Cocktail Meatballs

Cocktail Meatballs
original Joelen recipe

3 lbs frozen (or homemade) meatballs
1 cup grape jelly
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 bottle prepared BBQ sauce

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot.
Cook on low for 4-6 hours and switch to warm when serving.

WW: Honey Teriyaki Salmon

I’m finally getting back into my kitchen groove with a healthy twist! Tonight I’m solo for dinner while the hubby is working. So for dinner, I enjoyed a flavorful and healthy dish of honey teriyaki salmon which I served with sauteed spinach and caramelized mushrooms. So simple and delicious! Oh… and with an effort to get better quality pictures, hopefully some of the changes I’ve made will try to do a little justice to the recipes I prepare!

Honey Teriyaki Salmon
courtesy of Weight Watchers Best Eats Cookbook

4 (1/4 lb) skinless salmon fillets
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon chopped, peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced

Place all the ingredients in a zip-close plastic bag. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag; turn to coat the salmon. Refridgerate, turning the bag occassionally, at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.

Spray the grill rack with nonstick spray. Preheat the grill to medium-high or prepare a medium-high fire. Alternatively, spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and place over medium-high heat.

Remove the salmon from the marinade; discard the marinade.

Place the salmon on the grill rack. Grill until the salmon us just opaque in the center, 4-5 minutes on each side. Alternately, place the salmon in the skillet and cook until the salmon is just opaque in the center, 4-5 minutes on each side.

Serves 4
Serving side: 1 fillet
WW Points value: 4 points

Spicy & Saucy

Today’s lunch was last night’s supposed dinner. So much for meal planning! If it weren’t for my workout at the gym and getting stuck in a thunder storm with the tornado sirens going off, I may have been able to pull off dinner without a hitch!

But I can say that enjoying this on a nice, sunny day makes for a great lunch. I came across this recipe for Asian Spiced Pork Tenderloins with Apricot Sauce and loved the spices involved along with the sweetness of apricots. The verdict? It was not only easy to prepare, but flavorful and on the healthier side. I served this with steamed rice and broccoli.

Here’s the recipe for Asian Spiced Pork Tenderloins with Apricot Sauce:

2 12-ounce pork tenderloins
Easy Apricot Sauce (see recipe, below)

Asian Rub
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Easy Apricot Sauce
2/3 cup apricot preserves,
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce in small saucepan.
– Combine sauce ingredients and bring to boil; remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Prepare Easy Apricot Sauce. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Combine brown sugar, salt, Chinese five spice and pepper in small bowl. Sprinkle and rub mixture evenly on surfaces of pork tenderloins.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in grill. Grill tenderloins, uncovered, over direct heat for 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F., turning tenderloins over halfway through cooking. Transfer pork to cutting board. Loosely cover with foil. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve tenderloin with apricot sauce.

*I’m also submitting this to the Perfect Party Dishes blogging event, hosted by Dhanggit of Dhanggit’s Kitchen. The blogging event is in honor of her daughter’s first birthday. I chose this recipe because it can easily be made in advance and doesn’t require many ingredients for an elegant meal perfect for guests. Check out the round up for the event the week of August 15th on her site!*

The Nutty Tilapia…

If there is a recipe that I’ve been so delayed in making, it’s this one. Something always came up – dinner out, errands, laziness… But finally, tonight’s dinner will be the long awaited Macadamia Nut Crusted Tilapia. The last time I had prepared this was for my birthday luau about 3 months ago. We loved it back then that we wanted to make it again. This time, I served it with sesame bok choy and king oyster mushrooms. It’s light, flavorful and great for hot summer nights.

Here’s my recipe for Macadamia Nut Crusted Tilapia:
4 frozen tilapia fillets
1-2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup crushed macadamia nuts
1/2 panko breadcrumbs
salt & pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk eggs with water for egg wash.
In a shallow baking pan, combine the nuts, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper.
Dip each tilapia fillet in the eggwash and dredge in the nut/breadcrumb mixture until fully coated.
Plate coated fish on a plate and chill for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Place coated fish on a light greased baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

Here’s my recipe for Baby Bok Choy & King Oyster Mushroom Saute:

3-4 baby bok choy bunches
1 1/2 cups king oyster mushrooms (or any kind of mushroom)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon lite soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons sesame oil

Heat large skillet or wok over high heat.
Meanwhile, prep your veggies by cutting bottoms of the bok choy and rinsing any debris between the stalks. Cut off the green tops and set aside.
For the mushrooms, slice them and if you prefer, remove stems.
When skilley or wok is hot, add oil to coat the bottom.
Add garlic, ginger and bok choy bottoms (not the green leafy tops!).
Stir until stalks are softened; then add mushrooms.
Stir until mushrooms start to brown and soften.
Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and salt & pepper to taste.
Stir and then add bok choy greens.
Remove from heat, add sesame oil and toss until greens wilt.

*I’m also submitting this dish to the Original Recipes blogging event hosted by Lore of Culinarty. This is one of my fave blogging events each month because it showcases the creativity of so many bloggers. Check out the round up mid month!

Leftovers Aren’t So Bad…

One of our staple dishes I resort to whenever we have leftovers is fried rice. It’s a dish that we make to use up leftover veggies and meats we have on hand… and the rice we use is always cold. That’s key for perfect fried rice, just like what you’d get at Chinese restaurants and how my parents made theirs for their catering business. Here’s my recipe for fried rice:

1 cup leftover meats – pork, chicken, beef, seafood
1-2 eggs
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 onion finely diced
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped vegetables (fresh or frozen)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1-2 tablespoons light or dark soy sauce
1-2 cups prepared rice, cold (or day old)

In a hot skillet or wok, heat oil.
Add garlic and onions & stir.
Add leftover meats of your choice, chopped up in bite sized pieces.
Stir fry meats until you get them a bit crispy.
Push the meats aside and crack eggs into the pan.
Scramble the eggs into the pan until cooked.
Add cold rice over the eggs & meat into the pan, making sure to crumble it in your fingers. (Dumping a large chunk of rice is not going to work here. You need to crumble it so it separates nicely).
Add salt, pepper, onion & garlic powders and soy sauce; toss.
Allow the rice to heat up and absorb the spices and soy sauce, tossing to help it along.
Add the fresh or frozen veggies and toss into the rice.
Continue cooking it all on high heat until rice is heated through and veggies are cooked.

I used leftover grilled chicken and some frozen veggies for lunch and served this with some homemade eggrolls – which I’ll be dedicating a whole post to in a couple of week. I’m teaching an eggroll class so I’ll save the details and recipes on making eggrolls then!

Pad Si Ew

The following recipe was featured for my Thai Cooking Class. You can read and view other recipes from the class HERE.

Pad Si Ew
(sweet soy sauce noodles)
Joelen’s recipe
1 onion, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons oil
1 lb sliced chicken, pork or beef (your choice)
4 tablespoons black soy sauce
4 tablespoons regular or lite soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 package wide rice sticks (pho noodles)
2 cups frozen broccoli

To prep rice sticks, boil water in a dutch oven. Once water has come to a boil, turn off heat and place dried rice sticks into the water. Let it sit for 5-7 minutes until it softens. Drain & set aside.

In a large wok, heat oil. When hot, add onions & garlic.
Once onions have softened, add meat (chicken, pork or beef) and saute for 3-5 minutes.
After 3-5 minutes, add soy sauces and sugar.
Stir and reduce until sauce is slightly thick, about 5-7 minutes.
Add broccoli & toss to heat through.
When broccoli is heated through, add drained rice stick and toss gently.
To serve, place noodles on platter and garnish with fresh bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and/or sliced green onions.

My Flashback Lunch With Salmon

I failed to blog about the amazing birthday dinner my husband took me to a couple weeks ago. He took me to Roy’s Restaurant, which was focused on Hawaiian fusion cuisine. It was a wonderful restaurant that impressed me with their various preparation of fish. We indulged in:

  • Two appetizers including Coconut Crusted Tiger Shrimp with hawaiian pineapple sweet chili sauce and the Maine Lobster Dim Sum white truffle emulsion & lobster cream sauce
  • My main entree: Roy’s Classic Roasted Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi with marine lobster butter sauce
  • My husband’s main entree: Roy’s Classic Trio which included hibachi grilled salmon, Roy’s original blackened island ahi & hawaiian style misoyaki butterfish citrus ponzu sauce, spicy soy mustard butter, wasabi ginger cilantro
  • My cocktail: The Original Hawaiian Martini nothing says martini like shaken, not stirred, and Roy’s put this delectable creation on the map. in classic Hawaiian fashion, our Maui pineapples are infused in Skyy vodka, Stoli vanil vodka and Malibu coconut rum. shaken and served with fresh pineapple
  • For dessert: the Molten Chocolate Lava cake and the Pineapple Upside Down Cake… both amazing!

But I digress. Today’s post is really about the lunch I prepared today that reminded me of that fabulous dinner at Roy’s. I found this recipe for Maple Soy Glazed Salmon in the 2005 America’s Test Kitchen Live! cookbook (pages 152 – 155) and it was perfection. The original recipe is for the grill, but I adapted it by cooking it indoors on a grill pan.What we wanted: To avoid the burnt, stuck to the grill crust and flavorless interior that plague most glazed salmon. We also hoped to create a sweet, crisp and flavorful salmon dish.

What we learned: Marinate the flesh side of the fish in a mixture of soy sauce and maple syrup. Grill the fish, flesh-side down, then flip, glaze twice, and flip again. When the fish comes off the grill, glaze it again. Needless to say, a well-oiled grill is a must…

I opted not to glaze quite as often as the recipe calls for since I was preparing my salmon on a grill pan. Perhaps if I did use an outdoor grill, I would have glazed more often to ensure the flavors are locked in. Either way, the glaze was a perfect balance of sweet and salty, with a wonderful consistency. Here is my adapted recipe for Maple Soy Glazed Salmon (indoor on grill pan):

1/3 cup good quality soy sauce
1/3 cup real maple syrup
4 salmon fillets (about 8 oz each), each about 1 1/2 inches at the thickest part
Ground black pepper
Vegetable or olive oil
Sesame seeds for garnish

1. Whisk the soy sauce and maple syrup in a baking dish until combined. Carefully place the fillets flesh-side down in a single layer in the marinade (do not coat the salmon skin with the marinade). Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in your grill pan over medium high heat until hot. Remove the salmon from the marinade and sprinkle the flesh liberally with freshly ground pepper. Place the fillets flesh-side down on the hot grill pan and cook until grill-marked, a deeply browned crust has formed and the salmon is opaque. Using tongs, flip the fillets skin-side down. Cook until skin is nicely browned, careful to not overcook the salmon. Remove from heat and allow salmon to rest.

3. In a small non-stick pan, place remaining marinade and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Brush the salmon with the glaze and use to dress plate.

I served the salmon over a bed of steamed brown rice with a bit of sliced scallions. For a nice side, I also steamed some sugar snap peas that I lightly tossed in 1/2 tablespoon of butter. To garnish, I sprinkled some sesame seeds over the dish.

Fantastic Fajita Bowls!

As a result of doing some rearranging and spring cleaning in my kitchen, I’ve been on a cookbook kick lately. I took for granted all the wonderful cookbooks I have in my collection and figured I better put them to use. So having gone through 8 of my America’s Test Kitchen Companion Books, I made notes of what recipes I could make using what I have on hand.

For lunch today, I used a recipe from the 2005 America’s Test Kitchen Live! cookbook and the 2007 America’s Test Kitchen Favorites cookbook for a Mexican-inspired meal. We enjoyed chicken fajitas sans tortillas, but over Mexican rice instead. As always, everything came out fabulous and I learned some great tricks that really made a difference in the dishes.

To make the chicken fajitas, the 2007 America’s Test Kitchen Favorites recipe (pages 148 – 151) was made for cooking on an outdoor grill; however I made some adaptations to cook it indoors. What we wanted: Chicken fajitas that don’t rely on a truckload of toppings for flavor – just smoky grilled vegetables and tender, well-seasoned pieces of chicken that taste great on their own.

What we learned: Briefly marinate the chicken breasts in an acidic mixture of lime juice and oil (along with a little Worcestershire for smokiness and depth and some jalapeno and cilantro for brightness) for best flavor. A combination of green and red bell peppers creates a pleasing contract of bitter and sweet…. Toss a small amount of extra marinade with the chicken and vegetables just before service for an added burst of flavor.

Keys to a Better Marinade: This marinade transforms bland chicken in just 15 minutes. We found that a generous dose of lime juice and a shot of Worchestershire sauce (or soy sauce) were key. The lime juice adds acidity, while the Worchestershire lends smoky, salty depth.

I really have to agree with the reasoning behind the recipe itself. It really had some amazing flavor – mildly spicy with citrus tones that really made it fresh. Here is my adapted recipe for Chicken Fajitas (Indoors on a Grill Pan):

1/3 cup juice from 3-4 limes
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 jalapeno chile, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
salt & ground black pepper to taste
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium red onion, peeled & cut into rounds
1 cup frozen, sliced multi-colored bell pepper strips

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the line juice, 4 tablespoons of the oil, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, jalapeno, cilantro, salt and pepper. Slice the chicken breast into strips. Place the chicken and marinade in a quart sized storage bag (Ziploc) and refrigerate 15 to 30 minutes.

2. After the chicken has marinated, heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Place chicken and marinade in grill pan, tossing until cooked and the marinade is absorbed/evaporated. The chicken will start to brown and caramelize.

3. When the chicken starts to brown and caramelize, add the sliced red onion and frozen (or fresh) bell pepper strips. Cook until onions and peppers begin to caramelize.

4. Enjoy with flour tortillas or Mexican Rice.

For the Mexican Rice I served my chicken fajitas with, I normally prepare it quickly over the stove top with canned tomatoes. However using a recipe from the 2005 America’s Test Kitchen Live! cookbook (pages 167-169), I learned some new tricks that made even better Mexican Rice.

What we wanted: Mexican rice that was rich tasting without the greasiness.

What we learned: Rinse the rice to remove excess starch and then fry it in a modest 1/3 cup of oil for a rice but not greasy flavor. Use fresh tomatoes for the best flavor, but add a little tomato paste for color. Bake the rice to ensure even cooking and finish with chiles, cilantro, and lime juice.

Again, America’s Test Kitchen didn’t fail me. I was a bit skeptical about the recipe because it was much different from how I normally prepare it… however delivered some amazing results. The rice was flavorful, tender and even better than what I’ve had at local Mexican restaurants. Here is my adapted recipe for Mexican Rice:
2 medium ripe tomatoes, cored & quartered
1 1/2 medium white onions, peeled & quartered
2 medium jalapeno peppers
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup homemade chicken stock
1 cup water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges for serving

1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Process the tomatoes and onions in a food processor or blender until smooth and thoroughly pureed, about 15 seconds, scraping down the bowl if necessary; you should have2 cups. Remove the ribs and seeds from the 2 jalapenos and discard; mince the flesh and set aside.

2. Place the rice in a large fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes. Share the rice vigorously in the strainer to remove all excess water.

3. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed straight-sided 12-inch ovenproof saute pan or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Drop 3 or 4 grains of rice into the oil if the grains sizzle, the oil is ready. Add the rice and fry, stirring frequently, until the rice is light golden and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the garlic and jalapenos, and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in the pureed tomato mixture, chicken broth, water, tomato paste, and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. Bake until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.

4. Stir in the cilantro to taste. Serve immediately, passing the lime wedges separately.

Orange You Hungry?

With the Tasty Tools event finished, I guess I should submit a recipe using my microplane grater too! But before I get to the recipe…. Everyday on my commute home on the days I’m in the office, I pass the popular Chinese food chain, Panda Express. One of their popular dishes is the Orange Chicken (sometimes you’re lucky if an employee waves a sample morsel for you on a toothpick as you walk past). So why is it so popular? Better yet, how can I recreate it successfully at home? The answer that I found was in the book, Cooking at Home With America’s Test Kitchen (2006). (I’ve been on a cookbook spree to revive some recipes I have stashed in my bookshelves.) Here’s what ATK has to say about the recipe: We prefer the flavor and texture of thigh meat for this recipe, though an equal amount of boneless skinless chicken breasts can be used. It is easiest to grate the orange zest and remove the strips of orange peel before juicing the oranges; use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the strips. For extra spiciness, increase the cayenne added to the sauce to 1/2 teaspoon. The whole dried chiles are added for appearance, not for flavor, and can be omitted. To fry the chicken, use a Dutch oven or a straight sided saute pan (with at least a 3 quart capacity): do not use a 12 inch skillet with sloped sides, as it will be too small to contain the oil once the chicken is added. White rice and steamed broccoli are good accompaniments.

Here’s the recipe for Orange Flavored Chicken:
Cooking at Home With America’s Test Kitchen (2006)
page 204

Marinade & Sauce:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skineless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons grated zest and 8 strips orange peel (each about 2″ long by 1/2″ wide) from 2 oranges
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup darn brown sugar
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 cayenne (I omitted)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
8 small whole dried red chiles (optional)

Coating & Frying oil:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (I omitted)
3 cups peanut oil (I used canola oil)

  • FOR THE MARINADE & SAUCE: Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag; set aside. Combine the chicken broth, orange juice, grated zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne in a large saucepan (with at least a 3 quart capacity); whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 cup of the mixture and pour into the bag with the chicken; press out as much air as possible and seal the bag, making sure that all the pieces are coated with the marinade. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes, but no longer.
    Bring the remaining mixture in the saucepan to a boil over high heat. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold waterl which the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Simjmer, stirrig occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the orange peel and chiles, if using (the sauce should measure 1 1/2 cups); set the sauce aside.
  • FOR THE COATING: Place the egg whites in a pie plate, using a fork, beat until frothy. In a second pie plate, which the cornstarch, bakig soda and cayenne until combined. Dran the chicken in a colanger or large mesh stainer; thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat; transfer the pieces to the coenstarch mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the dredged chicken pieces on a wire rack set over a baking sheetl repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • TO FRY THE CHICKEN: Heat the oil in an 11-to 12-inch ducth oven or staight sided saute pan with at least a 3 quart capacity over high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees on an instant read or deep fry thermometer. Carefully place half of the chicken in the oil; fry to golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning each piece with tongs halfway through cooking. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Return the oil to 350 degrees and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • TO SERVE: Reheat the sauce over medium heat until simmer, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and gently toss until evenly coated and heated through. Serve immediately.

Wasabi.. not only for Sushi!

In an attempt to use up some leftover wasabi, I decided to make a sushi inspired sauce combining wasabi and soy sauce. I call this, shrimp with wasabi soy noodles.Here’s my recipe:

1 lb large raw shrimp
1/2 package Shanghai egg noodles

2 cups water

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon wasabi
1 tablespoon sugar
splash of mirin
splash of sesame oil
1/2 cup julienned green beans
1 tablespoon slivered almonds

In a wok, add water & shrimp.

Cook shrimp until pink.
Add remaining ingredients except noodles, beans and almonds.
Allow shrimp to simmer and absorb flavors.
Remove shrimp and set aside.
Add noodles and cook until softened and sauce is absorbed.
Add beans and almonds; toss to coat.
Serve noodles with shrimps on the side.