Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Final Post

We are finally back in the Dallas area after our first long term venture out with the motor home.  It's great to be home to see all the kids and grand-children.  Other reasons to be thankful are being able to attend my favorite workout classes, getting a long overdue haircut and a fabulous manicure with a technician I'm comfortable with.  I don't have to research where I'm going and find an address to plug in to our GPS which is another plus.  The downside is, I have visited all the places in the area and so there is nothing new to explore.

While we were traveling, I found it sometimes difficult to keep up my posts on the blog, even though I cook every day.  Gerry and I have also changed our eating habits to gradually embrace the Paleo diet and I find myself spending lots of time researching the Paleo aspect and less time working on my blog. 

I appreciate everyone who has enjoyed visiting my site.  Stay healthy and keep cooking!

Bon Appetit,
Mona

Monday, September 16, 2013

Curried Shrimp

Curry is one of my favorite flavor profiles and since I hadn't serve shrimp in a while, I knew it was the time to try this recipe.  I started by sauteeing the aromatics (onion and garlic) and then added the rest of the curry sauce ingredients and simmered it for just a few minutes over low heat.  The shrimp finally went in and cooked in the sauce over low heat for about 10 minutes.  Once done I added cilantro and lime juice.  I served this flavor-packed curry over brown rice.



Curried Shrimp
Makes 3-4 servings

4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, pureed in food processor
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
3 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed

Heat oil in a large saucepan over low heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute slowly for 10-15 minutes until tender and golden, but not browned.  Add the tomatoes, ginger, cumin, coriander and turmeric and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the slowly simmering sauce and allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until shrimp are cooked through.

Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and lime juice.


Slightly adapted from Elena's Pantry

Our rating:

1/2

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Buffalo Glazed Chicken Thighs

I was craving Buffalo Wings because football season has begun and since all I had on hand was boneless, skinless chicken thighs, this recipe evolved.  I coated them with a dry rub and then used a Buffalo sauce that I had used before and covered the thighs with it.  I baked them in a hot oven for 25 minutes and the main part of dinner was done.  Our sides were oven roasted butternut squash and green beans.



Buffalo Glazed Chicken Thighs
Makes 2-3 servings

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
1/4 cup unsalted, pastured butter or ghee, melted
1/4 cup Franks hot sauce
1 tablespoon barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the oil, chili powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl or zip-lock bag.  Add the chicken thighs and massage to coat well.  Place in a baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.

While chicken is baking, prepare the sauce in a large bowl by mixing together the melted butter, hot sauce and barbecue sauce.  Toss the partially baked chicken thighs in the sauce to coat evenly, place chicken back in baking dish and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Serve while hot.

Our rating:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bourbon Glazed Salmon

Oh the many ways to love this Omega-3 rich powerhouse of proteins and this is just one more way.  I simply marinated 2 salmon fillets for an hour or so and then sauteed them in a skillet until perfectly done.  My side dishes were mashed sweet potatoes and broccolini.



Bourbon Glazed Salmon
Makes 2 servings

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons low-sodium coconut aminos or soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
Olive oil
2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced for garnish
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

Combine brown sugar, bourbon, coconut aminos, ginger, lime juice, garlic and pepper in a zip-lock bas.  Add fish fillets to bag and seal.  Marinate in refrigerator for 1 1/2 hours, turning occasionally.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with olive oil, add fish and marinade to pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a for, or until done. 

Serve fillet with some of the sauce and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

Slightly adapted from Health.com

Our rating:

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Salt Lake City, Utah and Western Colorado

We spent Labor Day exploring Antelope Island which is in the southern end of the Great Salt Lake.  The Great Salt Lake is huge and 25% saltier than the ocean which is quite amazing.  They say that the high level of salt makes it extremely easy to float.  Because of its salinity, it is a unique environment for millions of native birds, brine shrimp, shorebirds, and waterfowl.  The island also has a population of about 500 buffalo and lots of antelope, hence the name of the island.  It was a wonderful way to spend the day.





I spent the next day exploring downtown Salt Lake City.  I started with a tour of the Capitol Building which was really informative.  The building is beautiful and filled with marble and paintings.  It was fashioned after the White House and it sits on a hilltop, further enhancing its grandeur.



After the Capitol tour, I explored Temple Square in the city which is where the first Mormon Temple was built.  They no longer offer tours of the temple itself, but there several city blocks containing many Latter Day Saints buildings.  I started at the Latter Day Saints Staff Building which has an observation deck on the 26th floor which is the perfect way to see how the square is laid out. Anyone wanting a birds-eye view of the square is kindly escorted with a personal guide.  I decided to visit the temple museum which was a great place to learn about the building of the temple with lots of photos and a huge diagram of the temple.  I then did a tour of the Latter Day Saints Conference Center which is a very unique facility able to accommodate 22,000 people with a rooftop landscape.  One half of the landscape is all desert-like native plants that you would find in the desert areas around Salt Lake.  The other half of the rooftop is planted with aspen trees and evergreens which would be native in the mountainous areas around the city. 




We left Salt Lake City and moved on to Grand Junction, Colorado which is in western Colorado and a new area for us.  We were only there for a few days, but this is an area that would be well worth allowing more time.

I started with Colorado's National Monument by driving the 23 mile Rim Rock Road through miles and miles of canyons and rock formations.  This whole area was stunning with sheer cliffs and red canyons and all kinds of breathtaking overlooks.  I also happened to catch some bighorn sheep in the canyon.  The first picture below is Coke Oven Overlook, followed by Independence Monument and finally bighorn sheep.




Grand Junction sits in a valley between the National Monument on one side and the Book Cliffs mountains and The Grand Mesa.  I spent the next day exploring the Grand Mesa which is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world.  It was a very scenic drive up to the mesa which had a totally different feel with quite a few lakes and lots of trees and greenery.  The only wildlife I caught on the mesa was a chipmunk enjoying sunflower seeds.  The drive down from the mesa was a 12-mile gravel road with narrow lanes and hair-pin turns.  It was a blast to slowly wind down the 11,000 foot high elevation with unending vistas.




I loved exploring the areas around Grand Junction and I know we will plan on another stop sometime in the future, as I'm sure there is so much more to learn about the area.

We are now in Breckenridge and enjoying cooler temperatures as we continue our gradual trek home.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Paleo Chicken Caesar Salad

We have always loved a good Caesar salad and my recipe for dressings have varied over the years.  I love this particular recipe for both the flavor and the creaminess.  I also replaced the croutons with some crunchy bacon pieces.  I love to grill a chicken breast and serve it warm on the salad.  There is nothing like the cool crunch of the lettuce with the warm chicken.  I did add some Parmesan cheese shavings which are not allowed on the Paleo diet.  We are eating mostly Paleo, but I do allow a few little tweaks here and there.



Chicken Caesar Salad

For the dressing:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic
2 whole Anchovy fillets
1 teaspoon black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor or blender.  Once everything is well blended, slowly drizzle in olive oil with motor running to emulsify.  Set dressing aside and prepare salad.

For the salad:
Romaine Lettuce, chopped
 Grilled chicken
Bacon, cooked till crisp and crumbled
Parmesan cheese shavings, if desired

Place lettuce in a large bowl, and toss with enough Caesar dressing to coat lettuce.  Place salad on plate, top with desired amount of chicken and garnish with bacon crumbles and cheese, if desired.

Note:  leftover dressing can be stored in refrigerator for about 1 week.


Slightly adapted from Primal Plate

Our rating:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Boise and Twin Falls, Idaho

Since we were in Boise, I decided to visit the Capitol Building, which is a very beautiful, marble-filled building.  The only other state capitol building I have been in was in Oklahoma and these two buildings seemed quite similar to me.  I plan on trying to visit the capitol building whenever I can just to see how similar they all are.  The city of Boise is very friendly and easy to get around in.  

 We enjoyed the RV park we stayed in and Newman especially enjoyed the Bark Park which was a wonderful grassy, fenced in area in the middle of the park.  There were usually at least a couple of dogs to play with several times a day, but the highlight of the day was about 6:00 p.m. when lots of dogs came out to play.  Needless to say, Newman had a blast wearing himself out with all the playmates. 


We moved on to Twin Falls in Idaho and I got to explore the Snake River Canyon which is where Evil Knievel attempted his jump in 1974. 

I also visited the Shoshone Falls and was astounded at how beautiful and powerful these falls were.  They are nicknamed the Niagara Falls of the west and now I can’t wait to see Niagara Falls.  I toured the area in the morning and was so impressed that I brought Gerry to view them as soon as he was done working for the day.  It was easy to visit twice since they were only about 10 minutes away. 

On my last day in Idaho, I drove over an hour away to visit Balanced Rock, which was quite interesting.  It is a rock formation in a canyon that is 48 feet high and 40 feet wide and the base is 3 feet by 17 1/2 inches wide. It's fascinating to see something like this created by the elements.  I really enjoyed the ride to Balanced Rock, since it was through miles and miles of farmland.  There were lots of dairy farms and tons of hay fields.  The other crops that went on for miles were potatoes, of course, and corn and I think soybeans.  I’m not sure about the soybeans, but there was definitely something other than corn and potatoes, so I’m guessing soybeans.  There is something wholesome about driving through miles of farmland.

We caught a spectacular sunset one evening as we were ready to walk Newman.  
We are now Salt Lake City, Utah and looking forward to learning more about the area

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hoisin Grilled Tuna Steaks

Tuna steaks are so meaty, they make you feel like you're eating something much richer than fish.  I got some impeccably fresh tuna steaks from Whole Foods and decided this was the way to go.  The steaks were marinated in an Asian flavored mixture containing sesame oil, coconut aminos (or soy sauce) sherry, hoisin sauce, garlic and ginger.  After an hour, the tuna steaks went on the grill to cook for a couple of minutes on each side until cooked to medium to medium rare.  We like it still red in the middle just as long as it's not cold in the middle.  I served the steaks over a bed of garlic infused sauteed Swiss chard and with a side of sauteed zucchini.  Other than planning for the hour of marinating time, this recipe is quick and easy.



Hoisin Grilled Tuna Steaks
Makes 2 servings

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 6-ounce tuna steaks (sushi grade)

 Combine sesame oil, coconut aminos, sherry, hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger and salt and pepper to taste in a zip-lock bag.  Add the tuna steaks and make sure to massage and turn bag to evenly coat the tuna steaks with the marinade.  Let sit for 1 hour, flipping bag occasionally.

Remove tuna steaks from marinade and grill over medium-high heat from 2-3 minutes on each side until just done. 


Slightly adapted from Food.com

Our rating:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bison Chili

Bison was the meat component of this chili which made it a nice, lean dish.  It also had a sweet potato, green pepper and onions in addition to the strong level of spices and some cocoa powder.  I used the full amounts of spices listed in the recipe below and it turned out quite spicy.  If you are sensitive to heat, I would cut the spices in half.  We happened to love the spice and topped the chili with some Cheddar cheese and sour cream which toned it down a little.  This recipe does require some planning since it uses a slow-cooker and has to cook for 4-6 hours.

Bison Chili
Makes 4-6 servings

3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pound bison stew meat
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
1 onion, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
Sour cream, optional for serving
Cheddar cheese, grated, optional for serving

Pour the canned tomatoes in a medium sized bowl and add the garlic, smoked paprika, chili powder, chipotle powder, cinnamon, cocoa powder, salt and pepper.

Place the bison, sweet potato, onion and bell pepper in a slow-cooker and cover with the seasoned tomatoes.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Recipe from Practical Paleo

Our rating:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pan Seared Chicken Thighs with Creamy Corn Saute

What a long title for this blog post, but since I am not the most creative person to name a dish, this pretty much explains it all.  I pan seared some bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs that were simply seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme and finished them in a hot oven.  I served them over a bed of sauteed corn, carrots and peas which had the same seasonings as the chicken and finished off with a little heavy cream which I allowed to cook down.  Even though there wasn't too much cream, it still felt like a very decadent dish.



Pan Seared Chicken Thighs with Creamy Corn Saute
Makes 2-3 servings

4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon thyme, divided
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off (or 2 cups frozen corn kernels)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup organic heavy cream

Cut the kernels off the cobs and set aside (or remove corn from freezer and run under cool water to thaw).  Prepare onion and carrots and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a heavy oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking.  Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme.  Place chicken skin-side down in hot skillet and allow to cook 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip chicken over and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Place skillet in preheated oven and continue to cook for about 20 minutes (or until chicken is done to 160 degrees on a meat thermometer).

While chicken is finishing in oven, saute onion, carrots and corn in a little olive oil over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes.  Add peas and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon thyme and saute for another minute.  Add cream and allow to come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until cream is thickened and just coating the vegetables.

Serve chicken over sauteed corn mixture.

Our rating:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rockfish Parmesan

While visiting with some new friends at a recent RV Park, they offered to share some of their local fish that they had caught and frozen themselves.  John was going fishing again and wanted to free up some freezer space and we graciously accepted his kind offer.  Rockfish is local to the northwest waters and is a very mild, white fish.  I was intrigued with the idea of coating a mild white fish with a combination of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and it turned out to be very tasty.  I served it over some Quinoa pasta which I tossed in a little garlic flavored olive oil and added peas to the dish.  Quite yummy!



Rockfish Parmesan
Makes 3-4 servings

1 pound rockfish fillets (or other white fish fillets)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Lemon wedges for serving

Cut the fish into serving sized pieces.  In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and sprinkle over both sides of fish.  Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a shallow dish and set aside.  Dredge the fish in the flour and then dip into the beaten egg and finally coat it generously with the crumb/cheese mixture.

Brush a shallow baking dish with the butter and arrange fish in a single layer.  Drizzle any remaining butter over the fish fillets and bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Slightly adapted from We Love Fish

Our rating:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Portland and Baker City, OR

Since we were back in the Portland area, I got to explore another area on the Columbia River that I just didn’t get to last time.  I got to visit the Columbia River Gorge Museum, which was very informative on how the gorge came to be through thousands of years and the various stages of settlement in the area.  I then went to Hood River, which is famous for the constant winds providing the perfect conditions for wind surfers and kite surfers.  I had lunch in the city on an outside terrace overlooking the surfers, which was very entertaining.




I took a scenic route from Hood River towards Mt. Hood and stopped at a perfect lookout point for the mountain.  The views were simply spectacular, showcasing the snow-capped mountain in the distance with the rolling farmlands and wild pine trees all around.  


 
 On the way back down the scenic road, I couldn’t help stopping to snap a few pictures of pear orchards with the Del Monte crates just waiting to be filled.  Now you know where some of the Del Monte pears come from.  I’m sure this is not the only area that they get the pears from, but there were huge orchards running for miles in Oregon, which I found surprising. 


I spent a few hours also exploring the End of the Oregon Trail museum in Oregon City, about 20 minutes away from Portland. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours and reminded me of how this great country was populated. 

At the RV park in Fairview, Newman had a wonderful puppy to play with just two sites over from ours.  Dolly was a one-year old Yorkiepoo who could run circles around Newman with her boundless energy.  Newman and Dolly spent several hours each day playing around.  Dolly left the day before we did and ever since I think Newman finds us quite lame as playmates.  Hopefully, we'll find another puppy in another park soon.

 
On Friday we started the first leg of our homeward journey, which we will be doing gradually with 3 or 4-day stops along the way.  Our first stop was Baker City, Oregon, a very quaint town with a thriving historic downtown area.  We had dinner in town on Friday evening at Barley Brown’s Brew Pub and sat at an outdoor table on the sidewalk watching the locals come and go. 

We spent Saturday morning playing a round of golf at Quail Ridge surrounded by mountain ranges that looked like the perfect setting for any Western movie.  The course was in great condition and just challenging enough for Gerry to enjoy it.  I’m still learning to play, so I find all courses challenging.
 
We ended our day in Baker City by visiting the Antique Car Show, which just happened to be in town and was something different for us to do and turned out to be fun.

As I write this, we are in route to Boise, Idaho, which is our next stop on our journey.  Gerry assures me I will like Boise, so I am anxious to see if he is correct.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Grilled Salmon with Tomato Relish

I love all of Bobby Flay's recipes that I have tried and the few meals I had at his Mesa Restaurant in Las Vegas.  I tend to cook his recipes for special occasions since they are usually more complicated than I like to tackle on an everyday basis.  This particular recipe of Bobby's is not too complicated but still packed with flavor.  I'm still undecided as to how I feel with tomatoes paired with salmon.  I kept thinking the pairing was a little strange but it certainly didn't stop me from clearing my plate. 

I served the salmon with a side of pureed cauliflower.



Grilled Salmon with Tomato Relish
Makes 2 servings

For the salmon:
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tablespoon ancho chile powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 salmon fillets (6-8 ounces each)

For the relish:
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon finely diced sweet onion
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the salmon glaze:  over high heat, in a small saucepan, reduce the vinegar and sherry by half.  Pour the reduced mixture in a bowl and add the mustard, honey, ancho chile powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside while preparing the relish.

For the tomato relish:  combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve at room temperature.

Preheat the grill to medium high.  Brush the salmon with the glaze and grill 3 minutes on each side for medium.  Serve with the tomato relish.


Slightly adapted from Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay

Our rating:

1/2