Dinner For One ~ Asparagus, Egg and Truffle

When Mister is on business travel or has a late dinner meeting, I usually turn to eggs for a quick dinner. I have never been a bowl of cereal at dinner girl and enjoy my time in the kitchen too much to just pour dinner in a bowl.  Dinner for one doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming.  A few key ingredients in the pantry and refrigerator make all difference.

Eggs and asparagus are a match made in heaven, eggs and truffle are a match made in heaven and the tomato was perfect…so perfect that I went back to the kitchen for a piece of whole grain bread to get every bit of the tomato juice and truffle oil from the plate.

When you find yourself alone, indulge in this simple, elegant and truffle decadent dish for one.

I always have Truffle Oil and Truffle Salt on hand.  For me, there is nothing as wonderful as the taste and aroma of truffles and while truffle products are a bit expensive, a little goes a long way in elevating a dish from drab to divine!

Ingredients for One:

6 steamed asparagus spears
1 poached or lightly fried egg
1/2 tomato, sliced thin
Pinch of black truffle sea salt
Teaspoon of truffle oil

Preparation:

Layer asparagus and tomato on plate and drizzle with truffle oil. Place egg on top and sprinkle with truffle salt and a pinch of ground pepper.  This dish also works very well with hard-boiled eggs, sliced or chopped and sprinkled on top of the asparagus and tomato slices.

This also makes an elegant brunch or salad dish.

Truffles are wonderful in risotto and pasta as well.  I recently made a Lobster Mushroom and Truffle Risotto and there wasn’t a grain of rice left.  I owe that to the truffle!

Linked to:

Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory WednesdayWelcome Wednesday, Wandering WednesdayGold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday, Let’s Do Brunch, What I Ate Wednesday, At Home with Haley, No Whine Wednesday, What’s For Lunch Wednesday.

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Fruit and Couscous Stuffed Winter Squash

Continuing on our journey (a short one so far) to make 2011 healthier and cleaner and a bit more meatless (well, meatless at least three days a week),  I created this sweet and savory acorn squash stuffed with couscous, fruits and nuts.

If you have visited before, you may have read Kicked Up Black-Eyed Peas and Pasta Salad, Strawberry Chipotle Chicken or even Turkey Tzatziki Muffins and know that I am trying to reverse a few bad winter habits, primarily that of too much cooking, baking, eating (of the wrong stuff) and not enough exercise.

We all crave comfort food during those cold winter months and well, it is just too cold to get out for a run.  I know, excuses, excuses, excuses.

We are now craving a return to our 2010 routine of clean eating limiting our use of “the wrong whites”, more fruits and veggies and less meat.  We are also easing back into our fitness routine.

This stuffed squash certainly fits our renewed eating goals.  Whole grain couscous, cranberries, dates, mandarin orange segments, sweet and savory notes from five spice powder, tarragon and a pinch of chives.  Not too sweet, not too savory, a pop of tart from the cranberries…perfect for a weeknight meatless meal.  It was also beautiful on the plate and we couldn’t wait to sit down and enjoy.

Recipe Note:  If your not into meatless meals, adding a bit of sausage to the couscous mixture would be perfect. Earlier this year, I made a simple sausage stuffed version.

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn or butternut squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup uncooked couscous
  • 2 tablespoons  dried cranberries
  • 4 dried dates, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pecan, halved
  • 1 mandarin orange, zested, peeled, segments separated (I have access to beautiful Satsuma mandarins, use a small orange as a substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of tarragon
  • pinch of chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Remove and discard seeds from squash.  Place squash, cut sides down, in a baking pan. Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1/2-inch. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes or until tender.

Bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous and next 6 ingredients. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

Combine couscous mixture, orange segments, oil, pecans, tarragon and chives. Toss gently. Spoon mixture evenly into squash shells.

Place stuffed squash in a baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

This really was filling…we did not need anything else to complete the meal.  If you feel it needs a bit more, a simple spinach salad would be a great side.

Linked to:

inked to: Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory WednesdayWelcome Wednesday, Wandering WednesdayGold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday, Let’s Do Brunch, What I Ate Wednesday, At Home with Haley, No Whine Wednesday, What’s For Lunch Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Midnight Maniac Meatless Monday

Smoked Salmon, Pear and Pecan Salad

This is a staple in our house.  I have made this with salmon, trout, sea bass and tilapia.  I also use whatever fruit I happen to have in the house or what is in season…apples, strawberries and blackberries.  This really is a recipe that you can experiement with and always have great results.  I serve this for brunch for my fish loving friends.  The addition of chipotle or other chili powder in the dressing gives it a nice kick and counter to the sweetness of the fruit.

Adapted from Cooking Light.

Recipe Note – In the winter months, I use a Camerons Stovetop Smoker which works very well.  They have both a small and a large size and I own and use both depending on the quantity I need to smoke. The smoker is also great for chicken, meat, veggies and cheese. When I don’t feel like smoking the fish, I use a heavenly Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt from the Savory Spice Shop (they ship) and bake the fish until it flakes.

The Sea Salt is smoked over Northwest alder wood and is a true “smoked” salt. No artificial flavoring has been added and it is 100% natural. For hundreds of years alder wood has been used to smoke salmon and other meats and truly is a Northwest American tradition. {I am not compensated or affiliated with the Savory Spice Shop…I simply love the shop as they have unique spices and grind them weekly for max freshness.}


Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 cups salad, 1 fillet, and 1 1/2 teaspoons nuts)

Ingredients:

  • 2  cups  wood chips
  • 3  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  teaspoon  prepared horseradish
  • 4  (6-ounce) rainbow trout fillets
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2  tablespoons  white wine vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon  walnut oil or olive oil
  • 1/4  teaspoon  chili powder
  • 8  cups  mixed salad greens (I used a spinach and arugula)
  • 4 cups  thinly sliced pear
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced red onion
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped pecans, toasted
Preparation:
Soak wood chips in water 30 minutes, and drain well.

Combine lemon juice, horseradish, and fillets in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes, turning bag occasionally.

Smoking Fish:

Prepare grill for indirect grilling, heating one side to low and leaving one side with no heat. Maintain temperature at 200° to 225°.

Place wood chips on hot coals. Place a disposable aluminum foil pan on unheated side of grill. Pour 2 cups water in pan. Coat grill rack with cooking spray; place on grill. Remove fillets from bag; discard marinade. Sprinkle fillets with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place fillets on grill rack over foil pan on unheated side. Close lid; cook 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, vinegar, oil, and chili powder, stirring with a whisk. Combine greens, pears and onion in a large bowl; drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss gently to coat. Remove skin from fillets; discard skin. Break fillets into pieces; serve over salad. Sprinkle with nuts.

Linked to: Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Tasty TraditionsCooking Thursday, A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, Frugal FolliesStrut Your Stuff, Recipe Swap Thursday, Let’s Do Brunch, It’s a Keeper, Pennywise Platter, Fantastic FridayTatertots and Jello, I’m Lovin it Friday, Friday Potluck, Family Friendly Friday, Fat Camp Friday, Fun with Food Friday, Food Trip Friday, Foodie Friday, Food on Friday, Saturday Swap, Simply Sweet Home, Katie’s Cucina, Sweet Tooth Friday, Friday Favorites, Feature Yourself Friday, Whipperberry Friday FlairFrugal Friday, Sweet Saturday, Mouthwatering Monday, Decidedly Healthy

Curry Turkey Muffins with Yogurt Tzatziki

If you read my post on Strawberry Chipotle Chicken, you know I am in crisis mode.  My favorite skinny jeans don’t fit…too much rich cooking and baking these past few months.

So I am back to clean, light and healthy eating…not forever of course, just until I can get back into my jeans.

I love using Jennie-O extra lean ground turkey…I use it in lightened Bolognese, turkey burgers. turkey chili and turkey meatloaf.  I can lighten almost any traditional meat dish with turkey.

I was craving curry and found a great recipe for Curry Spiced Meatloaf.  I had some wonderful rainbow chard that needed to be used…a fine chop, quick saute and into the loaf it went. I think this really helped keep the turkey moist.

The perfect topping was a tzatziki made with Fage zero to lighten it up even more. The cucumber mint added a cool counter to the hot curry I used.

Inspired by Taste of Home Curry Spiced Meatloaf.

Recipe Notes/Modifications:  I used brown rice for the rolled oats,  1/2 bunch rainbow chard (sautéed) instead of carrots, no salt chicken broth for the milk and lean turkey breast for the beef. I baked these savoy little loafs in a muffin tin for portion control.  Served with a salad, a dollop of tzatziki, it was just perfect.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs or rolled oats
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine egg, milk, bread crumbs or oats, garlic, curry powder, cumin, salt, pepper, carrots and onion. Add ground beef; mix well. Pat meat mixture into an 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan or muffins tins.  Bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes or until no pink remains.

Servings:  4 – 2 turkey “muffins” each.

inked to: Real Food Wednesday, What’s On Your Plate,  Eat at Home, Works for Me Wednesday, Sweet and Savory Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Welcome Wednesday, Wandering WednesdayGold Star Wednesday, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Potluck Wednesday, Let’s Do Brunch, What I Ate Wednesday, Wandering Wednesday,

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Skinny Bechamel

Homemade ravioli on a busy weekend night?  Elegant and quick?  Yes!

I had never worked with the gyoza wrappers before making Asian Dumplings over the weekend.  The dumplings were perfect…light little pillows of shrimp and cabbage simmered in dashi with veggies.  I was very happy at how quick and easy they were to use.

I just had to try the wrappers for ravioli.   Another quick meal as I had roasted squash in the fridge.  I did make a few changes to lighten the dish – I omitted the cheese and made a light bechamel (using skim milk instead of whole milk) instead of a butter sauce.  Results were fantastic and really, a meal that comes together so quick, you can have homemade ravioli anytime!

This is the original recipe using cheese and butter (link below).

Filling:

a 2-pound butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
3 ounces aged goat cheese, grated (about 2/3) (NOTE – I did not add cheese to my version)
60 gyoza wrappers, thawed if frozen
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/3 cup pecans, chopped coarse

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°F. and lightly grease a baking sheet.

Make Filling:

Put squash halves, flesh sides down, an baking sheet and roast in middle of oven 30 minutes, or until flesh is very tender. When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh into a bowl and discard skin. Mash squash with a fork until smooth.

While squash is roasting, in a skillet cook onion and sage in butter with salt and pepper to taste over moderate heat, stirring, 5 minutes, or until onion is golden brown. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Cool onion mixture slightly and add to squash. Add goat cheese and stir to combine well.

In a 6-quart pasta pot bring 5 quarts salted water to a gentle boil for ravioli.

Put 1 gyoza wrapper on a lightly floured surface, keeping remaining wrappers in plastic wrap, and mound 1 tablespoon filling in center. Lightly brush edges of wrapper with water and put a second wrapper over first, pressing down around filling to force out air and seal edges well. If desired, trim excess dough with a round cutter or sharp knife. Transfer ravioli to a dry kitchen towel. Make more ravioli with remaining wrappers and filling in same manner, transferring as formed to towel and turning occasionally to dry slightly.

In skillet cook butter with hazelnuts over moderate heat until butter begins to brown, about 3 minutes, and immediately remove from heat (nuts will continue to cook). Season hazelnut butter with salt and pepper and keep warm, covered.

Cook ravioli in 3 batches in gently boiling eater 6 minutes, or until they rise to surface and are tender (do not let water boil vigorously once ravioli have been added).

Taste to ensure they are done ~ I added this step…I was anxious to taste them.

Carefully transfer ravioli as cooked with a slotted spoon to a large shallow baking pan and add enough cooking water to reach 1/2 inch up side of pan. Keep ravioli warm, covered.

Transfer ravioli with a slotted spoon (letting excess cooking liquid drip off) to 6 plates and top with hazelnut brown-butter sauce or a skinny bechamel sauce as I did.

Read complete recipe at Epicurious.com.

Linked to:

Foodie Friday

Saturday Swap

Whipperberry Friday Flair

Friday Firsts

Friday Potluck

Meatless Monday

Another Meatless Monday

Midnight Maniac Meatless Monday

It’s a Keeper Thursday

Spicy Salmon Cakes ~ Quick and Healthy

Over the weekend I home smoked salmon.  I love my Camerons Stovetop Smoker and use it at least once a week. I smoke fish, chicken, veggies and I have even smoked cheese.  Super easy and the results are really out of this world. When I smoke fish (salmon, trout, halibut, cod, etc.), I always smoke more than we need for a meal so that I have leftovers for salad, egg (I love smoked salmon hash) or pasta dishes (fresh fettuccine with smokes salmon, red onion and dill).

I wanted something different tonight.  Something spicy, something light and something using the salmon.  Spicy Salmon Cakes was perfect.

Adapted From Cooking Light:

The original recipe from Cooking Light uses raw fish but the smoked salmon worked perfectly.

Make these as an appetizer, or serve atop lightly dressed greens for a simple dinner.

I paired this with a lemon garlic orzo pasta salad for a light and fresh meal.  The orzo is from Pappardelle’s Pasta…a great find at the Farmer’s Market.  It was quick and easy…orzo, roasted red pepper, cucumber and grape tomatoes tossed with fresh lemon juice and olive oil.

Spicy Salmon Cakes:

6 servings (serving size: 1 patty)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3  cup  chopped green onions
  • 1/4  cup  panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh basil
  • 2  tablespoons  chile paste with garlic
  • 1  teaspoon  grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1  large egg white
  • 1 1/2 pound  skinless salmon fillets, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2  teaspoons  grape seed oil

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place first 9 ingredients in a food processor; pulse until coarsely ground. Divide fish mixture into 6 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties; cook 2 minutes on each side. Turn patties over; wrap handle of pan with foil. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Do you have a stove top smoker?  What is your favorite stove top smoker dish?

Linked to:

Real Food Wednesdays

What’s on your plate?

Decidedly Healthy or Horridly Decadent

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