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Snacks and Sides

From the moment I saw these on Shelby’s blog, I knew that I needed to try them. She always has tasty looking dinners, and this one was no exception.

Shrimp rangoons were a major win in my book. They took just minutes to put together and in my typical style, I was able to have the whole kitchen cleaned up before they were out of the oven.

Excellent “after work” dinner choice. Equally good for a snack or appetizer. Best of all, this dish gets the “we can serve this to other people” seal of approval.

After I put my rangoons in the oven and shifted my focus to the dipping sauce, I realized that I was missing one key component from Shelby’s recipe: apricot preserves.

I searched high and low for a good substitute, but all of our preserves were berry flavored. Berry dipping sauce just didn’t seem right.

By the time Chris got home from work, I was feeding him a spoonful of sweet and spicy red dipping sauce out of the food processor and asking “Does this taste like an Asian-ish dipping sauce to you?”

It did. Peach pineapple chipotle salsa puréed into oblivion and masquerading as Chinese dipping sauce.  Sweet (and spicy) success!

 

From Shelby at eat, drink, run

Ingredients:

For the rangoons:

  • 6 oz salad shrimp, ours came pre-cooked, peeled, and w/o tails
  • 12 wonton wrappers
  • 1/4 cup low-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili paste (or sub 1/2 tsp Sriracha)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • olive oil spray

For my sauce:

For Shelby’s sauce: (I didn’t try this one because we had no apricot preserves, but I imagine that it would be tasty as well and the ingredients are probably easier to find.)

  • 2 tbsp apricot preserves
  • 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • splash of soy sauce

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • If your shrimp are damp, put them on a baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes as it heats to dry them out.
  • Combine cream cheese, scallions, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste, garlic and sesame oil.  Stir until smooth.
  • Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tin with olive oil spray, ensuring that each cup’s bottom and sides are coated.
  • Press a wonton wrapper in to each cup.
  • Place about 3 small shrimp in the bottom of each cup reserving 12 shrimp for toppers.
  • Divide cream cheese mixture among cups, spooning it on top of the shrimp.
  • Place one shrimp in each cup on top of the cream cheese mixture.
  • Bake until edges of wontons are brown and crisp, about 12-15 minutes.
  • To make my sauce: combine ingredients in food processor, pulse until smooth.
  • To make Shelby’s sauce: stir together all ingredients.

Servings ~ 2

Calories (rangoons) ~ 361, Fat ~ 10 g, Carbohydrates ~ 41 g, Protein ~ 26 g 
Calories (rangoons w/my sauce) ~ 465, Fat ~ 10 g, Carbohydrates ~ 69 g, Protein ~ 26 g
Calories (rangoons w/Shelby’s sauce) ~ 422, Fat ~ 10 g, Carbohydrates ~ 57 g, Protein ~ 26 g

We got our first hint of snow last weekend.

Apparently snow doesn’t photograph very well at night. I’m not really surprised by that, but I am just a little bit disappointed that my super camera isn’t as super as I thought it was. Still way better than the point and shoot that I was using six months ago.

The snow didn’t hang around for long at all, it was back up into the 70’s in no time. Figures. There is this saying in Indiana about how if you don’t like the weather, you should wait a few hours. Case in point. Snow one night, wearing short sleeves the next day.

In spite of summer’s return, I decided on a warm, wintry, hearty side for dinner the other night. We had some leftovers that needed to be used up so I did my best to use what we had. The butternut squash gratin turned out awesome! We will have it again for sure.

I had about 1.5 cups of cheesy sauce leftover after toping our Corny Croque Madames with just 2 tbsp each. I also had nearly a whole thinly cut butternut squash sitting in my refrigerator thanks to my failed Korean squash pancakes. Obviously these random leftovers should be put together, no?

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of béchamel
  • 1 butternut squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Peel squash, slice in half, and remove seeds.
  • Cut squash into thin slices, I used my food processor for this.
  • Combine squash, onion, and béchamel into a large baking dish and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.

Servings ~ 6
Calories ~ 247, Fat ~ 5 g, Carbohydrates ~ 47 g, Protein ~ 9 g

When I decided to do a Caesar dressing post, I envisioned a beautiful Caesar salad with shaved Parmesan and perfectly browned home-made crutons. I did make some pretty nice looking crutons, but I failed miserably with the shaved Parmesan.

I forgot to buy “real” Parmesan at the grocery store, so I was relegated to dressing my salad with the bottled kind. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it certainly didn’t have the same effect in pictures as the shaved variety. As a means to compensate for my lack of shaved cheese, I decided to fry up some of the “fake” stuff into Frico Crisps.

Enjoy!

Ingredients (per crisp):

  • 1 tsp yogurt butter
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Melt butter in a skillet over a medium heat.
  • Sprinkle Parmesan in the skillet and swirl the skillet around to coat the bottom of the skillet.
  • Cook Parmesan for 3 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
  • Carefully flip the crisp and cook for not quite a minute.
  • Place crisp on a paper towel on a flat surface to cool.
  • When cooled, cut into desired shapes.

Servings ~ 1
Calories ~ 129, Fat ~ 9 g, Carbohydrates ~ 1 g, Protein ~ 10 g

We are still on our grocery shopping hiatus, I did one of those “type a whole bunch of random ingredients into Google and see what recipes pop up”. That can yield amazing results…or be a complete disaster. It was risky-ish business for this meal because it was for one of our anniversary dinners. The pressure was lessened some though because we have two anniversaries. Yep, we got married twice. Not that exciting of a story. It sounds mysterious though. 

Anyway, we will get to repeat this ritual again next week. Hopefully after grocery shopping.

Fortunately the butternut squash was a winner! In fact, we both thought that it was quite possibly the best butternut squash dish that we had ever tried. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about cilantro and crystallized ginger together, but it turns out that they are fabulous together. They made for a very fresh tasting fall dish.

Adapted from Rachael Ray.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 10 cups)
  • olive oil spray
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves

Directions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Spritz the squash with olive oil spray, then in a large bowl, toss the squash with the coriander, salt, and pepper.
  • On each of 2 large baking sheets, arrange the squash in a single layer and bake, turning occasionally, until tender and golden-brown, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the squash to a serving bowl and toss with the crystallized ginger and cilantro.

Servings ~ 6

Calories ~ 186, Fat ~ 3 g, Carbohydrates ~ 44 g, Protein ~ 3 g

It is pretty ironic that I was feeling ambitious enough to make crystallized ginger from scratch to put in my Roasted Butternut Squash with Ginger and Cilantro but I was too lazy to go grocery shopping and just buy the crystallized ginger. Yeah, I don’t understand it either.

You know those days where you are driving home from work and think about turning off to go to the grocery store/gym/you name it and all you can think about is going home and putting on sweatpants? Exactly. Grocery shopping seemed as unappealing as possible at that point.

But, after getting those sweatpants on, ambition set in again and I suddenly had the drive to make my ginger. And butternut squash, green beans, and salmon to boot! Ok, Chris was the one who purchased and cooked the salmon. We each made a salmon glaze though and he cooked half of the fish in each glaze.

About that salmon glaze…if you do make crystallized ginger, I highly recommend saving the “ginger flavored sugar water” when you drain the ginger to make something else. The two salmon glazes we made were maple-soy-ginger and ginger-teriyaki-mustard. Mmmm. Pretty self explanatory, just play around with the ratios until you like the flavor.

Recipe from Sonic.Net.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped ginger

Directions:

  • Combine sugar and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  • Add ginger pieces, then simmer for 30 minutes or until crystallized.
  • Strain and dry. Save the “sugar water” when you drain the ginger! See note above on some awesome ginger glazes for salmon!
  • Sprinkle with sugar.

Servings ~ 4 (1/4 cup servings, about 34 g)
The nutrition information is very ballpark on this one as it is difficult to calculate. This is based on typical calorie labels on crystallized ginger products.
Calories ~ 120, Fat ~ 0 g, Carbohydrates ~ 30 g, Protein ~ 0 g

Ok, so I’m on the pumpkin bandwagon. I never would have jumped on except that my CSA gave me a pumpkin and I had to use it. I promised Chris that if I joined the CSA I wouldn’t make a habit of wasting the random produce items.

Well, maybe some of them. I’m still not sure how I am going to eat ten super ripe tomatoes in the next few days. Keep your eye out for a “how to freeze tomatoes when your CSA gives you a billion of them” post.

I’m not a pumpkin pie fan or a pumpkin cheesecake fan, but I sure do like Pumpkin Yogurt (and Pumpkin Ravioli too)!

Once again I baked my pumpkin and food processed it to make my own pumpkin puree. It turned out great, but was probably more effort than it was worth. From now on I will probably just buy cans of pumpkin because one thing that we are definitely short of at Duke’s House is free time. Notice the lack of blog posts?

As soon as I make time for grocery shopping I will be having pumpkin yogurt again for sure!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup sweetener (I used Splenda, but any sweetener will work.)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions:

  • Drain pumpkin in cheesecloth for a few minutes if you are using fresh pumpkin.
  • If you are using non-Greek yogurt, consider draining yogurt some as well.
  • In a small bowl, combine spices.
  • When pumpkin and yogurt are sufficiently drained, combine all of the ingredients.
  • Serve chilled with apple slices and graham crackers.

Servings ~ 2 as yogurt or 3 as dip
Calories (as yogurt) ~ 78, Fat ~ 0 g, Carbohydrates ~ 14 g, Protein ~ 7 g
Calories (as dip) ~ 52, Fat ~ 0 g, Carbohydrates ~ 9 g, Protein ~ 5 g

After letting these green beans sit in my refrigerator for far longer than should be acceptable, I decided to give in and bread them. I seem to be on a faux frying kick lately.

We had awesome fried green beans a few weekends ago when we went out for lunch downtown. They were supposed to be served with a curried mayonnaise dipping sauce, but the restaurant was all out of it and gave us ketchup instead. On one hand, I was bummed. On the other hand, I knew that I didn’t need to be dipping fried food into mayo.

I briefly considered making curried mayo for these, but gave in to better judgement and chose a sour cream based wasabi dipping sauce. Chris and I both really liked the wasabi sauce and liked it even better when double dipped in ketchup. Tastes like cocktail sauce, huh? Mmmm.

Maybe next time we’ll do a shrimp and green bean dinner. That totally sounds like an odd combo, but we’re not above having odd dinners at Duke’s House and it would be tasty, trust me!

Green Beans adapted from Jordie Porgie.
Wasabi Dipping Sauce adapted from My Recipes.

Oven Fried Green Beans Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil spray

Oven Fried Green Bean Directions:

  • Wash and trim green beans and cut into halves and thoroughly dry them.
  • In a medium bowl, combine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne.
  • Whisk eggs to break them up completely.
  • Pre-heat oven to 425.
  • Coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  • Keeping one hand dry and one hand wet, dip a green bean in the eggs, lift it out and shake off any excess egg, put green bean in bread crumbs mixture and coat completely, lift out and shake off any excess bread crumbs, then transfer green bean to prepared baking sheet.
  • Repeat with remaining green beans.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, turning once, until browned, crispy, and tender to the bite.
  • Serve hot. We like ours with wasabi dipping sauce and then double dipped in ketchup. (Horseradish sauce would work too!)

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 134, Fat ~ 2 g, Carbohydrates ~ 25 g, Protein 6 g

Wasabi Dipping Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2  cup  reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/2  teaspoon  grated lemon peel
  • 1  teaspoon  lemon juice
  • 1 1/2  to 2 teaspoons prepared wasabi

Wasabi Dipping Sauce Directions:

  • Combine ingredients.
  • Adjust wasabi/sour cream to taste.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 42, Fat ~ 4 g, Carbohydrates ~ 1 g, Protein 1 g

If you think that you don’t like okra, try this!

I was onboard with okra after my first experience last week, but I would bet that Corn Breaded Okra would convince a child that okra isn’t such a bad thing. I bet it would even make my anti-veggie little brother like okra! (What’s up G?)

With that said, if you haven’t already, I think you should just go ahead and try it!

Adapted from Kath Eats Real Food.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint okra
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • ~1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • For Cajun seasoning:
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cut okra into bite-sized pieces.
  • Dip okra pieces in a mixture of egg and a splash of milk then roll them in a mixture of cornmeal, salt, and Cajun seasoning.
  • Spread the okra pieces on a foil lined baking sheet, then bake for 30 minutes until they are lightly browned.

Servings ~ 2
Calories ~ 128, Fat ~ 3 g, Carbohydrates ~ 20 g, Protein ~ 7 g

Apple and Pear Chips is kind of a misnomer here. I set out to make apple and pear chips, but only ended up with apple chips. I debated changing the name of the post, but the pear chips will be excellent also, so I decided to just run with it!

I can’t believe that I had never made these before. It was super easy, although a bit time consuming, and they taste amazing. Think guilt free bites of apple pie with the crisp of a potato chip. Mmmm! I ended up making apple chips twice this weekend and each time they only lasted for a few hours in Duke’s Kitchen.

I think it would be interesting to try this recipe out with nutmeg instead of ginger, but the ginger flavored apple chips were so tasty that I didn’t want to mess with the recipe right away.

Adapted from The Washington Post.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sweetener of your choice (I used Splenda, sugar, brown sugar, or another sweetener would work.)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional)
  • 2 medium sized apples
  • 2 medium sized pears

Directions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a shallow dish, combine the sweetener, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside.
  • Cut a thin slice from the bottom of the fruit to form a flat surface, then place the fruit cut side down on a cutting board.
  • Using a small sharp knife, place a knife at the top of the fruit and slice downward vertically to make 1/16-inch thick slices, working your way in toward the core. As the core appears, turn the fruit. Repeat on all sides.
  • Dip the slices in the sugar mixture, turning to coat each side.
  • Place the slices about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 35 minutes.
  • Turn the slices and bake for about 40 more minutes.
  • The slices should become crisp when set aside to cool for several minutes.
  • If some of the apple slices are thicker than 1/16 inch, they may not become completely crisp, the thicker slices may need to be baked for a few additional minutes.
  • Set aside to cool completely.

Servings ~ 2
Calories ~ 130, Fat ~ 1 g, Carbohydrates ~ 34 g, Protein ~ 1 g

I did the unthinkable this morning. I decided what I wanted for dinner ahead of time.

Unfortunately, it was not early enough for me to take the tempeh that I wanted for dinner out of the freezer before I went to work. That’s ok though, I thought, I’ll take it out when I go home for lunch.

Yeah, not so much. You see I locked my keys in the car during lunch today. Brilliant, huh?

Needless to say, I didn’t make it home for lunch today. So my dinner plans were foiled.

Fortunately my CSA box saved the day by being packed with plenty of alternate dinner options. (Wait a minute, it was at the CSA that I locked the keys in the car…)

The most obvious dinner choice, to me at least, was eggplant. The next step would be to find a recipe that was healthy, quick, and that I owned all of the ingredients for. Duke’s House is kind of out there and there is no running back to the grocery store after you get home. Well, maybe if you decide that you want wine with dinner…

Just from reading this recipe, I could tell that it would be great! I ate my eggplant with some quinoa cooked with garlic in chicken broth on the side. Mmmm!

In case you are wondering, there was more okra in my CSA box! More okra recipes coming soon!

Adapted from Beyond Salmon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove elephant garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Peel eggplant and slice into ½ inch thick rings.
  • Place eggplant slices on a sheet of paper towels and sprinkle it with salt on both sides. This will cause the eggplant to release a lot of liquid which will make it less watery when it is cooked.
  • Let the eggplant sit for 15 minutes, then dry both sides well with paper towels.
  • In a large bowl, mix the honey, garlic, paprika, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  • Dunk both sides of each eggplant slice into the marinade, then place the slices on a dish to take them to your grill.
  • Heat the grill to a high heat.
  • Using a grill brush, lightly oil the grill grate with olive oil.
  • Place the eggplant slices on the grill, close the lid, and turn down the heat to medium.
  • Grill for about 3 minutes until the eggplant has grill marks.
  • Turn the slices 90 degrees to make cross-hatch grill marks, then grill until marked, about 3 more minutes.
  • Brush the slices with remaining marinade, flip them, then repeat the grilling process on the other side. Be sure to regulate the heat so that the eggplant is browning, but not burning.
  • When the cross-hatch marks are complete, remove from grill and serve warm.

Servings ~ 2
Calories ~ 133, Fat ~ 3 g, Carbohydrates ~ 28 g, Protein ~ 3 g