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Memorial Day Cookout… Healthy Style!

Memorial Day Cookout… Healthy Style!

salmon

Happy Memorial Day! Let us thank all the troops for their tireless efforts to defend our country each day!

I celebrated with a healthy cookout filled with omega-3s and green veggies! It was a full grill!

full grill

The Menu:

Watermelon Seltzer Cooler (RECIPE BELOW)

Salad with avocado, cucumbers and tomatoes

Grilled salmon with peach compote

grilled veggies

Grilled vegetables (brussel sprouts, asparagus, peppers)

Grilled sweet potatoes

Such a great way to spend an evening on the patio! 

watermelon cooler

WATERMELON SODA

  • 1/2 medium watermelon, chilled, plus ½ cantaloupe (optional)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup seltzer
  • Cut enough watermelon into 1″ pieces to measure 8 cups. Stir sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Set simple syrup aside.
  • Purée melon pieces (not balls) in a blender until smooth; strain juice through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup or pitcher (you should have about 4 cups juice). Discard solids. Whisk in simple syrup, lime juice, and salt. DO AHEAD: Purée can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.
  • Add seltzer to watermelon purée.
Holiday Party Dinner: A Crowd-Pleasing Meal

Holiday Party Dinner: A Crowd-Pleasing Meal

It’s Christmas Eve! The holidays approached much quicker this year, maybe because it was the first time I wasn’t in school.

dinner party

 

What kind of traditions do you do? My family has a strange tradition, we go to a Japanese Steakhouse (hibachi grill where they cook in front of you) every Christmas Eve. I really don’t even know how it came about, but we’ve been doing it since I was like 8, so we just keep it up. This year I was ready to change the tradition and find a nice restaurant with a prix fixe menu, but my mom said “We have to keep with tradition.” I don’t know how I feel about that… I get tired of the lack of variety at a Japanese Steakhouse.

We usually go to Christmas Eve mass at 6, but this year we’re going to Midnight mass. Not sure how the old lady (AKA me) will be able to stay up that late, I can barely stay awake in a crowded bar at night! On the way to mass, we creepily drive through neighborhoods and look at everyone’s lights. Okay, its not that creepy.

It doesn’t matter how old I am, we always end Christmas Eve with my dad reading “The Night Before Christmas” to us. Now that we’re older, he improvises and does some ad-lib, which sometimes can be a little inappropriate. haha

We had our family Christmas party yesterday. I made the whole meal and it turned out to be a crowd pleaser:

pork roast

a pork roast with clementines and an orange caramel sauce

roasted honey cinnamon heirloom carrots

tri color carrots

white and green roasted asparagus with balsamic vinegar

roasted garlic red potatoes

And for dessert, a peppermint white chocolate and plain chocolate mousse with crushed peppermint

White Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

WHITE PEPPERMINT CHOCOLATE AND REGULAR CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Chocolate:

2 cups chilled heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 oz semi-sweet chocolate morsels

  1. Heat 3/4 cup cream in a 1-quart heavy saucepan until hot. Whisk together yolks, sugar, and a pinch of salt in a metal bowl until combined well, then add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Transfer mixture to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until it registers 160°F on thermometer. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in vanilla.
  2. Melt chocolate in microwave, 1 minute at a time on 50% power until melted.
  3. Beat remaining 1 1/4 cups cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Whisk one fourth of cream into chocolate custard to lighten, then fold in remaining cream gently but thoroughly.

White: 

1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
6 oz good quality white chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 tablespoon crushed peppermint candy, for garnish

  1. Heat 1/2 cup cream in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until melted, then stir in the peppermint extract. Cool completely, about 10 minutes in the freezer, stirring once halfway through. Whisk the mixture a couple times to thicken.
  2. Beat the remaining 1/2 cup cream until firm peaks form. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream.

Assembly: 

Spoon the chocolate mousse into 8 glasses of your choice. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint. Spoon the white chocolate mousse on top and finish with another sprinkle of crushed peppermint.

I started with a layer of chocolate mousse and then ended with peppermint white chocolate

I started with a layer of chocolate mousse and then ended with peppermint white chocolate

Everything turned out wonderful, and despite spending 1pm-5pm in the kitchen, I really didn’t feel overwhelmed. The roast is a perfect way to use up all those Clementines that go on sale this time of year. My family was a little thrown off about the tri-color carrots and the white asparagus, but when they tasted it the color didn’t matter. This is a well rounded meal and looks fancy without using a ton of ingredients.

My bro and two cousins, despite being the oldest I"m the shortest!

My bro and two cousins, despite being the oldest I”m the shortest!

Cooked Sushi: Salmon California Stack

Image

I really like sushi… but every time I eat raw ahi tuna, my stomach feels a little off the rest of the day. I can’t help but to still crave the sticky rice hugging the avocado, asparagus, and cucumber.

And how on earth do you eat sushi? Did you know that until August of this year I was eating sushi wrong. I couldn’t use chopsticks. When we were in Chinatown in San Francisco, the waiter presented me with a stir fry dish and chopsticks. No fork. While the waiter fetched me a fork, I decided to attempt to use the handicapped chopsticks (the ones with the rubber band), and I still couldn’t figure it out. Every piece of food fell back onto my plate. The rice was impossible… I think I was able to get one grain of rice on the chopsticks- one grain! The waiters lingering around laughed at me, and I’m pretty sure my waiter took his time to bring me the fork so that he could be entertained.

This dinner is what I call cooked sushi: all the concepts and ingredients from sushi (minus seaweed) but its cooked. The salmon is baked in the oven, the asparagus steamed, and the avocado and cucumber are sliced in thicker pieces than what you would find in a sushi roll. I stacked it with rice, spinach, salmon, cucumbers, asparagus, and avocado.

I guess its still pretty messy to eat if you try to get a bite of everything in each forkful… which of course I attempted. You should try it though, its delicious!

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

4 salmon fillets

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup cooked jasmine rice

1/2 avocado, diced

1 cucumber, cut in slices

1 bunch asparagus (Sold at your grocery)

fresh baby spinach (eyeball amounts for each plate)

DIRECTIONS

1. Combine soy sauce, orange juice, garlic, and ginger in a bowl. Add salmon and marinate for 30 mins.

2. Cook the salmon: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 15-20 mins, depending on your preferences for salmon.

3. Meanwhile, cook Jasmine rice according to package instructions.

4. Steam asparagus in microwave for 3-4 mins. Cut up avocado in small pieces. Cut cucumbers in slices.

5. When salmon finishes, plate your meal: Jasmine rice, spinach, salmon, cucumbers, asparagus, and avocado.

SUSHI STACK!

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