Green Beans in Peanut Sauce

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This was sort of a thrown-together dish – something to go with the Thai-spiced chicken skewers and something that would use up some more green beans. It ended up being one of my favorite things of the week.

I’m always a fan of quick sides and this fits the bill. It was the perfect accompaniment to our dinner and a dish I know I’ll be making again soon!

Green Beans in Peanut Sauce
(adapted from The Taste Place)
Serves 2

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. green beans
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. ginger

Over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the beans and cook for about 3 minutes, until crisp-tender.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over green beans, toss and cook until heated through.


Thai-Spiced, Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers

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Meat on sticks. There hasn’t been enough of it this summer so I’m trying to remedy that before grilling weather is officially over. (It’s coming. Sigh.)

When I was making the meal plans for the week, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I already had all the ingredients for these skewers on hand, so they went on the menu. It’s simple ingredients, but they pack a big flavor punch here.

I set my chicken up to marinade in the morning, but starting to marinade the night before would be good too. I’d give this a few solid hours in the marinade to pack the biggest punch.

Thai-spiced, Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers
(from The Iron You)
Serves 4

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into strips
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lime juice
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Sriracha mayo, for dipping

In a small bowl, whisk together the Chinese five-spice, cayenne, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the chicken strips and toss until well-coated.

Add the chicken to a ziplock bag. In the same small bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil and lime juice. Pour over chicken in the bag, seal and turn to coat. Refrigerate and let marinate for several hours.

After marinating, place the chicken on skewers. (If using wooden ones, soak in water for at least a half hour beforehand.)

Preheat a grill to medium and oil the grates. Grill for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway, until cooked through. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve with Sriracha mayo for dipping.


Baked Green Bean Fries

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Green beans are the new tomatoes. And by that I mean we have about a metric ton in the garden. Our go-to is to saute them with garlic, salt and pepper but with so many I’ve been trying to prepare them other ways so we don’t have green bean burnout.

When I told Mark I was making these, he was like, I don’t know about those. They were, thankfully, well received. I like that they were baked, not actually fried, and that it was a great way to sneak in some veggies where we would have normally done potato fries.

Baked Green Bean Fries
(slightly adapted from Smarty had a Party!)
Serves 2

2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp. backyard brick oven seasoning
1/2 lb. green beans
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
Sriracha mayo, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Wash and trim the green beans.

In one bowl, whisk together the panko and seasoning. In another bowl, whisk together the flour and eggs.

Dip the green beans into the egg mixture, roll in the panko and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with sriracha mayo for dipping.


Stocking the Freezer Pre-Baby

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Even before I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to stock the freezer to give us some help during the first weeks of having a baby. I had visions of all these new, exciting recipes covering all different kinds of meals. What I ended up doing didn’t match that at all.

What changed things? Well, I essentially got a test run. I mentioned back in November that I had stocked up in preparation for NaNoWriMo. I, more or less, did what I thought I’d do for a baby - lots of freezer-to-crockpot meals, casseroles, and the like. We found out in early November that I was pregnant and while my NaNoWriMo writing fell by the wayside, those meals I’d made ahead ended up being a huge help in getting us through the first trimester. The thing was, we weren’t super thrilled with a lot of the meals, we ended up getting sick of leftovers, and I wasn’t a huge fan of figuring out a new recipe while not feeling my best.

So, for this go-round, I tackled things differently. Instead of making meals just for the freezer, I cooked up regular meals and portioned out a section for freezing. I stuck with things we’d made – and liked – before or things that came highly recommended from friends. And, I only froze portions for one or two meals so we wouldn’t be drowning in leftovers.

Here is what we had in the freezer when Jacob was born:

Things I made up:

Hawaiian Hula Pulled Pork – enough of the pork for 4 good sized sandwiches
Creamy Taco Mac – 2-3 servings
Garlic Beef Enchiladas – two servings
Baked Chicken Chimichangas – four servings (prepped, wrapped in foil and individually frozen)
Pork Potstickers – about 1 1/2 dozen (frozen on a baking sheet for about 2 hours, then transferred to a large freezer bag)
Baked ziti with sausage and peppers – four servings (no real recipe – just made with leftovers we had on hand)
Taco stuffed shells – 2-3 servings
Brownies – half a batch

Things we bought to have on hand for easy meals:

Frozen, microwavable rice
Chicken that I pre-cut into bite-sized pieces for stir-fry (and some bottled stir-fry sauces in the pantry)
Stir-fry veggies
Pizza dough and shredded mozzarella (and pizza sauce in the pantry)
Our favorite ravioli
Pierogies and Kielbasa
Assorted sides: Fries, Garlic bread and veggies
Girl Scout Cookies (a necessity!)

Altogether, we had about two weeks of dinners in the freezer when he was born. We ended up not touching our stash until Mark went back to work because generous friends and family brought us food or we were able to tag-team cook dinner those first two weeks. Since he’s been back to work, I’ve been mixing in a freezer dinner or two to the weekly menu for nights I know will be busy. Even though we’ve mostly found our groove with this whole baby thing, being able to just pull something out and heat it up has been really, really great some nights and I think having a few meals ready to go in the freezer is something I want to continue going forward.

This worked out so much better than my first attempt that it’s definitely how I’ll work on freezer-stocking going forward!


Burgers with Brie, Caramelized Onions, Arugula and Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo Garlic Mayo (+ Win a Hampton Creek Just Mayo Prize Pack!)

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A few weeks ago, the folks at Hampton Creek contacted me about trying out some of their Just Mayo products. A company that’s trying to make sustainable, healthy, affordable food? I was totally on board.

They sent three mayos to try – regular, garlic and sriracha. I’ve been incorporating all three into dishes the last few weeks and I can honestly say I’m impressed. The mayo is eggless, so it’s allergy-friendly and it tastes really good.

These burgers went on the menu so I had an excuse to try the garlic mayo. So delicious! The flavors really go together well here for an awesome, easy burger.

Interested in trying some Just Mayo yourself? The nice folks at Hampton Creek sent along a set of Just Mayo products for a lucky reader. Want to win? Leave a comment below letting me know how you’d like to use the mayo. I’ll pick one comment at random to receive three bottles of Just Mayo in original, garlic and sriracha flavors. You have until midnight eastern time on September 14, 2014. Open to US residents only.

Burgers with Brie, Caramelized Onions, Arugula and Garlic Mayo
(adapted slightly from Handle the Heat)
Serves 2

1/2 lb. ground chuck
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 slices Brie cheese
1/4 cup caramelized onions
1/2 cup arugula
2 Tbsp. garlic mayo
2 burger buns

Heat the grill to medium heat.

Divide the meat in half and form into 2 patties. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Grill for 10 minutes, turning halfway, to desired doneness. Top with the cheese and remove from the grill immediately. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve the burgers on buns topped with caramelized onions, arugula and garlic mayo.


Caprese Quiche

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Why, yes, I am still trying to use up the absurd amount of tomatoes coming out of the garden! I’ve officially given up trying to make Mark-friendly dishes out of them and have started cooking whatever catches my eye – including this Pinterest find.

We have a good bit of basil in the garden too, and I had fresh mozzarella on hand already (because Caprese salads have been in heavy rotation!) so this was a quick one to whip together and perfect for a quick lunch during the week.

I used a frozen pie shell to make this really easy, but if you have five extra minutes, this pie dough would work great too.

Caprese Quiche
(slightly adapted from 17 Apart)
Makes 1 8″ quiche

4 plum tomatoes, quartered
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
Small palm-full of fresh basil leaves
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pre-made, deep dish pie crust

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.

Arrange tomatoes and mozzarella in the bottom of the pie crust. Sprinkle basil leaves over.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into pie crust.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until egg is set. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.


Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip and Flax Cookies from Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour (+ Win a Copy!)

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I always get excited when a food blogger I admire releases a cookbook. I love having that little piece of the internet on my bookshelf. Nicole Morrissey’s (aka, Prevention RD) first cookbook, Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking, is in frequent rotation around here so when her editor asked if I wanted to review her new cookbook, Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour, I jumped at the chance.

As the title suggests, this book is full of gluten-free recipes – but the recipes are also marked as sugar-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, high-fiber and dairy-free as appropriate, making it a super friendly resource for anyone trying to stick to a specific diet. Neither Mark or I have food allergies, but we have friends and family that do so we’re always looking for tasty things we can make them. We’re also, naturally, a little skeptical of recipes that stick to special diets – I mean, how do you trust chocolate chip cookies that have no butter or flour?

Luckily, Nicole has this thing nailed – these cookies were amazing. If you didn’t know they were gluten-free (and dairy-free, vegetarian and low-carb), you never would guess. They taste like regular chocolate chip cookies – not always an easy feat when you’re making something allergy-friendly. We passed off most of the batch to a friend of Mark’s who has recently gone gluten-free and they went over wonderfully.

And, there are so many equally delicious looking recipes in this book. I’m especially excited to work through the breakfast section and I’m loving that I’ll have a whole bunch of gluten-free cookie options for Christmas cookies for our Celiac family members this year.

Nicole’s editor was also kind enough to offer up a copy for a Kate’s Recipe Box reader. Want to win? Leave a comment below letting me know if you follow a gluten-free or other special diet and your favorite diet-friendly dish to make. I’ll pick one comment at random to receive a copy of Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour, compliments of Skyhorse Publishing. You have until midnight eastern time on September 7, 2014. Open to US residents only.

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Chip and Flax Cookies
(from Prevention RD’s Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour)
Makes 16 Cookies

1 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips (I used dairy-free chips)

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, flaxseed, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. In a second bowl, lightly beat the egg. Slowly whisk in the coconut oil to the egg, whisking constantly.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, then fold in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

After chilling, preheat the oven to 375F degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on the baking sheet. Flatten slightly, to about 3/4 inch thickness.

Bake for 7-9 minutes, until dry-looking and slightly browned. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Garden Fresh Salsa

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So, rolling with the tomato theme – the other way my husband will eat fresh tomatoes! You knew this was coming, didn’t you?

I’m loving this version because we have tomatoes, onions and hot peppers in the garden currently  – so I can walk out the back door and grab the ingredients whenever I want and mix this up in about ten minutes.

I’m going to miss the garden when the season is over!

Garden Fresh Salsa
(slightly adapted from About.com)
Makes about 2 cups

4 Roma tomatoes
1/2 small onion
1 hot pepper (I used a Serrano pepper)
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor, pulse one of the tomatoes, onion, hot pepper and garlic until finely chopped but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl.

Dice remaining tomatoes. Stir into the processed mixture. Stir in lime juice and sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Bruschetta

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You know how I said we had zucchini in the garden? That lasted for, oh, five minutes. Once again, our plants died off without producing much.

Tomatoes, though, are going strong. We’ve never had so many. Which is both awesome – I love it - and a pain in the butt – Mark doesn’t eat fresh tomatoes. Bruschetta is one of the only ways Mark will eat fresh tomatoes (salsa being the other), so I’ve been making this in force.

Bruschetta
(Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

3-4 tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh shredded parmesan
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 baguette, sliced

Mix all ingredients together, except bread, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Toast baguette slices before serving.


Banana Bread

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I haven’t tackled that many kitchen projects since Jake was born, but when we ended up with a pile of over-ripe bananas, I decided it was time to get back to it. I’ve waned to try this recipe for a while – but never seemed to end up with enough bananas for it.

Even though this is a quick bread, it’s not super quick – but the extra steps give this bread a really flavor. I don’t know that this will be my go-to recipe just because of the number of bananas and steps (I’d probably want a truly quick bread recipe for most days), but it’s perfect for when I’ll want something a little special.

Banana Bread
(slightly adapted from The Science of Good Cooking)
Makes 1 Loaf

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 very ripe bananas, peeled
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F degrees and spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

Place bananas in a microwave safe bowl, cover, and microwave until bananas are soft and have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to a mesh strainer over a bowl and let drain for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add liquid to a saucepan and reduce to 1/4 cup.

Stir reduced liquid into bananas until smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Add banana mixture into flour mixture until just combined, with some streaks of flour remaining.

Pour batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 45-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.