Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pad Thai Zoodles

Do you have a go-to menu choice when eating out? I feel like I'm always torn between trying something new and trying something that I know I'll enjoy or won't cook at home. Like steak or burgers. When I go to Thai restaurants, I almost always order Pad Thai. Drunken Noodles sounds awesome but Pad Thai can't go wrong. I've found that there are a number of different ways to prepare Pad Thai though.

I came across this recipe via Pinterest when I was trying to learn how to use a spiralizer I got for my birthday. It seems simple enough but I wanted to make sure I was getting the maximum spiral out of it. This blogger tested a few different ways of creating zoodles (n. zucchini noodles) but I just went with a hand-held spiralizer.

I didn't have all of the ingredients for the noodle seasoning or sauce but I think it still came out pretty well. Definitely need to figure out how to keep cilantro readily available in my kitchen, just in case. If you don't have a spiralizer, you could chop up squash into small strips or you could use this sauce on regular noodles too.

The zoodles are cooked first, simply in olive oil for a couple minutes. I was concerned I had overcooked them but again, still tasted good to me! The same pan is used for the garlic sauteing and then red bell pepper cooking. The zoodles have been removed at this point and placed to the side.

In a separate bowl, the sauce is made by combining ketchup, brown sugar, fish oil, vinegar and chili powder (I think I actually used paprika). This will be added last. Once the peppers have cooked for a couple minutes, add the zoodles back in. Lastly, douse everything with the sauce and add some peanuts for extra crunch. Everything simmers for 5-10  minutes to really absorb the flavors.

In the original recipe, there are some green onions, cilantro and shrimp involved. It sounds great! And would really dress this dish up. But if you're looking to keep it simple or veggie, this came out great too! It has some kick to it from the paprika/chili powder but I wouldn't say it's classic Pad Thai which I don't really think of as being red sauce based. Thoughts?

  • 1 medium zucchini, spiraled
  • 1 medium yellow squash, spiraled
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons fish oil
  • 3 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon paprika (or chili powder)
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  1. Using your preferred spiralizer or lots of chopping, spiral two medium squash (I used one zucchini and one yellow squash).
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet and cook the zoodles for 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, chop up the bell pepper and garlic. 
  4. Remove the zoodles and set aside on a paper towel to absorb extra water. Wipe out the pan and heat the second tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. 
  5. Next, add the chopped bell pepper to the pan with the garlic.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, fish oil, ketchup, brown sugar and spice. Whisk with a fork to combine. 
  7. Add the zoodles back to the pan and pour the sauce over the bell pepper and garlic in the pan. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Continue to simmer to let the flavors combine. Add the peanuts and cook for 3 more minutes.
  9. Serve hot! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney

I've spent a lot of time baking with rhubarb. Or at least it feels like a long time, there's a pretty exhaustive list of treats including jam, cake, ice cream, drinks and pie. That's a lot, possibly the most used baking ingredient on here. But what else is rhubarb able to become? Must it be cornered in baking or can we expand its uses to cooking? Ask and ye shall receive!

I found this recipe while scouring the internet for rhubarb uses other than sweets. This is an intensive recipe, lots of moving pieces. We've got a spice rub, a chutney AND a sauce. Lordy lordy. But the good news is, you could divide these up. You could just make the rub if you don't like rhubarb (you can go now...). Or you could just make the chutney and a pre-marinated pork loin.

In this case, we're pulling out all the stops. I made the chutney first and kept it for a couple days before getting to the sauce and pork loin. We're chopping up quite a bit of rhubarb and onion for the chutney. These are sauteed with olive oil for about 2 minutes until liquid goodness is added. Liquid goodness comes in the form of some orange juice, balsamic, lime zest, and agave nectar. All the things. Boil all of these and then reduce to a simmer, leaving uncovered for 30 minutes.

This is a great time to prep your pork loin. In a small bowl, add all of the spices: rosemary, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and for some sweetness, cinnamon and ginger. Mix well and rub on the pork loin. Allow to sit for 20 minutes before cooking (aka: while the chutney cooks).

Once your oven has reached 350, cook the pork loin until cooked through or a meat thermometer reaches 155. No pink here! This will likely take 45 minutes depending on your oven strength and meat thickness.

While the meat cooks and the chutney cools, it's time to whip up the glaze. Chop up some onions and garlic, sauteing in a sauce pan with olive oil. Once the onions start to become translucent, add the brown sugar and rum. Continue cooking for 2 minutes before adding chicken stock and a dash of cinnamon. You can also add some hot sauce if you want a little kick. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce the heat so the mixture will thicken. The volume should decrease by half. I ended up with more of a sauce than a glaze, not very thick but still delicious. Allow this to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Bring all the pieces together by pouring the glaze over the pork and serve with the chutney. I found this pretty delicious, if I do say so myself. You can also grill the pork loin instead of using the oven but I have an oven, not so much a grill.

Spice Rub and Pork Loin

  • 2 lb. pork loin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon rosemary
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  1. Combine spice ingredients in a small bowl. Make sure to evenly mix the ingredients.
  2. Rub the spices over the pork loin and allow to sit for 20 minutes before cooking (good for preheating time or chutney-making).
  3. Preheat the oven to 350. Once ready, cook the pork loin through with the meat thermometer registering 155.
Rhubarb Chutney
  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil (for sauteing)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 Tablespoons agave nectar
  1. Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan. Once heated, add the rhubarb and onion. Saute for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and uncovered for 30 minutes or until rhubarb is tender.
  3. Once the rhubarb is tender, remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. You want to serve it warm though.
Rum Glaze
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil (for sauteing)
  • 1/2 cup of onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Hot sauce (optional 2 teaspoons)
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the sugar and rum to the onions. Heat for 2 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until the volume is reduced by half. You want the mixture to thicken into more of a glaze.
  4. Once the volume has reduced, remove from heat to cool and thicken more.
  5. Serve over the pork loin, adding the chutney before serving. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sweet Potato Zucchini Fritters

I have a lot of cookbooks. Are you surprised? Whenever I go to a yard sale or a used bookstore (or even a new bookstore), I look through the cookbook section to see what there is to be seen. There are so many choices, it's hard to know which ones are kitchy and which ones are legit. On a given night, you could easily find me curled up on my couch with my cat, a glass of wine, and my cookbooks spread out before me. I like to look through them to see what I haven't made yet and what might strike my fancy.

When I first got Joy the Baker's first cookbook, I went through and put a sticky tab on the recipes I wanted to try--until I realized I was tabbing every page, then I gave up. As I looked through it recently, I realized that my tastes have changed over the last few years. While every cupcake and cookie recipe has been tabbed, I had overlooked her recipe for zucchini fritters. What once sounded too green and healthy, now sounded delicious.

So I gave them a whirl. Also in this age of rediscovery was the caramel sauce I created a few weeks ago (burnt fingers not included). Instead of using potato though, I switched it for sweet potato. It takes some time to shred these vegetables and I think my ratio was more favoring the sweet potato but that's okay. You can also try these straight-up zucchini cakes if you don't have starches on hand.

The vegetables are grated and drained of liquid, as much as possible. You can either place the vegetables in a colander to drain for a few minutes or squeeze them through a paper towel. Combine the vegetables in a small bowl and set aside.

We're also doing some chopping here. Chop about half of a white onion and a clove of garlic. In a medium skillet, heat some olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Saute until the onions are translucent. Remove from heat and add the garlic-onions to the vegetables.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, flour and baking powder. Add the remaining ingredients (vegetables and garlic-onions) and stir to combine. Using the same skillet as before, heat some oil and drop the batter by the spoonful into the pan. Flatten with a spatula or fork.

Fry each side for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Just like with pancakes, you're starting with a higher heat and can then reduce the flame as the oil is heated so you can cook through to the middle without burning the outside.

I served these up with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt but you can also use sour cream, potentially guacamole.

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups zucchini, grated
  • 2 cups peeled sweet potato, grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Plain Greek yogurt for serving
  1.  Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to a medium skillet. Heat and then add garlic and onion. Saute until the onion is translucent. 
  2. When grating the zucchini, allow to drain of water either through a strainer or using paper towels. Combine the grated potato and zucchini into a small bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. 
  4. Add the cooked onions, garlic to the egg-flour mixture. Stir in the vegetables. 
  5. Once combined, add oil to the pan (the same one used for the onions) and drop spoonfuls of batter to fry. You can flatten the cakes by pressing down with a spatula.
  6. Cook until golden brown and flip.
  7. Serve with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Banana & Fluffernutter Ice Cream

I was a peanut butter and jelly kid. There was no marshmallow or fluff involved and Nutella wasn't even on my radar until high school. The kids I babysat were a fan of peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches though and I got brownie points for adding extra mallows but rarely did I enjoy these sandwiches myself.

Last week, I saw this video on how to make ice cream from a frozen banana. Here's the thing: it's just a frozen, mashed banana--not ice cream. But I'm willing to trick my brain into thinking that a frozen, mashed banana with toppings is ice cream instead of grabbing some Ben and Jerry's (also a valid choice).

In order for this ice cream to work, you need to add things that go with bananas such as chocolate, peanut butter, strawberries--really, what doesn't go with banana? For this example, we're using peanut butter and homemade marshmallow sauce. You thought I would write a post about just blending a banana and calling it ice cream?! For shame. There's a mixer involved, never fear.

To make the 'ice cream', blend a frozen banana in a food processor or blender until smooth. You may need to do this a couple of times, pausing to scrape down the banana in between. Once it's blended, add your desired amount of peanut butter. For one banana, I added a heaping spoon (a large spoon, not a tea spoon) of peanut butter to the food processor. Blend again but not too long, you want those nice streaks of peanut butter.

Return the mix to the freezer while you make the marshmallow sauce. This is so easy, it's ridiculous. In a small bowl, crack open and separate one large egg. We only want the egg white. Using a hand mixer (you could technically use a whisk but you will be there for a very long time), whip the egg white until you have soft peaks. This means, you can drag the mixing blade through the egg white and they will momentarily keep the shape before fall back into the sea of egg white.

Next, add 1 cup (yes an entire cup) of light corn syrup. This will thicken and sticken (v. to make sticky) the sauce. Continue with the hand mixer until the mixture is thick. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Expect a cloud of powder, it's unavoidable. Lastly, you add a dash of vanilla. I feel like in the winter, you could also add a dash of peppermint oil and get fancy.

Keep the mixture in the fridge for 7-10 days (this isn't tested yet but I would say that's the longest it will last). It may separate slightly so give it a good whisk with your spoon if that happens.

Unlike that time I didn't make marshmallows, this sauce came out great! I added some to the banana-peanut butter ice cream to make streaks of mallow but I've definitely also dumped it on top of real chocolate ice cream.

Recipe for Marshmallow Sauce
(do I need to write out the mashed banana part?)
  • 1 egg white portion from a large egg
  • 1 cup of light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. In a small bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the egg white until soft peaks form. You don't want the egg whites to hold their shape yet as you'll be mixing more in the next step.
  2. Pour the corn syrup into the bowl with the egg whites and continue to mix until thickened.
  3. Gradually add the powdered sugar. The consistency should be sticky and syrupy with all ingredients well incorporated.
  4. Add the vanilla and give a quick stir.
  5. Top any ice cream or fruit or hot chocolate and enjoy!