandwich.  And get this… He looked as if he liked it!  After he was finished, he said that he thought it was really good and that he almost forgot that there were lentils in it.  I guess he’ll eat beans now  :).

My recipe for Sloppy “Lentil” Joes is easy to make, completely meatless and healthy for you.  Not to mention, they are wickedly good.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown lentils (rinsed and picked over)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup tomato ketchup
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp kitchen bouquet (browning sauce for color)
  • salt to taste
  • 4 to 6 whole wheat burger buns
  • garnish with pickles

Begin by cooking the lentils and water in a sauce pan on covered on medium low for about a half an hour or until the lentils are cooked to your liking.  I did not add salt to the lentils for I heard that salt toughens up the beans. Drain.  Mash lightly with potato masher.

Meanwhile, in skillet or pan, saute the onions and bell pepper in olive oil.  Cook until onions are opaque.  Add remaining ingredients except for the lentils, burger buns and pickles.  Cook on medium low, covered, for about the same amount of time as the lentils, stirring occasionally.  When the lentils are done, add to the tomato mixture, taste, and correct your seasonings.  Add water if necessary.  Ladle on warmed whole wheat burger buns, garnish with pickles and serve.  Makes 4 to 6 Sloppy “Lentil” Joes.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

It’s been a few weeks since I sent a care package up to my son at the University so I thought it would be a good idea to send him one first thing tomorrow morning.  In G’s care package I will send some homemade Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies, assorted teas, and some vegetarian instant meals that he can make while he is busy studying.  There might even be a few dollars tucked in the box for spending on whatever he wants  :).

My Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies are made with dark chocolate chips, extra dark cocoa powder, chocolate extract and tart little Montmorency cherries.  And no, I’m not that nice of a mom.  Trust me, he’s not getting all of these wonderful cookies…  Half of them will stay at home.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 sticks or 1 cup  butter (softened)
  • 5 Tbls. extra dark cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp chocolate extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 10 oz. dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cherries (coarsely chopped)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with a silicone liner.  In a large mixing bowl with a mixer, blend together all the ingredients except for the dark chocolate chips.  Mix well.  Fold in the dark chocolate chips.  Drop the dough using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for about 12 – 14 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.  Store in a tightly covered container.  Makes about 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies.

Grilled Salmon Tacos

Grilled Salmon Tacos

Here in Southern Oregon, there is never a shortage of fresh salmon.  Even if local salmon is not in season, our stores carry it year round…  My grilled salmon tacos are quick and easy for busy weeknights or lazy weekends.  They are healthy, flavorful and you could easily have dinner knocked out in less than an hour.  Makes about 4 to 6 salmon tacos.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound salmon filet cut into large pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dark chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 to 6 warmed corn tortillas
  • garnish with about 1 cup shredded purple cabbage, 1 cup shredded carrots, lime wedges and pico de gallo (see recipe below).

Toss salmon pieces in olive oil, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.  On a hot grill pan, cook salmon about 2 to 3 minutes on each side until opaque.  Whatever you do, try not to overcook it.  Salmon cooks fast!  Fill the warmed corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and the grilled salmon.  Squeeze on some lime juice and spoon on some pico de gallo.  I told you it was easy!  Makes about 4 to 6 tacos.

Pico De Gallo

Mix together 1 cup chopped tomato, 1/4 cup chopped onion, and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.  Toss with juice of 1/2 lime, salt and pepper.