Teriyaki Mahi and a Confession


I have a confession to make.  When we eat dinner at home, we rarely eat on real plates.  It's almost always paper plates for us.  In fact, the last time we had friends over for dinner, we ate on paper plates.  The truth is, I love to cook, but I despise cleaning the kitchen.  The rule in our family is that if I do the cooking, someone else has to do the cleaning.  

As I've mentioned before, Jim Bob and I are trying to include more fish in our diet.  Mahi is a white, sweet, moderately dense fish.  It's easily baked, sauteed, or can be carefully grilled.  Marinades are easy to find online, but listed below is the one I decided on.

Teriyaki Mahi

2 - 4 oz. mahi filets (wild, never frozen is always best)
2 tablespoons olive oil (original recipe called for butter)
2 tsp. minced garlic, divided (1 tsp. for marinade, 1 tsp. for sauteing)
1 Tablespoon teriyaki sauce
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
(original recipe called for 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds - I omitted.)

Mix all ingredients together, then place fish filets in ziploc bag with marinade.  Marinate at least 30 minutes (we marinated for 1 1/2 hours).  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan at medium heat.  Add 1 tsp. minced garlic, and saute.  Add fish, saute 4-5 minutes on each side, basting with marinade.

Source:  Go Hawaii


Baked Ziti

We've tried several baked ziti recipes over the years, and we have finally settled on a winner.  In fact, Jim Bob was so eager to test it out that I missed a decent picture for my blog.  Trust me, this recipe is worth the few extra steps.  Some of the recipes we've tried have been dry or bland, but this recipe is the perfect balance of sauce, cheese, and pasta.  I found the recipe on Annie's Eats, but I made a few changes which I've noted below.


Baked Ziti

1 cup sour cream (original recipe called for 16 oz. whole milk or 1% cottage cheese)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan Cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
Table salt
1 lb. ziti
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef (original recipe called for 20 oz. turkey Italian sausage) 
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 jar Bertoli tomato basil sauce (original recipe called for 1 (28 oz.) can of tomato sauce and 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
1 tsp. sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk sour cream, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl; set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes.  Drain the pasta and leave in colander.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in skilled over medium heat.  Cook until nearly browned.  Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the beef is completely browned.  Stir in the tomato sauce and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and sugar, and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream.  Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and add the sour cream mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce adn 3/4 cup mozzarella.  Stir to combine.  Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.

Transfer the pasta to a 9x13 inch baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.  Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil from the pan and continue to bake until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer.  Cool for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

Source:  Annie's Eats; origninally from Cook's Illustrated, March & April 2009


Coconut Cream Pie


I've never been a big fan of coconut desserts. Coconut is usually chewy in an annoying way, and it's dry.  No thanks.  But for his birthday, a family member requested a coconut cream pie.  I considered a lot of different recipes, but I finally settled on Martha Stewart's Coconut Cream Pie recipe.  Martha uses dried coconut as a garnish, not in the filling. The flavor of the coconut comes from coconut milk in this recipe.  There's also a nice addition with a thin layer of chocolate between the crust and the custard coconut filling reminiscent of an Almond Joy.  I was pleasantly surprised by this pie, and coconut has been promoted in my book. 

Coconut Cream Pie
Makes one 9 inch pie

1 large egg, lightly beat, plus 4 large egg yolks
3 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 recipe Pate Brisee (click here for recipe)

Preheat oven to 375.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round, a bit less than 1/4 inch thick.  Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate.  Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, trim crust to a 1/2-inch overhang all around.  Fold under overhand so it extends slightly beyond edge of pie plate.  Crimp edge as desired.  Prick dough all over with a fork.  Brush rim of dough with a beaten egg.  Chill pie shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Line chilled pie shell with a round of parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang.  Fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake until edges of crust just turn golden, 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove parchment and pie weights.  Return crust to oven, and continue baking until golden all over 15 to 20 minutes more.  Place pie shell on a wire rack to cool completely.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Prepare an ice bath; set aside.  In a bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks; set aside.  In a saucepan, whisk together coconut milk, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Bring to a simmer (do not boil), and cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes.

Whisk a quarter of hot-milk mixture (about 1 cup)into egg yolks; whisk in remaining milk mixture.  Strain into a clean saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until custard is thick and bubbles appear in center, 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Set in ice bath until completely chilled, 30 to 35 minutes.  (Filling can be kept in refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, up to 1 day.)

Melt chocolate in the top of a double broiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, or melt in the microwave.  Stir until smooth, and set aside until cool to touch, stirring occasionally.

Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of cooled crust with melted chocolate.  Place in refregerator or freezer until firm to touch, about 10 minutes.

Fill crust with coconut custard, spreading evenly.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream and cofectioners' sugar; beat until soft peaks form.  Spread whipped cream on top of custard.  Refrigerate pie at least 3 hours before serving.  Garnish with toasted coconut and chocolate shavings just before serving.


Source:  Martha Stewart



Mumford and Sons


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting


 I've never been a big fan of pumpkin, but when a friend asked for a pumpkin-inspired dessert, this seemed like a great compromise.  These cupcakes are wonderful, and the maple cream cheese is perfect.     

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields:  32 cupcakes

4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I used 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I omitted.)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

Preheat oven to 350.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.  With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until just combined.  Add pumpkin; beat until just combined.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes.  Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.  Cupcakes can be refrigerated up to 3 days in airtight containers.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup (I used more.)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Add maple syrup, vanilla, and confections' sugar; continue beating until well combined and smooth.


Source:  MarthaStewart.com, as seen on Brown Eyed Baker


Homemade Popcorn

Popcorn 2 

When I was a kid, we used to pop popcorn in an air popper like this one.  It was such a treat.  I loved to pour in the corn and watch it pop.  As the bowl filled with popcorn, I would turn it to make sure that it was evenly distributed.  There was a small silver tray on the top where you put half a stick of butter.  The heat from the popping made the butter melt.  

In recent years, I've always opted for microwave popcorn.  It didn't occur to me until recently to pop my own popcorn until I read a post on Brown-Eyed Baker's blog.  Jim Bob and I caught up on our dvr'd television shows on Sunday afternoon.  I popped a bowl of popcorn to munch on.  It's really easy to make yourself, and I definitely recommend it.  

Homemade Popcorn
3 tablespoons oil (I used canola)
1/2 salt (I used 3/4 tsp. sea salt)
1/2 cup popping corn (I used this kind.) 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Measure corn, salt, and oil into heavy-bottom pan.  Cover and turn heat to medium.  Leave lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape.  When popping slows, remove pan from heat.  Transfer popcorn to serving bowl.  Melt butter in microwave, and drizzle over popped popcorn.  Toss and serve.

Source:  Orville Redenbacher's Original Popping Corn jar label

Popcorn 1

Grilled Tuna Steaks


Publix recently had wild, never-frozen yellowfin tuna steaks on sale.  The tuna was $6.99 a pound, and apparently, that was a really great deal.  For some reason, I've always been intimidated to try grilling tuna steaks, but this was a deal I couldn't pass up.  They were great, and Jim Bob and I really loved them. 

Grilling tuna steaks is similar to grilling steaks.  They do best to marinate them for short amounts of time.  We marinated for 30-45 minutes.  You can eat them rare, medium, or well-done. 

Grilled Tuna Steak
4 - 4 oz. tuna steaks
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chopped oregano
1/2 teaspoon group black pepper

Combine all instructions and marinate tuna steaks, covered in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Preheat grill for high heat.  Lightly oil grate.  Cook the tuna steaks for 5 to 6 minutes, then turn steaks, baste with marinade.  Cook an additional 5 minutes or to desired doneness.

Source:  allrecipes.com, with variations from Joelen's Culinary Adventures
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