Friday, December 30, 2011

Pan-fried Swai With Lemon Butter Sauce


My husband and I were at the store the other day and saw that Swai was on sale, and of course bought a few fillets.  Our problem was, what do we do with this white fish that the seafood department guy told us would taste similar to catfish, but milder.  So my husband, knowing that Im not a fan of a really fishy taste went to work on finding a good recipe.  Lemon butter is usually pretty good at complementing fish and reducing the overwhelming fishy flavor that some fish have.  He found this recipe on "Foodism Mom" with a recipe that promised to appeal to both children and adults alike, as well as only take 15 minutes from start to finish.
I have to say, that this sauce was thinner than I was expecting for a "reduced sauce" but despite that fact it was quite delicious, and I would recommend this dish to anyone.  Though I do have to say the crispier the pan fry, the better tasting the overall fish is. ;)
Did I mention that this recipe is only 200.6 calories per serving?

Pan-fried Swai With Lemon Butter Sauce

Ingredients

3-4 boneless/skinless swai fillets
salt and pepper
1/4 cup (or more) flour
1 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, separated
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Directions
  1. Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the fish
  2. Put the flour in a shallow bowl or plate and dredge the fish in the flour until evenly coated on both sides. Shake off any excess flour.
  3. Heat the oil and one tablespoon of butter in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is glistening hot, add the fish. You may have to do two batches if your fish doesn't all fit into the pan at once. Sear the fish about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes a side, depending on how thick your fillets are. You want them golden brown, set aside on a serving platter.
  4. In the same pan, add the wine, lemon juice and thyme, cook over medium heat. When it comes to a boil, turn down to a low simmer and cook over medium heat. When it comes to a boil, turn down to a low simmer and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring and scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. The liquid should reduce a bit but there should still be enough to make the sauce.  Please note, that the sauce does not thicken, just reduces, this is a very thin sauce.
  5. Turn off the heat and add a tablespoon of cold butter, Swirl the butter around in the reduced sauce until it melts and sauce thickens. (as stated above this is a very thin sauce)
  6. Spoon sauce over the fish and serve immediately.


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Big Bad Beef Rub

Fall off the bone tender, beef back ribs
Lets just start this off with I got this rub recipe from amazing ribs.com
My husband the other day decided that he wanted to eat beef ribs (the long ones not the short ones), well that poses a slight problem as we dont have a smoker and our bbq is dying (not to mention it doesnt have an easy way to hold temps for long periods of time).  So we have to cook them in the oven.  All the good recipes Ive heard of all have you smoke them for hours at a time, and all the oven recipes have you put 30 million things on your ribs so that in the end all you taste is their tomato-ie sauce that over powers the meat.  So this time we're taking the temp and time requirements from one recipe (random site) and the beef rub from an award winner's site. 

The exact recipe can be found at http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/rubs_pastes_marinades_and_brines/big_bad_beef_rub.html

Big Bad Beef Rub

Recipe

Makes. About half a cup
Preparation time. About 10 minutes
Ingredients
3 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons mustard powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili or ancho powder
1 teaspoon chipotle or cayenne powder
About the black pepper. Lately I've been grinding my black pepper and then sifting it. I use the coarse stuff, and put the fine stuff in a pepper shaker.
About the chile powders. I'm looking for complexity with two different flavors and two different levels of heat. Most chili powders and ancho powders do not have a lot of heat, but good flavor. In fact, ancho is usually in a lot of chili powders. Go with ancho if you can find it. It has a nice raisiny character. With chipotle or cayenne I'm after a kiss of heat. Chipotle has better flavor though.
Do this
1) Mix the ingredients together in a bowl.
2) Lightly oil the meat with vegetable oil. Many of the flavors in the rub are oil soluble and the oil helps penetrate the meat. So does the salt, so don't leave it out. Spread the rub generously on beef brisket, not so thick on other, thinner cuts. You can apply it just before cooking or let it marinate on the meet overnight. Heck, I've left meat sit under this stuff for days. Fact is it doesn't penetrate a lot, but every little bit helps.
 
As for time well that depends on the ribs.. this guy suggests on a bbq'r these recommendations
1" thick meat should hit 150°F (Chicago style) in about 1 hour and 180°F (Texas style) in about 3 hours.
1.5" thick meat should hit 150°F in about 1.5 hours and 180°F in about 3.5 hours.
2" thick meat should hit 150°F in about 2 hours and 180°F in about 4 hours.
I treat them much the same as short ribs, described above. Depending on how much meat is on them and the thickness of the bones, they cook faster and can be finished in as little as three hours. Some folks like to sauce them.
as for the difference between chicago and texas style, I refer you to his site again http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/beef/BBQ_beef_ribs.html

To prepare the ribs:
1) Begin by removing the fat and the very tough silverskin from the top of the meat. All of it. No need to remove the membrane from the exposed side of the bones as you do with pork ribs. Then cut slabs into individual bones if they did not come cut up. Inevitably some bones in a package have little meat and lotta fat. Trim them anyhow and cook them. There are several nice bites of meat on the sides of the bone, and they will finish in about an hour and you can munch on them while you wait for the thicker slabs to cook through.
2) Lightly coat the meat with vegetable oil so the oil soluble spices in the rub will dissolve and penetrate a bit. Flavor the meat with a rub that contains salt but very little sugar. Do the tops and sides, and coat them generously. If you can, let the rub sit on the meat in the refrigerator for an hour or three or even overnight.


though since I've already explained that we dont have a bbq that is up to this challenge here is the cooking directions we will be following, that like I said I got from a different site...
  1. Place the ribs and sauce(optional) in a large baking pan, in a single layer.
    Cover with a tightly fitting piece of aluminum foil.
  2. Bake the beef ribs at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 hours and check for doneness. If still tough, continue baking covered for another hour. When the ribs are tender, remove the foil, baste the ribs with the pan liquid, and continue baking for another half hour uncovered. 
  3. Baking the ribs in a foil covered pan steams them, a cooking process that does a very good job at tenderizing tough meats. The only more effective way to tenderize the ribs is to cook them in a pressure cooker...but that's another recipe! 
 __________

Review: (havent done one like this in a while!!) The ribs were extremely tender, the fat literally melted off of them.  I did have a problem with just how peppery that the rub was, my kids didnt really like it because of that, in the future I would use less black pepper and maybe a bit less cayenne, to pull the heat and overwhelming pepper level down.


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bloomin Onion w/ sauce

EVERYONE loves Outback's Bloomin' Onion, but not many of us can afford to hop on over to Outback and pay the $8 plus tip just to eat one whenever we like.  Not to mention who goes to a restaurant just for an appetizer? Not me.  Even on my cheapest time eating there with just me and my hubby it was $25 before tip and no drinks (we just drank water).  Don't get me wrong I LOVE Outback not just for their Bloomin' Onion but for their steak as well.
Anyways, back to the Onion, I found Outback's recipe for their Bloomin' Onion.   I got my husband the slicer that cuts the onions into petals, well he has a good recipe for frying up sweet onions, but its no Outback Onion.  So we're trying this recipe tonight ^.^
This recipe serves 2, to serve more just multiply seasonings by two and add an onion. (one onion serves two)

Bloomin Onion w/ sauce


Onion poppers, pearl onions battered and fried
Ingredients:

Batter
2 T Cornstarch
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 oz beer
1 sweet onion (walla walla is best)

Seasoned flour
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/16 tsp (dash) cayenne pepper

Outback Dipping Sauce
1/8 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp ketchup
1/2 tsp creamed horseradish
1/16 tsp (dash) paprika
1/16 tsp (dash) salt
1/16 tsp (dash) dried oregano
dash black pepper
dash cayenne pepper

Creamy Chili Sauce (optional)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/8 cup tomato chili sause
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:


make your mixes except for batter

Seasoned Flour: Combine flour, paprika, garlic powder and cayenne. Mix well.

Creamy Chili Sauce: Combine mayo, sour cream, chili sauce and cayenne. Mix well.

Dipping Sauce: Blend everything together well and let sit for 2 hours in refrigeration or overnight.

To make Onion...
  1. Cut about 3/4 inch off top of onion and peel. Cut onion into 12 - 16 vertical wedges but do not cut through bottom root end. Remove about 1 inch of petals from center of onion, DO NOT cut through root or onion will fall apart. Place onion in ice water for ONE HOUR to open up blooms and help petals keep their shape during cooking. After one hour shake off any excess water. 
  2. Make batter: Mix cornstarch, flour and seasonings until well blended. Add beer and mix well.
  3. Place onion root side down on wax paper or on a dish.  Lightly sprinkle or sift seasoned flour on top of the onion. 
  4. Turn onion onto its side. With one hand, gently spread the petals apart.  With the other hand, lightly sprinkle mix onto every petal. Be sure to completely cover each layer of petals with dry mix. While still on its side, rotate the onion until all the petals are covered with dry mix.  
  5. Turn the onion root side up and shake off any excess mix.
  6. With the root side down, place the onion into the batter. Gently push petals down and separate each petal with your fingers to allow the wet batter to get in between each layer.
  7. Next, rotate the onion so the petals are facing downward. Let the onion remain in the wet batter for 10-15 seconds. this allows the wet batter to cover the whole onion. Take the onion and turn it root side up, allowing any excess batter to drip back into bowl.
  8. Remove the onion from the wet batter and repeat steps 3-5
  9. In a deep fryer (or pot of oil deep enough to completely cover onion when submerged) that is heated to 375*f. Gently spread petals apart once again and place onion, root side up, into the preheated oil. Wait 5 seconds. Using a long handled cooking utensil, push down on the root of the onion, suberging it deeper into the oil, for 3-5 seconds this allowes the onion petals to expand like a flower.  Cook for 1 minute 20 seconds longer, then turn over and cook for 1 1/2 minutes more.
  10. Remove onion from the oil, root side up. Let excess oil drip off onion into pan. Place onion, root side down, on a double layer of paper towels to drain excess oil.  Once oil has drained, cut out the remainder of the onion core.  BE CAREFUL AS ONION WILL STILL BE VERY HOT!
  11. Put dip(s) into a container in the center of the onion and enjoy!

So... we were out of horseradish and all the stores are closed for Christmas Day... so we used pearl onions and made onion poppers with the batter and flour instead.  They tasted great!

When we did get around to making the Bloomin Onion my husband decided to double batter (flour, batter, flour, batter, flour) the onion, which in my opinion kind of made some pieces a bit too thick. But needless to say the batter/flour mix that tasted awesome on the pearl onions, just tasted so-so (and needed salt) on the sweet onion. Also I felt the "sauce" tasted more like a bob's burger special sauce than outbacks sauce.  Next time I go there I will ask them for their recipe and see if its different.

Here's some pictures of the steps. (though the wet steps were left out as I didnt want my camera dirty)

Onion cut, soaked for one hour in ice water and drained
Onion with seasoned flour on ready to go into batter
Double battered onion after frying, before center is removed for eating

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Seasons Greetings

Dont normally post these on here but... Seasons Greetings everyone!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Red Velvet Pancakes

We eat a lot of pancakes in our house, tonight we wanted to try something a bit different so we tried Red Velvet Pancakes.
So I kind of feel like this recipe is a copout, but kind of not because I did do a bit of trial and error tonight before coming up with this recipe. Here's what my pancakes looked like done (and under bad lighting, sorry). I served them with a dollop of Cream Cheese Frosting in lieu of butter and syrup.

Red Velvet Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 cup Pancake Mix (home made or store bought)
1 cup Red Velvet Cake Mix (homemade or store bought)
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk (or soured milk)
2 eggs
1 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp melted butter

Directions:

  1. Combine oil, milk and eggs in a bowl. Beat with a whisk until liquid is well combined and foamy.
  2. Add red velvet mix, pancake batter and melted butter. Mix with a whisk until combined...do not over beat (batter should be lumpy). Set batter aside for 10-20 minutes before cooking, this is important as it doesnt turn out the same unless you do.
  3. Pour 2-4 oz of batter on a hot (350*f) griddle. These pancakes take about 1-1/2 to 2 times a long as a regular pancake, dont rush it. Cook until bubbly, a little dry around the edges, when you think they're ready, wait 30 seconds more, then turn and brown the other side. Do not pat down pancakes or they will flatten.

Sadly... my molds dont work well with this recipe, the moisture content got trapped inside and stayed raw.  But as a regular pancake they were fantastic.
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Banana Cupcakes

What's better than banana bread? why a banana cupcake of course!
Made this for the Bake Sale for Japan.

Banana Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening
1 -1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup buttermilk

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and bananas. 
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to banana mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  4. Fill 18 paper-lined muffni cups two-thirds full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  5. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire racks to cool completely.  Frost when completely cool, top with walnuts if desired.


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Chocolate "Surprise Inside" Cupcakes (Truffle filling)

I also made these for the Bake Sale for Japan and they are awesome, rich chocolate cake with a chocolate Dulce de Leche truffle inside and iced with chocolate frosting mmmmmm...
 

Chocolate "Surprise Inside" Cupcake 
(Truffle filling)

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 tsp baking soda

Filling:
same as my melting middles truffles
2/3 cup dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
1 cup dulce de leche caramel

Directions:

Make the middles first.
  1. Heat the Dulce de Leche in a pan for 1 min until warmed and runny, then stir in the chopped dark chocolate and leave to melt. Stir until smooth. 
  2. Cover a dinner plate with saran wrap, oil the saran wrap well, then pour the mix onto it. 
  3. Cool, then freeze for 2 hrs or until very firm. 
  4. Roll mixture into twenty four 1in balls, chill for an hour.  Refrigerate or freeze any remaining filling for later use.
Note: I have never gotten this recipe to become firm, or to even freeze after MONTHS in my deep freezer that's at -20*f.  That said, they still taste awesome enough to deal with the stickiness.

Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350*f
  2. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, water, oil, vinegar and vanilla until well blended. In another large bowl combine the flour, cocoa and baking soda; gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended.
  3. Fill paper lined muffin cups one-third full. Drop a truffle into the center of each cupcake. Top with remaining batter.
  4. Bake for 17-22 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.  Frost when completely cool.

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Hummingbird Cupcakes


This very yummy cupcake I also made for the Bake Sale for Japan.
I think I ate at least one for every six I sold! They're really yummy!

Hummingbird Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple, dtrained
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream cheese frosting

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350*f
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In a small bowl combine bananas and pineapple.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with banana mixture, beating well after each addition. Fold in coconut and walnuts.
  4. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. 
  5. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.  
  6. Frost cupcakes when completely cool.

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Carrot Blueberry Cupcakes

This last summer I held a bake sale to help with the clean up efforts in Japan after the 9.0 earth quake followed by the huge tsunami that hit on April 7, 2011.
They're a very moist cake, but I probably would have preferred them without the addition of zucchini.

Carrot Blueberry Cupcakes
recipe from Taste of Home: Cupcakes for Every Season

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 -1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup finely shredded carrots
3/4 cup zucchini
1/2 cup unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries

Frosting:
1 package (3 oz) cream cheese softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 -1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375*f
  2. In a small bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.  In another large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder , cinnamon, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended. 
  3. Stir in the carrots, zucchini and pineapple. Fold in blueberries.
  4. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. bakes for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire rack to cool completely.

For Frosting:
  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Frost cupcakes. 
  2. Sprinkle with nuts if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

Note: If using blueberries, use without thawing to avoid discoloring the batter.
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Soured Milk as Substitute for Buttermilk

So you go to make your favorite recipe, have everything together and then realize, you're out of buttermilk!  Or, as usually in my case, you want a recipe that involves buttermilk, but you have three beautiful lactose intolerant kids looking up at you adoringly.  You have a few choices... make the recipe without buttermilk, run to the store and pick some up... or make sour milk.  In my case we generally make sour milk or do without (generally no one's happy with this outcome).
But just how does one make sour milk? Is it possible to make sour milk lactose free?  Well the answers are easy, and yes definitely.  Though make sure the people are lactose intolerant and DON'T have a milk allergy they're completely different and mixing it up could end up in a trip to the ER or worse.


Soured Milk

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp White Vinegar OR Lemon Juice
enough 2% (or higher) milk to make 1 cup

Directions:
  1. put the 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice into a 1 cup liquid measuring cup
  2. add enough milk to make 1 cup total
  3. can be used after 5 minutes, the milk will be a thicker consistency and possibly curdle a bit, this is ok

To make lactose free, use lactose free (such as Lactaid brand) milk.
Lactose free milk is naturally sweeter than regular milk due to the addition of lactase enzyme which breaks down the lactose in the milk making it safe for lactose intolerant people to drink.

Please note that soured milk is NOT milk that is spoiled, but is a chemical reaction caused by the addition of an acid.
Buttermilk is soured through bacterial fermentation not allowing milk to go bad, to replicate the bacterial fermentation we added the acid to achieve the same outcome.
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Friday, December 2, 2011

Cake Batter Pancakes



A little bit of cake in your breakfast? yes please!
Tried this recipe the other day, with and without sprinkles and with and without the glaze and learned you HAVE to use the glaze AND have sprinkles for it to taste like cake.  But it tastes AWESOME!

Cake Batter Pancakes

Ingredients 
Pancakes:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup Betty Crocker Supermoist yellow cake mix
1 Tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups milk
assorted sprinkles
 For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
assorted sprinkles
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
Directions
  1. Combine flour, cake mix, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix.
  2. Add 1 cup of milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth. Add additional milk until batter has the consistency of pancake batter. You can also add more cake mix if you want your pancakes to have a stronger cake batter flavor.
  3. Preheat a skillet to low to medium heat. Fold desired amount of sprinkles into batter. Pour batter in 1/4 cup measurements onto skillet and let cook until bubbles form on top, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more. Serve with vanilla glaze (recipe follows).
  4. For vanilla glaze: mix powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla and milk until glaze forms. You may need to add a little more milk to reach desired consistency so that it can be drizzled. Mix into glaze and drizzle on pancakes.
Adapted from How Sweet It Is (http://www.howsweeteats.com/2011/01/cake-batter-pancakes/)


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