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Posts Tagged ‘Ginger’

Asian Lettuce Wraps | Relishing It

Continuing with the ginger theme from last week, I give you these Asian lettuce wraps.  This is one of my go-to meals when I feel like stuffing my face with some serious flavor, but I still want to keep it on the healthy side.  Texture is the key here.  Adding crisp veggies and crunchy peanuts make this wrap stand out.

Asian Lettuce Wraps | Relishing It

Asian Lettuce Wraps | Relishing It

The black bean garlic sauce gives this dish a bit of oomph and can be found at most any Asian or even some regular grocery stores.  The beans are fermented, which lends a unique flavor to the dish.  If you’ve never tried using black bean garlic sauce before, you will soon find many ways to incorporate it into your Asian cooking– it’s wonderful, plus it lasts forever in your refrigerator.  The hoisin sauce is also instrumental in bringing a touch of sweetness to the mixture.  Both ingredients work well with fresh ginger and garlic.

Asian Lettuce Wraps | Relishing It

The meat mixture is very versatile and can be adjusted to fit what you have on hand.  Ground chicken, turkey, or even pork all work well.  Sometimes I even toss in some frozen peas, which my kids really enjoy.  However you make it, I know you’re going to love these lettuce wraps!

Asian Lettuce Wraps | Relishing It

The Recipe: Asian Lettuce Wraps

(serves four)

1 pound ground chicken, turkey, or pork

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1/2 teaspoon (or more) chili garlic sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

sprinkle of Togarashi on each wrap, optional

About 2 heads of bibb (sometimes called butter) lettuce

fresh bean sprouts, 2 grated carrots, hot peppers, crushed peanuts, and Sriracha sauce, for serving

In a small mixing bowl, combine the black bean garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, garlic chili sauce, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat,  brown the meat.  Drain off and discard any grease.  Add the garlic and ginger to the pan and sauté for a minute or two.  Add the contents of the bowl to the meat and mix together until warmed through.  Taste and re-season, if necessary.

Assemble the wrap with a piece of lettuce, a bit of the meat mixture, sprouts, carrots, hot peppers, peanuts, sriracha, and a sprinkle of Togarashi, if desired.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce | Relishing It

I know I’ve mentioned here– on several occasions– how much I love the meatballs from my childhood.  Today’s recipe is a meatball that I wouldn’t have recognized as a kid.  There was nothing ethnic about the versions we would gobble up in my early years.  Fresh ginger?  Nope.  Never had it back then.  Fish sauce?  Are you kidding me?  I guess these Thai meatballs reflect how different my culinary life is now with access to different styles of food and ingredients.  I still love those German meatballs from my childhood– I ask my mom to make them every time I get back to North Dakota– but now, I love this ethnic version as well.  In fact give me ALL of the ethnic food.  And make it extra spicy, please.

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce | Relishing It

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce | Relishing It

These meatballs definitely have some fantastic Thai flavors to them.  Fresh ginger and garlic are noticeable right from the start.  Ginger is one of those flavors that I can’t get enough of.  It brightens the food, and oddly, my mood.  Just smelling it puts me in a happy state.  The cilantro adds a vibrant freshness to them, as well.

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce | Relishing It

The sauce is simple, but tastes extraordinary.  Using homemade chicken broth adds great depth.  The spices are subtle.  This is not an overpowering sauce and please keep in mind that it is not thick whatsoever– this is a thin, soup-like sauce.  The cinnamon, star anise, coriander seed, and cardamom marry perfectly with the coconut milk.  The beautiful color comes from the ground turmeric, which also imparts such a lovely flavor.  And though simmering for a half hour is wonderful, if you have even a bit more time, more of those wonderful flavors from the spices will be released.

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce | Relishing It

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce | Relishing It

A couple of things to think about.  I realize that not everyone can find kaffir lime leaves very easily.  I found mine at an Asian grocery store. And even lemongrass might be difficult for some, though decidedly more available than the lime leaves.  If you can find these items, just know that they can be stored in your freezer for future use, so stock up!  They are wonderful to use this way during the winter months and they add a brightness to your soups and meals.  However, if you’re living in an area that does’t carry these items, don’t fret.  Please, still try the dish and substitute a bit of lime zest (from 1-2 limes) in it’s place.  Though not a complete substitute, the flavor will get you there and you’ll still be able to fully enjoy this delicious meal.

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce | Relishing It

We eat this meal with brown rice.  It becomes a nice bowl of goodness with the meatballs and the coconut curry all swimming in the bowl together.  It’s warm and comforting.  And yes, in my spice-loving opinion, I think you should add a few drops of sriracha sauce onto the top of your meatballs.  It is pure bliss.  Making Bánh Mì meatball sandwiches with the leftover meatballs, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and spicy peppers is a fantastic variation on this meal. Hope you enjoy!

Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce | Relishing It

The Recipe: Thai Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Curry Sauce

(makes 39-40 meatballs)

For the Meatballs:

2 pounds ground turkey (humanely raised)

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

5 garlic cloves, finely minced

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce

zest of 2 limes

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (or gluten-free bread crumbs, if you prefer)

1 egg, lightly whisked

For the Coconut Curry Sauce:

2 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth or purchased

15 ounces coconut milk (not lite, please)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds (toasted, if you have the time)

6 cardamom pods

2 star anise

1 3-inch cinnamon stick

5 kaffir lime leaves

3 1-inch knobs of fresh ginger, peeled and bruised

2 4-inch stalks of lemongrass, bruised (green parts removed)

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper, to taste

extra cilantro, hot peppers, and sriracha sauce for serving

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine the meatball ingredients and gently mix together using your hands.  Try not to over-mix meatballs, or they tend to be somewhat tough.  Using a small scoop (1 tablespoon), form the mixture into balls and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.  You will end up with about 39-40 meatballs. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.  This will give the flavors time to develop a bit.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  After that hour, place the pan of meatballs into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Place the coriander seeds, cardamom pods, and star anise into a piece of cheesecloth and tie it with cooking string. Gently pound on the sachet with a rolling pin to crush the spices a bit. This will release more of their flavors.

Meanwhile, start the sauce while the meatballs are baking, or just before they go into the oven.  You’ll want it to simmer for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to mingle, but if you have more time than that– great!  In a large 12-inch skillet with sides, or something similar, add all of the sauce ingredients, except the lime juice, to the pan. Place the sachet of spices into the sauce, as well. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a low-medium simmer with the lid on.  Stir occasionally.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Add the lime juice when the sauce is finished.  Adjust seasonings, if needed.  Place the meatballs into the sauce or keep them separate– your choice.  Serve with brown rice, cilantro, spicy peppers, and plenty of sriracha!  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Feasting At Home

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!

Laurie

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Simple Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Last week my little blog had an anniversary!  I’ve been occupying this small corner of the internet for three years now.  Goodness time has flown by!  I’m so very thankful for the friends it has brought into my life.  It is such an amazing feeling to find people that share my interests– people that give a damn where their food comes from and believe that it makes a difference.  Making food does more than just nurture my body, it nutures my soul.  Thank you for stopping back week after week to see what I’ve been doing– I am truly grateful.

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

I suppose you’re expecting a celebratory cake recipe, but no, today I’m marking the occassion with…kimchi!  You know I’m a sucker for fermented foods (they are so ridiculously healthy for you)– this  homemade sauerkraut gets made ever month in our house.  Kimchi is along the same lines– it’s also lacto-fermented– but it’s made with a different type of cabbage and a couple of other vegetables. The red color comes from a Korean ground red pepper called gochugaru.  It has a wonderful flavor.  Finding gochugaru can be a bit of a hunt, even in a large city.  Definitely check an Asian specialty store.  I found mine at United Noodles in Minneapolis.  You can also order in online at Amazon.  A package will last you awhile, so you won’t have to reorder very often. Kimchi is easy to make and doesn’t take very long to ferment.  It’s as simple is mixing up a flavorful paste with garlic, ginger, and the gochugaru and tossing it with the vegetables.  If you love kimchi, there is absolutely no reason not to make your own.

Simple Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

Simple Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

The big question is, what do you do with kimchi once you’ve made it?  The possibilities are endless, really.  Toss some into a batch of fried rice, throw some into your stir-fry, put it into soups, eat it with dumplings, or straight out of the jar.  I love to eat it on a pizza with spicy ground pork.  It adds that extra “oomph” that some dishes need.  Make it.  You’ll be happy that you did!

Homemade Kimchi | Relishing It

The Recipe: Homemade Kimchi

(makes nearly 2 quarts)

1 /3 cup kosher salt

1 (3 1/2 pound) head napa cabbage, remove core and cut cabbage into 2-inch strips

water

7 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

12 ounce daikon (white radish) peeled and cut into matchsticks

7 garlic cloves, smashed

3 tablespoons fish sauce (or water, if making vegetarian)

1 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

5 tablespoons gochugaru (less to taste)

To prepare the cabbage:  Place the cut cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Massage well so the the cabbage starts to soften and become watery.  Then add enough filtered water to cover the cabbage.  Weigh it down with a plate and then place something heavy on the plate.  Let it stand for 1-2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the red pepper paste.  In a small bowl, add the ginger, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, and gochugaru.  Mix until uniform.  Set aside.

When the cabbage is ready, rinse it with cold water about 3 times.  You want to thoroughly wash the salt off of it.  Then drain in a colander for 15 minutes and gently squeeze out any remaining water.  Return to the bowl that has since been cleaned.  Add the daikon, green onions, and red pepper paste and gently mix with your hands (use gloves, if you want) to coat all of the vegetables.  Pack the kimchi into clean jars and press down until the brine covers the vegetables.  Leave about an 1-inch space at the top of the jars (you will just be shy of 2 quarts for this recipe, so space shouldn’t be an issue).

Let the jars stand at room temperature for 1-5 days ( I generally do 5 days, but it’ll depend upon the temperature of your house).  There may be some bubbling action and you may want to open the jar to release some of the gas, so it doesn’t bubble over and create a mess.  Taste it along the way, when it is fermented to your liking, put it into the refrigerator.  The flavors will continue to enhance when it’s been in the refrigerator for a while.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from The Kitchn

Thanks for stopping by!

Laurie

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Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing ItI just know many of you are in the thick of planning your Thanksgiving menus, and I’ve got a side dish that would look absolutely grand on your table.  I’m one of those who think the Thanksgiving meal is all about the sides.  Sure, the turkey is fine, but there just isn’t a lot of excitement there.  It’s the side dishes that have the variety of flavors and colors that make the meal so interesting.   At least that’s how I feel.  My husband habitually defaults to two servings of turkey, gravy, potatoes, and stuffing.  That’s it.  I’m not sure what’s wrong with him.  Anyway, even if you’re not looking for a Thanksgiving idea, this dish is pretty incredible for any occasion.  I like to make it and enjoy the leftovers throughout the week– it keeps and heats up beautifully, never losing any texture or flavor.

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

I usually have some baked squash in my refrigerator on most any day during winter.  It’s just one of those healthy, filling vegetables that works with so many meals.  Butternut squash holds it’s shape really well in this dish.  Brussels are also a favorite, and here they go particularly well with the squash.  If you haven’t yet tried black rice, here’s your chance.  It’s healthy and has a wonderfully nutty flavor.  The slightly-chewy, toothsome texture balances out the softer vegetables in this dish.  And if you can’t get your hands on black rice, any wild rice would be a good substitute.

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

Finally, let’s talk about this amazing ginger sesame dressing.  Ginger adds such a unique and robust flavor, so a little goes a long way.  The sesame oil give the dressing an additional layer of nuttiness (flavor, not craziness).  It’s worth buying a bottle.  Side note, keep it in your refrigerator, so it lasts longer.  This dressing is amazing on these vegetables– but would be wonderful on so many other things, as well.  Be creative!  Enjoy!

Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, and Black Rice | Relishing It

The Recipe:  Ginger Sesame Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts, & Black Rice

(makes enough for 4-6 people, easily)

About 1 pound small brussel sprouts, halved (or quartered, if large)

About 1 pound (or a bit more) butternut squash, peeled and cubed

2/3 cup dry black rice, rinsed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for roasting

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish

Ginger Sesame Dressing:

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon finely minced ginger

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F.

To make the black rice:  Place the rinsed rice in a medium saucepan along with 1 1/3 cups of water.  Add a sprinkle of salt.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low-medium  and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is mostly tender.  Turn off the heat and let it sit in the pan covered for 15 minutes, or so .  Fluff with a fork when ready to use.

Meanwhile, place the brussel sprouts and butternut squash on a large baking sheet.  Toss with two tablespoons of olive oil.  Roast for abut 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  Make sure to flip the vegetables once or twice for even browning.

To make the Ginger Sesame Dressing:  In a medium-sizd bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the olive oil.  Then, slowly add the olive oil while continuing to whisk.  Set aside until ready to use.

In a large serving bowl or platter, gently combine the roasted butternut squash, brussel sprouts, black rice, and ginger sesame dressing.  Taste and season with kosher salt, if necessary.  Top with the toasted sesame seeds.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Laurie

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Spiced Ginger Cookies | Relishing It

About once or twice every holiday season, I find myself craving a good ginger cookie.  They taste like Fall, perfectly distilled into a little round treat.  The warm, earthy spices, the bits of heat from the ginger, along with the unique flavor from the molasses are magical.  And since I only eat ginger cookies once or twice a year, I want them to be fantastic– really something special.  This, friends, is that class of ginger cookie.

Spiced Ginger Cookies | Relishing It

Spiced Ginger Cookies | Relishing It

A couple years ago, my friend made these cookies and they blew me away.  The little bits of candied ginger really stood out.  She pointed me to the recipe and I’ve been making them ever since– with my own tweaks, of course.   I actually thought about crafting my own recipe this year, but then realized that there was really not a point.  This is the ginger cookie that I want.  It’s perfectly crisp on the outside, wonderfully chewy on the inside.  It’s spice combination is perfect, and there is  just enough molasses to bring it all together without being overpowering.  I love this ginger cookie.  And it’s even better rolled in  demerara or turbinado  sugar.  The extra crunch from the large granules is key.  Also, try it with a light sprinkle of sea salt on the very top.  Amazing.  And there’s an added bonus– these keep a bit longer than an average cookie, so making them ahead for gift-giving or cookie exchanges is a great option.  I hope you enjoy these cookies this holiday season!

Spiced Ginger Cookies | Relishing It

The Recipe: Spiced Ginger Cookies

(makes about 30)

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped finely

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1 large egg (at room temperature)

1/4 cup mild-flavored molasses

Some sort of raw sugar for rolling, Turbinado or Demerara work well

Whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt in a medium-sized bowl.  Next, sift them together.  This will get rid of any lumps that ground spices sometimes form.  Stir in the crystallized ginger.  Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or by hand), cream the butter and brown sugar together for about 3 minutes on medium speed or until light and fluffy.  Next, add the egg and molasses to the mixture and continue to mix on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes.  It is integral in any cookie recipe to cream the butter,sugar, and egg together long enough.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until just fully incorporated.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  When the dough is chilled, roll it out into balls  ( I used a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop) and roll them into the raw sugar.  Press down slightly ( but not too much) to flatten them a bit– or else they’ll end up being fairly puffy cookies.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes on the pan, then move to a cooling rack.  They keep  well for days in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!  Have a great weekend.

Laurie

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Asian-Inspired Meatballs via Relishing It

Now we come to it.  The day when snacks and appetizers take center stage alongside over-hyped commercials and two football teams that I can’t– for the life of me– name.  That’s right, Superbowl Sunday is just a few days away!  Now my husband will tell you that the ‘Big Game’ on Sunday is actually Liverpool against Manchester City, but then again, he’s a soccer nut.  Even so, we’ll be hunkered down on the couch on Sunday night eating a variety of tasty appetizers.  If you haven’t planned out your Superbowl menu, I have a few ideas for you.  First, take a look at this incredible dip.  If you make it once, you’ll make it every year.  I promise.  And these pickled eggs are the perfect snack for beers with friends.  If you make them today, they just might be ready in time for the game.  This chili will please a crowd, and so will this one.

Asian Meatball Ingredients

But if you’re in the mood for something a little more exotic, give these fantastic Asian-inspired Meatballs a try.  I found this recipe on Ali Ebright’s blog, Gimme Some Oven.  While you’re waiting for the next commercial break on Sunday night, go on-line and check out her site.  It’s lovely.  I tweaked this particular recipe to suit my taste.

Asian-Inspired Meatballs via Relishing It

We generally eat these meatballs as a meal alongside brown rice or quinoa, served with a salad, but they would make a fantastic appetizer, as well!  The meatballs are packed with fresh, bright flavors from the garlic, ginger, and scallions.  But the real show-stopper is the Asian sauce.  It is amazing!  It’s slightly sweet, but also has a nice tang to it.  Fresh ginger makes everything better, right?  Hope you enjoy them as much as we have.  And whatever you decide to eat this weekend– have a great time surrounded by fun people.

Asian-Inspired Meatballs via Relishing It

The Recipe:  Asian-Inspired Meatballs

(makes 35-37 small)

For the Meatballs:

2 pounds ground beef or pork

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 heaping tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (preferably Panko)

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions (about 3 large)

For the Asian Sauce:

2/3 cup hoisin sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

Garnish with extra sliced scallions, sesame seeds, and sriracha sauce

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Line a large 12 x 17 baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, lightly combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs together using your hands.  Be careful not to over mix, as that will lead to tough meatballs.   Use a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop (or you can eyeball it) to form the balls.  Place them on the prepared pan and bake for about 17-19 minutes, they will turn a nice golden brown color  along the edges when done.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the asian sauce.  When the meatballs are done, you can either serve them alongside the sauce as a dip, or you can gently coat the meatballs in the sauce and serve them that way.  I like to warm the sauce up beforehand.  Serve the meatballs with sliced scallions, sesame seeds, and a bit of sriracha for an extra kick.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Ali at Gimme Some Oven

Thanks for stopping by today!  Hope you all have a great weekend.  xo

Laurie

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As a blogger, I try not to write about dishes that other bloggers have recently covered.  Obviously, many of us are cooking with seasonal produce, so there’s going to be some ingredient overlap.  For other, more random foods that can be made everyday, I try to avoid imitation.  But every once in awhile, I come across something like these amazing tacos.  I first encountered these beauties on Pinterest, and knew I had to make them right away.  Aaand…they were incredible.  Really, really incredible.  So good that I figured I had to share them with you.

One of the strange paradoxes of Spring and Summer is that as the days get longer, our amount of free time for preparing meals gets shorter.  More time spent driving kids from one practice to the other.  More time trying to squeeze every last minute of fun out of warmer days.  These tacos are a nice solution to that time crunch.  You can put the meat in the crockpot in the morning or the night before.  As an aside, I find it odd that so many people think the crockpot is for winter cooking.  Who wants to turn on the oven in the middle of the summer heat?  I use mine as much, if not more, during the warm months.  And again, if you don’t own a crockpot, throw all the ingredients into a Dutch oven and braise.

These Asian-inspired tacos taste amazing. The ginger and garlic mixed in with the subtle, sweet flavors pair perfectly with the beef.  I made these mildly spicy  for my kids, but feel free to add extra sriracha sauce for more of a punch.  I love the pickled cucumbers and red onions.  It’s a quick extra step that shouldn’t be avoided.  The pickled flavors are the final perfect touch to this  meal.  Hope you enjoy!

The Recipe: Asian-Inspired Beef Tacos with Pickled Vegetables

2 – 2  1/2 pounds of grass-fed beef chuck roast

1/2 cup water

3  1-inch knobs of ginger, finely chopped

4 – 6 cloves of garlic, rough chopped

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

For the Garnishes:

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

cilantro or green onions

lime wedges

about 1/2 cup white vinegar

To make the tacos:  In a small bowl, combine the water, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sriracha sauce, brown sugar, and orange juice.  Place the chuck roast in a crock pot and pour the mixture over it.  Set the crockpot to low and leave on overnight.

In the morning, remove the chuck roast,  place on a plate, and wrap in aluminum foil.  If time allows,  place the liquid from the crockpot into the refrigerator or freezer for about a half hour.   The fat will harden and be easy to remove.  Otherwise, spoon out as much fat as you can.  Place liquid (don’t strain) into a small sauce pan and simmer until it has reduced a bit.  Re-season, if necessary.

Meanwhile,  place the sliced cucumbers and red onion into a small bowl.  Pour enough white vinegar over them so they are covered and let them sit for a bit to “pickle”.  After a while,  use two forks and shred the chuck roast.  Pour the reduced sauce over the meat.  Serve with tacos shells,  pickled cucumbers and red onions, cilantro, and limes.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It today!  See you soon.

Laurie

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I finally went on a full-scale cleaning and organizing mission.  I love my kitchen, but I could always use more space– just one more cupboard.  The focal point of my organizing was the food pantry.  There was a time, not long ago, when I got excited everytime I looked in the pantry– so many possibilities!  So many dishes to create!  Lately, opening that door just led to me being annoyed.  Plastic bags with twist ties, hiding all of those beautiful grains/legumes/dried fruit/and nuts that I buy in bulk.  Random boxes half-full of dried pasta.  I needed a better system, and mason jars were the answer.  They stack beautifully and best of all, I can see all of those beautiful dried goods– including these amazing lentils.

I love lentils: red, french, green, brown– they all have fantastic flavors.  Lentils are high protein and fiber and low fat.  They’re also convenient, since they don’t take long to prepare, so they’re perfect for when you need to get a quick weeknight dinner on the table.  Even better, they’re inexpensive.  I like to prepare them with an egg on top (because eggs make everything better), or made into simple, flavorful soups like this one.  They’re brilliant!

The flavors in this lentil soup mingle perfectly.  The ginger, curry, cardamom, and cumin are stand-outs.  They give the soup an identity.  And the lemongrass adds that little zing that really brightens things up.  Depending on where you are, lemongrass may be difficult to find.  If so, just add a bit of lemon zest and a healthy squirt of lemon juice before serving.  The coconut milk is the backbone here,  it ties all of the other wonderful flavors together.  It is rich and creamy, and envelopes those warm spices.  I use a whole can in this recipe, but if you want to reduce the calorie count, add just a half can.  If you do so, make sure to compensate for the loss of liquid by adding a bit more broth or water.  And don’t buy the ‘lite’ versions of coconut milk– they’re not particularly good.  Pair this soup with a nice piece of crusty bread drizzled in olive oil, and enjoy!

The Recipe:  Lentil Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger

(Serves 4 comfortably)

5-6 small/medium carrots, chopped (1 1/4 cup)

1 medium red onion, chopped  (about 1 cup)

1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed and discarded, finely minced

1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 cup dried brown or green lentils, rinsed

1 can (13.5 ounces) organic coconut milk

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 quart organic chicken broth

pinch of salt

lemon, cilantro, and sour cream for garnish, optional

In a large Dutch oven placed over medium heat add the olive oil.  When hot add the carrots, red onion, lemon grass, ginger, a sprinkle of salt and sauté  for about 7- 10 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.  Then add the curry powder and cardamom and  toast for just 30 seconds, or so.  Immediately add the tomatoes, chicken stock, coconut milk, and lentils.  Raise heat and bring to a small boil.  Immediately lower heat to low/medium and cook the soup covered for about 20-30 minutes, or until the lentils are your desired consistency.  The amount of time will vary depending upon how high your flame is.  Taste the soup and adjust salt accordingly.  Take note that this is a soup that will thicken as it sits, so leftovers may need a splash of broth or water to loosen it up.  Serve with sour cream, cilantro, and lemon, if desired, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Laurie

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Though chocolate is my favorite sweet, around this time of the year I love to bake with those warm, delicious holiday spices.  You know the ones I’m talking about– cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg.  Along with their unique flavors, I love their warm, comforting aroma wafting through the house.   It wakes me up from the cold-weather coma that sets in in December and January.  Ok, that might be a bit dramatic, but I’m still trying to grapple with the fact that Winter is here.   This week Aria and I did our best to fight cold outside by staying in the kitchen to bake gingerbread with cinnamon icing.  It was perfect.

The flavor of this dessert is exactly what I was looking for– the rich molasses and spices are sublime.  If you really like ginger, you can grate it and combine it with the minced crystallized form instead of using the ground variety.  If you do so, you’ll want about three tablespoons of each.  Another nice thing about this gingerbread recipe is that is works equally well in regular regular cake form or in mini-bundts, like I chose to do.  They are the perfect make ahead sweet snack, and they keep well for several days in an airtight container.  The moist, tender texture alone is a nice change of pace from all the holiday cookies that come flooding in over the next couple of weeks.  If you really want the full experience, make a hot chai latte and curl up on the couch with one of these.  It makes watching the falling snow and wind-whipped trees so much better.

The Recipe:  Gingerbread with Cinnamon Icing

(Makes 24 mini-bundts)

2 1/4 cups sifted (9 ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon Dutch-processed cocoa

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1/2 cup molasses

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk  (can be made by mixing 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar into 1/2 cup milk — let sit for 10 minutes)

1/2 cup milk

1 large egg

Cinnamon Icing

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2-3 tablespoons milk (you may need a bit more or less)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Position an oven rack to the middle.  If making mini-bundts, spray them with cooking spray or butter them.   An 11 x 7-inch pan or a 9-inch square pan can also be used; butter the bottom and sides and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and cocoa in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, molasses, sugar, buttermilk, milk, and egg on low speed.  Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium until smooth and thick, about 1 minute.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  As with all cakes, do not overmix.   Pour batter into selected pan.

Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan, 12-13 minutes for the mini bundts and about 40 minutes for the 11 x 7-inch pan.  Remove mini-bundts from pan immediately and cool on racks.

To make the icing: mix the powdered sugar and cinnamon together.  Slowly add the milk, a little at a time, until you get the desired constancy you want.  You will want it so you can easily dip each mini-bundt into the bowl.  Let icing harden before serving.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from The New Best Recipes Cookbook

Thanks for stopping by!

Laurie

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Thanksgiving is just a week away, but fear not, I’m here to help with your holiday dessert decisions.  This Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake is the answer– trust me.  You already know that we’re a cake-crazy family (just take a look under the recipe section if you need proof), but this is one of our all-time favorites.  I’ve already made it several times this year– most recently for my husband’s birthday a week ago.  It’s beautiful, tastes as good as it looks, and screams ‘celebration’.  Why fall back on the old standards of pumpkin or apple pie, when you can end your Thanksgiving meal with this stunner?

The key component in this cake is brown butter.  I’m of the opinion that it makes everything better.  Brown butter has a complex, nutty, almost caramel-like flavor.  Here, you’ll find it in both the cake and the frosting.  It adds those wonderful, layered flavors that set this cake apart from a typical pumpkin dessert.  And then there’s the nuts.  I’ve topped this cake with a mountain of pecans, pepitas, and ginger– all enveloped by melted brown sugar.  Sublime.  If you don’t want  as many nuts on your cake (what’s wrong with you?), you can half the amounts and sprinkle them in a circle design on top.  I like the grandness of  the big pile on top, plus they’re an addictive snack that you’ll munch on as you assemble this beauty.

I’ve always made this cake with a homemade pumpkin puree.  Aside from the freshness of doing it this way, it’s rewarding to do something with all of those pumpkins that have been decorating the house.  If you have too many things on your plate (yes, I realize that’s a poor pun), feel free to use canned pumpkin puree.  As always, try to use organic and make sure it contains only pureed pumpkin.  Make this cake, and you’ll impress your guests– I promise.

The Recipe: Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

For the Puree

1 medium-large Sugar Pie pumpkin, cut in half and seeded  (large enough to yield 1 1/2 cups of puree)

For the Cake

6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; plus more for pans

9 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; plus more for pans

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup buttermilk  (Note: to make your own add 1 teaspoon white vinegar to 1/3 cup milk and let stand for 10 minutes)

For the Topping:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/3 cups pecans halves

1 cup roasted and salted pepitas (raw and unsalted will work, too — just toast them a bit more with the pecans)

4 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

For the Frosting

4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

5 ounces (1 1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

To make the Pumpkin Puree:  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Position racks in the center of oven.  Place pumpkin in a baking dish covered with lid or aluminum foil and bake for about 40 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.  Let cool.  Scoop pumpkin flesh into a food processor and puree until smooth.  You will need 1 1/2 cups of puree for the cake.  Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Position rack in the center of the oven.  Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans by buttering them liberally, lining with parchment paper, buttering once again, and flouring the pans.  Make sure to tap out any excess flour.

To make the Cake: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl the butter occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes.  Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves.  In a large bowl, whisk 1  1/2 cups of the pumpkin puree with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until blended well.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture until just combined.  Gently whisk in the brown butter until fully incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake the cakes until the a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.  Let the cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove parchment paper, and cool completely.

Make the Topping: Melt the butter in a large 12-inch skillet.  Add the pecans and cook until they brown slightly, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle in the brown sugar, pepitas, and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the ginger.  Remove from heat and let cool in skillet.

To make the Frosting: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl the butter occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes.  Pout into a small bowl and let stand until all of the brown solids settle to the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes.  Carefully transfer bowl to freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes.  Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving behind the brown solid bits.  Discard the brown bits.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 1-2 more minutes.

To assemble the Cake: Place one layer of cake on a cake plate.  Spread 1/2 cup of frosting on it.  Sprinkle 3/4 cup (scant) of the nut mixture (rough chop this small amount, so it stays in the cake better) over the frosting and top with another layer of cake.  Frost the top and sides of cake and place remaining nut mixture on the top.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.  Serve at room temperature.  Will keep well for a few days.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Oct/Nov 2010

Thanks so much for stopping by today!

Laurie

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