Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Slow Cooker Ramen Noodle Soup

I've been getting a lot of requests for slow cooker recipes. I have many friends/family in cold weather states so I wanted to find a way for everyone to warm up! It does get a "little" chilly here in Santa Barbara, about 60 degrees at night. Brrr! :)

This recipe is probably one of the better things I have experimented with in a while. I adapted it from a recipe I found on a fellow food blogger's site. I will be the first to admit that I don't completely make up everything that I cook. This recipe warms the soul and has some flavor that will knock your socks off!

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 9 hours

*3 Pound pork shoulder roast
*6 Cups chicken broth, divided
*1/2 Cup soy sauce (+4 Tablespoons to use later)
*1/4 Cup rice vinegar (+4 Tablespoons to use later) (I found at grocery in asian section)
*1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
*2 Tablespoons chili paste (sold at TJ's)
*Juice of 1 lime
*1 Tablespoon chinese 5 spice powder (asian section)
*1 Teaspoon black pepper
*2 Tablespoons sesame oil (asian section)
*1 Tablespoon brown sugar (+4 Tablespoons to use later)
*1 Pint of bella or button mushrooms, sliced
*4 Packs of ramen noodles (throw away spice packet)
*Chopped chives, garnish
*Sliced carrots, garnish
*Chopped cilantro, garnish
*Soft boiled eggs (optional!)

Roasted Butternut Squash
*2 pound butternut squash, seeded and diced (I buy mine pre-diced at Costco, saves time!)
*3 Tablespoons olive oil
*1 Tablespoon salt
*1 Tablespoon pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread the butternut squash out on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Cover sheet pan with foil and put in fridge. (You can do this day of, but you will see how it's nice to have this step done)

Turn your slow cooker to warm. Put the pork shoulder in first. Then add on top 4 cups of the chicken broth, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice vinegar over the pork. Add the ginger, chili paste, lime juice, Chinese five spice powder, black pepper and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Swirl all the ingredients around and then leave it alone for 8 hours. Do not touch it!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the butternut squash in to warm it up. Should take about 20 minutes.

Remove the pork shoulder from the slow cooker and put on a cutting board. Throw your sliced mushrooms into the broth and crank the heat up to high on the slow cooker. Add the additional 2 cups of chicken broth in on top. Cover.

Shred the pork shoulder with a fork, it should just pull apart. Meanwhile, heat a skillet to medium high and add about 1 Tablespoon of sesame oil. Let it heat up, and it batches throw in the shredded pork. Enough to cover the top of the skillet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar on top. Toss it around and cook for about 3 minutes. Do this in batches, should be about 4 batches. (You can skip this step, but it is worth it!)

While the pork is cooking, chop your carrots/chives/cilantro and set aside. Also, while your pork is cooking if you want the soft boiled eggs this is a good time. Put whole eggs in a pot of cold water. Heat up and as soon as it boils, cover and let sit for 2 minutes. Let cool and cut in half to put on top of ramen.

Once all of the above is done, add the ramen to the slow cooker. I did this only 2 packets at a time. You do not want to leave the noodles in long. They suck up all of the broth, do not let them sit in there. As soon as they are soft, remove and start putting in bowls.

Assembly time! Start with the noodles in the bottom. Ladle in some broth/mushrooms. Top with butternut squash, crispy pork, cilantro, chives, carrots, and soft boiled egg. Serve with chili paste on the side for those that want it spicier.

Done! I know the above looks a little overwhelming but if you need more time to do each step nothing is going to get ruined. That's the beauty of the slow cooker.

Happy slow cooking!!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Roasted Lamb Chops

I don't even know where to begin to explain this recipe. It is by far a favorite in our household and we melt into our chairs every time we take a bite. I've tried preparing lamb other ways and David gets upset when I don't prepare it in this style.

It's fat free, calorie free, and sugar free. YEAH right. This sinful dish is so full of flavor you won't even know what to do with yourself. And for those of you that claim you "don't like lamb" I promise this will change your opinion. The lamb taste isn't overwhelming and with the mixture of rosemary and balsamic it is the perfect balance. So let's open a bottle of red and and go to flavor town!!

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

1 Rack of lamb, about 6-8 chops (I buy mine from Costco, butcher is expensive!)
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt & Pepper (about 1 teaspoon of each)
1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Shallot, chopped
1/2 Cup chicken broth
1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon salted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, prep your rack of lamb. It's important that you buy the rack intact and not the little individual chops. Little chops cook very quickly by themselves and we want to roast them in the rack so all the flavors stay intact.

Heat a saute pan over medium high heat with olive oil. Rub salt, pepper, and rosemary on both sides of the lamb rack. Then put the rack top side down in the saute pan. Make sure the pan is hot as you want a good sear on it. Sear both sides of the rack about 4 minutes each. Just enough to get a good browning sear.

Take the rack out of the saute pan, throw on a cookie sheet and toss in the oven for 15 minutes. SAVE the saute pan and do not wash it out. Lower the heat on the stove to medium and add in the chopped shallot. You want all of the lamb fat rosemary goodness to infuse into the glaze. Cook shallots for about 1 minute and add in balsamic vinegar and chicken broth. Reduce to medium low and just let that simmer and reduce by half, about 10 minutes. After it is reduced, swirl in a Tablespoon of butter.

The sauce will reduce down to a glaze. If it’s too watery just give it more time and if it’s too sticky just add a little more balsamic to water it down a bit. Take the lamb out of the oven and let it SIT for 5 minutes. If you serve it immediately all of the juice (aka flavor) in the lamb will spill all over your plate.

Cut the chops off the rack individually and spoon the glaze over the top! I normally serve with mashed potatoes or cauliflower puree. Bon appetite!! 

(PLEASE NOTE: The above preparation is medium rare for the lamb. If you like it more well done just add on 5 more minutes in the oven)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fish Feast

I have to admit I never used to cook fish at home, or was much of a fish eater in general. I eventually figured out that my bad experiences were because the fish wasn't fresh. Now I only buy fresh fish and it's worth the extra pennies.

I can't take credit for this recipe, this was a dish I had over at Michael and Sarah Paskin's house for dinner one night during the week. My seabass recipe from earlier in this blog is similar in concept, but I just love that this whole meal is in one packet! Literally takes 5 minutes to prep, and walk away for 30 minutes. Tons of flavor, very healthy, and it has become a staple in my weekly line up!

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

2 Salmon filets (I normally get about 1 pound and split it in half)
2 Whole carrots, peeled and cut into little half moons
2 Green onions, chopped
10 Cherry tomatoes, washed and left whole
Brown rice, steamed
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Dry Dill
Parchment Paper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. I also normally start my rice cooker as soon as I turn the oven on. If you don't have one they're about $20 and worth it for perfect cooked rice.

Lay down a sheet of foil and then put a sheet of parchment paper on top. Do this twice. You want each fish to have its own packet. Put half of the carrots, green onions, and cherry tomatoes on each sheet. Lay the salmon on top of the veggies. Grind salt and pepper on top of each, and then sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon dill on each fish. Then drizzle each fish with about 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Wrap the parchment paper around the fish (doesn't need to be pretty). Then wrap the foil around the parchment package trying your best to seal it up. DONE!

Throw it in the oven for 30 minutes and walk away. Once the fish is finished, pull out the packets and unwrap carefully. The fish should easily flake with a fork. Put steamed brown rice in the middle of a plate and slide everything in the packet onto the plate.

Bon appetite! (preferably with a nice glass of white wine :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Arugula Salad

I'll say it once and I'll say it again...I LOVE ARUGULA. I could eat it every day! This salad is fresh and brings a few textures together to make it a delicious entree.

I've never been a huge "eat salad every day" fan so I'm always trying to find new ways to make salad interesting and full of flavor. This is also a great salad to pre-pack for your lunches all week.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 Cup farro
1 Cup water
1 Bag arugula, about 4-5 cups
24 Red grapes, halved
Salt & Pepper

1 Lemon
3/4 Cup olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of farro to a pot. Bring to a boil, and let simmer off the heat about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl juice the whole lemon and discard the seeds. Stream in the olive oil and beat the mixture with a whisk. Salt and pepper to taste. Make sure you taste as you go because you may want to add more olive oil or lemon depending on your preference.

Assemble the salad with arugula on the bottom, grapes, farrow (fluff in pot with a fork), and toss with dressing. Then sprinkle bits of parmesan on top.

DONE! So easy, healthy and packed with a ton of flavor!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fish Tacos with Tropical Salsa

Yes, I realize that I have been off the grid for a while! These past few months have been pretty busy, and I apologize for not posting many recipes. I will do the best I can!

Who doesn’t like fish tacos?? Tis’ the season for fresh ingredients so there’s no reason anyone should be making spaghetti out of a jar. Living in Santa Barbara, tacos are a daily meal around here. I know a lot of you live in areas that don’t have amazing Mexican restaurants but there’s no reason you can’t turn your kitchen into a taqueria! So let’s start mixing those margaritas (let’s be honest, you already have one in your hand) and get started!

Servings: 4 (3 small tacos per person)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Fish Tacos
1 Pound whitefish (mahi mahi, swordfish, anything firmer in texture)
2 Limes, 1 for fish and 1 for garnish
12 Small soft taco tortillas, corn or flour
Salt & Pepper

Tropical Salsa
¼ Fresh pineapple, chopped
1 Mango, peeled/pitted/chopped (omit if you can’t find)
¼ Red onion, chopped
½ Red pepper, chopped
1 Avocado, peeled/pitted/chopped
½ Jalapeno, seeded/deveined/chopped (omit if you don’t want spicy!)
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice, about 1.5 limes

Start pre-heating your grill to medium high heat. Make sure you clean your grill and rub with olive oil. *Helpful hint-Take an onion, slice it in half and rub it with olive oil. Then rub it on the grill!*

Prep your fish by rubbing salt and pepper on each side. About 1 teaspoon of each. Then squeeze 1 lime over both sides. Throw on the grill! Cook for about 9 minutes each side until done depending on the type of fish. *Important* Don’t buy a flaky fish like sea bass or cod, it will fall apart on the grill! If you don’t like fish, chicken or shrimp works fine too. (shrimp, only cook 2 min each side until pink!)

While your fish is cooking, prep the salsa. You want to make tiny little cubes of the pineapple, mango, red onion, red pepper, avocado, and jalapeno. If the pieces are too large they will fall off the taco easily. Toss together in a bowl. Squeeze lime juice and salt to your taste. Keep tasting as you go, it’s all personal preference!

Once fish is done, put on a plate and cover with foil. Grate the grill and brush with olive oil once again. Throw your tortillas on the grill. DO NOT leave! Max 20 seconds per each side and you’re done!

Serve tacos with a scoop of fresh salsa and 2 lime wedges per person. Enjoy this fresh and easy recipe during the week or on the weekend! Now…where is the Patron…