Monday, May 16, 2011

Sweet potato casserole recipe

sweet potato casserole

When I was invited to an Easter lunch and needed to come up with a dish to bring, I immediately thought of sweet potatoes.  I don't typically associate sweet potatoes with Easter, but I guess I was in the mood for them.  I didn't want to make the typical southern sweet potato casserole that has more sugar than I care to think about, so I was excited to find a recipe for a low sugar sweet potato casserole at 101 Cookbooks.  This dish was just sweet enough that this could have been a dessert (I ate some of the leftovers this way), but it was also a nice accompaniment to the main meal.  I loved the combination of sweet potatoes and coconut, and I'll be using the two together more often now.  Unfortunately the sweet potatoes that I bought were very stringy, but otherwise it was amazing.

Sweet potato casserole (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
(Printable version)

6 pounds sweet potatoes
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp honey
2/3 cup grated coconut (ideally unsweetened), toasted
4 Tbsp melted butter
2/3 cup sliced almonds

Pierce the sweet potatoes in several places with a knife, place them on a large baking sheet, and bake at 400 for an hour to an hour and a half, until they are very soft.  Let the potatoes cool until you can handle them, and then peel them and put all of the flesh into a large mixing bowl.  Add the coconut milk, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and honey to the bowl and mix well.  Lightly grease a 9"x13" pan and spread the potato mixture in the pan.  Sprinkle the coconut on top of the potatoes and drizzle the butter over the coconut.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, and then sprinkle the almonds on top and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the almonds are toasted.  Serves 10.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Grilled mojo chicken and eggplant recipes

About a month ago I got a grill.  It was one of those days that I won't soon forget, and not because I'm that obsessed with the grill (but I am enjoying it often!).  You see, I have a Corolla, so transporting most furniture, appliances, and other large objects is out of the question.  Luckily my parents visit often and we've transported all kinds of things in Mom's CR-V.  In fact, Dad now has a theory that if you push hard enough you can fit anything in there.  We weren't so lucky with the grill, though.  The grill was too tall to stand up in the back of the CR-V and the permanent extensions on both sides of the body of the grill prevented it from fitting in sideways.  The only way that it would fit was to stick the legs in the car and let the body of the grill and both of the extensions hang out of the back.  Dad sat in the back seat and held the legs, and I crammed myself in the back of the car around the grill legs and hung halfway out of the car to hold the lid of the grill closed.  As we drove out of the Lowe's parking lot, several people pointed and laughed. Luckily we made it home without me or the grill falling out of the car, and I've never been so happy to be home.

Thankfully the trip was worth it, and I really like the grill.  I had almost no grilling experience before, so I've been experimenting with various meats and veggies.  The last few things that I've made have turned out fantastically, though, so I'm gaining confidence in my skills.  This week I decided to try one of my family's favorite marinades, mojo sauce.  This sauce comes from Cuba and has a citrus base that is very refreshing and perfect for most meats, particularly chicken and pork.  This was the first time I've made it (when I was growing up we primarily used the bottled version available in most grocery stores), and it was incredibly easy and turned out really well.

I also made some grilled eggplant, and it was a nice addition to the meal.  Eggplant goes from good to amazing when grilled, and I was so excited to finally find some in the store this week that didn't look like they had been through a war.  

Grilled mojo chicken

2 large oranges
1 lemon or lime
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
salt and pepper
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Juice the oranges and lemon/lime and combine juice with olive oil, cilantro, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Marinate the chicken breasts in the sauce for at least 6 hours.  About 30 minutes before you're ready to cook the chicken, sit it out to come to room temperature.  Cook chicken over medium-low heat until done (mine took about 10 minutes per side).  Serves 3-6, depending on the size of the chicken breasts.

Grilled eggplant

Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.  Spread the slices out onto foil, sprinkle one side generously with salt, and then flip and salt the other side.  Let the slices sit for about an hour and then rinse the eggplant and let drain for a few minutes.  Place the eggplant in a ziploc bag with just enough olive oil to coat all of the pieces when tossed around (it won't absorb much if you do the salting step), and then place the slices on a medium-low grill.  Sprinkle with desired seasoning (simple salt and pepper work great, but use anything you want) and grill each side about 5 minutes, or until they're almost falling apart.  Serves 3-4 per eggplant.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mamom's fumi salad recipe

fumi salad
Thanks to everyone for all of the kind messages encouraging me to keep the blog going.  That is my intent, though I'm sure my posting frequency will not be what it once was.  The one person that most consistently expressed her desire for new blog posts was my grandmother, Mamom.  Tomorrow would be her 86th birthday, and this is for her.  Happy birthday, Mamom.

I started this blog for two reasons; I wanted an easy way to keep track of recipes that I enjoyed, but more importantly I wanted a way to update my parents and grandparents, Mamom and Papa, on my life in Michigan.  Every time I talked to them on the phone or sent an email it seemed like there was nothing new to report, but writing in this blog allowed them some insight into my day-to-day life.  Mamom was one of my biggest cheerleaders from the very beginning, and I would constantly get emails saying "I loved your latest Eat This and I can't wait to try that recipe" (she never called it a blog, always my Eat This).  Over the last few months she asked repeatedly if I thought I would eventually have time to write more, and I always said that I intended to get back to it soon.  It was a shock to the entire family when Mamom passed away two weeks ago, and I think that the only way to appropriately say goodbye is through an Eat This.

I have so many memories of Mamom that I don't even know where to start.  Before I was old enough to go to school, Mamom and Papa took care of me while my parents were at work, and after I started school I spent most afternoons and summers with them.  I don't ever remember watching tv with them (except for the news) because Mamom always had something planned.  We went to museums, we ran errands, we volunteered, we went on walks and bike rides, and we went berry picking.  Everywhere we went, I reached up to grab her hand.  I was never "Katie" to Mamom, I was always "her Katie."

I've never met a woman who was so proud and supportive of her children and grandchildren, and I think we've all kept going at times because of her encouragement.  In fact, her responses to my first (private) blog posts prompted me to open this up to a public blog.  She also encouraged me to cook way before I started the blog, and whenever I made a meal for the family she would talk about it for days (sometimes years).  While I was home last week I met some of her friends for the first time, and the vast majority of them mentioned something about my "gourmet cooking" (ok, so she sometimes exaggerated just a bit).  I don't consider my food gourmet in the least, but to her it was because I was the one that made it.  This loyalty and pride extended to the rest of the family and to her friends.

I also have many food-related memories of Mamom.  She introduced me to pesto, hummus, and kale, just to name a few.  I also have fond memories of her pumpkin ice cream, turkey and dressing, eggplant casserole, and baked spaghetti pie.  And don't get me started on her blackberry cobbler.  But one of the dishes that comes to mind first when I remember Mamom is her fumi salad.  Mamom always made a large batch of this salad whenever the rest of the family was in town, particularly during the summer.  I never get tired of this salad, and it gets better as each day goes by.  I've shared a similar salad before, but last week I flipped through her recipe box and found her official recipe.  Mamom, this Eat This is for you.

Mamom's Fumi Salad
(Printable version)

4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 medium head of cabbage, shredded
8 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 packages of ramen noodles (any flavor)
1 cup canola oil
6 Tbsp rice vinegar
4 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper

Combine cooked chicken, cabbage, green onions, almonds, and sesame seeds in a giant bowl (or two large bowls).  Place the ramen noodles (not the flavor packets - you can throw those away or save them for another recipe) in a large ziploc bag, and crush the noodles with your hands or a rolling pin.  Add the noodles to the cabbage mixture.  In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients, and then stir this dressing into the salad.  Mix well and refrigerate for at least a few hours before eating.  Serves 8-10.