Monday, May 31, 2010

Beef Brisket

Beef Brisket

5-6lb beef brisket
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 can of Coke
1 bottle of Heinz chili sauce

Mix cola, chili sauce and onion soup mix. Place brisket, fat side up, in a 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Pour liquid mixture over brisket and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes per pound, about 3 hours or until tender. Trim off fat after cooking.

The steam kind of created a cool image for the beef.

Ok, so I either forgot to get brisket or I couldn't find it at the grocery store. Either way, I ended up with some kind of roast and ended up cooking it in the crock pot for about 8 hours. So I really can't comment on this recipe since I didn't cook it the way it was supposed to and, really, you can't go wrong with a crock pot. So the meat was tender and I definitely spooned some of the sauce over the meat to keep it moist. Next time, I'll have to try it the way the recipe says.

The great thing about this meal was the side items. Roasted broccoli, fried carrots and oven baked potatoes. Yum. To roast the broccoli, heat the oven to 400 degrees and toss the florets with olive oil and salt and pepper on a roasting pan. Stick in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. It gives a nice rustic element to the broccoli. I added a few shavings of asiago cheese for a little bit of a bit.

Wes pan-fried the carrots in soy sauce, garlic powder and salt & pepper. I can't tell you exactly what he did but I love the way he cooks carrots. He had a nice crust on them and turned them really sweet. So good. And the potatoes? They're from a packet.

Overall, a great, hearty meal.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chicken Mug Pie

Chicken pot pie is such a classic comfort food. And it reminds me of when my dad would order chicken pot pies from various places. I always liked the flaky crusts that covered them. Not so interested in the stuff inside. But you know, making a crust over a individual pot pies is a lot of work. Luckily Rachael Ray has a pretty comparable version that's easy and yummy.

Chicken Mug Pie

1 tube of bake-off butter biscuits - I used Pillsbury Grands
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, diced - For 1/2 the recipe, I used two chicken breasts
3 Tb. butter
2 ribs celery and greens, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Salt & pepper
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
3 Tb. all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded potatoes, ready to cook hashbrowns
1 pint half & half or heavy cream
1 quart chicken stock - Or chicken broth
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 cup frozen green peas

Preheat oven according to package directions and arrange biscuits on cookie sheet.

In a medium pot over medium to medium-high heat, cook chicken in butter 2 minutes. (The chicken will not be cooked all the way through! Don't panic!) Then add vegetables and season with salt & pepper and poultry seasoning. Cook 5 minutes more, add flour and cook another minute. Add potatoes, then whisk in half & half or cream and chicken stock. Add nutmeg.

Bring soup to a boil by raising the heat, then turn heat down to simmer and cook soup another 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Add peas. Stir to warm them through, about a minute.

Serve mugs of soup with biscuits on top to cap the mug.

So I left out like half the vegetables that the recipe calls for, since we all know Wes won't eat the celery and onions. Plus, who likes cooked celery? Gross. I just put in all the veggies we like. Though I really don't like peas either, but can handle it in small bites. This is definitely a hearty soup that I especially love making during winter.

The above recipe makes A LOT. So I halve it and have plenty for dinner and then some leftovers for lunch the next day. The first time I made this, I used cream, which makes it much more luxurious. Half and half, is obviously a lot healthier, and still gives it good consistency. Try it first with cream though.

This is a great alternative to making chicken pot pie with a crust over the top. You can put it in a mug and stick a biscuit on top like the recipe suggests. But it works just find in a bowl. Easy to cook and tastes great. Definitely make sure to taste it before serving so you can adjust the seasonings. I failed to do that and it definitely needed a little more salt.

Yum-yum! Happy cooking!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Beef Stroganoff

I don't think I'd ever order beef stroganoff at a restaurant. But this is probably one of my most favorite meals ever and the easiest! This recipe comes from my mom. I don't know where she got it from, but I love it. I think a lot of my food likes come from my dad because he likes this dish quite a lot too. So easy... It only takes... four ingredients. Yes, four!

Beef Stroganoff

1 lb. ground beef
1 can cream of chicken
8 oz. sour cream
Egg noodles, or whatever kind you have
Salt & pepper <-- those don't count as ingredients

Cook pasta according to directions.

Brown meat, draining fat as needed. Once all the meat is cooked, add the can of cream of chicken. Turn the heat down to low and wait until the pasta is done or almost done. Add most of the sour cream and stir. If it's too thick, add some milk to thin it to the consistency you like. Add salt to taste. Add lots of freshly ground pepper.

Dish out noodles into a bowl and spoon sauce over the noodles. Top with parsley for some color.

Add a little bit of parsley to give the dish some color.

Ok, I know beef stroganoff usually has mushrooms in it. So you could probably substitute cream of mushrooms for cream of chicken. My mom always made it this way, so I don't change it up. Have I said how much I love this dish? It must be the sour cream and pepper combo, but I can never get enough of this dish - even when I'm stuffed.

It's such an easy and quick meal to make. I have no idea what "real" beef stroganoff tastes like, but this is good enough for me. I don't always use egg noodles either. I frequently make it with spaghetti noodles. But a wide noodle definitely holds on to the sauce a lot better.

You have to try it and taste all it's deliciousness.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto & Chicken Cesear Salad

Ever had risotto? No? It's just fancy rice that takes a long time to make. Though I don't get what the fuss is all about, it's not a bad meal. My initial recipe with risotto was pretty traditional: veggies with Parmesan risotto. I was unimpressed. Since risotto rice comes in a good size container, I had plenty left over for more risotto dishes. Next attempt: asparagus and shrimp risotto. Not a home run, but better than the first. My last and final attempt with my jar of Arborio rice? Sun-dried Tomato Risotto. Much more a fan of this one than the other two.

This is a double recipe post with a chicken Caesar salad recipe. Thanks Pioneer Woman for the sun-dried tomato risotto recipe and making me more of a believer.

Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto

4 Tb. butter
2Tb. olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced - I used a few shakes of onion powder.
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice, uncooked
8 whole sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and minced
1 cup dry white wine (optional)
7 cups low sodium chicken broth
Salt as needed
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Fresh basil, chiffonade (optional)

Heat broth in a saucepan. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add dry rice. Stir to coat and cook 3 minutes, stirring gently.

Pour in wine. Stir and cook over medium-low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add in minced sun-dried tomatoes and stir.

Then begin adding broth, one cup at a time, stirring gently while the rice absorbs the liquid each time. Repeat until rice is done - about 6 to 8 cups of broth. The rice should have a slight bite to it, but not be crunchy at all.

Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan cheese and heavy cream. Adjust salt & pepper to taste.

Caesar Salad Dressing - courtesy of Rachael Ray

4 heaping Tb. of mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 lemon, zested and juiced - I only used the juice of 1/2 the lemon
2 Tb. anchovy paste, optional - I omitted
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. black pepper
3 Tb. extra-virgin olive oil

Blend first 7 ingredients together in a blender, streaming in the olive oil.

A lot of delicious creaminess going on in this meal.

I knew I needed to add some sort of meat to this dish - whether it be on the salad or on the risotto. And side note, risotto works great as a side dish or a main meal. I really like this risotto just because I like sun-dried tomatoes so much. When I make this again, I would probably omit the heavy cream at the end as it just makes it that much heavier and I would add even more sun-dried tomatoes. Because, well, you can't have enough of those things.

I will warn you, this makes a lot of risotto. So plan on having some for the next few days. The dressing on the other hand, is about enough for two main salad meals. It'll last longer if you just do side salads. But this is a great Caesar salad dressing - creamy, rich, tangy. All this salad needed was some Parmesan cheese shavings and it would've been amazing.

The risotto does take about an hour total to cook since you have to add broth and let it soak into the rice and repeat until done. If you have the patience, give this risotto a try. But definitely give the salad dressing a try since that only takes like 5 minutes to make. No raw eggs and no anchovies!

Happy cooking!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Scallops in Herb & Wine Sauce over Linguine

I wanted to try a seafood pasta dish with some kind of white wine sauce (usually it's clams in a white wine sauce) and ended up with this recipe. I also kind of improved since I didn't have all the ingredients I thought I had. And it turned out really well!

Scallops in Herb & Wine Sauce over Linguine
This recipe is for 2 servings. Double the ingredients if you want more for leftovers.

1/2 lb. linguine
1 lb. sea scallops - I used the frozen kind and thawed them two days before.
Salt & pepper
1 Tb. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tb. butter
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
1 cup dry white wine - I ended up using some Sherry I had on hand because I ran out of wine.
1 cup seafood stock or clam juice
25 leaves fresh basil, shredded
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon, zested & juiced - I zested most of the lemon, but only used half the juice.

Cook pasta according to directions.

With a paper towel, pat try the scallops and season with salt & pepper. Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 Tb. of olive oil and 2 Tb. of butter to the pan. When the butter melts, add the scallops. Brown scallops 2 minutes on each side, until a golden crust forms, then remove from pan and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. I turned my oven on to 200 degrees and put the scallops, covered, in there to keep warm. I was also heating up some bread in the oven also. Not a necessary step, but it definitely keeps the scallops warm for dinner. Any warmer and you might end up cooking the scallops a little.

Add an additional drizzle of olive oil to the skillet and add the garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes, thyme, and salt & pepper. I chopped all those ahead of time and put into a bowl together so it was ready to throw in the pan. Reduce heat to medium and saute garlic and shallots, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Don't let it burn! Add wine to the pan and free up and pan drippings. Reduce wine 1 minute, then add seafood stock. Continue cooking for about 1 minute. I let it cook a little longer so it thickens a little bit more.

Add basil, parsley, lemon zest, juice and the remaining 1 Tb. of butter. Shake and stir the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the cooked linguine and cook for 30 seconds, just to combine and let pasta soak up the sauce.

Divide pasta between two plates and top with reserved scallops.

See the pretty crust on the scallops? Mmm...

This was a pretty flavorful dish. The sauce is not your typical thick pasta sauce. I definitely took some of the extra sauce and spooned it over the pasta. It made for great juice to sop up with crusty bread. I really liked the scallops with this dish. It added a nice buttery flavor to it also. And the sauce was delicate enough to go with the seafood. Definitely only needed half the lemon juice. What's with all these recipes calling for the juice of a full lemon? It seems like that would be just too much lemon!

I'd definitely make this dish again. Give it a try!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rice & Bean Poblano

Ok, so Cooking Light calls these Refried Bean Poblanos, but doesn't my title sound so much better and appetizing? I'm trying to incorporate some meatless meals into my repertoire mainly for the variety and that they tend to be a little healthier. Well, maybe not this dish. It was a nice change though. I did do a lot of things differently in this recipe, so keep that in mind if you follow it as is. And if I make this again, I actually will add some meat. So much for vegetarian.

Rice & Bean Poblanos

4 medium poblano chiles, halved & seeded - I couldn't find poblanos at the grocery store, so I used pasilla chiles.
1 - 16 oz. can fat-free refried beans
1 - 8.8 oz. pouch microwaveable cooked long-grain rice - I used a Mexican Minute Rice package.
1/2 cup picante sauce - use any salsa you like.
1 cup 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese.
chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Place chile halves, cut sides up, on a round microwave safe plate. Cover with wax paper; microwave on High for 3 minutes.

While chiles cook, combine beans, rice, and picante sauce in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spoon bean mixture evenly into chile halves. Cover with wax paper; microwave on High for 2 minutes. Uncover chiles and sprinkle each half with cheese. Microwave on High 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle evenly with cilantro if desired.

Here's my version: Turn oven broiler on and place halved chiles on baking sheet. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn chiles over and broil for another 3 minutes, until chiles soften and get a little black.

Warm beans in microwave or over stove. Mix warm beans, cooked rice, salsa (I used a hot salsa) and a little bit of cheese together. Spoon mixture into cooked halves of the chiles. Top with cheese and put back under the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes, until cheese is melted.

This wasn't a bad dish. The hot salsa and Mexican flavored rice definitely helped with the flavor. Plain rice and beans with mild salsa might have been a bit bland. The chiles are definitely mild also. Try a poblano pepper if you can find it. I have a feeling that will give the dish a little more oomph. The only reason I would add some shredded chicken or beef to this dish is because the texture of just the beans and rice is a little too mushy for me. It needs a little more contrast in the dish.

But this was an easy meal to make. It took me maybe 10 to 15 minutes total, from cutting the chiles to plate. If you have leftover filling, which I did, it is also very yummy in a rolled up tortilla.

Serve this as a side to a Mexican meal or serve as the main dish.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is adapted from a Pace recipe book. It's a staple in my recipe book and so easy to do. I don't actually remember the exact measurements from the recipe, so this is all estimates. I actually make this dish for friends that they can freeze and cook later. Since all the ingredients are already cooked inside, there's no worry about it not being fully cooked through.

Chicken Enchiladas

10" flour or corn tortillas - I use flour
1 - 15 oz can of Enchilada sauce - I really like Old El Paso
8 oz. sour cream
2 cups of Mexican cheese blend
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded - You can use any cooked meat you like.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour a little of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish to coat the bottom. In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream, 1 1/2 cups of the cheese, the chicken, and most of the enchilada sauce together. Save some enchilada sauce to pour over the top of the enchiladas.

Take the filling and spoon a heaping amount down the middle of a tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until you're out of filling. When the baking dish is filled with enchiladas, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top, making sure to cover all the enchiladas.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Pull out and sprinkle the last 1/2 cup of cheese over the top and bake for another 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve.

Cheesy enchiladas. The picture on the bottom is from our Cinco de Mayo dinner. Ole!

So easy and so easy to adjust to your liking. I've filled this with ground beef before which is just as yummy. If you want more cheese, add more cheese. You can definitely make this just as a cheese enchilada. Add at least 2 cups of cheese to the mixture and maybe even more. If you like the smothered ones from the Mexican restaurant, get a larger can of enchilada sauce.

Like I said, this is an easy dish to make a head and cook later. And it makes a lot, so you'll for sure have leftovers the next day. Give it a try!

Happy cooking!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Brown Butter Apple Pie

One of my favorite apple pies is a Julian Dutch Apple Pie from a bakery out in Julian, California. Those dutch apple pies always had a streusel topping, which I like much more than a regular pie crust. This pie reminds me of those pies growing up. This recipe is courtesy of Pillsbury. It's a little more involved than a regular apple pie, but it has a lot more flavors going on.

Brown Butter Apple Pie

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 Tb. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla
5 cups sliced, peeled Granny Smith apples (approx. 5 apples)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (can use light or dark)
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter

1 frozen pie crust

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Melt 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted and lightly browned. (I would suggest cutting the apples while the butter is melting.) Once melted, cool completely, about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat 1/2 cup sugar and the egg with wire whisk until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat in cooled butter. Gently stir in apples. Pour into crust-lined pie plate.

In medium bowl, stir together all streusel ingredients except butter. With pastry cutter or fork, cut 1/4 cup cup butter into mixture until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples.

Place pie on cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and cover edge of crust with strips of foil to prevent a brunt crust. Bake 40-50 minutes longer until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Cool for 2 hours before serving.

Mmm... Look at that golden streusel on top.

The hardest part is waiting the two hours for the pie to cool. This definitely needs to be served warm and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum.

The mixture with the apples gives the pie a nice creaminess to the pie. And depending on how thin you slice your apples, it could cause the filling to be a bit soggy. So don't cut your apples too thin. Nice chunky apples is what apple pie is all about anyway, right? The filling is a nice contrast to the crunch of the streusel on top. And then you have the buttery crust on the bottom. So good!

The recipe seems involved, but it's not that hard. Just a lot of steps. Give it a try. You'll love it.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Iron Man 2

The summer movie season is here with the opening of Iron Man 2. A few summers ago, Iron Man became a huge, surprise hit. Robert Downey Jr. is back this year to reprise his role as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. The same cast returns with one change and a few editions. Terrance Howard, who played Col. James Rhodes, is replaced by Don Cheadle, and Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, and Sam Rockwell are among the new cast members.

There are big expectations for this movie considering the first one was such a big hit. However, the story is nothing new. And Wes said it best when he said it's basically the same movie: Tony Stark has to deal with saving his life and he fights another Iron-Man-machine-wanna-be. Yes, the movie was entertaining, but I felt the story wasn't as developed as the first. There were so many new characters and story lines to deal with, the movie didn't get to delve very deep and all the actors had to share screen time which meant very little acting necessary.

Wes and I were probably most interested in how Don Cheadle would do as Rhodey. We both agreed, that while replacing an actor for a character is a bit weird, Terrance Howard didn't have the action chops for this role. Don Cheadle is a bit more believable as an action figure and he didn't disappoint. It would be hard to imagine Terrance Howard as War Machine, fighting with Iron Man.

I'm sure a lot of fan boys also flocked to the theatre to see Scarlett Johansson kick some butt. But it was very obvious in her one fighting scene that it wasn't her, but a stunt double. Here's how the fighting scene went: Scarlett walks up to a bad guy, cut to stunt double kicking butt in some very cool moves, cut back to a close-up of Scarlett Johansson posing like she did the scene. Repeat about five times. She succeeded as eye candy, but failed in the action genre. Maybe she should stick to dramas and indies.

The one thing I did miss most about this movie was the banter between Tony and Pepper. They're both so stressed out in this movie, that their playfulness from the first movie gets lost. It's redeemed a little in the end, but doesn't satisfy. I think that was one thing I enjoyed most about the first one, the playful banter between those two characters.

Overall, a fun movie to go see. Not a have-to-go-see-it-in-the-theatre-movie, but definitely rent it at least. Personally, I liked the first one more and I liked the sneak peek in the first one WAY better than the teaser in the end of this one. So if you go see it in the theatre, stay to the end for a sneak peek.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blueberry Breakfast Bars

I'm always looking for quick breakfast foods I can eat at work. This is perfect. I love blueberries and love breakfast bars. This recipe is courtesy of the blog Farmgirl Fare. It's an easy and quick breakfast. Although I can't say it's super healthy since the whole thing includes two sticks of butter. But it's so good!

Blueberry Breakfast Bars

Bottom Layer
2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

10 Tablespoons (1 stick + 2 Tb) butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Top Layer
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Middle Layer
3-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tb. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

For the Bottom Layer:
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a 9" x 13" pan. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Press this mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan with your fingers. (I also use the bottom of a stainless steel measuring cup to help make the crust flat and even.)

For the Middle Layer:
Place the blueberries in the bowl you mixed the Bottom Layer in and toss them with the almond extract. Pour them evenly over the Bottom Layer in the pan. Combine the sugar and flour and sprinkle it evenly over the blueberries. (Even when wet or frozen, the sugar/flour mixture wouldn't stick to my big fat blueberries when I tried tossing it with them. If yours will, just toss the sugar/flour mixture with the blueberries and then pour the whole mixture over the Bottom Layer in the pan.)

For the Top Layer:
Place the flour, brown sugar, and butter or vegetable oil sticks in a small bowl and use a fork, pastry blender, or your fingers to combine until the mixture resembles large crumbs (some pea-sized clumps are okay). Set aside.

Sprinkle the Top Layer evenly over the blueberry mixture. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden, and the edges are starting to brown. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Store in a cool place or refrigerate. Bars may also be frozen.

Just look at the blueberries and the golden Streusel crunch on top. Yum!

Like I said, I love blueberries. The oatmeal crunch on the bottom has rustic granola feel to it and I love the Streusel type topping on top. The almond extract in the middle layer is subtle. I didn't have any vanilla when I first made this dish, so I used almond extract in the bottom layer too. There was a much stronger almond flavor, but it added a nice dimension to it. The vanilla extract in the bottom is much more subtle. But in a pinch, you can use almond extract in all of it or vanilla extract in all of it.

The brown sugar taste that runs through the whole thing as a wonderful yumminess too. It can be a little sweet, so maybe cut down on the white sugar that you coat the blueberries in. Not all of it will stick, so you can use the leftover mixture to sprinkle over the bars or just toss. Of course with the sugar and butter, it's not exactly the healthiest breakfast ever, but I love it!

It's a one bowl dish and pretty easy. The toughest part is making the top layer. If you have a pastry cutter, use it. I used a fork. It's a lot of work and my arm definitely got tired. I need to go buy a pastry cutter... But it's so worth it.

Hope you'll give it a try. Happy cooking!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

Yep. We went to go see it. When you don't have to pay for movies, we take the approach that if we're curious, might as well go see it. Guess who was the curious one out of the two of us? I'll give you a hint: It wasn't me. We went to a Thursday evening movie and guess what? We're the only ones in there...

So you have to go into this movie not expecting a whole lot, which was easy to do. Basically these three guys who were best buds back in the day have drifted a part and it seems like all their lives suck. After an accident, they decide to take a trip back to their old haunting ground at a ski town - which has also seen better days. One thing leads to another and their transported back to the 80s to relive their lives.

This is definitely a guy movie with guy humor. There weren't a whole lot of pie-in-your-face type of jokes or cursing humor. But there were some male anatomy jokes and other male teasing that guys probably relate to. There was some nudity, but it wasn't over the top. Honestly, it was rather clean for what I was expecting. But it is rated R, so keep that in mind.

Our curiosity was satisfied and with our low expectations, the movie was rather enjoyable. I did think that it was weird that John Cusack was in this movie. That is, until I saw that he was a co-producer. Guess it was a project he really wanted to do....

Asian Salmon Patties

Everyone loves a good crab cake, right? How about a zesty salmon cake? Usually looking at recipes, I can pretty much tell how the meal will turn out. With this one, I wasn't as confident. I couldn't wrap my head around all the ingredients and how they would come together. Lucky for me and Wes, this dish turned out ten times better than I had imagined. Here's the recipe:

Asian Salmon Patties

1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet, finely chopped
2 shallots, minced
2 Tb fresh ginger, peeled & grated
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper - I probably used about 1/2 tsp.
Salt & pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tb. lime juice
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 thinly sliced scallions - I omitted these

When buying the salmon fillets, see if the store will take the skins off for you. It's a lot easier than doing it yourself. If you decide to skin the fish yourself, take a sharp knife, not serrated, and start wiggling the knife back and forth between the flesh and skin. It takes a while, but it can be done. I also chopped the salmon in larger chunks. If you wanted a finer texture in your cakes, you could probably do a rough chop in the food processor, adding a little fish at a time. Don't grind it too fine otherwise you'll end up with paste.

In a large bowl, combine salmon, shallots, ginger, egg, red pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 tsp. ground pepper. Form mixture into 1 inch thick patties, packing each firmly. Transfer to a plate. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes. These patties can be kept frozen for about 2 months. Just thaw before cooking.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon patties; cooking until browned on both sides and opaque throughout, 4 to 6 minutes per side.

To make Sesame Mayonnaise: In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, scallions, lime juice and sesame oil. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with salmon cakes.

Look at the golden crunch on the outside. Mmmm... I served french fries, but feel free to go fancier!

These cakes had such a nice zing and ton of flavor to them. I think Wes described it like a scorpion's tail: there's a sting at the end. Maybe Wes should be writing this blog instead of me... You taste every single ingredient in these cakes. You taste the ginger and the onion-yness of the shallots. Then there was that heat at the end from the red pepper flakes. There was no fooling Wes. Even though I chopped the shallots fine, he could still feel the texture and taste the onion flavor of the shallots.

I love the sesame mayonnaise with this. You really taste the lime juice in it, but then there's a hint of the nuttiness from the sesame oil. It's wonderful. I even dipped my fries in the mayonnaise.

I love, love this dish. It's great as a main course or make the patties smaller and serve as appetizers. It'll definitely impress your dinner guests. The hardest part would be skinning the fish and then chopping it up. I liked the chunkier chop because it gives it more density and rustic feel. But go for a finer chop if you don't like big chunks of fish. Even if you over cook this dish a little, it hides it with everything that's going on.

Give it a try! Happy cooking!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Losers

Wow, I am waaaaaaaay behind on my blogging. Lot's to catch up on. Let's start with a movie review: The Losers. Every time I saw this trailer, I always thought it was the trailer for the A-Team which is coming out this summer. Actually, I got The Losers, the A-Team, and MacGruber all mixed up. Gotta say though, I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would. It's based off a comic book, but what isn't these days?

So these guys are like special ops for the military. They all have super special abilities: sharp shooter, computer geek, knife handler... They end up getting framed and are stuck in a foreign country because everyone thinks they're dead. Oh, and they have no money. Until a mysterious girl (Zoe Saldana) offers her help to smuggle them back in the country in return for them killing Max. And from there the adventure begins.

I really enjoyed this movie. It was light-hearted comic book movie. Is that a genre now? I really enjoyed all the characters and actors that played them. Jeffery Dean Morgan does a good job as the leader who seems to be easily swayed. But he's rugged and wise beyond his years. There's a weird method to his madness. I really liked Chris Evans' turn as the nerdy, computer geek. It was a nice change from his other buff, cool-guy roles. And Zoe Saldana pulls off the tough chick role. My two favorites out of this movie were definitely Chris Evans and Oscar Jaenada who plays the sharp shooter. They were my favorite parts out of the whole movie.

There were some cheesy parts and they do sex Zoe Saldana up a lot. But it's a comic book movie, what do you expect? These guys seemed more relate-able and human than some other heroes. One of the guys has a pregnant wife and it's really warming to see him so concerned about getting back to her. They even sneak him into the hospital when she gives birth!

A great, fun movie that was funny and had action. Though, I liked it more than Wes did. Of course the ending left it open to a sequel. But what movie doesn't do that today? Bonus question: There are a few actors who have already been other comic book characters. Who are the actors and what were their other comic book alter-egos?