Asian Turkey Meatballs

Asian Turkey Meatballs

You guys are all seeing the Internet hoopla about “The Dress” aren’t you?

For those that aren’t, you should so you can join in on the conversation. Here ya go: check it out.

See? Now, let’s say it all together. What colors is the dress?

BLUE AND BLACK.

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Wait, what?! I know some of you guys aren’t like Jas and ACTUALLY see white and gold? What’s the matter with you? The Dress is blue and black; blue and black, I tell you!

This actually sparked a debate in my house last night; me and Ashley stand by the assertion that the dress is blue and black. Jas and my mom are convinced it’s white and gold. We were split right down the middle. I just couldn’t see it. I didn’t understand. It was a mystery.

But apparently the whole thing boils down to the ability of the cones in our eye retinas to mix and process colors through out brains. The people that see blue and black have cones that are better able to do this; people that see white and gold have cones that are…different.

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(Ha ha Jas.)

But in all fairness, since last night I have taken another couple looks at the picture (this is all  over social media by now so it’s kind of impossible not to) and I will admit: if I try really, really, REALLY hard…then I can see the dress as white and gold. It’s like mentally flicking a light switch on in my brain and literally ‘forcing’ myself to see white and gold. It only lasts for a few seconds, but it does work. Honestly it reminds me of one of those optical illusion pictures where there are actually two drawings within one and depending on whether or not you’re left brained or right brained, you see one or the other.

My first instinct with this dress will always make me see blue and black, but if I try to, then I can see white and gold.

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I know what you’re thinking: “Jess. What does The Dress have to do with this post?”

I was getting to that. See, this post has been in my Posts folder on the WordPress dashboard for nearly a month. I’ve been purposely passing it over in favor of other recipes and at one point, considered deleting it altogether. It’s not that this is a bad recipe; it’s actually delicious.

The problem was I just didn’t like the way the pictures turned out. Or at least most times, I didn’t.

Photographing brown food is really hard, guys. If you have crap lighting, then forget about; it’s not gonna work. But even under the best lighting circumstances imaginable, there’s still the risk that the dish you’re shooting will turn out looking…not appetizing.

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I did what I could to prevent this from happening; including other colors,making sure my sauce was fresh and shiny and sticky, and creating texture with sesame seeds…but when it was all said and done I still wasn’t sure.

At one point, I would look at these pictures and think that the meatballs looked good. Then the next day I’d look at them and think they looked like….

Well, you get it.

But today I feel like they don’t look too shabby. And considering I DID put in the work in cooking and photographing them, I figure I’d make it worthwhile and just put the friggin post up regardless. You guys be the judge.

Just think of it like The Dress photo; give it a few tries and see if you can see things differently than my more negative/self-depreciating side. Let me know if it works. And if it doesn’t, then do me a favor: don’t feel obligated to point it out. Just don’t tell me. Deal?

Oh yeah and Happy Fiesta Friday #57 at The Novice Gardener.

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Asian Turkey Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/4 head)
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces shitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg white
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 4 scallions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2 -inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha chile sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 head Boston lettuce, leaves separated

Directions

1. Make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer the cabbage to a plate to cool.

2. Wipe out the pan, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and the mushrooms. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to the plate with the cabbage to cool.

3. Lightly beat the eggs and egg white in a large bowl. Add the pork, scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and cornstarch. Add the cabbage, mushrooms and a few grinds of pepper and mix with your hands until just combined (do not overmix). Dampen your hands and shape the meat mixture into 18 balls (about 2 inches each); arrange on the prepared baking sheet.

4. Make the sauce: Mix the hoisin sauce, Sriracha, vinegar, sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a bowl; set aside 1/2 cup for serving. Brush the meatballs with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake until cooked through, 18 to 22 minutes. Serve in lettuce leaves with the reserved sauce.

Hot Wok Chicken Stir-Fry

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You guys know when you go to a Chinese take-out joint, they’ll serve some dishes with creative names? I’ve always really liked that.

I’m looking at a menu from one of the nearby places here where we’ve gone for years at a list of items that they given those ‘special names’. The funny thing about it is that they don’t really describe what the food is; it’s as if they just expect you to know what it is beforehand. I don’t, but I can always speculate:

1) “Eight Parts Delicious”- I’ve never tried this one before. I’ve always been too scared. Why ‘eight parts’? Why not five, or six, or four? Does eight parts mean eight different spices? Eight different vegetables? Eight different meats? (Wait, that’s really probably not it, I can’t even think of eight meats right now).

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2) “Happy Family”- I’m assuming this is just a big assortment of meats and veggies stir-fried together to make one big “happy family” of a dish. It better be for what they’re charging for it. Sheesh.

3) “Phoenix and Dragon”- well, let me see. I couldn’t swear to what the protein in this would be, but I’m going to make a wild guess that whatever it is, it’s pretty spicy. The ‘phoenix’ part can obviously pass for chicken, but what’s the term used for reptiles? Do people even eat reptiles?

4) “Four Seasons”- This one I’m almost positive had four proteins in it. I mean it’s almost too easy: chicken, beef, pork, fish. The REAL question is which protein stands for which season. I’ll think about it and get back to you guys on that one.

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I got one of my mad, notorious cravings for some Asian stir-fry and rather than just pick up the phone and order in, I remembered that I’m a freakin food blogger and went into the kitchen to fire up my wok instead. That’s pretty impressive for me guys, so you should be giving me a pat on the back.

There really was no rhyme or reason for the ingredients I picked out when planning this recipe. I just used what I knew would be easy, and pretty accessible for most people to get. My protein of choice was chicken (which is par for the course for me), but if you’re more partial to using beef or pork, then feel free to swap it out.

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I was really very happy with how this dish turned out. There’s the perfect ratio of meat to the veggies, the sauce (although literally thrown together at the last minute) turned out really good, and what’s more the dish can feed a pretty good sized crowd. The only problem I could find with it was when I finished cooking and taking pictures and needed to come up with a good name for it to post on the blog.

See, I really, really REALLY wanted to give it one of those ‘creative’ names I’ve seen in Chinese take-out menus. Don’t ask why, I just wanted to.

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My ‘other’ hobby is writing, so at first I tried to get REALLY out there with this. My first idea was “Buddha’s Delight”, but I seemed to remember hearing of that somewhere else, so I binned it.  Then I thought maybe “Year of the Snake” would be kinda cool since according to the Chinese Calendar, that’s my animal/sign. But I just couldn’t marry the idea of a snake with a dish where the protein is chicken so that was out too. After looking at the pictures from the photo shoot the name “Rainbow Stir-Fry” occurred to me to illustrate all the pretty veggie colors. Then I said it out loud and realized that it sounded stupid.

As you guys can see, the winner didn’t turn out to be all that impressive or creative. My wok stayed pretty hot while I was cooking the dish, and the stir-fry part would also make it pretty obvious what it was to avoid any confusion.

So there you have it: Hot Wok Chicken Stir-Fry. I can promise you that it MORE than makes up for in taste what it lacks in name originality.

I’ll be bringing this over to the Fiesta Friday #56  party hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by  Tina @Mademoiselle Gourmandeand Juju @cookingwithauntjuju.

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Hot Wok Chicken Stir-Fry

Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport

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Ingredients

  • 4-5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced thinly into strips
  • 3 tri-color bell peppers (red, yellow and orange), thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups matchstick carrots
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
  • 12 oz. broccoli florets
  • 1-2 tbsp. of your favorite stir-fry seasoning
  • Asian stir fry oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. agave nectar or honey
  • 2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • Dried Chow Mein Noodles, optional
  • Egg or vermicelli rice noodles, optional

Directions

1. Heat 1-2 tsp. of Asian stir-fry oil in the bottom of a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Add the peppers and carrots and sautee until softened and slightly limp, 7-10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Add another 1-2 tsp. of stir-fry oil to pan and sautee mushrooms about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and place with peppers and carrots.

3. Season chicken with stir-fry seasoning in a large bowl, stirring to make sure meat is evenly covered. Add additional stir-fry oil to pan and allow to heat. Add chicken to the pan (you may have to do this in multiple batches, don’t crowd it) and sautee until completely cooked through.

4. Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, agave nectar/honey, hoisin sauce and sesame oil in a measuring cup.

5. When all of the chicken is finished cooking, add the peppers, carrots and mushroom mixture back to the pan. Turn heat up to high. Drizzle the sauce into the mixture and stir to combine. (Note: you may not need to use it all depending on how you like your stir-fry seasoned, so taste and adjust accordingly) Continue to cook until all of the liquid in the pan has been absorbed. During the last minute or so of stir-frying add the broccoli to the pan.

6. When stir-fry is completed, sprinkle chow mein noodles on top and serve atop egg noodles or vermicelli rice noodles if desired. 

Red Velvet Brownie Cookies

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Alright.

Let me just get this out of the way real quick.

I’m single. And so naturally, I kicked off this Valentines Day the same way any single person would: filing my taxes.

Because there’s nothing like W-2s, Student Loan Interest statements and the IRS to get you in the mood.

But that refund I’ll be getting in give or take a few weeks? That’s enough to make me smile.

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I think there’s this assumption that single people get bitter, lonely or depressed at Valentines Day, but I’ve never found that to be the case for me. I think it’s great that people want to go out of their way to express love or appreciation for each other today- just as long as it’s a habit that they practice for the other 364 days of the year as well. I think that it’s important for single folks to practice expressing love and appreciation for themselves, and other people in their lives that aren’t spouses or partners.

I also think it would be great if Charlie Hunnam wanted to surprise me with a bouquet of red roses, then take me out for a romantic dinner, decadent dessert, and a walk on the beach. But I have an uncanny premonition that this isn’t going to happen, so I’m deciding to content myself with other slightly more realistic things instead.

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Right now my house smells like a bundle of exotic spices and herbs, and it’s all coming from a Dutch oven of Moroccan chicken tagine that I’m preparing for me and my family’s dinner tonight. There won’t be any romance over the meal, but my stomach’s already starting to growl in anticipation. And just in case you haven’t noticed, I have the decadent dessert on lock too.

I’m talking about rich, fudgy Red Velvet Brownie Cookies guys.

Also one of the best cookies I’ve ever made- and I’ve made more than a few cookies in my life, let me tell you.

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I knew I wanted to do a Valentine’s Day themed recipe for the blog, but was having trouble finding some inspiration. Then I went to Walmart and while I was down the candy aisle, I saw these bags of Red Velvet M and M’s.

Which you know, I just had to have.

But aside from the candy, I started thinking about ways I could incorporate them into a dessert. Cake didn’t seem like a good choice, and brownies ALMOST made it. But I thought that for candies, cookies made more sense. When I had trouble deciding between the two, I figured that there had to be a way to compromise. And wouldn’t you know it, I was right.

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I first got the inspiration for this recipe from a Taste of Home magazine clipping I’d saved for a while. However, the author of that recipe needs to give it some major tweaking; the batter is far too wet and loose for cookies- even fudgy brownie ones. I added an extra cup of flour and chilled the dough overnight to firm it up. Also, I added red food coloring to give it a subtle, but rich red hue. Finally, the Red Velvet M and Ms were  pressed into the cookies the second after I took them out of the oven.

Happy Valentine’s Day AND a very Happy Fiesta Friday #55 to all of us gathering at Angie’s The Novice Gardener. Shout out to  Suzanne @apuginthekitchen and Sue @birgerbird for co-hosting this week; you guys are the real MVPs lol.

Who needs a Valentine when you have these cookies?

…Meh, actually I’d still really love Charlie Hunnam to  be my Valentine and take me out tonight. But I’ll settle for these instead, I guess.

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Red Velvet Brownie Cookies

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Recipe Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 2-2/3 cups (16 ounces) 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate baking chips
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1- 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 package (11.5 oz. ) semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • About 1 cup Red Velvet M and M chocolate candies
  • Red food coloring

Directions

1. In a large saucepan, melt chocolate chips and butter over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat; cool until mixture is warm.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and, if desired, espresso powder until blended. Whisk into chocolate mixture.

3. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt; add to chocolate mixture, mixing well.
Squeeze in desired amount of red food coloring. Fold in chocolate chunks; let stand 10 minutes, then refrigerate overnight or at least for one hour.

4. Preheat oven to 350°. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls 3 in. apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake 12-14 minutes or until set.

5. Press M and M chocolate candies into tops of cookies, about 4-5 candies per cookie. Cool on pans 1-2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

 

Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

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One of things that I am really proud of myself for learning how to do in the kitchen is bake fresh bread. It takes some getting used to in the beginning, and to be honest there are still things I have to learn but once you get the hang of it, going back to store bought bread pretty much becomes impossible. I can’t really explain in detail what the difference is, but I suspect that is has something to do with the preservatives found in store bread, especially white bread. I can literally taste the preservatives they put in it- it almost leaves a sour aftertaste in my mouth that’s just really unpleasant, so I don’t even touch the stuff anymore. If I’m eating white bread at all, it’s only because I made it myself first. The aftertaste of THAT stuff is pretty darn good if I may say so myself. But my point is, whenever we run out of bread in my house, I know that I just have to make some more. Needless to say, I’m always on the lookout for new yeast bread recipes to try out just to keep things around here interesting.

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I remember it was about a year or so ago where I was writing up a post complaining about how I was struggling to get my yeast bread doughs to rise on sheet pans. It just wouldn’t work, and frustrated me to no end. Whenever I shaped and set my dough out for its second rise on the sheet pan, most time it just barely expanded, if at all. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong, especially whenever I would make the bread in round pans or in pyrex glass dishes, it worked out beautifully. For a while, I just avoided baking bread in sheet pans altogether, but recently I decided to try and get back on the horse again and slightly tweak my methods in the second rise to see if that would yield different results. These crescent rolls were my guinea pigs.

How do you guys think I did?

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Well I’ll just go ahead and say it if you won’t: I think it turned out rather well. Here’s what I changed in case you were curious.

See, in the past what I was doing was using very large sheet pans for my second rise and spacing the rolled out dough pretty far apart from each other. I’m no food scientist like Alton Brown or the folks at America’s Test Kitchen but what I THINK was happening in my previous attempts was that rather than expanding ‘up’ on the second rise and giving that heightened fluffiness that you see in the above picture, my dough was expanding ‘out’ since there was so much space between each individual one and giving it the appearance of being flatter. Now is it possible that the dough would eventually rise and become taller? Yeah probably, but I do think that it would’ve taken longer than an hour or two so long as I was using the larger sheet pans.

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So what I did this time around was use one of the smallest sheet pans that I had for my second dough rise, which left a much smaller space between each one of the crescent rolls- this way, the only place that the dough would have to ‘go’ when expanding would be ‘up'; get it? Also, I dampened a clean kitchen towel and placed it over the sheet pan of crescents, put the whole thing in my overhead microwave, then turned on my oven. The heat from my oven created a warmth inside the microwave that combined with the damp cloth created a humidity that made it into a kind of DIY proof-box, so to speak.

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This time after the second rise, I was having the exact opposite problem that I’d been having with sheet pans all along: now, the dough had proofed and risen so well that they were all nearly crammed together slightly rising up over the pan itself. But I didn’t care about that: I was too busy doing Snoopy/Victory dances from finally overcoming my sheet pan-bread baking woes. Plus, who was I to get upset over jumbo size crescent rolls that baked up so golden and pretty like these ones did here? Nobody, that’s who.

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Wait a minute; I’m completely forgetting that there’s vegetables in these crescents, which is crazy since the sweet potatoes are what give them the deliciously golden orange color. But they’re there: one whole cup of fresh sweet potato mash. Which, you know should make you feel pretty good about eating one of these…or two…or…another undisclosed amount.

….Why are you guys staring at me like that?

So I think the moral of the story here is that when encountering difficulties in the kitchen, just keep at it. Even if it doesn’t work the first, second or third time. I did. And I think my diligence was rewarded.

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Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

Recipe Courtesy of Red Star Yeast via Completely Delicious

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3-4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet (2 1/2 tsp.) Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (about 1 medium) sweet potato puree

 Directions

1. In a small saucepan set over medium low heat, warm the butter, honey and milk until butter is melted and mixture begins to steam. Do not boil. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes, or until the temperature is between 120-130 degrees F.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 1½ cups of the flour with the yeast, salt and nutmeg. Add the milk mixture and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each, followed by the sweet potato puree. With the mixer on low, add the remaining flour ¼ cup at a time until dough clears the side of the bowl but is still slightly sticky to the touch. You may not need all 4 cups of flour.

3. Continue to knead the dough in the mixer until it is smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

4. Gently punch down dough and knead a few times. Cover it with the plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.

5. On a clean surface roll the dough out into a 16-inch circle. Using a pizza slicer, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Working with each piece individually, roll the dough up starting with the fat end. Place the roll on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper so the skinny point is on the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and rise again for 30 minutes.

6. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake rolls until they are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Marcus Samuelsson’s Chipotle Chicken

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a habit of doing some kind of reading just before I go to bed. No matter where I am, whether it’s been at home, in a hotel while traveling, at my dorm room and apartment when I was in college, or even visiting at another person’s house, I always have a book that I carry with me and place on a night stand just beside the bed within arms reach that I read before I go to sleep. Besides the fact that I think it somewhat helps my body ‘wind down’ to sleep, I’ve always just really loved reading.

Now what exactly I read has shifted somewhat over the years. At first and for a while, I mainly stuck to fiction but as my interests have evolved, so has my reading preferences. For a while I was in a real historical non-fiction/biography kick, so I was reading those a lot.  But nowadays, my bedside reading mainly comprises of two things: cookbooks and food magazines.

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I’m serious you guys. That’s what I ‘read’ before I go to bed just about every night. I’m looking across from my bed right now and I can tell you exactly what’s there if you don’t believe me:

The Food Network Magazines from November 2014, December 2014, and January 2015 (they’re still there beacause I haven’t gotten around to cutting out the clippings of the recipes I want to try yet- but I will. Scout’s honor)

My recipe notebook for when I’m in the kitchen and recording a new recipe- it’s not very organized and it’s actually pretty beat up and stained with food from my haphazard kitchen adventures, but it does have a special place on my nightstand.

“Marcus Off Duty” by Marcus Samuelsson

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The third one has been a really particular favorite ever since I received it for a Christmas present from my older sister Ashley. I was just thrilled to get this book, guys. Number one, IT’S SIGNED by HIM (which literally made me scream when I opened it on Christmas Day, so not kidding) Number two, I’m a huge Marcus Samuelsson fan; aside from his MAD skills in the kitchen I really love his approach to reinventing comfort food as both sophisticated yet still approachable for ‘ordinary folk’ like me. Also, he’s one of the snappiest dressers I’ve ever seen, and rather easy on the eyes if you know what I mean *wink wink*

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The story of his rather extraordinary life is written in the wide diversity of his food, something that’s made very apparent in this latest cookbook of his. Ever since Christmas it’s stayed on my nightstand and not a day goes by when I don’t find myself coming back to skim through this book and pick something out that I really want to try out and make.

This recipe was the first one that I’ve gotten around to making because (of course) I’m always looking for new things to do with chicken. This may sound extreme for me to say, but it’s the truth so I’m gonna say it anyway: this is just about some of the best chicken I’ve ever had. Seriously. The marinade has so much complexity of flavors and they really do hit all the right notes; first you get the acidity from the lime juice, then the sweet citrus of the orange and chili sauce, and finally the heat from the adobo creeps up on you from the back of your tongue just as after you swallow. I have no idea how he manages to do that in just one recipe but I nonetheless bow down to Marcus’ greatness.

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One bite of this dish really makes you realize that this is somebody who not only knows how to cook, but also really understands the way the tongue processes and ‘reads’ flavors so to speak. What’s even more crazy is that he can do that with boneless, skinless chicken breasts- which I’ve noticed most chefs turn their noses up at as boring and tasteless.

This recipe originally called for the meat to be placed on skewers and either broiled or grilled. I did that, but I forgot to let my skewers soak overnight and could only let them sit in water for about an hour- which apparently wasn’t long enough to keep them from being scorched. No way was I letting burned, blackened, ugly skewers ruin my photoshoot, so I just slid the chicken off for the camera and dressed it up with how I ate it after it was done; wrapped in a tortilla with rice on the rice. So friggin GOOD.

I’m late to the Fiesta Friday #54 party this week, but that’s okay. Thanks to Angie@TheNoviceGardener for hosting, and  Sonal @simplyvegetarian777 and Josette @thebrookcook for co-hosting.

And HUGE thanks to Marcus for his cookbook, as well as this bomb.com chicken.


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Marcus Samuelsson's Chipotle Chicken

Recipe Courtesy of Marcus Samuelsson

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Ingredients

For the Marinade:

  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo (or more to taste)’
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. chile powder

For the Chicken

  • 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 medium red onions, cut through the root into sixths
  • 18 (6 inch) bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh

Directions

1. Make the marinade: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if you need to.

2. Make the chicken: Put the chicken into 1-gallon zip-top bag, add 1/2 cup of the marinade and massage to coat all the chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or overnight). Reserve the rest of the marinade.

3. Preheat the broiler; if using a gas grill, preheat to medium.

4. While the grill or broiler is heating up, slide 1 piece of onion onto each skewer, followed by 3 pieces of chicken. Continue until you’ve filled all the skewers. Arrange the skewers in a single layer with salt and pepper and brush 1/4 cup of the reserved marinade.

5. Broil the chicken skewers, without turning them, until the chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. If grilling, they’ll take 5 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and garnish with the sesame seeds, cilantro and basil.

6. Bring remaining marinade to a boil in a small saucepan and serve with the skewers.

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

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There’s an outlet store just down the street from where I live that is really, really dangerous for me to go to.

Number one, it’s an outlet store, so that means that everything there is super marked down in price. The danger for me lies in the fact that they have a pretty large cook book section- and the cook books are actually REALLY nice, quality ones. I’ve walked out of there with cook books two or three inches thick FILLED with delicious recipes that I’ve gotten for under $10.00. It really is a good deal. It IS.

As much as I try to come up with new and original recipes for the blog, often I find myself suffering from ‘foodie guilt’ because of all the pre-written recipes I have sitting around in my embarrassingly large cookbook collection, as well as all the numerous binders I have of recipes I’ve cut out of food magazines and printed from offline.

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Here’s the thing: when I’m BUYING the cookbook or printing off the recipe, I will SWEAR to myself that I’m going to use it all the time, that I’m actually going to work through the entire book or cook the particular recipe every week. And when I catch myself not exactly following through with that I’ll go through a period where I’ll be gung-ho about trying to test out all of the recipes I’ve saved from the internet or bookmarked in my cookbooks.

Y’know, just to convince myself that I wasn’t wasting my money or printer ink- both of which I really can’t afford to waste like that.

The process usually boils down to me either first seeing what I have ahead of time in the house, or what’s on sale this week at the grocery store, then matching it against what I’ve bookmarked in the cookbooks or online.

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A week or so ago, I knew that I needed to put together a new recipe for the blog, but I was also having a bout of ‘foodie guilt’ and didn’t feel like trying to become inspired enough to write a new recipe. As it happens, I was also thumbing through one of my recipe binders when I came across a cut out from Better Home and Gardens magazine that caught my attention.

For some reason, I always seem to have one or two sweet potatoes on hand in the house. (‘Some reason’ really just meaning that I love them and would be really pissed off if I had a craving for one and suddenly couldn’t have any because we were out). But it worked out pretty well for that day because the recipe that I came across was for something called Sweet Potato Spoon Bread.

Sweet Potato Spoonbread5

Spoon bread is a dish that is pretty popular in Southern-style cooking, but interestingly enough, I’d never tried it before. I wasn’t even completely sure what it was or what it would taste like until I looked through the ingredients list and directions for this recipe. I had a day off work, and all the ingredients in the house and it did look pretty yummy in the magazine so I decided to take the plunge and give it a shot for myself.

I’d be willing to bet that I’m not the only person who’s not all that familiar with spoon bread, so just in case the pictures aren’t doing enough for you guys, I can go ahead and give you a rundown of what it tastes like.

Sweet Potato Spoonbread4

It’s probably pretty obvious, but this isn’t really bread in the sense that we would think of dough-like carbs, per se. I would actually describe spoon bread as a kind of savory style casserole-pudding. The eggs and egg whites give it a very fluffy, smooth texture and while it’s heavier than a souffle, it’s lighter than any kind of bread. Having said that, this recipe came out very well. The sweet potato flavor really comes through and is complimented nicely with the thyme. I especially liked the inclusion of cornmeal in this recipe, just to give it enough texture so the dish wasn’t too one-note. I topped this with homemade cranberry sauce and ate it as a side dish for dinner, but I could also see melted cheese working VERY well also.

See? My Foodie Guilt does yield good results after all.

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Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

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Recipe Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter (1/4 stick, melted)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 lb.)
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup finely ground white or yellow cornmeal
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tsp. baking powder

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease 2-quart soufflé or casserole with 1 tbsp. butter.

2. Wrap potatoes with foil. Bake 45-55 minutes, until soft to the touch. Remove from oven. Discard foil; cool. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard peels. In large bowl, smash potatoes.

3. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F. In a large saucepan bring milk, thyme, sugar, salt and pepper to a boil over medium heat. In slow steady stream, whisk cornmeal into milk mixture. Cook, whisking constantly, 4 to 5 minutes until mixture is thick and pulls away from bottom of pan. Remove from heat, cool slightly. Add potatoes, egg yolks, remaining 3 tbsp. butter and baking powder to milk mixture; stir to thoroughly mix.

4. In large mixing bowl beat egg whites with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold whites into the potato mixture.

5. Spoon batter in a prepared dish. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Edges will be firm and the center a little soft. Remove from oven.

6. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips1

I’m about to say something that for some of you, will make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

I realize this. Heck, it almost doesn’t make any sense to me; but it is the truth, so I’ll just go ahead and say it anyway.

There is a shortage (in fact let’s just call it an absence) of seafood dishes on Cooking is My Sport.

It’s not that this is an accident. To be honest, it’s actually pretty intentional. And will probably, very likely remain that way. Why?

Because I don’t really like fish.

Fish and Chips2

I realize that for some of you, your mouths are hanging open and your eyes are bugging out of your head in shock. I know; because EVERYONE likes fish, right?

Wrong. I don’t. Neither do the people that live in my house. Not most fish anyway.

I’ve heard people give me all kinds of reasons and rationalizations as to why I have a ‘misplaced’ dislike for the meat of the sea: I haven’t had fish that was ‘fresh enough’. the fish I had wasn’t ‘cooked properly’, I need to eat more fish because it’s ‘healthier’, I need to ‘get creative and eat more types of fish’.

Blah, blah, blah. I’m not buying it anymore, folks. I’ve had fish that was frozen from the grocery store, and fresh fish off the coast of Miami Beach in 5 star restaurants. I’ve had fish cooked for me, and fish I’ve cooked myself.  I’ve had salmon, crappies, blue gills, shrimp, lobster, crab, tilapia, and cod. And yeah, you do feel kinda ‘lighter’ after eating it than you do after eating say… pork or beef.

But seriously, I don’t care about that. I’ve really tried to hop on the Fish bandwagon. But it just didn’t work out for me.

Fish and Chips3

I will concede on a few things. Salmon can be tasty when cooked properly. I like shrimp in fried rice and jambalaya. However for me, the majority of fish dishes out there pretty much just taste like…fish. There’s just something about the meat that for me doesn’t absorb flavor and spices as well as other proteins- at least not in a way that takes away that ocean-y aftertaste.

Unless you fry it. That’s a different story.

My grandma fries her fish (mostly blue gill and crappies) in cornmeal over the stove Southern-style, and I’ve never had a problem eating that. It’s very good. For a while, it was the only type of fish I was that interested in eating at all. (I even may go ahead and post that on the blog sometime, since it’s pretty easy to do…)

But this past Christmas, I bought myself the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook as a present and noticed their recipe for Fish and Chips.

Fish and Chips4

Don’t laugh at me guys, but for a long time (longer than I’m even willing to admit) I didn’t even know what the ‘chips’ of Fish and Chips was. The ‘Fish’ part was pretty obvious, but I didn’t know how it was supposed to be prepared, and I was completely clueless as to what the ‘chips’ were.

Was ‘chips’ a code-word for something else? Were ‘chips’ the chips I knew of that came in a yellow bag on the potato chip aisle of the grocery store? Why would anyone want to eat fish with potato chips anyway?

(Like I said, don’t laugh.)

I did eventually get around to figuring out that ‘chips’ were pretty much what I knew of as french fries. In reading the cook book, I also saw that the fish was typically dipped in a beer batter and deep fried until golden brown. This caught my attention and interest for 2 reasons. First, I’m a human and I’m sane- which is basically synonymous with having a  great and all encompassing love of french fries. Second, anything that gets dipped in a beer batter and deep fried…well suffice to say, it’s pretty much impossible that it’s gonna taste bad. Even fish. Im-possible.

Fish and Chips5

So what did I do? Well, I took a gamble; I went out and bought some cod fillets with potatoes, pulled out my deep fryer and got to work. Because I don’t cook with fish, I followed the ATK directions to a T; I even bought malt vinegar to sprinkle on the finished fish like they recommended (even though before now, I didn’t know there was such a thing as malt vinegar).

The verdict is in.

Yeah. Okay, um… this fish is good. Like really, really good stuff. And I honestly never thought I’d ever be saying something like that. But I am. Because I’ll never lie when it comes to food. I almost don’t even know where to start when trying to describe this dish.

Oh wait. Yes I do: with the beer batter crust on the fish. Wow. Just…wow. The crunch you get when you bite into it is almost unbelievable. It’s perfectly golden brown and is so well complimented by the puff of airy tenderness of the fish itself. The malt vinegar is exactly what you need to cut the saltiness of the batter and makes the flavors pop all the better.

I won’t lie guys, the potatoes are pretty labor intensive. And even though they came out beautifully, I have to be honest and say in the future I will probably take the shortcut and buy frozen ones to eat instead. Judge me if you like, I don’t care. That’s what they’re there for, right?

Fish and Chips6

My house may have smelled like a fish market for a few days afterward, but I was still really pleased with how my first attempt at Fish and Chips turned out. It was even something  family was willing to eat (which is really saying something). I couldn’t believe this was something I actually MADE. Me: the girl who hates fish.

Maybe this is a sign I should start broadening my horizons and being more open to eating fish more often.

…..Nah.

I will say this though, I feel confident enough about this dish to bring it to the Fiesta Friday Anniversary Party Part 2, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted by Nancy @Feasting With Friends and Selma @Selma’s Table.  Because I’m sure there are plenty of fish lovers here right?

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fiesta-friday-anniversary-part-21

Fish and Chips

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Recipe Courtesy of The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2015

 Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. russet potatoes (about 4 large), ends & sides squared off, and cut length-wise into 1/2 inch fries)
  • 3 quarts plus 1/4 up peanut oil or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • Table salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 lbs. cod other thick whitefish fillets, such as hake or haddock, cut into eight 3-oz. pieces about 1 inch thick)
  • 1 1/2 cup (12 oz.) cold beer

 Directions

1. Place the cut fries in a large, microwaveable bowl, toss with 1/4 cup of the oil & cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until potatoes are partially translucent and pliable but still offer some resistance when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 6-8 minutes, tossing them with a rubber spatula. Carefully pull back plastic wrap from side furthest from you and drain potatoes into large mesh strainer set over a sink. Rinse well under cold running water. Spread he potatoes on a few clean kitchen towels & pat dry. Let rest until fries have reached room temp, at least 10 minutes or up until an hour.

2. While fries cool, whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, black pepper, and 2 tsp. salt in a large mixing bowl; transfer 1/4 cup of the mixture to a rimmed baking sheet. Add baking powder to bowl and whisk to combine.

3. In a large Dutch oven fitted with lip on candy thermometer, heat 2 quarts more oil over medium heat to 350°F. Add the fries to the hot oil and increase the heat to high. Fry, stirring with a mesh spider or slotted metal spoon, until potatoes turn light golden and just begin to brown at the corners, 6-8 minutes. Transfer the fries to a thick paper bag or paper towels to drain.

4. Reduce heat to medium high, add remaining 1 quart oil and heat oil to 375°F. Thoroughly dry fish with paper towels & dredge each piece in the flour mixture on a baking sheet; transfer pieces to a wire rack, shaking off any excess flour. Add 1 1/4 cups of the beer to the flour mixture in the mixing bowl and stir until mixture is just combined (batter will be lumpy). Add remaining 1/4 cup of beer as needed, 1 tbsp. at a time, whisking after every addition until batter falls from whisk in a thin steady stream and leaves a faint trail across the surface of the batter. Using tongs, dip 1 piece of fish in the batter and let the excess run off, shaking gently. Place the battered fish back on the baking sheet with the flour mixture and turn to coat on both sides. Repeat with the remaining fish, keeping the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet.

5.When the oil reaches 375 degrees F, increase the heat to high and add the battered fish to the oil with the tongs, gently shaking off any excess flour. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a thick paper bag or paper towels to drain. Allow the oil to return to 375 degrees.

6. Add all of the fries back to the oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a fresh paper bag or paper towels to drain. Season the fries with salt to taste and serve immediately with the fish.