Tag Archives: Weeknight Meal

Grilled Venison Chops with Blackberry-Sage Brown Butter

Grilled Venison Chops with Blackberry-Sage Brown Butter

This summer, I learned the hard way, yet again, that stone fruits (specifically peaches, nectarines, and plums) really aren’t ready for prime time up here until August (apricots seem to usually be ready much sooner). I always try to force my will upon the stone fruits sometime in late June/early July, and every time I lose. This year I ceded the issue when I royally screwed up a nectarine crostata that shoulda woulda been delicious if not for unripe, horrifically uncooperative fruit.

So, we’ve been enjoying berries instead. Perhaps it’s the inner contrarian in me, but I absolutely love finding savory recipes for berries, despite the fact that they are so perfect in desserts and drinks. And make no mistake, I love berries in desserts and drinks! But, we’re consuming less sugar these days, so this just fits our lifestyle better, I guess. Fortunately, there are many, many methods of showcasing berries in all their sweet-tart glory that don’t add any sugar and are perfectly at home as your main dish for dinner.

grilled venison chops with blackberry-sage brown butter

Like this one. This one is beautiful. It came together very quickly, yet I would have happily paid $30 in a restaurant for it. This is one of the first recipes I made in the new apartment, (which is why the photography is subpar) as I was dying to try out my brand new indoor grill pan, and it taught me the value of saran-wrapping your smoke detector! Hashtag newer building problems.

Grilled Venison Chops with Blackberry-Sage Brown Butter

No matter. All worth it. Well, for us anyways. I suppose the neighbors may respectfully disagree… I hope y’all enjoy it!

Source: slightly adapted from The Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
4 (8 oz.) venison chops
2 tbs canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 fresh sage leaves, cut into thin strips, plus whole leaves for garnish
12 fresh blackberries, sliced in half

Directions:
Preheat your outdoor or indoor grill pan to high.
Brush both sides of the chops with the oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place on the hot grill and grill until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the chops and grill 3 minutes on the other side, until you have a nice brown exterior and the inside is between medium-rare and medium. Venison is incredibly lean, so you really, really don’t want to cook them even a second past medium.
When done, transfer to a platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest 5 minutes.
While the venison is resting, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced sage leaves and cook, occasionally stirring and turning the leaves, until the edges curl and the butter is dark amber but not black or burnt, about 5 minutes. Add the blackberries to the butter and cook for 20 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon some of the butter onto 4 large dinner plates. Top with the venison chops, and spoon some of the blackberries and butter over each top. Garnish with fresh sage leaves.

Squid with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

Squid with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

Like many other Gen X Americans, my first experience of squid was in the form of fried calamari with the cocktail dipping sauce. I’d heard of this restaurant appetizer in my teens, but unsurprisingly, I was incredibly reluctant to try it, given the squeamish picky eating and all. Also unsurprisingly, it was my then-boyfriend and now-husband who convinced me to give it a taste.

Squid with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

And so I fell down the rabbit hole. Needless to say, I loved fried calamari and started ordering it whenever I got the chance. It wasn’t until some years later that I thought that maybe I should try squid in non-breaded, non-fried states as well.

We’ve grilled it many times, which is harder than it looks to get the perfect texture, and possibly why I’ve yet to blog grilled squid. I’ve also got in mind a stuffed squid dish I want to try, and rest assured squid is delicious in paella or over pasta.

Squid with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

But (pseudo) stir-frying the squid, I’m very happy to report, is probably one of the easiest methods of cooking this type of seafood out there. It takes almost no time to cook, and a primarily Asian cooking method yielded this beautiful Italian-style quick and healthy dinner. The tomatoes are bright and acidic, yet slightly sweet, and their soft texture plays well against the firmer squid pieces. However… don’t forget the bread. You’ll want it and sorely miss it if you forget to pick any up from the store. Don’t ask me how I know this. Enjoy!

Squid with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

Source: Food & Wine, August 2013

Ingredients:
1/3 cup olive oil
2 ½ lbs. mixed cherry tomatoes
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 ½ lbs. small squid, cleaned, bodies cut into 1/3-inch rings and tentacles halved
1 ½ tbs white wine vinegar
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves

Directions:
In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes just start to blister, 4 minutes. Stir in the squid and cook over medium low heat, stirring, until the squid turns opaque, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Pistachio Crusted Pork Chops

Pistachio Crusted Pork Chops

This was the last meal I made and photographed for the blog in our old place (moment of silence please. Ha! Just kidding!). This meal came at that in-between stage you hit during a move: where you’re well into the throes of preparing for the movers to come, but you aren’t yet on the days on end of take-out diet because the kitchen is inaccessible. In other words, the meal you cook has to be quick and simple. And hopefully it can use up a fridge or pantry staple that you don’t want to throw out, but there’s not enough of it in the can/bag/jar/bottle to justify moving it to the new place.

pistachio crusted pork chops

I found an open bag of roasted pistachios in the refrigerator, then found this pork chop recipe, and as they say, dinner was served. I can honestly say that I would have made this meal anyway, and would happily make it again (unlike some of the slop I threw together in the last days of having a working kitchen, ahem).

Pistachio Crusted Pork Chops

The pork chops were tender inside and crunchy outside, tangy from the pistachios and mild from the pork flavor. Easy to prep and easy to clean up. I adore a good nut-crusted protein anyway, but for whatever reason I don’t think I’d had anything crusted with pistachios, and I’ve concluded that I have missed out a great deal. The flavor really pops. I hope you enjoy this one, moving or not!

pistachio crusted pork chops

Recipe notes: you could really use whatever pork chop you prefer for this. It would work on thin-cut, thick-cut, bone-in or boneless. I used a thick-cut bone-in chop, simply because that’s my favorite one that I find is most flavorful and easiest to cook. If you’re going for thin-cut, you’ll need to cut back on the cooking time. Use a meat thermometer to be sure.

Pistachio Crusted Pork Chops

Source: Every Day with Rachael Ray, November 2008

Ingredients:
½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios
1 clove garlic
1 tsp lemon zest
Kosher salt
¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs
Fresh cracked black pepper
4 (1-inch thick) bone-in pork chops
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup olive oil

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400 F.
Using a food processor, finely grind the nuts, garlic, lemon zest, and ½ tsp kosher salt. Be careful you don’t overdo it and make nut butter here. Transfer the ground nut mixture to a shallow bowl or pie plate, then whisk in the breadcrumbs.
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper to taste. Dip each chop into the egg, let the excess drip off, then coat both sides well with the nut mixture. Transfer to a plastic plate or baking sheet as you go.
In a large, oven-safe skillet, such as a cast iron, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pork chops and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 F, about 15-20 minutes.
Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

Barbecue-Sauced Shrimp with Crème Fraiche Dressing

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Finding simple, weeknight meal recipes that can be thrown together without much planning and that can be on the table in under an hour is not at all rare. Finding such a recipe in a Bobby Flay cookbook, however, is quite rare. No matter how many Food Network shows he does, Flay will always be a restaurant chef at heart. His recipes tend to be complex, involving many steps and many more ingredients. Which is fine, of course. Many, many home cooks, myself included, love a good kitchen project.

Barbecue Sauced Shrimp with Creme Fraiche Dressing

But, not the other night. The other night was weary and hungry and impatient, and demanded a flavorful dinner to hit the table right now. I really didn’t think the answer would be found in a Bobby Flay book, but I certainly won’t complain about my find, as this dinner couldn’t be simpler.

Barbecue Sauced Shrimp with Creme Fraiche Dressing

Heat the grill, toss the shrimp in a good-quality barbecue sauce, store-bought or something you already made, either works, and let them hang out for a few minutes. Make the dressing while the grill is coming up to temp, then throw the shrimp on the grill. Of course they cook very quickly, so you’re done in no time. Throw together a simple salad, or whatever side dish you prefer, and you have a perfect, light dinner.

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Flavors are strong, with the sweetness of the shrimp, the spiciness of the barbecue sauce and the bitter tang of the crème fraiche playing together quite nicely. Enjoy!

{One Year Ago: Cherry Crumble Pizza; Avocado Milkshakes; Banana Pudding Ice Cream; Peanut Butter Ice Cream; Reisling Ice Cream; Rocky Road Ice Cream; My Mom’s Taco Salad; My Mom’s Blackened Catfish}
{Two Years Ago: Roasted Asparagus with Bacon Vinaigrette; Cornmeal Biscuits with Cheddar Jalapeno Butter; Cheddar Risotto with Smoked Paprika; S’Mores Whoopie Pies; S’Mores Ice Cream; Cinco de Mayo Recipe Round-Up; Green Gumbo; Better Than Taco Bell Mexican Pizza; Cream Cheese Kolaches; Mango Liquado; Rhubarb Crisp; Salted Honey Pie; Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding; Fattoush Salad; Orrechiette with Heirloom Fingerlings and Asparagus Pesto}

Source: Boy Meets Grill by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
2 cups good-quality barbecue sauce, store-bought or homemade
48 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 cups crème fraiche or sour cream
2 tbs finely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbs fresh lime juice
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat.
Combine the shrimp and barbecue sauce in a large bowl and refrigerate until the grill is ready, no longer than 30 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the barbecue sauce and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Grill until cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side. Discard the used marinade.
While the grill is preheating, make the dressing by combining the crème fraiche, onion, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Store in the refrigerator if not using right away.
Pile the shrimp on a large platter and drizzle some dressing over them. Serve with the remaining dressing.
Serves 6 to 8 people, depending on appetites and quantity of side dish(es). I halved the recipe, served with a side salad, and it was good for 2 people.

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

Though in many ways we grew up in very different circumstances, we share one aspect of childhood very much in common: both my husband and I were raised in households with parents who insisted we eat healthfully and get our fair share of vegetables. Not only was there a side serving of veggies present at most dinners, we were both exposed to a nice variety of fruits and vegetables – it wasn’t the same few produce items at every meal. Now, not gonna lie here – both of us as children had a pretty decent laundry list of vegetables we didn’t *want* to eat, but both of our respective parents toed a fairly firm line of “eat it anyway, they’re good for you.”

roasted broccoli rabe

So, you’d think at least one of us would have entered adulthood knowing what broccoli rabe was. Nope. Didn’t happen. It’s only been in the last year or so that we’ve started eating it when its early spring season rolls around. This year we’ve been playing around with the more traditional method of cooking it – boiling it to reduce its inherent bitterness, then sautéing in a cast iron skillet and dousing it with a dressing or sauce. Quite tasty.

short cut pasta with broccoli rabe and harissa

And then I ran across a different method of preparing it in an older issue of Food & Wine – roasting it in the oven. I haven’t ever seen that method for broccoli rabe before (which isn’t to say it’s not out there – like I said above, I’m fairly new to the world of this veggie).

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

But, I was very intrigued to try it, so try it I did, and I found it quite lovely, so I had to share it with you. Broccoli rabe is quite tasty prepared this way, and here’s a plus if you have a smaller kitchen – roasting it in the oven dirties up fewer dishes overall than boiling-then-sautéing will. I will add that you lose less of the bitterness by roasting, but I found it a pleasant bitterness – not at all overpowering, and it played very well with the chewy, mild pasta and the spicy flavors going on in this recipe. Fantastic vegetarian dinner option. Enjoy!

Short-Cut Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Harissa

{One Year Ago: Shaved Asparagus Pizza; Homemade Pizza Sauce}
{Two Years Ago: Penne alla Puttanesca}

Source: Food & Wine Magazine, August 2013

Ingredients:
1 large bunch of broccoli rabe, ends trimmed
¼ cup olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno or Fresno chile, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
2 tsp harissa
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 lb. short cut pasta, such as gemelli, penne, cavatappi, cavatelli, or whatever you prefer
Grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 large handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli rabe with 2 tbs olive oil plus salt and pepper to taste. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats, then arrange the broccoli rabe on the 2 baking sheets in as even a layer as possible. Roast for 15 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove to a cutting board and chop into bite-size pieces.
In a large (12-inch) deep skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbs oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, chile and harissa and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until the garlic and chile are tender.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously, then cook the pasta according to package directions, just to al dente. When done, drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta, cooking water, and about ¼ cup parmesan to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until the pasta is coated in a thick sauce, about 2 minutes. Stir in the mint and parsley, and more cheese if desired. Serve immediately with more cheese for garnish, if preferred.

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

This cold winter is really making an aggressively menacing effort to sabotage my weight loss efforts. I’ve got nine more pounds to go, and those nine pounds may just have to wait until spring. I’m serious. It’s not that I don’t want to lose them, it’s not that I’m not cognizant of my dietary and exercising efforts; it’s more that the cave man part of my brain is taking over and telling me that I need tons of animal fats and carbs to store up energy for this stupid cold weather we’re having. And it’s pretty difficult to talk back to that very strong voice.

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

I try, of course. I tell it that I’m living in the 21st century, which means that I have access to all kinds of modern conveniences my cave man ancestors did not: winter coats, hats and gloves and scarves, indoor plumbing, indoor heating, any blanket I want, sweatshirts, long underwear…

It doesn’t matter. The inner voice persists, quite loudly sometimes. That’s why I am so thrilled that spaghetti squash is still in season. And that’s why I was even more thrilled to find that Kevin posted this recipe that includes a very hearty, meaty, cheesy lasagna type thing that nestles over spaghetti squash. I feel like Kevin is really looking out for both my inner cave man and my current waistline! Haha!

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

Spaghetti squash is low-carb, of course, but it’s also filling and nutritious. And while not a pasta replacement, it is quite tasty on its own. In this dish we’ll be tossing that cooked spaghetti squash with lots of cheesy goodness: ricotta, Fontina, and some basil for extra flavor. It’s then topped with a hearty, warm, stick-to-your-ribs Italian sausage and tomato sauce ragu, which is then topped with more Fontina and melted under the broiler.

Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

It’s PERFECT for cold winter nights, and it’s also pretty figure-friendly. You could sub in ground turkey for even fewer calories if you wanted, not to mention you could use low-fat ricotta and part-skim low moisture mozzarella for the Fontina.

And most importantly, this is really delicious. How could it not be? There’s just so much flavor here, and it’s so filling and satisfying without much guilt. And not nearly as time-consuming as actual lasagna, so score!! Enjoy this one guys! And try to stay warm!

Italian Sausage Lasagna Spaghetti Squash Boats

{One Year Ago: Margarita Fish Tacos}
{Two Years Ago: Giant Cinnamon Rolls with Buttermilk Glaze}

Source: slightly adapted from Closet Cooking

Ingredients:
2 small spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
2 tbs olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, removed from its casings
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs basil, chopped, divided
1 cup ricotta
6-8 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded, divided

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, aluminum foil, or a silpat. Brush the inner flesh of the spaghetti squash with 1 tbs olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast, skin side up, in the oven until tender, about 30 minutes. You know when it’s done when a sharp paring knife can be inserted into the flesh and removed with no resistance.
Meanwhile, make the ragu. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, drizzle in the remaining tbs olive oil. Add the sausage and crumble with a sturdy spoon. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until no traces of pink remain. Add the onion and cook until tender, another 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, paprika, balsamic vinegar, plus salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes, to let the flavors marry and the tomato sauce thicken. Stir in the basil and turn the heat to very low.
Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven and let cool just slightly. Using a fork, scrape the flesh of the spaghetti squash into a large bowl, taking care not to break or crack the spaghetti squash shells. Add the ricotta, remaining tbs basil, and a medium-sized handful of the shredded Fontina. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well, evenly coating the strands of squash with the cheese.
Nestle the cheesy spaghetti squash strands back in the spaghetti squash shells, using a spoon to make an indentation, or a “bowl” in the center of each. Spoon the sausage ragu evenly into the 4 boats, then top each with the remaining shredded Fontina.
Broil in the oven until the cheese has melted and turned a light golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
Serve immediately.

Creole Garlic Lemon Shrimp

Creole Garlic Lemon Shrimp

What is it about shellfish that is just so freakin’ sexy? Is it that all shellfish get lumped in with oysters – actual aphrodisiacs – or is it something else? Is it the whole slightly messy eating-with-your-hands thing, which makes consuming the food more primal and sensuous?

Creole Garlic Lemon Shrimp

Whatever the reason, I find a huge bowl of flavorful shrimp accompanied by hunks of bread and glasses of wine to be extremely sexy, date night food; and since Valentine’s Day is this weekend, I thought I’d give you an idea of what to make for your date!

Creole Garlic Lemon Shrimp

This took two tries to get just right, but here it is in all its light, sumptuous, delicious glory. This dish is Creole, not Cajun, so it’s really not spicy. But it is garlicky and lemony and hugely flavorful. Don’t worry about the garlic on a romantic evening – you’re both eating it, so you cancel each other out!

Creole Garlic Lemon Shrimp

Instead of worrying about the garlic, just think about perfectly cooked plump shrimp that give that lush snap when you bite into them, accented with Creole flavors and bright lemony goodness. A sip of wine, a bite of bread mopping up that luscious sauce… Sounds like a great Valentine’s Day to me! Oh, and as an added benefit – this couldn’t be easier and comes together in mere minutes! I hope y’all enjoy it!

Creole Garlic Lemon Shrimp

{One Year Ago: All-Purpose Mexican/Tex-Mex Spice Mix; Curry Powder; Pecan-Crusted Coconut Custards with Brandied Banana Sauce}
{Two Years Ago: Gin and Orange Juice Braised Endives; Beans and Greens Soup}

Source: adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, January 2008

Ingredients:
1 lb. large shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 tbs minced garlic
2 tbs Creole seasoning
Kosher salt, to taste
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tbs olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbs unsalted butter, cold
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the garlic, Creole seasoning, salt, and bell pepper. In a large skillet, add the oil and preheat over medium-high to high heat until very hot. Add the entire contents of the bowl of the shrimp mixture. Saute, stirring frequently, until the shrimp is just cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the lemon juice and the butter. Stir quickly to melt the butter. Once melted shut off the heat, stir in the parsley, and serve immediately.

Huevos Rancheros Salad

Huevos Rancheros Salad

I have one more classic-dish-turned-dinner-salad recipe to share with you to conclude this themed week, and I was going to share it yesterday, until I remembered that (for whatever reason) Friday is always my slowest traffic day; and thus, I decided to share this on a Saturday (which, again for whatever reason, is a much better traffic day for me) because this dish is just too delicious and too special to risk not being seen.

Huevos Rancheros Salad

This is Huevos Rancheros, the classic Mexican morning dish of crisp tortilla covered in ranchero sauce, cheese and a fried egg, but it’s turned into a salad!! You may be asking if that can even work, and I’m here to assure you, yes it can. It does. It’s insanely good.

Now, I’m not going to ask you to take my word for it – that this salad is just beyond. You see, I don’t have the least bit of an objective relationship with Huevos Rancheros. I love it, period. It can do no wrong in my book. I guess what I’m saying, is that, for me, Huevos Rancheros is like sex: when it’s good, it’s indescribable, and when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

Huevos Rancheros Salad

So you should take Matt’s word for it, instead. He, being much more discerning about his Huevos Rancheros and not being quite so obsessed, found this salad to be “phenomenal.” And he, unlike myself, would recognize and say so if it wasn’t.

This salad is everything you love about the iconic dish, just transformed by placing the traditional ingredients on a bed of lettuce and crushing some tortilla chips on top. There’s a creamy chipotle dressing that lightly coats the lettuce pieces but doesn’t compete with the traditional flavors. And of course, that runny egg yolk – arguably one of the best parts of Huevos Rancheros – serves to dress everything too.

Huevos Rancheros Salad

It’s different, for sure! But, I firmly believe that all of you out there who are Huevos Rancheros lovers will also love it in salad form. A really beautiful meal, for any time of day. Enjoy!

{One Year Ago: Julie’s Famous Buffalo Wings; Soy, Dijon and Blue Cheese Chicken Wings}
{Two Years Ago: Meyer Lemon and Fresh Cranberry Scones; Gas Station Pork Tacos}

Source: recipe slightly adapted from The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown; egg technique from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
DRESSING:
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
2 tsp adobo sauce
1 large egg
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves
Kosher salt, to taste
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup sour cream

SALAD:
1 large romaine heart, chopped
¾ cup diced jalapeno Jack cheese
1 cup cooked corn kernels (frozen are fine, just thaw them first)
¾ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1-4 tbs unsalted butter, lard, or rendered bacon fat
1-2 large eggs per serving (anywhere from 2 to 8 eggs)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup tomato salsa, homemade or store-bought
Crushed tortilla chips, about 1 generous handful per serving
4 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Directions:
First make the DRESSING: combine the chipotle, adobo sauce, egg, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and salt in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. With the machine still running, carefully pour in the olive oil through the top of the blender, until a thick sauce forms. Add the sour cream and process 30 seconds. Refrigerate until using.
Combine the lettuce, cheese, corn, and beans in a large mixing bowl. Toss with your hands to evenly incorporate everything. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over high heat and get it screaming hot, about 1 full minute. Add the fat of choice, about 1 generous tbs for every 2 eggs. Work in batches to avoid crowding the eggs. Let the fat melt completely, then add your egg, reduce the heat to medium-high, and step back. The whites will sputter and hiss. Within a minute, it should get brown at the edges but don’t touch or move it. Let it cook until the white looks fully opaque, another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Shimmy a thin metal spatula under the egg, gently loosening any stuck parts. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper to taste. Repeat as needed to cook all of your eggs.
To serve, dress the lettuce mixture lightly with the dressing and toss to combine. Mound the lettuce on dinner plates, then top with 1-2 fried eggs. Spoon salsa over all and garnish with the tortilla chips and scallions. Serve immediately.
As written, this will probably yield 4-6 servings, depending on how large a portion you prefer. I got 4 servings. How many eggs you use depends on whether your diners want 1 or 2 eggs per serving, and how many servings you choose to have.

Banh Mi Meatball Salad

Banh Mi Meatball Salad

Today continues my themed week on the blog of turning classic dishes into dinner salads, it’s been so much fun for me! I hope y’all have enjoyed it too. What’s next? A banh mi. Oh yes.

Read up on the origins of a banh mi here, where I posted the original, which is a sandwich. And one of the best sandwiches on planet earth, I might add. I never had one until my early thirties, but it’s pretty much one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. So last summer I purchased Mark Bittman’s The VB6 Cookbook, and upon flipping through it I came upon an entry entitled “Banh Mi Meatball Salad.” Oh, I cannot tell you how excited I then became, and somehow it’s taken me this many months to actually sit down and make the blasted thing.

Banh Mi Meatball Salad

Better late than never – I’m incredibly happy I finally brought this cookbook page to life, as it was everything it promised to be and then some. If you also go completely gaga over banh mi flavors, then you simply MUST make this salad. It tastes precisely as advertised, and each bite just explodes spicy flavor in your mouth!

Banh Mi Meatball Salad

Speaking of spicy… you can tailor the heat to your personal preferences by adjusting the amount of sriracha used. You can make the meatballs themselves without it, for instance. You can add a little less to the mayo, though it’s not much there and I wouldn’t recommend cutting that back. You can also omit the final sriracha drizzle. If you want this to taste very authentic without extra heat, I’d leave the sriracha out of the meatballs and omit the drizzle at the end but keep it in the mayo. But if you’re like me, and can’t think about a banh mi without also dreaming of an overload of sriracha, then please use all of it as directed. You won’t be sorry.

Banh Mi Meatball Salad

This is just absolutely beyond delicious, I hope y’all enjoy it!

{One Year Ago: Hot and Sticky Slow Cooker Chicken Wings}
{Two Years Ago: Blood Orange-Braised Pork Shoulder}

Source: slightly adapted from The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
¼ of a large daikon, peeled and julienned
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
About ½ a baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
Olive oil
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs plus 2 tsp sriracha, plus more for drizzling, divided
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 tbs fish sauce
1 large heart romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
½ a large cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 tbs mayonnaise
1 handful each of fresh mint and fresh cilantro, minced
Lime wedges, for serving

Directions:
First you will need to quickly pickle your vegetables. Whisk the vinegar, honey, and ½ tsp salt together in a medium bowl. Add the carrots, daikon, and onion and toss gently. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes; stir occasionally to evenly distribute the brine.
Preheat your oven to 450 F. Place the cubed baguette on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Lightly season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Toss with your hands. Shake the pan so that the bread is in a single layer, then toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy. Remove the croutons from the oven and transfer to a plate or bowl. Carefully dust off any crumbs from the baking sheet, then spray it generously with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the beef, garlic up to 1 tbs sriracha if desired, black pepper to taste, fish sauce, and ¼ tsp kosher salt. Gently shape the meat mixture into 16 evenly sized meatballs and transfer each to the greased baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly apart so they are not touching. Bake the meatballs, undisturbed, until browned and just cooked through, 8-12 minutes. Let them cool a bit while you assemble the salad.
At this point, add the mayonnaise and 2 tsp sriracha to the pickled vegetables and stir to combine thoroughly.
In a large salad bowl, add the romaine, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. Add the pickled dressed vegetables and toss to combine and dress the salad. Add the croutons and toss gently again. Divide the salad among dinner plates and top with 4 meatballs apiece. Drizzle with sriracha if desired, then garnish with the herbs and lime wedges. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.

Blackened Catfish Salad

Blackened Catfish Salad

So, who’s snowed in today? Yeah, me too. I have lots of work to keep me occupied, but sometimes I get cabin fever on snow days anyway – I think it’s the whole not having the option to get out that does it. Hopefully today is sane enough for us all! All of you snowed in – what’s cooking and/or baking? I’ve got a very ambitious list, in the hopes that it will stave off cabin fever. We’ll see what gets accomplished!

Blackened Catfish Salad

In the meantime, I’m turning the classic dish I grew up eating, Blackened Catfish, into a main dish salad! This was incredibly delicious. I love blackened anything, I do stop short of just licking blackening seasoning off the countertops, but that should give you an idea where I stand. So of course this salad is right up my alley.

Buttermilk Dressing for Blackened Catfish Salad

A few recipe notes: take the time to dredge your catfish pieces in the seasoning. Don’t just toss the catfish with the seasoning in a bowl. That might make it evenly coated, but it won’t really blacken up for you, and the flavor won’t be as strong. This particular recipe uses a Cajun seasoning blend, which was very tasty, but feel free to sub in any other blackening rub you prefer. And lastly, don’t be like me and forget to add the pecans at the end!! I couldn’t believe I did that. They would add that amazing salad crunch we all love, like croutons, so please don’t miss out on them.

Blackened Catfish Salad

And I think that’s it! Enjoy and be safe today!

{One Year Ago: Balsamic-Lacquered Baked Chicken Wings}

Source: adapted from Chile Pepper Magazine, March/April 2012

Ingredients:
1 lb. catfish fillets, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-3” strips
4 tbs Cajun spice rub, or more to taste, plus 2 tsp, divided
Kosher salt, IF your blackening rub doesn’t already have it
Olive oil
½ cup buttermilk, well shaken
2 tbs mayonnaise
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 large romaine heart, chopped
¼ head of red cabbage, cored and shredded
About 2/3 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 roasted red pepper, sliced
3 tbs chopped toasted pecans

Directions:
Prep the catfish as instructed and dry really well on paper towels. Sprinkle the 4 tbs Cajun seasoning in a pie plate. Add salt if your rub doesn’t contain it. One at a time, dredge each catfish strip in the seasoning, getting all sides coated. Set aside on a plate.
Preheat a cast-iron or other nonstick large skillet over high heat. Drizzle in some olive oil. When the skillet is good and screaming hot, cook the catfish strips, in batches as necessary, for about 2-3 minutes per side. Don’t walk away here, they cook up very quickly. Remove with tongs to a plate and let them cool a bit.
Make the dressing: in a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, and the remaining 2 tsp Cajun seasoning. Add salt if your seasoning mix doesn’t have it. Refrigerate if not using very soon.
Now assemble the salad. Add the romaine, cabbage, tomatoes, and pecans to a large salad serving bowl. Drizzle in a little dressing and toss to coat. Lay the catfish strips over top and drizzle on a little more dressing. Serve immediately.