Grapefruit//Pamplemousse

Amazing Roasted Sweet Potatoes

So I made the best sweet potatoes I’ve probably ever had today. They are spicy and sweet and get stuck in your teeth in the good way.

Sweet Potatoes

Three bouts of inspiration for them:

  1. Spring has sprung on Long Island. We’ve had some pretty awesome weather, which has inspired me to use the grill. Daylight savings time, which as a concept I hate, is actually pretty cool when you work 9-to-5[ish] and want to grill after work. Grill => burgers => potatoes.
  2. I was watching Sara’s Weeknight Meals the other day and saw her make some pretty great looking burgers and sides and was inspired. While the fries/chips from The Dandelion looked pretty killer, I served similar spinach turkey burgers with amazing roasted sweet potatoes.
  3. I was looking for a recipe for sweet potato oven fries the other day. I find most oven fries really kind of bleh. They’re wannabe fries, and I didn’t want wannabes. I tried my usual sources including Cook’s Illustrated and Serious Eats, but nothing really caught my eye. Then I found this, made it, loved it, but ultimately decided they would be better as roasted potatoes instead of pretending to be fries. Wannabes.

I’d like to write up my burger recipe as well as my special sauce recipe, but time is short and these sweet potatoes are better anyway.

Amazing Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Print Recipe
Spicy roasted sweet potatoes adapted from Minimalist Baker's Cajun Baked Sweet Potato Fries.
Servings Prep Time
3 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Amazing Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Print Recipe
Spicy roasted sweet potatoes adapted from Minimalist Baker's Cajun Baked Sweet Potato Fries.
Servings Prep Time
3 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Place a large cast iron skillet in the oven. Preheat oven & skillet to 375F.
  2. Cube up potatoes. Toss in a large bowl with everything but the cilantro. Toss until you think everything is evenly distributed and then toss again. It's worth it.
  3. Once the oven is up to temp, pour the potatoes into the skillet and roast for about 20 minutes. Toss around and then roast for another 20 minutes. It won't hurt to toss again go up to another 20 minutes.
  4. Toss potatoes with chopped cilantro and serve.
Recipe Notes

Please use a cast iron skillet. Please. It's so worth it.

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Easiest Brown Rice

This is my go-to recipe for brown rice, which I’ve come to prefer over white rice for non-Asian style dishes. It’s absolutely foolproof, as the base recipe from America’s Test Kitchen indicates [paywall].

While I most often make this recipe exactly as written below, I’ve added a dash of garlic powder, or a can of black beans and some cumin, or some fresh garlic, or fresh herbs at the end. All these variations are great, and don’t add much complexity or increase prep time significantly.

As the photo I’ve used here shows, you can also gussy up however you like before serving. This picture shows the rice with a quick sauce I made with olives, garlic, tomatoes, and anchovies. It was awesome.

So bookmark this recipe because you’re going to want to keep coming back to it if you’ve been making brown rice any other way!

Easiest Brown Rice
Print Recipe
This recipe is based on America's Test Kitchen's Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice. I use it all the time, and have been making it for years.
Servings Prep Time
6 cups 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
60 minutes 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 cups 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
60 minutes 5 minutes
Easiest Brown Rice
Print Recipe
This recipe is based on America's Test Kitchen's Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice. I use it all the time, and have been making it for years.
Servings Prep Time
6 cups 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
60 minutes 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 cups 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
60 minutes 5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F with a rack roughly in the middle.
  2. Bring the water (or replace with stock) to a boil. I use my electric kettle since it's much faster than my stove, but do what moves you!
  3. In an 8" square baking dish, covered casserole, or pot, add the rice, salt, and butter. Once the water is boiling, add to the dish and immediately cover tightly with foil or the dish's lid. If the lid isn't tight-fitting, use a sheet of foil under the lid and fold it down over the dish's sides. You need all that moisture trapped in there!
  4. Bake for an hour. Let rest for 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork. I actually like to use a serving fork with really wide tines to avoid gumminess. Then enjoy!
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Italian Vegetable Soup

Italian Vegetable Soup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
3 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Italian Vegetable Soup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
3 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. To a medium pot, add chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add kale and salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Return to a simmer and let cook for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add carrots and let cook another 2 minutes.
  4. Add cabbage and tomato sauce and cook for 5-10 minutes until everything is hot and vegetables reach desired tenderness.
  5. Serve and garnish with parmesan and olive oil.
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Italian Stir Fry

Italian Stir Fry
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Italian Stir Fry
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: person
Instructions
  1. Heat skillet over medium-high. Add olive oil.
  2. When olive oil is shimmery, add kale, salt, black pepper, and red pepper (to taste). Stir occasionally, cooking for about five minutes.
  3. Add cabbage and carrots and continue to stir occasionally, cooking for another five minutes.
  4. Once vegetables have browned and wilted slightly, add tomato sauce and rice. Stir occasionally until everything is heated through.
  5. Add water if necessary to loosen to desired consistency. I like to add just a little too much water and then reduce down until slightly thickened.
  6. Serve with plenty of parmesan and drizzle with olive oil if desired.
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Cleaning Out the Freezer 2: Italian Stir Fry and Italian Vegetable Soup

On Sunday morning, I set out to make my shopping list for the week. I knew I needed milk, eggs, and a few things for lunch and dinner. I had watched Sara Moulton making egg rolls with cabbage, carrots, and pork earlier in the morning, which put me in the mood for stir fry. I went looking for something in the freezer, which led to me cleaning and organizing the freezer. In there, among many, many other things, I found a quart of tomato sauce I had made a few months ago. I figured I ought to eat that rather than make stir fry, and I didn’t end up going shopping on Sunday. I decided I’d stop off at the store on Monday after work and pick up zucchini noodles to have with my tomato sauce. That’s not what happened though.

A friend and I went to Trader Joe’s at lunch time on Monday, mostly to kill some time outside of the office. I have never seen zucchini noodles there before, but figured I’d look to save a stop that evening. I didn’t find them, but I did see some kale, shredded carrots, and shredded cabbage. I picked those up thinking I could sauté with my tomato sauce and it would be close enough in concept to my zucchini noodles.

IMG_20160111_184121-01When I arrived home, I started cooking the kale in just a bit of olive oil. I didn’t add any liquid because I thought it would get too soupy. I added red pepper flakes, black pepper, and some salt and cooked over medium-high heat for a few minutes. The kale actually ended up getting nicely browned! I added the carrots and cabbage and continued to cook in the same way and the cabbage picked up some color as well. I then added some of the tomato sauce and some brown rice I had in the fridge and stirred it all up. It was way too dry and way too thick. To think I was concerned it’d be soupy! I loosened with a bit of water and continued to cook until the sauce tightened up a bit. I served with some parmesan and devoured. It was far better than I thought it would be. Really excellent and quite healthy.IMG_20160111_185736-01

I used about a third of my vegetables and sauce and figured I’d end up making the same thing two other nights this week. I came home tonight though and just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t have any more rice…and didn’t intend on making any. It’s been fairly cold here on Long Island the past few days and was kind of in the mood for soup. No reason I couldn’t transform these same ingredients into soup, am I right?

I added a quart of chicken stock to a pot and brought to a simmer. I threw in the kale along with some red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper and cooked for a few minutes. I added the carrots and cooked another minute or two, then added the cabbage. I’m a fool and my pot was full to the brim, so I took a bit of the stock out, then added the remaining tomato sauce. There actually ended up being meatballs in the bottom of the container, which was a delightful surprise on the one hand because…meatballs. On the other hand, this was a non-liquid ingredient going into my completely full pot. The meatballs slid in and of course the liquid spilled over. It’s just more cleaning, right? Dang. Well anyway, I let the soup simmer for as long as it took me to wash a sink full of dishes and then ladled myself up a bowl. I covered in Parmesan and dug in. I resisted the urge to add some olive oil too. This was another success — even better than the ‘stir fry’ from a couple of nights ago. I also packed up a few jars of soup for lunch tomorrow and Friday.IMG_20160113_190036-01

I’m pretty impressed with how these dishes turned out. They share nearly all the same ingredients, but ended up with completely different form factors. They were both very satisfying and the ridiculous amount of vegetables made them really quite filling. I was wary of dumping tomato sauce into the soup, but rationalized it’s basically the same thing as adding some diced tomatoes, onions, and garlic, right? And that was the case. And it was delicious. I still have so much food in the freezer to cook through, but based on the outcome of these dishes, I’m actually looking forward to it!

Recipes below.


Cleaning Out the Freezer

imageI’ve been meaning to clean out my freezer for several months now and just haven’t gotten to it. It’s full of chicken carcasses, vegetable trimmings, leftover tomato sauce, and frozen fruit. While it’s clear I need to make chicken stock, I started this task much too late in the day to complete that. I decided I’d round-up the loose bananas, apple slices, IQF pineapple and strawberries, and coconut milk, and then portion the fruit into sandwich bags so I can easily make smoothies in the morning.

I made up six bags, so I’m all set for this week. I also needed a little snack today, so whipped up a smoothie this afternoon using one of my bags. I’ve seen so-called smoothie bowls cropping up on YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and in my Feedly feed and have been meaning to try out the concept. I took one of my bags and mixed in my NutriBullet with a bit of water. I poured into a bowl and topped with some cashews, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, and Mandarin segments. Not quite as photogenic as those Pinterest beauties, but I’m a believer! What a great, simple idea. I’ll definitely be making another smoothie bowl in the near future.

Cleaning Out the Freezer
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Cleaning Out the Freezer
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Ingredients
Toppings
Servings: person
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the smoothie ingredients in a blender. Adjust the amount of water based on blender requirements and desired thickness. Blend and place in a serving bowl.
  2. Arrange Toppings as desired and enjoy!
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Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Pineapple and Sriracha-Pimenton Sauce

Wow. That title is a mouthful, but I didn’t think ‘Chicken Lettuce Wraps’ was detailed enough and then…well…where does one stop?

This past Sunday I cooked a whole chicken on my charcoal grill at my parents’ house for supper for the family. My mom likes to invite me over for dinner, only to then request that I cook dinner for her. Sneaky. While the grill was fired up and I had time on my hands, I also cooked a few bone-in skin-on chicken breasts to eat this week. When I think of it, I like to batch cook like this to make it easier during the week. Firing up the charcoal grill to cook one chicken breast on Tuesday night is just a non-starter.

I got home from work tonight and did a little yard work. I am plagued by wisteria vines. They are proving to be quite the capable foe. I will overcome. So anyway, after a bit of weeding, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my chicken. I was in the mood for something spicy, but don’t have a lot of groceries on hand, so options were limited. Lettuce wraps are often my go-to, and tonight they were definitely my backup plan if I couldn’t think of something better. It started coming together in my head slowly. Lettuce wraps. Chicken. Spice. Something creamy. Something sweet. I opened the fridge and saw pineapple. Then got to thinking about chipotle mayo. But I don’t have any chipotles! Dang. Ok, ok. I can work around this. How about sriracha with smoked paprika? That’ll get me pretty close, right? Right. So that’s how it happened. And it was mighty fine.

Also, might need to get this for my sister! Her birthday is coming up…

Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Pineapple and Sriracha-Pimenton Sauce
Print Recipe
Servings
1 person
Servings
1 person
Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Pineapple and Sriracha-Pimenton Sauce
Print Recipe
Servings
1 person
Servings
1 person
Ingredients
Sauce
Servings: person
Instructions
  1. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a plate, shiny sides up so they are like cups or boats
  2. Fill each leaf with a few pineapple chunks and the shredded chicken
  3. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk (I use a fork) until smooth
  4. Drizzle sauce over lettuce wraps or use as a dip
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Zucchini Tahini Dip

DSC_7806During my lunch hour today, I was looking for a summery recipe for tonight’s supper. It’s not summer, but this winter has been so long and I’ve been feeling like I need some fresh, light food. I stumbled upon a recipe for Chicken Shawarma – a nice, light grilled chicken dish. I often feed a crowd on Friday nights and this recipe seemed like a solid and economical choice. I was also drawn in to the recipe for zucchini hummus. I’m really not the type to pretend something is what it isn’t, and in my opinion, this is not hummus. Hummus is made from chick peas, and this dish is not. However, it looked delicious and seemed like it would make a nice pairing with the chicken and a recent vice, Terra sweet potato chips.

As it turned out, I wasn’t feeding a crowd tonight. Just my sister and me.  Yesterday, I had made some chicken drum sticks, so instead of preparing the chicken shawarma recipe, I reheated the drum sticks. Still wanting some fresh food, I prepared the zucchini dip recipe with minor modification. Specifically, I cut the amount of cumin in half, and probably added a bit more olive oil than the recipe called for. It turned out delicious and was great with the chicken, the chips, and some grilled zucchini. This recipe is a keeper. I found it much lighter than hummus. As a variation in the future, I plan to puree with some grilled zucchini instead of fresh. That would remove some moisture and lend a light smoky taste, not unlike baba ghanoush.

Zucchini Tahini Dip
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
30 minutes
Zucchini Tahini Dip
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Place the lemon juice and tahini in a food processor and blend for about 30 seconds or until well combined and creamy. You may need to scrape the sides once or twice to get the ingredients to fully combine.
  2. Add the zucchini, olive oil, cumin, salt, black pepper and garlic and blend until smooth. You may need to scrape the sides once or twice.
  3. Transfer to a small bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a couple of dashes of paprika, and cilantro.
Special Equipment
  1. Food processor
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Simple Summer Salad

I subscribe to a CSA, and in my box in the early part of the summer, there is always plenty of arugula. So much arugula, in fact, that I run out of things to do with it. When this happens, I feel compelled to abandon creativity and revert to simplicity.

This salad has two main ingredients, and only four additional items from the pantry: arugula, sliced strawberries, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. That’s it. That’s all that’s necessary. Strawberries, balsamic, and black pepper are a classic combo. The peppery arugula amplifies the heat of the black pepper and complements the sweetness of the strawberries and balsamic perfectly. A little salt and olive oil completes the picture.

It doesn’t hurt if you let the everything sit for a bit before tossing with the arugula. I’d suggest slicing the strawberries and tossing with the salt, pepper, vinegar, and olive oil. Then wash up and spin dry your arugula and the strawberries will be perfect. The salt pulls some of moisture out of the fruit, which gets mixed into the vinaigrette.

Although strawberries work really well in this recipe, if I dare call it that, another fruit could be substituted. I’d consider tomatoes to take it more savory, or perhaps peaches, pineapple, or watermelon to keep it more on the sweet side. You can’t go wrong. If you felt like gilding the lily, some soft goat cheese would be lovely.

Simple Summer Salad
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Simple Summer Salad
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 person 5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: person
Instructions
  1. Mix together all ingredients except for the arugula. Set aside.
  2. Wash and spin dry the arugula. Place in a bowl or on a plate.
  3. Top arugula with fruit mixture and enjoy!
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