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Fish tacos with cabbage and radish slaw

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I must start this post with an apology. I've been a bad blogger. I can't believe I haven't posted since December! Sorry for the long delay between posts everyone.

Maybe it was the long winter that has kept me from posting because today happened to feel very spring-like. I think the it was the warm weather than inspired me to fire up the grill and make these tacos. Most fish tacos I've seen involve battering and frying the fish. I actually prefer grilling the fish. I love the smokiness and char that the grill brings. And as much as I love fried food, I dislike making it at home. I think it would be great if you sauteed the fish as well, but if you can grill it, that's the way to go.

Fish tacos with cabbage and radish slaw

Asian pot roast

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In my opinion, wintery Sundays in December exist so we can cook large, tough cuts of meat for hours, until they give up their toughness to reach their soul-satisfying destiny. I believe every culture has their own version of a long-simmered stew, braised meat dish, pot roast, etc. One of my personal favorites is a Korean dish called galbi jjim, braised beef short ribs. The flavors of this dish are soy and sugar. The end result is hearty, familiar, and a crowd-pleaser. However, I was not able to acquire the necessary short ribs in a timely manner. Instead, I picked up the ever-dependable, always available, chuck roast. This is one of my favorite cuts of beef, so I was not really disappointed. When cooked properly, you will be rewarded with an extremely flavorful and tender piece of meat.

Asian pot roast

Jamie Oliver's Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

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My kids gave me Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Food Revolution cookbook for my birthday this past year. It's got great, quick, nutritious meals suited for the family, so I was looking forward to trying some of the recipes. Well, several months later, I've cooked something from it. My son has actually been asking me to make this recipe. He's a big fan of mac & cheese. And cauliflower too, actually. 

Jamie Oliver's Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Sausage and chicken jambalaya

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Before delving into the process of making jambalaya, I felt it is necessary to take a moment to say a few words about the green bell pepper. There aren't many food items that I dislike. In fact, I actually enjoy some foods that might be "weird" or "funky" or have a "challenging" texture to them. However, one of the things I actually dislike eating is the green bell pepper. I enjoy all other bell peppers: red, yellow, orange. I'm a big fan of the poblano pepper, as well, in case you may think I'm unfairly targeting the green family of peppers. Even though I dislike green bell peppers, it's an ingredient that's integral to making jambalaya. Why? Because it's part of the trinity.

Sausage and chicken jambalaya

Korean BBQ-style beef

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I call this Korean BBQ-style because, in my opinion, to have the real Korean BBQ experience, you have to use short rib (Kalbi). I'm not actually sure what cut of beef I am using here because it was labeled "sandwich steak." But, it looked nice and thin and figured it would marinate nicely in a Korean BBQ marinade. Meat that has been flavored this way is always a crowd-pleaser, whether it's a crowd of adults or a crowd of kids.

Korean BBQ-style beef

Baked pasta with sausage, eggplant and ricotta

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Who doesn't love a good ol' baked pasta dish? Pasta combined with sauce, covered with cheese and baked until it's golden-brown and bubbly is a crowd-pleaser. It's a versatile dish. You can add meat or not. You can vegetables or not. However, you can have a delicious baked pasta dish or a pedestrian baked pasta dish that's not much better than throwing a frozen dinner, depending on how you put together your ingredients. It can turn out watery and flavorless if you don't take the time to season your ingredients and bring out the maximum amount of flavor. This is not to say that it will take a long time. You can quickly put together a delicious sauce without having to resort to that jar in your cupboard. Do I have a jar of sauce in my cupboard? Of course I do! But I have many more cans of whole, peeled tomatoes than I do jarred pasta sauce. You can make a quick sauce with that can of tomatoes that will taste much better than the jar and it won't take much time at all.

Baked pasta with sausage, eggplant and ricotta

Enchiladas - 2 ways: chicken, spinach & mushroom

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One of the many joys that summertime brings is the ability to cook food over an open flame, outdoors. I know you can grill year-round, and I sometimes do, but it's just not the same. However, for as much as I love grilled food, I find myself longing for more fall-friendly food as the summer draws to a close. I crave things roasted and braised. Stews and long-simmered pasta sauces come to mind when I'm hit with pangs of hunger. A dish that falls right in the sweet spot of this category of cooler-weather cuisine is enchiladas. I made the ever-popular version with chicken but also decided to make a second batch with spinach and mushrooms, as those ingredients had been languishing in the back of the refrigerator.

Enchiladas - 2 ways: chicken, spinach & mushroom

Grilled red curry chicken wings

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Even though it is still summer, I can't help but notice that fall is beginning stretch its arms a bit as it gets ready to make its yearly debut. The cooler evenings and mornings, the imminent start of the school year, and preseason NFL have got me thinking about wings. Chicken wings. Since it's still summer, I'm going to grill my chicken wings. Eschewing the tried and true Buffalo-style wing in favor of something more adventurous, yet still somewhat kid-friendly, I decided to experiment with a red curry wing that borrows heavily from the Thai kitchen.

Grilled red curry chicken wings

Grilled salmon, cucumber-avocado relish, roasted carrots & onions

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If you asked my 6-year old son what his favorite food is, there's a good possibility that he will reply with "fish!" My soon-to-be 4-year old daughter is not quite as enthusiastic but won't completely turn her nose at it. Well, sometimes. Going to the market together to buy the fish always helps to build the anticipation for a fish dinner. Often, we'll let our son pick out what kind of fish to have. He usually gravitates toward the whole fish. He likes the "fish with the face!" Yes, it's strange, I know. But, I think it's great that he's so excited about eating something so healthy. He will even request that the cooked head be on his plate. Yes, that's even stranger, I know. This time around, we went with Coho salmon. It looked really great at the store and tasted wonderful as well.

Grilled salmon, cucumber-avocado relish, roasted carrots & onions

Crispy Kale

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I'll admit that this picture is not much too look at. However, if you could take a bite and experience the shatteringly crisp texture and the salty goodness that this kale brings, you'd be hooked. I saw Jaques Pepin do this on an episode of his show and I've wanted to try this technique ever since. If you don't watch his show, Fast Food My Way, I highly recommend it. You can watch that particular episode online, if you missed it.

Crispy Kale

A tale of 2 pizzas

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My refrigerator is brimming with fresh vegetables these days, as you may have heard. I thought a good way to use up some of the bounty would be to make pizza with it. Vegetables are no stranger to pizza. In fact, they are fast friends. Peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions are quite common toppings for our beloved pies. I had a few others to add to the mix as well and I was confident that they'd play nicely.

A tale of 2 pizzas

Simple stir-fried chicken with snow peas

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I signed up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) this summer and have been chronicling some of the things I've been making with the bounty from the box each week on a separate blog. This particular dish happens to use the snow peas that arrived in last week's box. The first thing I thought of when I saw the little bag of the peas was a stir-fry. It's a classic way of using this particular ingredient, so why not start with the classics? 

Simple stir-fried chicken with snow peas

Coconut curry rice with chicken and cauliflower

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I was flipping through my copy of the July 2010 issue of Food and Wine Magazine I had just received the other day and was inspired by this little snippet about how Laurent Gras of L20 uses a rice cooker to make this Ginger Chicken and Rice dish. I love using a rice cooker to make rice. As long as you follow the rice cooker's rice-to-water ratios, it comes out perfect every time. My version is inspired from his recipe.

Coconut curry rice with chicken and cauliflower

Grilled steak and grilled corn

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The long wait for summer to arrive for good ended this past weekend. It was the first weekend of extended outdoor activities. It was the first weekend of seeking shade from the hot sun. It was the first weekend for grilling. Now, I've already called on the services of my grill this spring and I know many who grill all year-round. But, it's not same as grilling, out in the hot sun, simultaneously battling the fieriness of the flames jumping toward you. 

Grilled steak and grilled corn

Roasted chicken dinner

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If I asked you what the first thought that comes to your mind when I say,"Sunday night dinner," what do you think your reply would be? If I was a betting man (and I have been known to be), I'd wager that you'd say, "roasted chicken." Roasting a chicken is simultaneously the simplest of cooking endeavors as well as one of the most daunting. There are numerous techniques involving high heat or rotating or basting or putting butter under the skin or brining or standing on it on end with things shoved into it...you get the picture. So for tonight's version of roasted chicken, I decided to go with a super-simple method.

Roasted chicken dinner

Butternut squash pancakes

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It seems that most cultures have some form of pancake in their culinary repertoire, just like most cultures have some form of a filled dumpling - ravioli, gyoza, pierogi, potsticker, etc. Some of these pancakes are made from grains such as our own breakfast pancakes or French crêpes. They can be made from a legume such as chickpeas. They can also be made of shredded vegetables. Potato pancakes, or latkes, are probably the best know of this genre. In Korean cuisine, there are a few variations on this type of pancake, made with various vegetables. Today, I'm focusing on butternut squash.

Butternut squash pancakes

Rice noodle stir-fry with beef and broccoli

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I really like using rice noodles for a quick weeknight meal. They're super-easy to work with and super-fast to cook. Those two qualities can give you a lot of confidence when you know you need to get dinner on the table. It had been a while since I used them and I was just thinking I should use them more.

Rice noodle stir-fry with beef and broccoli

Posole with pork, black beans, rice

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I've done some recipe research on posole in the past and discovered that the thing that defines a posole is the hominy. I'm sure there is an original version somewhere that is considered authentic but I found so many variations of posole that I felt ok to make my own version. As long as I have hominy, I should be good. So this version comes to being because of leftover carnitas, rice and tomatillo salsa from this past weekend.

Posole with pork, black beans, rice

Roasted cauliflower, chicken cutlets, cucumber-tomato salad

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If you saw this plate of food, you would say that it's a chicken dish with a couple of sides. Technically, you'd be correct. However, I wanted to focus more on one of the sides. I wanted to talk about cauliflower. Specifically, roasted cauliflower. I like cauliflower well enough. It wouldn't crack my top ten vegetable list. But when you roast it and let it caramelize, and concentrate the flavor by letting it wilt down, it becomes one of the tastiest foods, vegetable or otherwise. So, it's by design that the cauliflower is front-and-center in my photo.

Roasted cauliflower, chicken cutlets, cucumber-tomato salad

Pasta with sausage, zucchini and tomatoes

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This is a pasta dish I used to make all the time. A fixture in the weekly rotation. It sort of lost its spot in the rotation when the kids showed up, however. Those picky kiddo-types just don't like to eat stuff that's all mixed together with bits of this & that, green stuff, red stuff...you get the picture. I still made it on occasion but the kids would usually just eat the pasta and maybe some sausage. But they're a bit older and have been a bit more adventurous lately so I gave it another shot. Also, I went with whole grain pasta, so if they just ate mostly pasta, that would be alright.

Pasta with sausage, zucchini and tomatoes

Roasted sausage, potatoes and peppers

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I love to cook stuff on sheet trays in the oven. I love the concentrated, caramelized flavors that come out of a piping hot oven. I love that there are no pots and pans to wash. I love it when I line a tray with foil and all I have to do is pull the foil off and throw it away.

There are two things to remember when you make this kind of meal on a weeknight. The first thing is to have a really hot oven. If you're in the 300s, it's just not hot enough. I like to roast at 450°. The second thing to remember is to cut your ingredients thinly and uniformly. That way, the food will be cooked through as well as caramelized. On a tuesday night when you get home from work, you don't have time to roast anything nice and slow for an hour or more. 

Roasted sausage, potatoes and peppers

Pork tenderloin with apple relish, polenta, asparugus

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There are two challenges that I always seem to face when making weeknight dinners. The first is coming up with a starch component that doesn't take a long time to cook and isn't boring. The other is having a sauce component for a meat dish. This particular meal has good options for both of those issues.

Pork tenderloin with apple relish, polenta, asparugus