Friday, June 21, 2013

Our Spicy Garden

Tending to our small garden has been one of our, well I really mean my husband's, favorite things to do. We love planting new flowers, herbs and vegetables in the spring and watch them grow through the summer months.  My husband, Greg, has a real green thumb and has kept our garden flourishing.  However, we somehow unfortunately missed the planting season this year.  Being busy with our work and life our garden suffered.  While my lavender has dried up and our mini lime tree is slowly dying we did have a strong survivor.  Somehow, Greg's prized Serrano pepper plant continued to bloom and produce and abundance of peppers through our lack of caring for our garden.  
Voilet and the Serrano pepper plant
Harvesting the peppers were no problem thanks to our beautiful American Staffordshire Terrier mix pup, Violet.  She loves to dig and play with her ball right next to and under the Serrano pepper plant.  So "somehow" all the peppers came off the plant easily.

Now that we had all these Serrano peppers and some juicy fresh peaches on our counter top Greg suggested making a wonderful salsa.  If you are unfamiliar with Serrano peppers I have to tell you that although they are small they are surely mighty in their spice and heat.  Greg loves to enjoy them fresh and whole.  Myself on the other hand, I prefer them roasted and mixed with something sweet, like yellow peaches.

Serrano Peach Salsa  

2 peaches, pitted, pealed and diced
2 Serrano peppers
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste

Turn on oven to broil.

Place the Serrano peppers, washed and whole, on a small foil lined baking sheet.  Broil until slightly chard, about 4 minutes, turning at about half way through.  Remove the peppers from the oven and allow to cool.  When cool enough to handle, deseed the peppers and dice.

In a Small mixing bowl place the roasted Serrano peppers, peaches, red onion, cilantro and lime juice.  Combine until well mixed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy alone with tortilla chips or over grilled chicken or fish tacos!  

Note: If Serrano peppers are too hot for you, substitute with a roasted jalapeno.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hydration Time

With the temperatures rising and all the outdoor activities to be enjoyed this summer, we all need to keep hydrated.  My husband and I are huge water fans and can never seem to keep the Brita full.  However, I know for some it is more of a task to get the recommended amount of water everyday.  Plus, how many kids do you know say water is "bor-ring" especially with all those fun bright colored juice boxes and "refreshing" sodas?  Or how about the MiO Liquid Water Enhancer which contains artificial sweeteners.  Do people really like that stuff and should kids really be drinking it?  

I knew there had to be a better option.  With so many wonderful summer fruits available at the grocery store, why not make your own infused, naturally sweetened waters.  These infused waters are not only delicious but the bright summer colors of the fruit swimming in my glass puts a smile on my face.  They are so simple to make that kids can help too.  While I have only three of my favorite infused waters listed there are so many other combinations of fruits and herbs to use.   

Hopefully this week's post will keep everyone happy and hydrated!

Blueberry-Lemon Infused Water

1/4 cup blueberries
1 lemon wedge
12 ounces water

Place the blueberries in a 12 ounce jar or reusable water bottle.  Slightly muddle the blueberries. Squeeze the lemon and drop the wedge in the jar.  Fill with water.  Place the lid on the jar and refrigerate overnight or enjoy immediately.

Raspberry-Mint Infused Water

1/4 cup raspberries
3-5 mint leaves, slapped and torn in half
12 ounces water

Place the raspberries and mint in a 12 ounce jar or reusable water bottle.  Slightly muddle the raspberries and mint.  Fill the jar with water.  Place the lid on the jar and refrigerate overnight or enjoy immediately.

Cucumber-Orange Infused Water

3-5 cucumbers slices
1 orange slice
12 ounces water

Place the cucumbers in a 12 ounce jar or reusable water bottle.  Squeeze the orange slice into the jar and drop the slice in.  Slightly muddle the cucumbers and orange.  Fill the jar with water.  Place the lid on the jar and refrigerate overnight or enjoy immediately.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Coconut Dukkah Crusted Halibut with Zucchini Salad

If you are fortunate to live near a Trader Joe's you need to run there and get their amazing Dukkah!  This delicious nut and spice blend has become a staple in my pantry.  I have done everything with it from simply dipping a crusty bread and veggies in it, to adding it to my salads for a little extra crunch, to this wonderful crusted halibut.  I think next I'm going to try it on some sliced peaches with one of my favorite cheeses, halloumi!

If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you, you can easily make your own dukkah.  While the Trader Joe's Dukkah is made with almonds as the main ingredient, I have decided to use hazelnuts instead to pair with the toasted coconut while keeping the other spices the same.  The toasted coconut is a little something I added just for this fish recipe, however I may decide to continue making it this way since it was so delicious.  

So for all my readers, especially my sister, here is my summer fish recipe with a delightfully light salad to go with it.

Coconut Dukkah

1 cup coconut
1 cup hazelnuts or almonds
1/2 cup sesame seed
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1/2 tablespoon anise seed
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Place hazelnuts on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for about 7-10 minutes, until fragrant.    On a separate foil lined baking sheet spread the coconut out evenly and toast in oven for about 5 minutes, carefully watching so not to burn.  Stir the coconut about halfway through toasting.

Remove both the hazelnuts and coconut from the oven and allow to cool.  Place the coconut in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.  When the hazelnuts are cool enough to handle place them in a tea towel and rub the nuts between the towel to remove the skins.  Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse to finely chop.  Be careful not to over process or you will end up with hazelnut butter.  Remove the hazelnuts from the food processor and add them to the mixing bowl with the toasted coconut.

In a small dry non-stick pan, roast the coriander and fennel seeds over medium heat, about 2 minutes.  Let them cool slightly then pour them into the food processor.  Grind until the fennel seeds are broken and coriander is completely ground.  Add the ground seeds to the mixing bowl.  

Add the sesame seeds, anise seeds and sea salt to the mixing bowl of toasted coconut, roasted hazelnuts, coriander seeds and fennel seeds.  Stir to thoroughly mix.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. 

Coconut Dukkah Crusted Halibut

4 halibut fillets (about 1-1/2 pounds), skin removed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups Coconut Dukkah
1/4 cup olive oil

Carefully remove the skin off the halibut and set aside.  Set up your dredge station with 3 shallow bowls.  One bowl with the flour, salt and pepper well combined, the second with the eggs gently beaten, and the third with the Coconut Dukkah.

Dredge each fillet first in the flour mixture, then the egg and lastly the Coconut Dukkah.  Make sure to completely cover the entire fillet.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Carefully place the prepared halibut in the pan.  Cook on all four sides until golden brown, about 3 minutes each.  Remove the halibut from the pan and let it rest on a paper towel lined plate for about 2-3 minutes.  Serve with zucchini salad.  Enjoy!

Zucchini Salad with Honey-Lemon Dressing

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 large or 2 medium zucchinis, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups shredded green cabbage

In a small mixing bowl whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, sea salt and ground pepper.  Set the dressing aside.  

In a medium mixing bowl place the sliced zucchini, red onion and cabbage.  Drizzle with the Honey-Lemon Dressing and serve.   

Notes: Substitute cod or mahi mahi to make these into yummy fish sticks for kids.  Also, feel free to use different nuts and spices for your Dukkah!