Micro-Steamed Hoisin Salmon and Vegetables

For all that I love having long, slow cooked meals that fill the house with their delicious aroma and welcome us home after work or play, it’s also nice to have some recipes that can be thrown together somewhat quickly without any prep ahead of time. These are the recipes that need to be really easy and tasty and tempting for the moments where we want to eat something homemade but feel lazy and the takeout menu starts sounding like a good idea.

I thought this recipe (adapted from Anne Byrn’s The Dinner Doctor) sounded perfect for addressing that kind of need; it’s healthy, claims to have 10 minutes of prep and only 6 minutes of actual cooking time. Who needs 30 minute meals when you could be done in half that time?  In reality, the prep took a bit longer than promised, but the results were worth it. Sharper knives (or getting the butcher or fishmonger to slice the fish for me) would have shortened my prep a LOT and probably resulted in a prettier looking final dish since mine looked a bit mangled. Luckily, the flavors were great and it was a nice change from our regular routine. We served the dish with steamed quinoa and rice (a 50/50 mix).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb salmon, 1.5 inches thick (could also use grouper or other fish fillets)
  • 8 oz fresh sugar snap peas
  • 1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and sliced (would have been even better diced)
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots or pre-shredded carrots
  • 4 scallions, both white and light green parts, thinly sliced
  • 3 T hoisin sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T rice vinegar (we added more to our rice/quinoa)

Directions: 

  1. Cut the salmon into 1 inch wide strips and place in 2-quart microwave safe dish. Top with sugar snap peas, carrots, ginger, and scallions.
  2. Pour the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and vinegar into a small bowl and stir until well combined. Drizzle over fish and vegetables.
  3. Cover dish loosely or top with plastic wrap (peel back one corner if using plastic wrap to allow steam to escape).
  4. Cook on high in microwave until the fish is cooked through and the vegetables are crisp-tender, 6 minutes. Stop every 2 minutes to gently stir and reposition the fish so that the outside pieces are moved to the inside. Microwaves vary in power; you may need to add another minute for the fish and vegetable to cook through. We ended up adding 30 seconds.
  5. Serve!

    Looks messy, smells wonderful, tastes great!

    Looks messy, smells wonderful, tastes great!

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Halloween Chili

Every year we host a pumpkin carving party for a few of our friends.  Usually, the meal centers around a big pot of vegetarian chili served with cornbread as a warm, healthy entree that reduces the guilt induced by the following gorging on candy.  This year, we had a bigger batch of attendees and needed two pots of chili so I branched out a bit.  In addition to trying a new vegetarian chili recipe, I also tried a pumpkin turkey chili.

It looks like a lot of ingredients, especially for the second recipe, but the flavor was worth it.  A few people tried mixing the two with great results.  We served the chili with fresh baked cornbread muffins on the side.

Recipes follow:

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

– serves 6 –
Adapted from All Recipes.and Serious Eats

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups (1 14.5 ounce can) pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (at least 2 good shakes)

Ground cinnamon (1-2 shakes)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)

Procedure

1. Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

2. Saute the onion, bell pepper, green chiles, and garlic until tender, about 10 minutes. Make room in the center of the skillet, add turkey, and brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and pumpkin. Season with chili powder, cumin, pepper, salt, and cayenne.

3. Reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes. Stir in fresh cilantro. If preferred, serve topped with Cheddar cheese.

Note: Since I was serving this buffet style at a pumpkin carving party, I poured it into a slow cooker after letting it simmer for 20 minutes.  With the slow cooker left on low/keep warm the entire evening, it remained at the perfect temperature.  We had bowls of fresh chopped cilantro and shredded cheese on the side for people to add to their individual servings.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

Recipe adapted from Recipezaar

SERVES 8

Ingredients

  • 1 (11 ounce) can condensed black bean soup
  • 1 (15 ounce) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (16 ounce) can vegetarian baked beans
  • 1  (29 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn drained
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced chilies
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro (optional)

Directions

1. In a slow cooker, combine black bean soup, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, baked beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, bell pepper, zucchini, chilies, and celery.

2.  Season with garlic, chili powder, cumin, parsley, oregano, basil (and cilantro if using).
3.  Cook for 6-8 hours on low.

Easy Appetizer

Getting ready for my annual pumpkin carving party, I suddenly realized that the guest list had grown quite a bit larger than it was when we first started the tradition.  A little panicked for easy food ideas to keep everyone content while they hack away at their artistic gourds, I decided to fall back on an old favorite, an appetizer that you have to try to appreciate (trust me, it looks weird but tastes great!).

Get a block of cream cheese.  Yes a block, not a spreadable tub.  Low-fat or non-fat varieties will taste fine and help you feel less guilty.  Unwrap the block and put it on a plate.

Top it with a hefty pour of cocktail sauce or sweet chili sauce.

Serve with toasted bread rounds (they hold up well even with soggy toppings) or crackers.

Ta-da!  Instant appetizer with only three necessary ingredients.  Every time I’ve served it, it gets devoured even by initially dubious eaters.  I don’t suggest you use the cocktail sauce iff you don’t like cocktail sauce to start with though, it’s not going to change the flavor that much.  Consider chutney.  If you’re looking to upgrade this, consider tossing some cooked mini-shrimp on top of the sauce covering the cream cheese for a truly decadent but easy appetizer.