14 May 2009

A creamy rice dish with classic Thai flavors.  I found this online somewhere, but I can't remember where.

Cilantro Coconut Rice

½  cup basmati rice (or long grain white rice)
1 cup water
½  tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
½  cup snipped fresh cilantro
1 tsp finely minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp lime juice

In medium saucepan combine rice, water, and salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, in blender or food processor combine coconut milk, cilantro, ginger, garlic, and lime juice. Cover; blend or process until nearly smooth. Stir into rice. 

Makes 2 servings.

Now, mine didn't turn out so well.  But it was my fault.  I put the rice into the pot, then the salt, and then when I was getting the water, I thought I should use chicken stock instead. I had some in the fridge that needed to be used up and I thought it will add a little flavor as well.  I had forgotten that I already put salt in the pot.  Yeah, so it ended up way too salty.  Oops!  So we didn't really like it, but that was my fault and I will definitely be trying this again, the right way!  

About the rice: I didn't have basmati so I used long grain white.  I think basmati is a fragrant Indian rice.  Next time I will try it with the basmati just to see if it adds anything to the dish.  Also, the original recipe called for 2 cups of water.  My regular rice recipe uses ¾ cup water to ½ cup of rice.  I don't know if basmati requires more water than long grain white, but since I was using white, I cut it down to 1 cup.  And it turned out just fine that way.  

I really like making salmon with Thai flavors so I am always looking for simple Thai side dishes.  I have a few noodle recipes that go well with it but this was my first Thai rice dish.  The cilantro flavor is quite dominant, so if you don't like cilantro, I wouldn't recommend this for you.  But I like cilantro and I think that if it hadn't been over salted it would have a great flavor.  I can't wait to try this again.

13 May 2009

A yummy pasta dish using seasonal springtime vegetables and flavorful basil pesto.

Tortellini Primavera

1 lb. tortellini or ravioli, refrigerated, dried, or frozen
½ lb. fresh asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
1 yellow squash, cut into ½” slices
1 batch basil pesto

Boil pasta according to package directions. Four minutes before pasta is done, add asparagus to pot. Two minutes later, add squash. Finish cooking and drain well.

Toss with the pesto and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Yum! This can be made using any vegetable you like. I think it would be good with peas as well. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time to suit the veggie you are using. Yellow squash cooks in no time (in fact, mine got a bit overdone this time, so I reduced the cooking time on it above.) The asparagus takes a bit longer. Even at four minutes it has a nice bite to it.

Clicking on the words "basil pesto" in the recipe above will take you to the recipe I use for pesto.
I got this recipe from a package of fresh basil a couple of years ago.

Traditional Basil Pesto

⅔ oz. fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp pine nuts
½ tsp salt
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup parmesan

Tear basil into pieces.  Dice garlic.  Put basil, garlic, pine nuts, and salt into food processor.  Process, streaming in the olive oil.  Remove from food processor and fold in parmesan.

Makes enough for one pound of pasta.

So a couple of weeks ago (yes, I am always behind on this blog!) I was trying to put together dinner with limited ingredients. It was just before grocery shopping day so I was scraping the bottom of the barrel, or in this case, bottom of the pantry! I had some vacuum-packed gnocchi but I had no pasta sauce to speak of. No tomato or alfredo, or the ingredients to make pesto. I spotted a can of pureed butternut squash that I had picked up at Trader Joe's in Chicago. I wasn't sure what I would use it for when I bought it, but I thought it might come in handy. I got the bright idea to make a pasta sauce out of it.

When I was trying to decide how to flavor it, I came up with two spices/herbs that go really well with butternut squash: nutmeg and sage. I had some homemade dried sage that a friend gave me last fall, so I decided to go with that.

Here's the recipe that I came up with.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

2 tbsp butter
2 tsp dried sage
2 cups pureed butternut squash (or a 15 oz. can)
½ cup chicken stock

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add sage and turn down to medium-low. The sage should get soft but not fry. Add squash puree and chicken stock and stir to combine. Turn heat back up and let it simmer and reduce down a bit.

Makes 2 cups.

It's pretty rare that you see me post a recipe that I came up with completely on my own. Usually I start with one I have seen somewhere and have adapted to my tastes. But this one is all mine. And I have to say, I'm pretty proud of it! It was great on the gnocchi and Jim loved it.

Like it says, this recipe makes 2 cups. I cooked up one pound of gnocchi and it only required a ½ cup of the sauce. So I divided the other 1 ½ cups and froze them individually. So the next time I make this, I can grab the sauce from the freezer and I'll have the perfect amount for my gnocchi.

And of course, this sauce is packed with great vitamins and minerals. One half cup of pureed squash has 2 grams fiber, 80% Vitamin A, 2% calcium, 8% Vitamin C, and 4% iron. You won't get that from tomato, alfredo, or pesto sauce.

When I run out of the leftovers I have in the freezer, I would like to try it with the nutmeg next time and see how that tastes.

01 May 2009

I am always interested in different things to do with sweet potatoes.  I came across this recipe on my computer.  I must have saved it years ago; I don't remember it.  It came from Ellie Krieger's show Healthy Appetite.

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 lbs. sweet potatoes 
2 tbsp olive oil 
2 tbsp honey 
1 tsp lemon juice 
½  tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°. 
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1” pieces and put in a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, honey and lemon juice. Pour mixture over potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the salt, and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender. 

Makes 6 servings.

These were super yummy.  A really tasty way to serve sweet potatoes.  And a nice change from the usual mashed.  I did amend the cooking temp and cooking time.  The original was 350° for an hour, but a couple of the reviewers suggested doing 400° for 45 minutes instead.  They turned out beautifully.  I served them with a rotisserie chicken (I need to post the spice rub I use for that too.)