Fried Green Tomato BLT (a.k.a. Summer Love)

Sadly for me, there’s still no spare time in my life to write.  Happily for me, there’s still time in my life to cook.  Yay!

Sometime last week, we tried a new-to-us recipe for Fried Green Tomato BLT sandwiches.  Or actually, Scott tried the recipe while I was at work.  And it was a hit.  So much so that we made them again the next day.  There was only one adjustment between day one and day two–adding an egg wash to the cornmeal/tomato/frying process.  It made the cornmeal crust much more satisfyingly crunchy, or so I heard.

This really is the perfect summer lunch or quick dinner.  The fried green tomatoes taste fresh and happy, the bacon is… well, it’s bacon.  The end result is comforting and fresh at the same time.

photo by Lee Harrelson

photo by Lee Harrelson

Here’s the magic how-to (originally from Cooking Light Through the Seasons with very minor changes):

Fried Green Tomato BLT

Ingredients

8 slices bacon
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
12 (1/4-inch-thick) slices green tomato (about 2 tomatoes)
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
8 (1-ounce) slices bread (recipe called for white country bread, we prefer whole wheat), toasted
8 red leaf lettuce leaves

Preparation

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings. Set bacon and drippings aside.

Combine cornmeal, cheese, and pepper in a shallow dish. Crack egg into a separate shallow dish.  Dredge tomato slices in cornmeal mixture first, followed by egg wash, followed by a final dip in the cornmeal mixture. Heat 1 teaspoon reserved drippings and 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Cook 6 tomato slices 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 teaspoon bacon drippings, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and 6 tomato slices.

Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise over each of 4 bread slices. Top each slice with 2 lettuce leaves, 3 tomato slices, and 2 bacon slices. Top with remaining 4 bread slices. Serve immediately.

Braised Beef (or Venison) + Mushrooms + Wine + Veggies

All of those pluses add up to deliciousness, in case you were wondering about that.  It’s a very scientific formula.

No really.

This was one of my favorite new recipes that we’ve tried lately.  Could it be because Scott made it for me?  Possibly.  Could it be because it made our freshly gained venision taste like expensive, fancy pants beef?  Very possibly.  Could it be because I think that adding wine to sauce is almost always a great idea?  Definitely.

Braised Beef with Red Wine and Mushrooms

edited slightly from the Cooking Light original

photo by Randy Mayor and Jan Gautro

photo by Randy Mayor and Jan Gautro

Ingredients

1 cup boiling water
1 1/4 pounds lean beef stew meat (or venison), cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup pearl onions (about 16) or 1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups chopped cremini mushrooms (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 cups (1/4-inch) slices carrot (about 2 large)
1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine, Merlot recommended
4 thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Preparation

Chop mushrooms; set aside.

Sprinkle beef (or venison) with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of meat to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned on all sides. Remove meat from pan with a slotted spoon; place in a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining meat.

Add onions to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add cremini mushrooms and carrot; sauté 3 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add beef, porcini mushrooms, porcini liquid, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, broth, and next 4 ingredients (through bay leaves); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Uncover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until liquid thickens. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

Leftover Turkey Magic (also known as Thanksgiving Fried Rice)

So we cooked an entire turkey the other day and ended up with 85% of a turkey cut up in our fridge after the initial feast.  That’s a lot of turkey.

Fortunately, we like eating a lot of turkey, and our first leftover adventure turned into delicious Turkey Fried Rice.  I used a recipe from The New Way to Cook Light as the starting point for the meal.  It’s called Tofu Fried Rice, but turkey or chicken can be easily substituted for tofu.

So adding meat was big change number one.  Big change number two?  Dried/ground ginger instead of fresh.  Not such a huge change.  Big change number three?  No sake.  We didn’t have any, and even though I’m sure it would add an extra something to this meal, I didn’t want to buy any.  So there.

I will say that buying hoisin sauce is a good idea.  It adds so much flavor to recipes, and we finished an entire bottle/jar of it last year.  Before its expiration date!  That’s better than I do with ketchup sometimes, which proves that if you own hoisin sauce, you’ll find plenty of ways to use it.

fried riceSo go thee forth and make some fried rice.  It’s quick, it has lots of pretty colors, and you can dump in extra veggies if you want to be healthier.  It’s my kind of 15-minute meal.

And speaking of Thanksgiving (you know, turkey and leftovers and November)…

I saw this on DesignSponge today and wished that I had the energy to create a pear garland.  It’s purdy.

204_Rosemary-Pear-Garland-500x594It also sounds like it’s easy to make.  The only real catch is that if I put that much good fruit on our front door, either Scott or our friendly neighborhood birds would start eating from the garland at some point.  I will make non-edible garlands.

Chicken Puttanesca

I feel like a treasure hunter when I look through my cookbooks each week.  Well, I’ll be honest.  I don’t feel like a treasure hunter at the time.  But after I finish making a new recipe for the first time, I most definitely feel like a treasure hunter.  There’s gold in them there pages!  Last night’s golden discovery was Chicken Puttanesca from The New Way to Cook Light (also known as the Cooking Light cookbook–recipe link through the picture).

photo by John Autry, styling by Leigh Ann Ross

photo by John Autry, styling by Leigh Ann Ross

It starts with standards–chicken and tomatoes.  But then it gets all spicy with crushed red pepper (I used about 1.5 times the recommended CRP, and it was pretty great) and capers and green olives and such.  Oh, and I got to whip out my anchovy paste as an anchovy substitute.  I’m pretty happy any time I get to use a relatively adventurous ingredient like anchovy paste.

(Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like anchovy.  It tastes like Italy.)

I threw in a random green veggie to up the healthy factor and used an even more random pasta shape because it was in the pantry.  It was slightly less pretty than the professionally styled picture above, but it was still delicious and very Puttanesca-y.  Oh, and I recommend doubling the sauce portion of the recipe if you like your food saucy.  That’s my favorite recipe tweak–more of the awesome, please!

Edamame + Asparagus + Minty Citrusy Goodness

I tried a new combo of an old standby earlier this week–chicken and veggies.  It’s a common food theme at our house.  This try was Cooking Light’s Chicken Scaloppine with Sugar Snap Pea, Asparagus, and Lemon Salad

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photo by Becky Luigart-Stayner

Pretty, right?  Well, the chicken was good with a nice broth and wine sauce that made things a tiny bit different from the traditional salt/pepper combo.  It wasn’t earth-shattering though.  Just a good piece of chicken.

The veggies, however, were great.  Even if I didn’t have the right veggies.  Still great.  I used frozen edamame beans that I let sit out a bit to thaw and chopped asparagus as recommended in the original recipe.  Green beans (frozen or fresh) would work as a substitute for the snap peas, too.  We just didn’t have any of those.  So my version looked a bit more like this:

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photo from nomadwithcookies.com

At least pre-sauce, it looked exactly like that.  And the recipe went a bit like this:

Edamame with Asparagus and Minty Citrusy Goodness

Ingredients

  • 3 cups julienne-cut trimmed sugar snap peas (about 1 pound) or whole edamame beans or any kind of green beans
  • 2 cups (1-inch sliced) asparagus (about 1 pound)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation

  1. Steam edamame and asparagus, covered, 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Rinse pea mixture with cold water; drain.
  2. Combine salt, mint, oil, rind, and juice, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle oil mixture over pea mixture; toss gently to coat.

Look at that, done in two steps!  The dressing is just enough to make you notice that these are more than simple steamed veggies.  It isn’t overpowering at all, which citrus and mint can be if left to their own devices.  It’s just fresh and a little bit fun, which is my favorite combo for summer food.  (Well, except for fattening and carb-filled, which is really my favorite food combo.  Mac and cheese with a good hot dog, anyone?)

Late Night Asian Turkey Cabbage Cups

Yesterday was a long day.  It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it started with me forgetting to drink coffee.  The day continued along relatively bump-free for a while.  Then came the headache.  It was a big honkin’ headache.

When work finally came to a close, I found my way home for a quick yoga session and some tasty dinner.  I’m one lucky lady, because Scott let me pick yoga videos (read: we did the super easy ones), and he practiced his excellent chef skills to make us Asian Turkey Cabbage Cups from Cooking Light.  Since we’re still in the middle of Olympic fever, he should get a bonus of 10% for his exceptional acts of kindness in the second half of the program.

Sometimes I wish life worked like that.  You should get bonus points for being nice when you’re tired or grumpy or hungry.  You should get double bonus points when you’re hungry.  But I’m also really glad that I don’t get points deducted every time I’m mean or rude or a bump on a log.  Anyway, dinner!

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photo by Randy Mayor (via cookinglight.com)


Sometimes our version of recipes ends up looking pretty different from the cookbook picture, but not this time.  It was an exact replica except for the cabbage.  We couldn’t for the life of us get a full cabbage leaf to separate from the parent cabbage in one piece.  Oh well.  It worked out really well with our chunks-o’-cabbage leaves.  I think the cabbage to meat ratio was a lot better with lots of little pieces instead of one large “cabbage cup.”  Double the cabbage, double the fun.  (How many times can I say “cabbage” in one paragraph?)

I also finished Insurgent last night.  It’s nice to read books written for the “young adult” crowd.  Nothing boosts your reading confidence like finishing two books in a week.  (They’re also a really fun read.)  I’m headed into the final book of the trilogy today.  I almost don’t want to read it for a few days though.  The characters have been in the middle of so much turmoil over the first two books, and the first chapter of the third book finds them in a relatively calm spot.  I kind of want to leave them there for long enough to recover.  Too bad it doesn’t work like that.

Avocado Green: Soup Edition

We happen to have an avocado green bathtub, but that’s not what’s going on here.  In the name of eating more greens, I tried a new recipe last night.  I just didn’t know quite how green it would be.  Check it out: 

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It’s Avocado-Corn Chowder with Grilled Chicken from Cooking Light.  This is how the official version looks:

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photo by John Autry (from myrecipes.com)

When we left the grocery store on Sunday, I was concerned because I remembered that we were making this soup, and there wasn’t any broth on our grocery list.  Hmm.  I assumed it was a more cream-based soup because of the chowder title and moved on.  Then I read the recipe.  It’s an avocado/water/orange juice-based soup.  What?  I have never heard of an orange juice soup base.  Needless to say, I started juicing oranges (1.5 total) with fear and trembling.  Sort of.

So orange juice was one potential strike against this recipe.  Who wants sweet soup?  And while I’m on that note, who wants cold soup?  I know that gazpacho is popular and beloved, just not by me.  I love tomato soup, and I love cold salsa on chips.  But mix those concepts together to make something like gazpacho, and I’m out.  

That makes two strikes against the recipe in theory.  In practice, it was kind of awesome.  I went ahead and heated the soup base instead of chilling it.  I figured it might help.  I also cooked up a little bit of extra chicken and threw in some extra corn.  

The result was unusual and delicious.  The veggies blended together into creamy tastiness, there were plenty of fresh flavors in the mix (with just a tiny hint of orange juice flavor), and the salt-n-peppa’ seasoned chicken was a simple savory addition.  Om nom nom.  Oh, and the hint of red pepper in the soup gave it a teeny hint of hot.  You should try it next time you’re craving a shot of green.  Just what the doctor ordered.

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