Large Batch Homemade Pesto

fresh pesto sauce

I planted basil in our garden this summer and was super excited when I discovered that I have enough to make a large batch of pesto, and freeze for the winter! I purchase the bulk pine nuts and Parmigiano Reggiano from Costco, which is so much more affordable than Whole Foods (Paycheck).  It is key to have a great food processor. I have a new “Breville Sous Chef Food Processor” that I received from my mother-in-law, that I absolutely love! Anyway, so here are the ingredients and the instructions.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound basil (9 oz leaves after removing stems)
  • ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ cup fresh Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cup pine nuts

Place the washed basil leaves, and oil in the food processor (using “S-Blade”), till minced, pausing occasionally to scrape in the basil on the sides. Add the cheese, garlic and salt and process until smooth. Add in the pine nuts at the end, you can make it as crunchy or smooth as you like. My son loves it chunky but my daughter likes it super smooth. You are now ready to place the pesto into ½ cup storage containers. Now you can freeze your batches. Thaw as needed, but please do not microwave. When you add to your pasta, please save some of the salted pasta water to thin out the pesto a little so it has a smooth and slightly liquid consistency.

Fish Tacos

Well, after experimenting with different ways to use Open Blue’s Cobia (aka Black Kingfish), I decided to create a new fish taco recipe. After spending 10 days in Mexico with my family, I really felt like I had tasted ample local flavor, in order to attempt to create something that my family would be proud of… and the verdict was… “This is, by far, the best fish tacos I have EVER had”, a direct quote from my foodie (a try food snob) 16-year-old son! Wahoo!!! It truly warmed my heart. Well, so here it goes:

Cobia Fish Marinade*:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 pound of Cobia (black kingfish) cut into 4 pieces
  • Salt
  • 2 limes cut into quarters

Pickled Onions:

  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • About 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

Tacos shells:

  • 8 fresh corn tortillas (We love the brand Mariposa)
  • 2 cups of canola oil

Avocado Crema:

  • 2 avocados
  • ½ Tsp salt
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup sour cream

Pico De Gallo:

  • 1 ⅓ cup of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chopped green chili
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ¼ Tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp seeded and minced jalapeño (optional)

Bean and Corn Salsa:

  • 1 cup of sweet corn (organic canned)
  • 1 cup black beans (organic)
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • ¼ Tsp salt

Preparation:

Marinate the Onion: Put the onion in a small bowl and pour in enough red wine vinegar to cover well. Set aside for at least 30 minutes or up to several weeks.

Marinate the Fish: Pour the olive oil into a small bowl and add the ancho chile powder, cumin, and chopped cilantro. Mix well. Place the fish in a plastic bag and pour the marinade over it, making sure to massage and coat the fish well on all sides. Allow marinating for at least 20 minutes. I marinated mine for 2 hours.

Avocado Crema: In a food processor, add the avocados, salt, and cilantro. Puree until smooth. Remove from food processor and stir in the sour cream.

Pico De Gallo/Salsa:  For both the Pico De Gallo and the Bean salsa. Mix all of the ingredients together. (I kept them separated).

Cook the Fish: Heat a nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Remove the fish from the marinade and place in the hot pan (there is no need to add more oil). Season the fish with salt. Cook the fish for 4 minutes undisturbed, then turn over, and cook for another 2 minutes or until cooked through and opaque. Remove the pan from the heat and flake the fish into the pan with a fork, making sure to mix in all the marinade that has stuck to the bottom of the pan. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Set aside.

corn-tacosMake the Tortillas Tacos Shells: In a large deep pot, add the oil and cook on medium-high. One by one, place the corn tortillas into the oil, flip over after 10 seconds and make sure both sides start to puff up and brown, crease the middle and bend the tortillas in half, and submerge them until they are crisp. Place them on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Assemble and Serve: To assemble the tacos, place a heaping spoonful of the marinated flaked fish onto the center of a tortilla, add a squeeze of lime. Top with the both the Pico del Gallo and the bean salsa, and marinated onions. Serve with a dollop of avocado crema and cilantro.

*Inspiration from a fish taco marinade I found on Epicurious – made some modifications to the ingredients – the rest of the ingredients are my creation.

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Pork Shoulder

For approximately a year now, I’ve been volunteering for an amazing organization here in Boulder, called There With Care. There With Care’s mission is to provide a wide range of thoughtful and fundamental services to children and families during the critical phase of a medical crisis. They serve families referred by medical agencies, by building a network of services and people who ease the burden of life’s day-to-day obligations with compassion and care. I have been working on There With Care’s Team Chop, where we prep simple, healthy, and easy to cook CrockPot meals for each of the families. It has been an amazing organization to work for. We have an incredile team of people on our team, dedicating their time once a week to help eleviate some of the burden these families are facing.

So, after a year of working with Team Chop, I finally bought myself a slow-cooker (CrockPot). It has been fun experimenting with some new recipes. One of which was another creation by my foodie-17-year-old. Takes a total of 10 minutes to prep, and has very few ingredients. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 8 tomatillos – quartered
  • 2 jalapenos – (remove seeds for less spice – chop into large chunks)
  • 1 onion – large chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves – quartered
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the pork shoulder into 1 inch pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper. In an iron skillet on high heat, add 1 tbsp of butter and add half of the pork, making sure not to crowd the pan.  Braise each piece so they are nice and brown, and crispy. Repeat with the second batch of meat. Set aside. Meanwhile, toss the tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic in the oil. Salt, then place onto a baking sheet and roast them, until they start to brown slightly, apprximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and place ingredients into a food processor or blender. Salt to taste. Place the meat into the crockpot and pour the pureed mixture ontop. Cook on low heat for 6 hours. Serve with rice, and black beans with sour cream.

Asian Cole Slaw

Asian Cole Slaw with Sesame Oil and Cilantro
Asian Cole Slaw with Sesame Oil and Cilantro

Okay, I’ve honestly had enough of this summer heat! With 90+ degree weather for the past couple of months, I thought I would share a light, refreshing coleslaw recipe, to cool you down. This dressing is a little sweet and pungent. Pairs nicely with a Panko Crusted Tuna.

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh pureed ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 tbsp Mirin*
  • 2 tbsp Toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ cup Organic Canola Oil

* Mirin is a rice wine, similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol and higher sugar content.

Directions: In a mixing bowl, place soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and Mirin and whisk until brown sugar dissolves. Slowly whisk in the oil to the mixture in a slow stream, waiting for the oil and mixture to begin thickening before adding a little more oil. This is to ensure emuslification. Add to the slaw and refrigerate, this can be made a few hours before serving.

For the Cole Slaw:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 3/4 cup julienned carrots
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds

Directions: If you don’t have the patients to hand slice/chop all of the ingredients, you can use a food processor with the slicing or julienne blades. Mix the cabbages and carrots into a bowl, slowly add in the dressing, tossing to cover. Add in the cilantro and sesame seeds and toss. This can be served with a nice panic crusted seared tuna and sushi rice. You can also make a bit more of the above dressing and add it to the Tuna and rice.

Classic Italian Risotto

Classic Italian Risotto

Okay, since I’m mostly Swedish, I cannot claim to have a perfect Italian Risotto, but my psuedo-Italian husband can! He definitely “thinks” he’s Italian, especially since he spent a number of year in Italy. Being green-eyed and blond-haired, the Italians always questioned his origin… it’s actually Michigan! Nevertheless, after many years, I can honestly say he has mastered the classic Italian risotto. And according to my children, I am incapable of making his perfected recipe. I actually don’t mind handing over the kitchen to him once in a while, so HE can “slave over the hot stove”.

The key to an honest Risotto, is definitely the broth, (my recipe can be found here). You also need to make sure you use Arborio rice. It is an Italian short-grain rice, named after the town of Arborio, in the Po Valley, which is situated in the main growing region. When cooked, the rounded grains are firm, creamy, and chewy if cooked just right. The key is cooking then stirring, cooking then stirring, a labor of love for sure.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped onions
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 cups of dry white wine
  • 5 cups of homemade broth
  • pinch of saffron strands
  • 2 cups of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Warm the broth in a pot on low heat, making sure it does not boil. In a large sauce pan on medium heat, add oil, butter then onions and sauté for several minutes until they become translucent. Add in the Aborio rice and stir to coat.  Now here comes the hard part, you are going to add in the liquid 1 cup at a time and stir to cook. Start with the wine, as you want this to cook down over time, then alternate with the broth. You’re going to keep adding in the liquid one cup at a time for at least 20 minutes, maybe more. The point is to add the liquid in small doses, and stir it as it absorbs. When the rice starts to get a little puffy you want add in the strands of saffron. Stir for a couple of minutes, and then start tasting it. You want the rice to be firm, but not hard in the center. Once you get the right consistency, get your warm plates and ladle ready, add in the parmesan cheese and stir. You might need to add a little salt at the end, but remember the parmesan cheese is quite salty. Now you ladle one large scoop onto each warm plate, and jiggle it around so flatten it out. Remember this is really rich, so please don’t make the portions too big. Think Italian size… not American portion. Sprinkle a little parmesan on top… Mangiare subito!

Flavorful Bone Broth

bone broth

I love to have bone/meat broth on hand at all times. Especially, when my husband makes his Italian Risotto. This broth is truly the key to the most hearty, deep and rich risotto. We also use the broth occasionally to flavor pasta, rice, or even broccoli. It’s also great for sauces!  The little Italian ladies in the country-side of northern Italy would make this for my husband, when he came down with a cold so it has some amazing health benefits: containing minerals, healthy fats, collagen, amino acids, and more.

Ingredients:

  • 3 beef bones (soup bones)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large chopped onion (or 2 medium)
  • 8 chopped carrots
  • 8 chopped celery stalks
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp of salt (more if desired)
  • 1 whole fryer chicken
  • 1 ½ lb. beef (I used top round steaks)

Begin by roasting your soup bones. I like to set my oven to 375ºF and bake my bones and meat for about 30 minutes, or until they begin to brown. In a 20 quart stock pot add in olive oil and chopped onions, cook for 2 minutes, then add in the carrots and celery. Stir to coat with oil and cook for 5 minutes. Add in salt and bay leaves. Add in 12 cups of water (preferably filtered). Scrape the roasted bones into the pot along with any juices. Add in the chicken and beef. Add more water if necessary to cover bones, meats and vegetables. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Skim off any scum. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook with lid slightly ajar, skimming foam and excess fat occasionally, for at least 8 but up to 24 hours on the stovetop. The longer you simmer it, the better your broth will be. Add more water if necessary to ensure bones and vegetables are fully submerged. Once the broth has cooled down, you’re ready to strain it and store it! Strain it through a fine sieve. Your broth will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, or a few months in the freezer.

(Cobia) Fish Tacos

fish-tacos-home1
pico-de-gallo bean-corn-salsa avocado-crema2

Well, after experimenting with different ways to use Open Blue’s Cobia (aka Black Kingfish), I decided to create a new fish taco recipe. After spending 10 days in Mexico with my family, I really felt like I had tasted ample local flavor, in order to attempt to create something that my family would be proud of… and the verdict was… “This is, by far, the best fish tacos I have EVER had”, a direct quote from my foodie (a try food snob) 16 year old son! Wahoo!!! It truly warmed my heart. Well, so here is goes:

Cobia Marinade*:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 pound of Cobia (black kingfish) cut into 4 pieces
  • Salt
  • 2 limes cut into quarters

Pickled Onions:

  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • About 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

Tacos shells:

  • 8 fresh corn tortillas (We love the brand Mariposa)
  • 2 cups of canola oil

Avocado Crema:

  • 2 avocados
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup sour cream

Pico De Gallo:

  • 1 ⅓ cup of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chopped green chile
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp seeded and minced jalapeño (optional)

Bean and Corn Salsa:

  • 1 cup of sweet corn (organic canned)
  • 1 cup black beans (organic)
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • ¼ tsp salt

Preparation:

Marinate the Onion: Put the onion in a small bowl and pour in enough red wine vinegar to cover well. Set aside for at least 30 minutes or up to several weeks.

Marinate the Fish: Pour the olive oil into a small bowl and add the ancho chile powder, cumin, and chopped cilantro. Mix well. Place the fish in a plastic bag and pour the marinade over it, making sure to massage and coat the fish well on all sides. Allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes. I marinated mine for 2 hours.

Avocado Crema: In a food processor, add the avocados, salt and cilantro. Puree until smooth. Remove from food processor and stir in the sour cream.

Pico De Gallo/Salsa:  For both the Pico De Gallo and the Bean salsa. Mix all of the ingredients together. (I kept them separated).

Cook the Fish: Heat a nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Remove the fish from the marinade and place in the hot pan (there is no need to add more oil). Season the fish with salt. Cook the fish for 4 minutes undisturbed, then turn over, and cook for another 2 minutes or until cooked through and opaque. Remove the pan from the heat and flake the fish into the pan with a fork, making sure to mix in all the marinade that has stuck to the bottom of the pan. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Set aside.

corn-tacosMake the Tortillas Tacos Shells: In a large deep pot, add the oil and cook on medium-high. One by one, place the corn tortillas into the oil, flip over after 10 seconds and make sure both sides start to puff up and brown, crease the middle and bend the tortillas in half, and submerge them until they are crisp. Place them on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Assemble and Serve: To assemble the tacos, place a heaping spoonful of the marinated flaked fish onto the center of a tortilla, add a squeeze of lime. Top with the both the pico del gallo and the bean salsa, add marinated onions. Serve with a dollop of avocado crema, and cilantro.

fish-tacos2 fish-tacos-home

 

 

 

 

 

*Inspiration from a fish taco marinade I found on Epicurious – made some modifications to the ingredients – the rest of the ingredients below are my creation.

Gourmet Buffalo Burger with Balsamic Reduction

Buffalo Burger with Balsamic reduction and fried egg
Buffalo Burger with Balsamic reduction and fried egg

I can honestly say I think my son should be a food critic. My 16 year old, came up with this masterpiece and it’s probably one of THE best burgers I have ever tasted. It has the peppery taste from the Arugula, the sweet from the balsamic reduction, the fruity and nutty taste of parmesan, and then… there’s the fried egg! Seriously?

Make Balsamic reduction – Cook 1 cup of good quality balsamic vinegar + 1 tbsp sugar on medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to simmer (low heat with small bubbles along the edges) and let simmer for about 10 minutes until vinegar has reduced down. Stir occasionally. It should be able to stick to a spoon, with it’s thick consistency. Let reduction cool and serve. Save the remaining sauce in a Tupperware and store in refrigerator. If reduction hardens after being in refrigerator for too long just place container in a bowl filled with warm water to soften it up.

INGREDIENTS (per serving)

  • 6-8 oz ground buffalo meat
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6-8 leaves of arugula
  • 6-8 slices of parmesan
  • 1 fried egg
  • 1 brioche bun
  • 1 tbsp of softened butter

DIRECTIONS

Turn on your grill or grill pan on high. Make the buffalo patty by gently working in the Worcestershire, salt and pepper to the buffalo meat. (Do not compress, or smack the buffalo patty). Make the center of the patty thinner than the edges, and place on the grill. Cook the buffalo until the internal temperature is 130 degrees. Remove and let sit. Meanwhile, add your egg to an small non-stick skillet and cover. Flip over without breaking the yolk, and be sure to not overcook, as you want the egg yolk still runny. Remove from heat. Add the butter to all side of the brioche bun and grill for 10 seconds on each side. Assemble the burger onto the bun, adding the patty, the egg, arugula, parmesan cheese, and finally drizzle on the balsamic reduction onto the burger and the top half of the bun. My husband actually had a dish of the reduction to dip in the burger into. Enjoy!

Orange Chicken

orange-chicken

My husband has always loved a tangy Chinese-American Orange Chicken. I found some great recipes online, and made some slight modifications. I’m mainly adding this one to the blog, so I have quick access to it, but beware, it does take a few steps so it might not be for everyone.  Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

For the chicken:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • About 2 cups canola oil for frying

For the orange sauce:

  • 2-3 oranges
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger (from 1-inch piece)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more if you like it spicy)
  • 2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon Chinese Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoon rice vinegar (not seasoned) or cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 scallion/green onions (thinly sliced for garnish)
  • Cooked rice for serving

PREPARATION

Prep the chicken:

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the wine and soy sauce together. Toss the chicken pieces with the sauce and let stand while you make the sauce.

Make the orange sauce:

  • Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from 1 orange and finely chop it.
  • Squeeze 2 oranges to make at least 1 cup of juice (use additional orange if necessary). In a small bowl, whisk together the juice and 2 teaspoons cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved.
  • In a 10-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat, add the garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper, and orange zest and stir-fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce, wine, vinegar, and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves, about 5 seconds. Stir the orange juice–cornstarch mixture then add it to the skillet. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 1 minute. Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside while you fry the chicken.

Fry the chicken:

  • Once the chicken is fried, place the skillet of reserved orange sauce over moderately low heat and bring it to a simmer, stirring and thinning the sauce with a little water if necessary. Add the chicken, and stir until thoroughly coated in sauce.
  • In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil until a thermometer registers 365°F. Or you can use a deep fryer if you have one, which is easier to program the temperature. Meanwhile, coat half of the chicken, a couple pieces at a time, in cornstarch, making sure they are well coated and gently knocking off any excess, then transfer to a plate. Carefully add the coated chicken to the hot oil, making sure to space the pieces apart from each other, otherwise they clump together. Fry the chicken, turning it once or twice, until deep golden, about 5 minutes. While frying, adjust the heat as necessary to keep the oil at 365°F. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Continue to coat and fry the remaining chicken in the same manner, returning the oil to 365°F between batches.
  • Once the chicken is fried, place the skillet of reserved orange sauce over moderately low heat and bring it to a simmer, stirring and thinning the sauce with a little orange juice if necessary. Add the chicken, and toss until thoroughly coated in sauce.

To serve:

  • Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and garnish with the scallions. Serve immediately with rice.

Another photo: (added some sesame seeds to the recipe)

orange-chicken-detail

Filet Mignon with Béarnaise Sauce

filet-bearnaise-sauce

After reviewing numerous Béarnaise recipes, and being extremely intimidated by the complexity of it, I thought I would give it a try. I made this sauce for filet mignon, that I marinated in garlic, olive oil, salt and rosemary overnight. Searing it on all sides and cooking it medium rare. I served it with an arugula salad (from our garden) with olive oil, a balsamic reduction and goat cheese.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and minced
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon leaves
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 12 tablespoons ghee (or clarified butter)
  • salt, to taste

Put the vinegar, shallots, black pepper and 1 tablespoon of tarragon leaves into a small saucepan, and set over a medium flame. Bring just to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer until there are only a couple of tablespoons of liquid left, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.

Fill a small saucepan with an inch or two of water, and set over medium-high heat to boil.

In a metal mixing bowl, whisk the egg yokes with a tablespoon of cold water. Add in the cooled shallot-and-tarragon then whisk to combine.

Turn the heat under the saucepan of water down to its lowest setting, and put the bowl on top of the pan, making sure that it does not touch the water directly. Continue to whisk the yolks until they thicken, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. You should just about double the volume of the yolks.

Slowly beat in the butter, a tablespoon or two at a time, whisking slowly to combine and emulsify. Remove the bowl from the pan occasionally, so as not to overcook the eggs, and taste the sauce. Season with salt. If the flavor is not sharp enough, add a splash of lemon juice. If the sauce is too thick, stir in a splash of water. Add the remaining teaspoon of tarragon leaves, and serve.