Grilled Coconut Almond Shrimp

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Tomorrow is Heather’s birthday…Heather loves coconut. And shrimp. Maybe because she loves pink, but you’d have to ask her. We like to party in our family; birthdays, death days (macabre, but people have to eat and laughter in the midst of tears is fortifying), weddings, sunny days, Sundays, buy-one-get-one-free days…you get the idea. Any excuse for a party!

Coconut shrimp is so yummy, but I didn’t want to deep fry it. As delicious as fried food is, its just not good for you no matter what you are frying, and I don’t know about you, but after I eat it, I feel about 10 lbs heavier.

This was very simple to make, and because its grilled, the shrimp still had a satisfying golden-brown crispy exterior. The coconut has a slight sweetness to it, contrasting nicely with the rich ocean-flavor of the shrimp. Top it off with Ginger Plum Sauce (https://mccorrielanekitchen.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/ginger-plum-sauce/) and you have a mouth-watering explosion of Asian-inspired flavors on your plate!

Ingredients:

About 25 shrimp

1 cup unsweetened shredded organic coconut

1/4 cup almonds, ground into medium-fine texture

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 egg

Directions:

1) Marinate shrimp in coconut milk at least an hour. Mix together shredded coconut and ground almonds; set aside.

2) Beat egg, toss with marinated shrimp. Toss shrimp in coconut and almond mixture, set on heated grill, and cook until shrimp are pink and crust is golden. Serve with Ginger Plum Sauce!

It really is that easy…!

Ginger Plum Sauce

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This is a sweet and hot plum sauce I created to go specifically with Grilled Coconut Almond Shrimp, and it has just enough heat to really compliment the sugary sweetness of the dark purple plums. Although the ingredients might not be things you have on hand, the actual making of the sauce is so simplistic its worth a trip to the grocery store.

I served this with the above-mentioned shrimp for Heather’s birthday, and it was a big hit! This recipe makes about 1 cup, well enough to serve 6 people, or less with some leftover!

Ingredients:

2 whole plums

1/4 cup vinegar (I used pear infused balsamic vinegar)

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons Florida Crystals brown sugar

1 inch piece peeled fresh ginger

1/4 green chili pepper, seeded & diced

3 scallions, sliced, for garnish

Directions:

1) Cut up & pit the plums, leaving the skin on. Combine vinegar, water, and brown sugar in saucepan, begin to heat and add plums and ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer until plums have dissolved.

2) Remove about half the ginger root, and then puree sauce until smooth. Add diced chile pepper, garnish with scallions, and serve as a dipping sauce. You can make this ahead and chill it, or serve it warm, like I did.

Sweet Cream Pumpkin Swirl Ice Cream

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OK, my friends…don’t say I didn’t warn you…get on your running shoes! All this unseasonably deliciously warm weather has got me inspired to whip up a rich icy batch of pumpkin ice cream…fortunately, it’s also motivated me to step up my work out routine! I froze mine all day long, so by the time we took it out to enjoy it, the texture was like a sorbet ribboned with creamy subtle vanilla sweetness.

The vanilla yogurt in this recipe is homemade, but you can use store-bought, sour cream, or skip it altogether. Grampa & I used to have a joke…I would ask, “Is it homemade?” and he would say, “Well, I didn’t grow it in the garden/raise the cow and milk it/ catch it down at the beach/ if that’s what you mean!”

Ingredients for Sweet Whipped Cream:

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup homemade vanilla yogurt

1 teaspoon honey (you don’t need to harvest this from your own hive!)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

1) Mix all ingredients in a bowl; whisk on high about 3 minutes, or until cream is thick and fluffy, and when you run a spoon through it a trail is left in the cream. Set aside.

Ingredients for Pumpkin Ice Cream:

1 anti-biotic/hormone-free free range egg

1/3 cup Florida Crystals organic light brown sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup light cream

1/4 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

1) Whisk egg & sugar together thoroughly; add the rest of the ingredients and stir until completely blended.

2) Pour an inch of pumpkin mixture into bottom of ice cream maker, followed by a large dollop of whipped cream, alternating until ice cream maker is full. Set aside extra whipped cream in the refrigerator to serve with ice cream.

3) Churn 3-4 times (or stir, if you don’t have an ice cream maker) every 15 minutes during the first hour, then let ice cream set 4-5 hours, or until it reaches desired consistency.

My little critic couldn’t give a hoot about the ice cream, it was the whipped cream she was after…thanks to Grampa, or “Papa” as she called him, she has inherited the family addiction to whipped cream. There was always at least 3 cans of “spray cream” in his fridge, and I used to tease him that he should have owned stock in a whipped cream company.

Kale with Asian Flavors

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Lately I have become obsessed with kale…I could eat it morning, noon, and night. Fortunately, it goes well with eggs, satisfies my craving for something flavorful and hearty for lunch, and makes a fantastic side with almost any dish for dinner! And to make it even easier to prepare, it comes in giant pre-washed, pre-trimmed bags at the grocery store! Mmmm….

This recipe is very simple, combining delicious Asian flavors that highlight a robust and sturdy leafy green vegetable. The nice thing about kale, aside from it being packed with iron, fiber, and vitamin C to mention just a few, is that it literally can carry the weight of whatever other seasonings and vegetables you add to it. The leaves remain crisp, with a frilly texture, rather than wilting into nothingness.

Ingredients:

2 cups of fresh, prepared kale

1 1/2 tablespoons pure sesame oil

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

Directions:

1) Add sesame oil to wok or frying pan, add kale, and toss to coat. Saute over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

2) Add soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and toasted sesame seeds. Continue to cook until kale is tender, but still retains its hearty structure, about 3-4 more minutes. Serve hot!

French Vanilla Mascarpone Cheese

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This is my version of Mascarpone Cheese, flavored with French vanilla and a touch of confectionary sugar. Considering a tiny container of it costs upwards of $6, it is very handy to keep tartaric acid on hand for making Mascarpone (about the same price for a bag that has well over 10 teaspoons) and whip it up fresh when you need it. This is a very mildly flavored cheese, with slightly tart undertones, perfect for traditional desserts like Tiramisu, or to top fresh fruit for a decedent treat. Just ask my husband, you’re looking at a picture of his breakfast this morning!

Ingredients:

1 pint light cream

½ teaspoon tartaric acid

1 ½ teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1)      Set up a double boiler, or if you don’t have one, set a metal or glass bowl that conducts heat very well into a saucepan of water. Pour cream into bowl, and set flame on medium/high. As cream begins to warm, whisk in sugar & vanilla.

2)      Bring cream up to 185 degrees and whisk tartaric acid in thoroughly, keeping mixture at 185 degrees for about 5 minutes, stirring gently & occasionally throughout.  Cream will begin to thicken noticeably, resembling eggnog, and may start to separate slightly.

3)        Remove from double boiler, and once pan/bowl has cooled to the touch, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

4)      Once cooled, pour into a sieve lined with cheesecloth, cover tightly again, and refrigerate 12 hours. The whey will drain out, leaving a thick, creamy, slightly grainy sweet cheese. You can keep it in an airtight container for several days, using it to top fresh fruits, spread on a bagel, or just enjoy it straight off the spoon!

*In this recipe, you can also omit the sugar and vanilla, making the traditional mascarpone cheese, which is just as delicious!

Mozzarella Cheese

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Mozzarella cheese is shockingly simple to make, and for that reason (plus how much tastier it is and how fun it is to make) I will never buy it again. It’s a mild, soft, classic cheese that is very versatile and pairs well with more zesty ingredients, as we all know, like tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar!

Something all vegetarians should know is cheese is not inherently, or guaranteed, to be a vegetarian food. Traditionally, many cheeses are made with the addition of rennet, an animal-based substance which comes from the stomach of a calf. Nice to know, right? Fortunately, for those of us who prefer out cheese vegetarian, vegetable rennet is available, no animals harmed in its extraction!

This was definitely a culinary adventure in the kitchen…my friend Katie, Kristina, and I rushed off to the store to find a special thermometer for this project (its imperative to know when your milk reaches 90 degrees, and later 105 degrees). While Kristina rearranged the pink piggy timers and stacked miniature funnels, Katie and I puzzled how to reach the one thermometer that would do the trick, which was, of course, hanging about 8 feet in the air. And, of course, there were no sales associates available to help us…we put our three blonde heads together and while I held a shopping carriage steady, Katie (always a trooper) climbed precariously up and wrestled said thermometer from its lofty post. This reminded me of when we used to play Scrabble against her husband and considered us two-for-one as a team…

By the time the excitement died down and we made it home, Kristina decided she had had enough of our antics (not to mention some of her own) and retired for a nap with her Baby Shelly. This left Katie and I free to explore the magic of turning milk into cheese by adding an acid and an enzyme, boiling, draining, repeat, and voila! Cheese!

Ingredients:

½ gallon whole milk

½ cup cold water

1/8  cup cold water

¾ teaspoon citric acid

1/8 teaspoon vegetable rennet

1 teaspoon salt

*and you will want to have a large pot, a slotted spoon OR cheesecloth lining a colander, a candy thermometer designed to read temperatures as low as 90 degrees

*citric acid, as I learned after spending my life savings ordering it from a specialty store online, is simply “sour salt”, ironically something stocked in the original McCorrie Lane Kitchen. Vegetable rennet must be purchased from a specialty store, easy enough to find at cheesemaking.com.

Directions:

1)      Mix citric acid into ½ cup cold water until it is fully dissolved. Pour milk into large pot, stir in citric acid mixture & turn heat on a medium setting. The goal is to slowly bring the milk to 90 degrees, stirring gently as you go.

2)      Meanwhile, add vegetable rennet to 1/8 cup cold water. If you are using tablets, crush and dissolve. Also, prepare a colander lined with cheesecloth.

3)      Once milk has reached 90 degrees, take it off the burner, pour in vegetable rennet mixture and stir gently for about 30 seconds. You will begin to see the milk separating into curds (white pieces) and whey (a yellowish-clear liquid).

4)      Cover the pot, and allow the cheese to rest for about 5 minutes or longer if needed, until they curds have floated to the top of the whey and begin to congeal.

5)      Once they curds have firmed up, use a knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot to slice the curds into 1 inch pieces.  Place the pot back on the burner and bring the cheese up to 105 degrees, stirring slowly while reaching desired temperature.

6)      If you are planning on saving the whey for future cheese-making projects, then use a slotted spoon to scoop the whey into the colander lined with cheesecloth, otherwise simply pour the contents of the pot into the colander lined with cheesecloth, allowing the whey to drain off. Squeeze out the remaining whey by gently twisting and pressing the cheesecloth.

7)      Put the ball of mozzarella into a glass microwave safe bowl, and microwave for 1 minute. Press the cheese using either a spoon or your hands (cheese will be hot, but should not burn you) to express more whey.

8)      Put mozzarella back into the microwave for another 45 seconds, and this time after squeezing off any remaining whey, knead the cheese like you would a bread dough, pulling and stretching, until it becomes smooth, shiny and elastic. Add 1 teaspoon of salt now if you like, kneading it into cheese. If you prefer a slightly drier cheese, and/or it has not yet reaching a smooth consistency, you can put it back into the microwave for another 35 seconds or so, and repeat the kneading process.

9)      You can shape the mozzarella into a large ball, roll it into several smaller balls, roll it out and slice it, braid it, etc, etc. Serve warm, or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to a week.

Kristina’s Oatmeal Cookies

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Today on the way to the grocery store, I listed my shopping list out loud…Kristina had a couple of items she wanted me to pick up, too. “Cookies!” she yelled, determined to be heard. I explained to her we would make our own cookies, and with that we added oats, dried cranberries, and Earth Balance to our growing list.

While I can’t seem to escape the addition of a sweetener in the cookies, I could certainly make them with whole wheat, sneak in flax, some nuts, and a little fruit. These cookies are not overly sweet, and have a slightly drier, pleasant texture with a nutty finish. Think of them as breakfast in a cookie.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup softened Earth Balance

2/3 cup Florida Crystals sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon good quality vanilla

2 cups oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup flaxseed meal

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¼ unsweetened coconut flakes

¼ crushed hazelnuts

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

1)      Cream together Earth Balance & sugar, add vanilla, then beat in eggs.

2)      Mix flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda, and salt evenly, then add in batches to egg mixture. Once wet & dry ingredients are well-mixed, incorporate coconut, hazelnuts, cranberries, and white chocolate chips.

3)      Roll mixture into walnut sized balls and place about 1 ½ inches apart on baking sheet; bake 12-15 minutes, or until bottom of cookies are brown & your house smells like oatmeal and vanilla. Let cool on a wire rack before eating, unless you don’t mind burning the roof of your mouth.

Oatmeal Wheat Bread

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This recipe is for an oat and wheat sandwich bread, and will yield two loaves. Perfect for making sandwiches and toast, this is a nutritious way to eat your bread! Freeze one loaf, and save yourself time down the road. Kristina loves this and often asks for, “Peanut Toast!” (Toasted bread with peanut butter) and I can feel good about letting her indulge without worrying she is eating empty calories of over-processed, preservative-laden white bread. Grampa used to buy 12 grain whole wheat bread at Clements Market, and while I am still pondering just how to squeeze 12 whole grains into one loaf, he also enjoyed this slathered in ginger preserves when I brought my second loaf over to him last fall.

Ingredients:

1 cup oats + 2 cups boiling water

2 packages (or 4 ½ teaspoons) yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ cup hot water

½ cup unsweetened almond milk

1 egg

3/8 cup of honey or molasses

¼ cup oil (vegetable or canola)

2 cups whole wheat flour

3 cups bread flour

½ cup bulgur wheat

½ cup flaxseed meal

Directions:

1)      Create a sponge with the boiled water & oats (all this means is mix it together & let it sit about 20 minutes)

2)      Soften the yeast in ½ cup hot water (hot to the touch, but not unbearable, you do not want to kill the yeast) stirred with 1 tablespoon sugar.

3)      Once the sponge has cooled, add softened yeast mixture, salt, almond milk, and honey or molasses.

4)      Work in the flours and grains, about 2 cups at a time, until fully incorporated. Knead the dough about 5 minutes; it will be very sticky and shaggy. If it is to dry, add water or almond milk 2 tablespoons at a time.

5)      Turn dough into a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise, about an hour or until double. Once dough has doubled, punch it down, knead it a few more times on a lightly floured surface and shape into loaves, placing in 2 loaf pans.

6)      Set oven to 325. Allow dough to rise for another 30 minutes, and then bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until thermometer inserted in center of loaf reads 190 degrees.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Acorn squash is a very versatile squash; my Mom used to make it when I was a child, baked traditionally with cinnamon, butter, and a touch of brown sugar. In this recipe, I combine both sweet & savory flavors, for a healthy (of course!) and tasty dish. You can substitute celebration or butternut squash, whatever your preference. Grampa was a big fan of turnips, something I tried to like but never could…oddly enough, my sister Jess loves turnips…hey, put it on a post-it! This dish was a good compromise, and a great way to sneak in some vegetables in his otherwise clam-and-pancake diet. Oh, least I forget to mention, you can smother this in melted cheese for the picky eaters in your life.

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash cut in half

1 stalk of celery, diced

½ a Fuji apple

2 medium shallots, sliced thinly

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

4-5 shiitake mushroom (remove stems), sliced

¼ cup vegetable broth

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh oregano

½ teaspoon cumin

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

1)      Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half length-wise and scoop out seeds & any strings. Drizzle center with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper and place face down in baking dish with vegetable broth. Bake 40 minutes, remove from oven, set squash aside and pour broth & juices into frying pan.

2)      Sauté celery, shallots, and garlic in pan with broth & juices for about 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant. Add apples, mushrooms, thyme, oregano, salt & pepper; sauté additional 4-5 minutes.

3)      Place acorn squash cut side up in baking dish, stuff with filling, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, tent with foil and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until fork inserted in squash flesh goes in easily. Enjoy!

Coconut Ginger Ice Cream

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Smooth, creamy, ultra-rich coconut ice cream bursting with chewy bits of spicey candied ginger and nutty, toasted coconut will make you throw your diet out the window. Gladly!

So yesterday we started the daunting task of cleaning out the garage…my Grampa, fortunately, was a very organized and tidy man. But there is no denying 60 years of accumulation in the garage. Among other things, we found a bullet, an ancient camera, a dinosaur coat hanger, an amber McHenry Whiskey bottle from 1870-something, and an ice cream maker! Guess what interested me the most? Grampa tremendously enjoyed infomercials, and was usually convinced of the merit of whatever was being sold. Thus my fortune in discovering an ice cream maker!  Grampa, like everyone in my family, was a fan of ice cream. There was a whole summer of the “ice cream bar”. Every carton of ice cream and every possible topping was set out on the counter after dinner, and Grampa would ask me to get him a scoop of each flavor and a little of each topping. I’m talking strawberrycookiesandcreamalmondjoyginger ice cream smothered in caramelchocolatecoffeesyrupcherriesrainbowsprinkles and of course, a squirt of “spray cream”.

Here we will discuss how to make a much simpler ice cream, but still with enjoyable textures and an amazing flavor. While some ice creams benefit from the addition of egg yolk, the coconut creme in this variety is rich enough on its own. I warn you, this is a serious deviation from my healthy recipes. Nothing in this is even remotely good for you, and I strongly advise if you do eat this, that you run around the block at least thirty times. At least.

Ingredients:

Imagine my surprise to discover we own a dairy!

1 cup of milk (if you want to cut back to a mere 29 times around the block, go for skim)

1 1/4 cups cream (half & half = 28 laps, heavy cream = 3,987)

1 can creme of coconut

1/2 cup toasted unsweetened coconut (set oven to 400 degrees, spread coconut on baking tray, and toast about 10 minutes, or until golden)

1/2 cup chopped candied ginger

Directions:

1) Stir milk, cream, and creme of coconut together…whisk to be sure coconut is thoroughly incorporated.

2) Stir in cooled toasted coconut and ginger.

3) If you have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture in, set in freezer and churn a few times every hour or so, until set, about 5 hours. If you do not have an ice cream maker, freeze in a freezer container, stirring every hour or so, until set.

Serve sprinkled with toasted coconut and candied ginger! And don’t forget about the running.