The Last Semester

Welcome to second semester senior year with Taylor. What does the welcome entail? Great question. First, I’m taking six credits, which means I have class exactly once a week on Monday night. That means I’ll have loads of time to cook, read for fun, work out, babysit, and pretty much do whatever comes up. I plan to devote a medium amount of time to school because with a part time class load I really should do well.

I completed all the credits I need to graduate last semester, so this spring I chose to take business classes. I figure more business knowledge can’t hurt. Since I’m still a student I continue living on campus with my best friends and all that, which makes me happy.

My cooking spree began over Christmas break when I served three course meals to my family. I had time and my parents’ food money, leaving no reason not to cook. Below is a list of a few recipes I found online, tried, and enjoyed.

Chili Soy Sauce Steamed Fish from Amazing Seafood Recipes

 Pan Seared Cauliflower Steaks from Love and Lemons

Chocolate Cake from Add a Pinch

For Christmas I got the best gift ever from my parents… A KITCHENAID MIXER! I still can’t believe it. The first time I asked for the mixer my dad said, “What are you, 45?” Thanks, Dad. Luckily he warmed up to the idea. I don’t think any other gift could make me happier. A new mixer most likely means more baking, so to my neighbors: stop by regularly.

Check back later this week for my new Fajita Spice recipe!

I used the Fajita Spice on chicken and topped with salsa last week

I used the Fajita Spice on chicken and topped with salsa last week

 

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Raking Leaves and Creating Memories

Balsamic Mahi Mahi with Broccoli

I identify myself as unusual, and here’s why: I recently recognized raking leaves as a 2014 top fall memory. With the identification comes a story. A college friend and I spent our fall break at my house in Minnesota. My friend comes from Hawaii, where leaves don’t fall (weird!), so she had never before raked leaves. Shockingly, I found myself excited to head to the yard with my family and friend for her first leaf gathering experience, and even more shockingly, I enjoyed being out there. Thus, raking leaves is a fond memory. Afterwards the girls went for manicures and pedicures, perhaps favorably tainting my thoughts.

Fall is here, temperatures are dropping, and famers market season is wrapping up, so I’m making the most of the last fall vegetables: broccoli, onions, and parsley.

Balsamic Mahi Mahi with Broccoli

1/2 lb mahi mahi

2 medium heads broccoli

1/4 cup onion, roughly chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp parsley

Salt and pepper

Steam broccoli until still slightly firm, about 6 minutes. In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil on medium high. Place mahi mahi in skillet, season with parsley, salt, and pepper; and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn mahi mahi and add onion to skillet, sautéing until mahi mahi is cooked through and onion is translucent, 4-6 minutes. Turn heat to low, add broccoli, balsamic vinegar, and garnish with extra parsley. Stir to mix flavors and serve.

Italian Chicken

Italian Chicken

I forget how much I love being with the campus community. All my friends live within a one mile radius, so someone is always popping by the house. This might inhibit productivity, but it greatly improves student satisfaction!

In other news, I have been an iPhone 6 owner for ten days. I only dropped it once so far (probably a record for me), and although I harbored a bit of skepticism with the bigger screen, I quickly adjusted and now love it.

Back to the community that I love… My boss just stopped over with tomatoes from his garden, so what was I to do? Cook with them, of course! Thus, I made Italian Chicken, a simple weeknight dish.

Italian Chicken

1/2 lb chicken tenderloins

2 medium tomatoes

2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add chicken and season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Brown and cook chicken (about 3 minutes each side), and remove to place in baking dish. Top chicken with a single layer of sliced tomatoes and parmesan cheese and bake for 7 minutes. Serve when the cheese looks delicious and gooey!

Cumin Roasted Carrots

Roasted Carrots

Hello, second week of school. I’m settled back at school in Illinois, where I’m reconnecting with friends and starting to study. So far I love living in a house with my six best friends. All six of us are rational and considerate, so we’ll never have conflict. Stop laughing. I know we’ll have disagreements, but for now we’re on top of the world finding each other and the house.

I know the transition to fall vegetables has begun, since I saw Brussels sprouts at the farmers market last weekend. That being said, it’s time to roast carrots. This is the simplest side you’ll make, but it looks fancy and delicious.

Roasted Carrots

1 bunch carrots (about 15 medium sized)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cumin
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange carrots on jelly roll pan in a single layer and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle cumin, salt, and pepper on carrots. Roast carrots in oven, turning once, for 35-40 minutes, or until carrots are soft.

Summer Veggie Salad with Herb Vinaigrette

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SO MANY VEGETABLES. That’s what I thought this week after our CSA delivery. However, it’s important to note I didn’t view this as a problem; rather, I immediately planned to make a salad. Summer Veggie Salad with Herb Vinaigrette resulted from my planning, so there we were eating our vegetables and herbs. As you’ll gather, the salad works with any raw veggies, the fresher the better, so throw in what you have. I listed the vegetables I used below, since I loved the mix.

Summer Veggie Salad

2 ears of corn

1 cucumber

1 zucchini

2 heirloom tomatoes

3 carrots

Herb Vinaigrette

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp basil

1 tsp sage

1 tsp chives

salt and pepper

Boil water for corn, and cook corn for about 3-4 minutes. Roughly chop all veggies, and combine in a large bowl. If warm, rinse corn under cold water to cool, then cut off from cob. In a container with a lid, combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon, basil, sage, and chives, and shake to combine. Season veggies with salt and pepper, and toss with vinaigrette. Let salad sit covered for 15 minutes to let flavors blend.

Sriracha Salmon

I go back to college in 26 days, my birthday is in 30 days, and I’m not quite ready for summer to end!

Last night my brother Andrew and I ate dinner at Brasa while my parents celebrated 24 years of marriage by seeing a show at the Guthrie. Considering 24 years is, quite literally, more than a lifetime to me, I’m happy and shocked to realize they were married on July 28, 1990. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Sriracha Salmon carries a hint of sweet and a hint of spicy, but my sweet and spicy averse friends say neither overpowers the salmon. Keep in mind that you don’t have to make this on a cedar plank on the grill. You can also place the salmon directly on the grill or in the over at 350 degrees.

Sriracha Salmon

1 lb salmon filets

2 tbsp Sriracha

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil

Cilantro

Combine Sriracha, brown sugar, salt, olive oil, and cilantro to make marinade, and place salmon in marinade. Place in refrigerator for a least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. After soaking the cedar plank for at least 2 hours, remove salmon from marinade and place on plank. Place salmon and plank on grill over indirect heat, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Salmon should flake when tested with a fork.

To serve, I usually put the plank on a plate and put the plate right on the table–it’s a fun way to enhance the usual serving spread!

Cod with Sage

Some days I look 16–a reality I realized upon being carded buying tickets to an r-rated movie. Or the timid high school ticket clerk wanted nothing less than to misstep and sell tickets to someone under 17. The worst! Regardless, after showing my ID, the poor kid (he was a kid) realized I am, in fact, old enough to see the movie and sheepishly handed me a ticket. Someday I’ll appreciate lean estimates on my age, but for now I’ll simply laugh.

I would recommend the movie, 22 Jump Street, for a laugh, given the ridiculous nature of the storyline. Two  nearly 30-year old cops go undercover as freshman at a local university to uncover a drug trade.Though not the thought-provoking type, I certainly laughed throughout the showing.

Before seeing the movie I made cod. Cod, a mild fish, is low in calories and high in protein. I like to cook it many ways–grilled, oven baked, or pan sautéed. Cod is a thicker filet, so it won’t flake apart as easily as other fish. Once seasoned and cooked, cod is delicious.

I made Cod with Sage on the stove, but the recipe also works on the grill, though I recommend using a grill pan to make sure the fish doesn’t fall through.

Cod with Sage

1 lb cod filets

3/4 cup worcestershire

3 sage leaves, chopped

2 tsp celery root

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp salt

Mix worcestershire and sage together in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine celery root, garlic powder, cayenne, and salt. Sprinkle dry seasoning on all sides of cod. Using a basting brush, coat cod in worcestershire. Heat a drop of oil in a large sauté pan, and add cod to pan. Cook cod on medium high for 7-9 minutes, making sure fish is just cooked through and flaking with a fork.

Roasted Cauliflower

It seems I’m turning into quite a traveller. This weekend marks my third plane trip in six days. I am visiting friends from school in the Chicagoland area this weekend! I love being busy, but next weekend I’ll spend time at home.

Roasted Cauliflower is a year-round favorite at our house. Roasted veggies are always fit for the colder months, but we roast locally grown farmers market cauliflower during the summer.

Time to board the plane. See you in Minneapolis!

Roasted Cauliflower

1 medium head cauliflower

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop cauliflower into 1 inch florets. Place cauliflower into sealable sack and add olive oil, tossing to coat. Place cauliflower in oven safe baking dish, add garlic, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Cook cauliflower until lightly browned, 35-45 minutes, depending on desired softness.

Turkey Burgers with Avocado

A week of travel is underway on my end. My family and I spent a long weekend in Manhattan dining, seeing, and walking, and we had a wonderful time. We stayed near Grand Central Station, so we witnessed the bustle of the workday in New York City. We all love visiting cities and are pretty fascinated by the city lifestyle, so we enjoyed seeing that.

Family at Olives

One of our favorite restaurants was The Meatball Shop, where every dish comes with a meatball. There are a few locations, but we went to the one in Chelsea. We also tried Olives, which provides an intimate environment and good food, but I’m not convinced it’s worth the price. And of course we made a few trips to Magnolia Bakery because I absolutely love their Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake!

We also loved seeing Aladdin on Broadway and walking through Central Park.

Today I fly on work’s corporate jet (it’s as cool as it sounds) across Minnesota, and this weekend I’ll visit friends in Chicago.

We made it home from New York just in time to cook Dad dinner for Father’s Day, and he loved these Turkey Burgers with Avocado. As you can see, we chose not to eat them with buns this time, but you can eat them however you prefer.

Turkey Burgers with Avocado

1 lb ground turkey

1 tbsp egg whites

1/2 avocado, mashed

2 green onions

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp season salt

Salt and pepper

Heat grill to high. Combine all ingredients except turkey and egg whites in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix in turkey and egg whites until combined with other ingredients. Also using your hands, form mixture into patties 1 inch thick and 3 inches wide and place on foil. Cook patties on hottest part of grill to brown, 1-2 minutes each side. Move patties to indirect heat until cooked through, 6-9 minutes. Serve with preferred toppings and with or without buns.

Saffron Flounder

I’m back in Minnesota, I’m working in a really cool intern position, and it’s finally summer. I am happy.

I’m also in the midst of a bedroom redesign. Even though I’ll only spend three months here, my parents will use the room in the future when guests come, so they support my project. At this point in the process, I would be delighted if I never bought anything from IKEA ever again. Putting my new dresser together was a nightmare, to say the least. Still, it’s coming along, and I enjoy working on the room! Pictures will come later.

We ate flounder at our house this week. This recipe works with other whitefish, too (cod, mahi mahi, etc.). We served the flounder over sautéed spinach, and the spinach absorbed some flavor from the sauce. It also tastes very yummy by itself!

Saffron Flounder

1 lb flounder filets
1/4 tsp saffron threads
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c dry white whine
1/2 c water
4 or 5 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and pepper

In a large sauté pan, cook garlic in olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add all other ingredients, except flounder, and stir to combine. Add flounder. Cook flounder on medium for about 4 minutes, until cooked through. Turn flounder, cover, adjust burner to low, and let the fish slowly simmer covered for 10 minutes to let the flavors combine.