Thursday, July 10, 2014

Unlocking the Mystery of Shellfish

How to Steam Fresh Mussels

I've been writing about getting your kids to eat healthy by cooking healthy these past few weeks. Yes, this is important. But, sometimes we just need a little time to ourselves, right? Tonight, the kids are at Grandma and Grandpa's and playing on the farm. The house is quiet and I have it ALL to myself. Really, how often does this happen? Practically NEVER. So, I am taking advantage of this opportunity to cook a little something for myself!

What's on the menu? Freshly Steamed Mussels in a delicious white wine sauce. (A little tip on the wine, don't cook with anything that you wouldn't drink. If the wine doesn't taste good, the food won't taste good.) There is no need to be afraid of fresh shellfish, once you master your first batch, you'll begin experimenting with your own sauces and spices...I promise ;-)

So, pour yourself a glass of wine, crank up your favorite Pandora station, and let's get cookin'!!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8-10 minutes

Ingredients Needed:

1 pound fresh mussels
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tbsp. basil, minced
1 tsp. each salt and pepper
2 cups white wine (don't use anything you won't drink when cooking with wine!)
6 oz. tomato sauce (use as much or as little as you wish. It's all about the flavor.)

Equipment Needed:

large sauce pan
sharp knife
cutting board
large mixing bowl

How to Steam Fresh Mussels

Step 1 - place fresh mussels into a large mixing bowl and cover them with cool water. This will get the grit out of the shells. (Cool water is important. If it is too warm, the shells with start to open and we don't want that...yet.)
Step 2 - in a large sauce pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced onion, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Saute until the onions start to caramelize.
Step 3 - pour the white wine into the pan and stir. Coax as much off of the bottom of the pan as possible. This is where the flavor lies! Let it simmer for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to cook off a bit.
Step 4 - add the tomato sauce. I happen to love the tang of tomato sauce so I tend to add more. If you aren't a fan, then you don't have to add any at all!
Step 5 - drain the mussels and add them to the sauce pan. Cover and leave them alone for a few minutes. The steam will open the shells and allow that delicious sauce to flavor the meat.
Step 6 - The mussels will take approximately 6-8 minutes to steam. Remove them from the heat and add them to a beautiful dish. Serve with a glass of your favorite wine...and maybe catch up on some of those shows you've been DVRing for months!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Roasted Chicken and Orange Cauliflower...Yummy!!!

How to Roast a Whole Head of Cauliflower

It's Wednesday, and once again, we don't have any leftovers to remake!! Does that mean the kids are really liking what we are eating? Maybe!! The kids wanted to go for a ride in the combine tonight before wheat harvest ends. So, before we headed out, we threw some pre-seasoned chicken breast (this is a huge time saver when you are in a hurry) and a whole head of orange cauliflower for roasting into the oven. An hour and a half later, we walked in the door and supper was ready!


Total Prep Time: 5 minutes; Total Roasting Time: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients Needed:

1 pound pre-seasoned chicken breast
1 head cauliflower, leaves removed
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. garlic
1 tbsp. chives
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. curry
1 tsp. tarragon

Equipment Needed:

2 casserole dishes
aluminum foil


Roasting Instructions for Chicken Breast and a Whole Head of Cauliflower

Step 1 - preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2 - place pre-seasoned chicken in one of the casserole dishes and cover.

Step 3 - tear 2 long pieces of aluminum foil and place in a 'cross' position in the other casserole dish and place the whole head of cauliflower in the middle.

Step 4 - mix extra virgin olive oil, garlic, chives, turmeric, cumin, curry and tarragon in a small bowl. Using a cooking brush, coat the top of the cauliflower with the mixture. Cover with both pieces of aluminum foil. Baked in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 1 1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 degrees.

Step 5 - quarter the cauliflower and served alongside the roasted chicken. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Carrot Fries? Who ever heard of a carrot fry!?!

I hadn't either...until just now! It's "Substitution Tuesday" and I was faced with coming up with something genius that I could blog about. As I stood there with the freezer wide open, pondering over what to make for supper for what seemed to be a lifetime, my eyes settled on a bag that had been there for quite some was a half-eaten bag of frozen sweet potato fries. Based on the amount of freezer burn, they had been in there a while. So, in the garbage they went.

Standing back in front of the fridge, I am seriously contemplating picking up the phone and calling my former "bestie" at the local pizza parlor when something catches my eye. A brand new bag of sweet, delicious carrots. My mind jumps back to those poor sweet potato fries in the garbage and I know I need to pay homage to them in some way. The result? You guessed it...carrot fries!! We served our carrot fries with a juicy and delicious flat-iron steak. But, you can really pair them with any protein. Let me know what you think!!

Time Needed: 15 minutes to prep; 15 minutes to bake

Ingredients Needed:

1 pound of carrots, cut into strips (baby or regular will work)
2-3 cups of breadcrumbs (mine were Italian flavored)
2 cups of unsweetened almond milk (Almond milk is thicker and coats better than dairy milk. But you can really use whatever you have on hand.)
1 tbsp. each of salt and pepper

Equipment Needed:

2 small mixing bowls
Sharp knife
Cutting board
Baking sheet

How to Make Carrot Fries

Step 1 - preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Step 2 - add breadcrumbs, salt and pepper to a small mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.
Step 3 - add unsweetened almond milk to another small mixing bowl.
Step 4 - quarter up the carrots by cutting them in half lengthwise, then cut each piece lengthwise again.

Step 5 - add carrots to the almond milk as you cut. Let them soak for about 4-5 minutes.

Step 6 - transfer carrots to the breadcrumbs, letting excess almond drip away beforehand.

Step 7 - shake the bowl to thoroughly coat the carrots.

Step 8 - remove carrots from the breadcrumbs and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Aren't they gorgeous?!?

Step 9 - bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. When they start to brown, they are done. Serve family style, but be careful, they are HOT!!