Archive for July, 2012


Some time ago I promised my facebook followers that I would post my favorite recipe. I highly apologize for how long it took, but HERE IT IS! My favorite food in probably the whole world is sushi….(I’m still learning to master that art!) One day a while back, while having a terrible craving for sushi and not yet knowing how to make it my self, I stumbled upon this recipe. And as I suggest you all do, I bent it, changed it, and made it my own. This is an extremely easy recipe to follow and does not take tremendous skill, but the result tastes wonderful and is sure fire to scratch that sushi itch!

It’s called a California Roll Salad because it is pretty much just that…. a California Roll in salad form!

First things first…. you start by making the dressing. You will need the following:

1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
wasabi powder or paste to taste
slices of fresh ginger root
(Proportions yield 1-2 servings)

Combine mayonnaise, soy sauce, sugar sesame oil, and vinegar together and blend well with a whisk. Add wasabi to taste. You can either grate the fresh ginger root into your dressing or cut slices and let soak in the dressing for flavor.
Set the dressing aside to let the flavors blend. Placing it in the fridge will speed up the blending process.
If you do not like this dressing, do not have time to make it, or would just prefer something different other dressings are available at supermarkets for purchase such as the one in the photo above.

For the body of the salad you are going to need the following:

White Rice
English Cucumber
Avocados
Shredded Imitation Crab Meat
Nori- Roasted Seaweed Paper
(Use proportions as you see fit for your taste and serving size, just be sure to make enough servings of the dressing)

Prepare white rice normally. Once fully cooked, set aside to cool. Rice should be completely cooled before using.

Peel and slice cucumber into 1-2 inch slices.

Cut open avocado, remove pit, and separate from the skin.
Cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
If you have an avocado slicer like the one in the picture,
you can separate the avocado from the skin
and cube it while leaving it in the skin.

Shred the imitation crab meat.
A slap chop is perfect for this.

The nori, or roasted seaweed, is going to act as a sort of lettuce base for this salad.  You can tear it into strips, crumple it into balls, or cut out shapes and be creative like the picture to the right.

This part is completely at your discretion, and can be your chance to display your creativity.

You are only limited by your imagination!
Now all that is left is to put the salad together. If you are making it for yourself, your probably like me and just want to throw in all in a big bowl and get on with the nom nom!
Here, I’ve used a small ramekin to mold the rice then placed the rest of the ingredients on top and around it. This is all about finding your own style and what is best suited for you at the moment.

As a meal for two, I served this salad with a temptation sushi roll, miso soup, and a spicy crab stuffed avocado that I made out of left over ingredients from the salad. I also sprinkled sesame seeds over the top of my salad the way you might use croutons. This meal was delicious paired with a nice fruity cold sake.

*Some ideas to cut calories or healthier substitutions for this recipe would be to use a sugar substitute like truvia instead. Also I use mayo with olive oil for less calories. To lessen salt intake for this dish try using low sodium soy sauce and use fresh ingredients like ginger root instead of pickled or ginger paste when ever possible. *

This dish can be served as a side dish, an appetizer, or even a main course. This makes a wonderful cold salad for a warm spring or summer day!

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I love to try new places. And finding hidden little gems is my favorite! Well I definitely found rubies with this one!

India’s Restaurant is one of those hidden away, hole in the wall places where the servers are the sweetest people and food is authentic and delicious! I had the Ginger Chicken and my husband had the Lamb Vindaloo. The ginger chicken was sweet and tangy with just the right amount of kick! The lamb Vindaloo was that perfect Indian spice that you would expect from this type of cuisine. But I think my favorite part of them meal was the freshly baked Garlic Nan bread! Believe me when I say you want to try this place if only for the bread.

All in all, I am already planning my next trip back. I can’t wait to try some of the other lamb dishes with ginger seasoning! 🙂

 Whether you are from Italy, New York, or Timbuktu; a pepperoni and cheese traditionalist or a gourmet creationalist, most people can appreciate a good pizza. And a home-made one is even better!

Now everyone knows that the crust is the hardest part to get right when making a home-made pizza. What if you could remove that part all together? I know what you’re thinking…. “Come now! You are not suggesting that we buy store-bought pizza dough/crust are you? That stuff is disgusting!” And OF COURSE NOT!  I would never suggest such a thing! It is blasphemy to pizza everywhere! What I am suggesting is to not use pizza crust at all!

I have a made a wonderful discovery. It is called Naan bread! You can buy this in both original or garlic flavored. (as you have probably guessed, garlic flavored is my favorite). It is a premade, flat bread that is sold in a roundish shape and it comes with a recipe for pizza right on the back of the package! It is delicious by its self, so why wouldn’t it be just as yummy with cheese? Here I have gone the traditional route with mozzarella and pepperoni. Next I believe I am going to try mushrooms, greek olives, and feta cheese. The sky is the limit! Even play around with the sauce. I suggest trying pesto, alfredo, or even an avocado paste (such as guacamole) for some extra creative fun!

Where can you find this amazing pizza crust substitute? Well I bought this at Target, but I’m sure it can be found in the bakery department of many national grocery chains. Brookshire’s is always a good place to go for unique and international ingredients. But the best place to find things if you have access is a farmers market or local bakery. 🙂

 

Five star dining is great, but sometimes you just want a nice, juicy burger. Am I right?

ideally you’d be throwing these bad boys on a charcoal flame grill on a nice sunny afternoon. Unfortunately, we don’t always have that luxury. Don’t lose hope though, because a good quality grill press or grill pan can get the job done just as well but with out the mosquitos and sun burn. 🙂

Here I made both full-sized burgers and slammers to accommodate the little ones. I premade the patties the night before and coated them in a mixture of Hidden Valley ranch dip mix and steak dry rub. Even though they were cooked in the kitchen this really helped give them that fresh from the grill flavor. “Liquid Smoke” can help with this effect as well.

As a side I made steak fries. Now there are several ways to make french fries and everyone has their favorite. Mine might be a little fancier than most. I like to cut up my potatoes in thick slices and fry them just enough to get a slightly crispy edge. Then I lay them over a baking pan and lightly coat them with extra virgin olive oil and season with garlic, sea salt, rosemary, and a little Cajun seasoning. Then I bake them until they turn a nice golden brown. Find your own happy place when it comes to things that have no set path, even if it means throwing some frozen fries in the oven because you are short on time.

I’m Irish, and if you don’t know, I love to add an Irish flare to food when ever I can. French fries, or “chips” is always a perfect opportunity for a little flare. Here I have made a malt vinegar dipping sauce. It’s really simple and easy to make. Just a little malt vinegar, fresh garlic, sea salt, ground sage, and just a pinch of ground mustard. Always seasoned to taste. And don’t just limit this to the fries because it can really give that burger an extra kick too! 🙂

Inspiration is everywhere! Muse is a fickle friend. I got the inspiration for this dish from seeing a marinade bottle.

I seasoned this chicken breast in ground and fresh grated ginger; a little thyme, sage, and ground mustard; with a dash of garlic with sea salt and cajun seasoning. I injected it with injectable marinade and then coated it with just a little sesame ginger marinade. I then baked it.

The rice is a mixture of long grain and wild rice. I added a small amount of sesame seed oil, sliced almonds, and a hand full of sesame seeds to give in a more Asian flavor. I also seasoned it with ginger, garlic, sea salt, and a splash of soy sauce.

I made a dipping sauce out of a little of the sesame ginger marinade, teriyaki sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, and sesame seeds. I also paired this dish with a Japanese beer Kirin Ichiban. If you like beer and haven’t tried it, What are you waiting for?

It may not be authentic or found in a hibachi grill, but this Asian inspired dish was delicious and very easy to make!

*Sorry this has taken so long. I have had some technical issues.*

Finally! The full post for my Independence Day Ribs!

 

Beer makes an excellent marinade! First I seasoned the ribs with sea salt and garlic then submerged them in Abita Restoration Ale. I let them soak in the ale over night, approximately 12 hours.

Some other good suggestions for marinating with beer are pretty much any Abita, Kirin, Shiner Bock, and Killians.

 

 

 

 

First thing in the morning, I removed the ribs from the bowl of Abita Ale. I placed the ribs, single layer in a Reynolds Oven Roasting Bag and coated them in a dry rub.

This should be done to taste. Use your favorite dry rub or one that will go with your chosen sauce the best.

 

 

After cooking in the oven on low heat for an hour and a half, the ribs came out fall a part tender. I had to use a spoon and tongs just to turn them over to coat in sauce. I carefully moved the ribs from the oven bag to the baking pan and coated them in my own mixture of sauce. I made a blend of a few sauces, combined with a little seasoning.

This is where you can have a little creative fun. Play around with sauces and flavors. Try something new!

Paired with baked beans, garlic mash potatoes, and cold beverage, these melt in your mouth ribs were definitely the hero of this meal!

Given the prep work that I am putting into my ribs for the Fourth of July tomorrow, I wanted to make something quick, easy, and requiring very little prep work for dinner tonight. What you see here is a steak fajita on a garlic and herb tortilla, topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and garlic butter. Left over steak or chicken or store-bought precooked meat can make this a VERY easy meal.

Throwing tortilla chips in the microwave for about 30 seconds can heat them for serving and revive stale chips by releasing the moisture. Toss chips with a little sea salt and serve alongside a good thick salsa and home-made queso.  You can easily make a home-made cheese dip with a little Velveeta cheese and a can of Ro-Tel. I recommend “On the Border Restaurant Style” thin chips. They are super thin and crispy and when heated they really have that restaurant quality.

Top off with an ice-cold beverage of choice and you have a wonderful meal with very little preparation or work.

 

********************************** Sneak Peek********************************

For being awesome followers here is a sneak peek for tomorrow’s Independence Day Ribs 🙂

The modern world is amazing and full of things that actually do make cooking on a busy schedule more convenient. I used to think that using many of these time saving techniques was “cheating”. But I’ve come to realize that I prefer to cook a great tasting meal and have time to enjoy it than to claim to cook everything from scratch. So here are just a few of my time saving tips. Please feel free to comment or respond with your own tips!

 

 

 

Plan ahead~ defrosting and marinating the day before doesn’t just save prep time when you start to cook, it will also make your meat juicer and more tender. Then it’s just a matter of throwing it in the oven/skillet/crock pot.

Oven bags~ a recent favorite of mine. Cooks evenly, keeps meat juicy and moist, locks in flavor, and cuts WAY down on clean up time. For extra time saving, throw veggies straight into the bag with your protein and you kill two birds with one stone.

Crock Pot/ Slow Cooker~ a crock pot can be the busy cook’s best friend. Most recipes can be converted for use in a crock pot and it requires little to no attention for several hours. You can toss in meat and veggies, cook on low for the eight hours that you are at work, come home and a hot meal is waiting! For extra time saving, use slow cooker liners and premixed seasoning packs.

Premixed Seasoning Packs~ from chili seasoning, gravy mix, or marinade mix. Little packets of premixed seasoning can save you time and money! There are some seasonings that are universal and you should have in your kitchen at all times. For the ones that you may not use too often, premixed packets are cheap and easy to use. Even something as easy as making gravy can be tedious when preparing a large or detail oriented meal. Jars of gravy or premixed packets can cut down on time. *use broth or stock instead of water and season well with premixed packets to add flavor and make it your own. Also, you can find seasoning packets that come with an oven roasting bag all in one.*

Focus on one thing~ If one thing in your menu requires a lot of work or attention plan for the accompanying food to be quick and simple. A five star restaurant has several cooks to get all of those amazing dishes out…. it’s much more difficult for you to make four courses from scratch. If your main dish is slightly complicated, pair it with something simple like mac and cheese or minute rice. It does not matter how long it took to make everything if it all tastes delicious.

Quick and Easy~ Cooking wonderful, complicated meals every night can burn you out. Decide on a few quick and easy meals that you can implement a couple of nights a week. Whether that is a default take out place or a various collection of frozen or microwave meals that everyone enjoys, make sure you give yourself a break. I highly recommend frozen broccoli stuffed chicken breast or Birds Eye Voila frozen pasta meals.

Make it your own~ No matter if its a recipe you stumbled upon or a quick and simple meal like minute rice find a way to make it your own. Not every recipe has to be followed to a tee. Play around with spices and seasoning. Throw in some fresh garlic or a hand full of sliced almonds. You’ll be amazed at how completely a hand full of bacon bits and a little garlic and transform Kraft mac and cheese. When it comes to recipes, never go with the first one you find. Google it! Take your top five favorite. Mix and match ingredients. Discover your own style. The main thing to take away from recipes is an appropriate cooking time and temp…. everything else is art.

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