Cilantro Gimlet

Cilantro Gimlet

This lovely green cocktail is a nice balance between sweet, sour, and herbaceous. The cilantro flavor in this drink is not too overwhelming.

I love cilantro, but I understand some people don’t care for the flavor. I think basil, spinach, or arugula could be substituted for the cilantro in this recipe with delicious results.

Cilantro Gimlet

makes 1 drink

1 handful of fresh cilantro (stems and leaves)
2 ounces gin
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 ounce of simple syrup (recipe below)
lime slice, to garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker 1/2 full with ice. Add all the ingredients and shake until very cold, about 30 seconds. Strain into a glass and garnish with a lime slice.

Simple Syrup

1 part sugar
1 part water

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

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Shrimp Laksa

Shrimp Laksa

Laksa is a spicy noodle soup that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia.  There are a gabillion different variations of it.  Some have a curry-coconut broth while others have a sour fish broth or tamarind-based broth.  Laksa can be made with seafood, chicken, beef, and/or tofu. This particular Laksa recipe is one I came up with after scanning about 20 other Laksa recipes online.  It’s not all that authentic, but it is quick, tasty, easy to prepare, and the ingredients can be found in most American grocery stores.

Shrimp Laksa

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced (or about 1 tablespoon of ginger paste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon (or to taste) sambal olek (sriracha can be substituted)
4 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, shrimp, etc…)
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 package rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
fish sauce, to taste
fresh cilantro
fresh lime wedges
chopped fresh chiles (optional)

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat and sauté the onion softened.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.  Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and sambal olek (or sriracha).  Add the broth and bring to a boil.
As soon as the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and add the shrimp and coconut milk.  Let cook until shrimp is pink and cooked through, about 3 – 4 minutes.  Season to taste with the fish sauce, about 1 tablespoon.

Divide the cooked rice noodles in bowls and ladle the soup over the noodles.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges and chiles (optional).


Jambalaya with Sausage

Once or twice a year, I am able to get sausage super cheap at Publix by pairing coupons with a sale (BOGO). I have been using http://www.southernsavers.com to match coupons with sales for years now. I think the website/app is a wonderful tool to help save lots of money. It certainly helps me stick to my grocery budget.

By getting the sausage for a steal, I was able to make this batch of Jambalaya with Sauce for under $5. Thrifty. It’s a super easy recipe that makes plenty to have again another day.

Using the frozen vegetable seasoning blend is very convenient and helps get dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. Great for a weekday meal.

Jambalaya with Sausage

12 ounce package rope sausage (I used Hillshire Farms Beef Smoked  Sausage, but Andouille sausage would be perfect)
10 ounce package frozen vegetable seasoning blend (I used Publix brand with onions, celery, sweet red & green peppers, and parsley)
4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (with their juices)
2 cups long-grained white rice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon your favorite Cajun seasoning mix (homemade or store-bought)
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste

Slice the sausage into 1/4-inch slices. Cook over medium-high heat in a large soup pot until evenly browned. Remove the sausage and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Add the frozen vegetable seasoning blend to the hot sausage drippings. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, rice, Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning mix, and cayenne to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the temperature to low. Cook 20 minutes or until rice is tender and all the liquid has cooked out. Fluff with a fork and serve.


Summer Vegetable Tart

Summer Vegetable Tart

This is an easy tart to utilize all those summer vegetables. If you have a small eggplant, that would be a nice addition in the roasted vegetable mixture. A balsamic reduction would be excellent drizzled over the finished tart.

Vegetable Tart

Summer Vegetable Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted
1 large sweet onion, sliced into rings
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into strips (or rings)
1 large zucchini, ends removed and sliced
8 ounce package mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas), cleaned and sliced
olive oil
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon capers
handful fresh basil leaves, torn
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the sliced onion, red bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Line the baking sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Unfold the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle (try not to get it too thin). Place the puff pastry on the lined baking sheet.

Place the roasted vegetables on the puff pastry, leaving a border. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese, capers, and torn basil over the roasted vegetables. Drizzle the tart with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Summer Vegetable Tart (before baking)

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the crust is golden. Serve warm.


Crockpot Tomatillo Chicken

I stopped at a Hispanic market Friday night and bought a bag of minature tomatillos (Tomatillo Milpero) and some beautiful serranos. The Tomatillo Milpero were so cute. There was no noticeable taste difference compared to regular tomatillos.

I do like to cook in the crockpot in the summer to avoid heating up the kitchen. I based this recipe on my favorite Salsa Verde recipe. It’s great served with Cilantro Lime Rice and black beans.

I made enchiladas with the leftover chicken and sauce. They were fantastic too. To make the enchiladas: Spread a little of the leftover tomatillos sauce in the both of a baking dish. Shred the chicken and mix it with shredded cheese and a little of the tomatillo sauce. Divide the mixture between 8 warmed corn tortillas and place them in the baking dish. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining tomatillo sauce and bake in a 350º oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbly and hot. You can sprinkle some shredded cheese on top the last 5 minutes or so of baking, if you would like.

You can complain about getting two different meals out of one.

Crockpot Tomatillo Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2.5 pounds)
2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, cut in half (also remove the stem if still attached)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2  cloves garlic, chopped
2 – 4 whole serranos, stems removed
1 tablespoon white vinegar
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and serranos in the crockpot. Season with the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken breasts on top of the tomatillo mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the chicken breasts.

Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high for 3 – 4 hours until the chicken is tender. Before serving, remove the chicken from the crockpot. Using a hand blender, puree the tomatillo mixture in the crockpot. Serve the tomatillo sauce over the chicken breasts.


Easy Chicken Posole

Easy Chicken Posole

This is one of my all-time favorite meals. It’s easy, delicious, comforting, and makes a big batch that ensures leftovers for future meals.

If you like your posole a little more on the brothy side, feel free to add an additional cup of water (or chicken broth) to the recipe.

Easy Chicken Posole

5 cups chicken broth
2 chicken breasts
2 poblano peppers, roasted, seeded, and chopped (or a 4 ounce can diced green chiles, drained or 3 jalapenos, seeded and chopped)
4 15.5 ounce cans white hominy, drained
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (and their juices)
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

grated cheese (I like cheddar)
shredded green cabbage
thinly sliced radishes

Bring 5 cups of chicken broth and the chicken breasts to boil in soup pot. Reduce heat slightly and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and reserve the cooking liquid in the pot. Let the chicken cool.

Add the chopped roasted poblanos (or canned green chiles or chopped jalapenos), drained hominy, diced tomatoes (and their juices), Mexican oregano, and ground cumin to the reserved chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Shred the chicken while the posole is coming to a boil. Once it does, added the shredded chicken and cook until the chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Season the posole to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve in bowls. Let everyone top their posole with cheese, shredded cabbage, and sliced radishes.


Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

I bought a spiralizer at a school fundraiser yard sale for $1 and now that it is summer and zucchini is pleniful, it’s a perfect time to use it to make zoodles (zucchini noodles).

I haven’t had much luck with growing zucchini in my garden. This year, I planted some zucchini in a bucket on my deck and so far have only gotten 2 zucchini from it. They were kind of funky-looking, but tasted great as zoodles.

I have worked on perfecting my Peanut Sauce for years and I think I have finally nailed it. This stuff is great on all kinds of noodles (rice noodles, spaghetti, zoodles, etc…) and as a sauce for grilled chicken (think Satay) and Summer Rolls.

The Peanut Sauce recipe includes a paste made from a clove of garlic. This is an excellent tutorial on how to make garlic paste with a knife. This is how I do it:

Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

Special tool needed:  spiralizer

1 tablespoon (or less) of mild-tasting oil (I used canola)
4 medium-sized zucchini, ends trimmed, spiralized
1 carrot, peeled and grated
prepared Peanut Sauce (recipe below)

fresh cilantro
crushed peanuts

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spiralized zucchini and shredded carrots and cook, tossing often with tongs, until tender (but not mushy). Turn off the heat and add the peanut sauce to the zoodles. Toss to coat. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts. Can be eaten warm or cold.

Peanut Sauce

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced and made into a paste with the side of the knife’s blade (see tutorial video above)
1 – 2 teaspoons sriracha
juice of 1/2 lime
warm water (about 1/2 cup)

Combine the peanut butter, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic past, sriracha, and lime juice. Add water, a little at a time, until you reach a somewhat thick, but pourable consistency. You want it just so that it coasts the noodles but isn’t too thick or too thin. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.