October 26, 2016

Creamy Mac and Cheese with Broccoli Rabe

Macaroni and cheese, like chocolate and wine, can help put almost all of life's problems into perspective.

For instance, taxes. They suck. We have to do them every year, and for some, twice. Sometimes we get money back and sometimes we have to pay. Doing your taxes is like playing Russian roulette - am I going to win? or am I going to lose? I guess if you hire an accountant, taxes can be a little more predictable, but what's the fun in that? Chances are, if you are doing your taxes you are also and adult, and this means that you can eat mac and cheese anytime you want. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Three times a day, or four, or five. You can even stock up on frozen store-bought mac and cheese, and heat it up while watching reruns of Gilmore Girls. There's no shame in that. So, maybe taxes aren't that bad after all?

Speaking of Gilmore Girls, are we excited for the upcoming mini-series - A Year in the Life? I am so excited it gives me chills. Starting Nov 25, I plan to clear my schedule for the entire week and binge watch the entire season (thank -you Netflix), and then binge-watch it again. My mom will be visiting that week, and I know she's not really into Gilmore Girls, so she can either sit quietly beside me and watch it with me or she can watch Sebastian, because I cannot wait until she leaves, and I will not let the internet ruin it for me with spoilers. While I binge-watch the entire season, I am of course going to need some deliciously tasty food (frozen store-bought mac and cheese just won't cut it), so what's better than a large casserole of the cheesiest homemade mac and cheese?

I've been working on a mac and cheese recipe that I think you will love. My favorite part of the dish is the broccoli rabe - the mildly bitter flavors pair so well with the sharp flavors of the cheddar! To prepare the broccoli rabe I gave it a quick boil before adding it to the pasta, which makes it a little more tender. To switch things up from your traditional mac and cheese, I used a pasta shell called conchiglie, for the very reason that they look like little boats able to hold more cheesy goodness than your average macaroni noodle. It turned out better than I could have imagined. So tender and cheesy. The perfect shell to cheese ratio. The type of dish that could make all of life's problems disappear - temporarily, at least.

*This post was sponsored by Andy Boy Broccoli Rabe. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep the Flourishing Foodie delicious. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more broccoli rabe recipe ideas be sure to check out their website and Facebook page.


October 23, 2016

Massaman Curry with Pumpkin and Chickpeas

Massaman curry is a sweet and nutty curry, that originated in Thailand during the late 17th century. There are many theories on where in Thailand this dish originated - central Thailand in the cosmopolitan court of Ayutthaya versus the South of Thailand where you find influences from Malay and Indian cuisine, but no one can be exact. It's an interesting and unique curry in that it uses spices not typically found in Thai cuisine - cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and nutmeg. The first time I tried a massaman curry was in Northern Malaysia. I remember being surprised by the use of Indian flavors in Malaysian cuisine, but later realized how heavily influential they were in the region. Of course, one of the first things I did when returning home was recreate the dish myself.

If you've taken a peek at the recipe below and are thinking - seriously, all those ingredients? Rest assured, you can easily use a jar of premade massaman curry paste from the grocery store and no one will judge. If you are feeling adventurous, though, I swear, the paste is super simple. The recipe just calls for a lot of things. Things you probably have tucked away in the back of your spice cabinet.

Massaman curry paste is a mixture of different spices, lemongrass, peanuts, onions, and garlic - to name a few. Most of the ingredients are pretty common and easy to find, with the exception of lemongrass. If you can't find it, I think you could probably just leave it out and the recipe would still be delicious. I've seen Massaman curry made with a variety of meats and vegetables, but for this dish, I choose to make it vegetarian using - chickpeas, red pepper, carrots, potatoes, and pumpkin - because, 'tis the season for pumpkin. Pumpkin curries are a favorite of mine. Big beefy pieces of pumpkin always give a vegetarian curry such a substantial feeling. Oh, and did I mention how amazing pumpkin and coconut (which is the base of this dish) go together? For those of you who aren't into foods that are heavily spiced, this curry has almost no heat if you leave out the hot sauce. It's more earthy, nutty, and sweet. It's one of my favorite curries.

This post is a part of the 2016 Virtual Pumpkin Party. I'd like to give a big thanks to Sara and Aimee for being the rock stars they are and organizing this event. To check out what other bloggers have made you can search the hashtag #virtualpumpkinparty on Instagram or visit this or this link for the full list.


October 18, 2016

Buttery Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa Stuffing

Thanksgiving is approximately 35 days away, and if you are like me and planning your meal way in advance, boy do I have a recipe for you. I have gone ahead and combined three of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, roasted acorn squash, stuffing, and gravy. Normally, I just pile those three dishes onto my plate with a little mashed potato and Brussel sprouts on the side, but instead I thought I would create a more stylized and cohesive dish, something prettier to look at, rather than a mound of food with gravy on top.

Normally, I roast my acorn squash in quarters, wrapped in aluminum foil with a little brown sugar and butter. This year, I decided to cut the squash in eighths, rub in olive oil, and roast directly on the baking sheet - which was sort of inspired by this dish. It was a genius idea, so delicious that I probably won't go back to my previous preparation methods. The squash turned out perfectly soft on the inside and slightly charred and caramelized on the outside. The flavors that were released from the squash during roasting are incredible - which you don't quite get by baking in aluminum foil.

For the stuffing, I did a lighter version compared to the all-bread variety. I chose a light grain - quinoa, sautéed with onions, mushrooms, sage, and thyme. I added some dried cranberries and sprinkled chopped hazelnuts on top. Finally, I drizzled the dish with my homemade vegetarian gravy - which isn't necessary but definitely preferred.

There are a lot of wonderful nutty and earthy flavors coming out in this meal. Definitely high in the umami department. My mom is coming to town this year to celebrate Thanksgiving, and we are all heading to friend's house for a potluck. I'm definitely making this dish - and maybe for Christmas as well. Really, you can make this dish any time of year, regardless of the holiday. It's just that darn good.


October 13, 2016

Celebrating National Seafood Month

I've always been particularly fond of seafood, even from my earliest days. Large bay scallops lightly fried and then tossed in a creamy Alfredo sauce, was an absolute favorite of mine as a small child. I loved shrimp, battered and deep fried, cold served with cocktail sauce, and stir-fried. I loved tuna salad sandwiches with a little mayo, salt and pepper, chopped celery and pickles. Tuna casserole with egg noodles. White fish like pollock, cod, and halibut, lightly battered and fried, of course, and I was always the first one in my family to suggest fish and chips for Friday night take-out! One of the most significant highlights of my life was when my family and I went on a road trip to PEI and I tried lobster for the first time at an all-you-can-eat lobster buffet. Needless to say, I am really into seafood.

When I moved to the West Coast back in 2007, I felt like all my culinary dreams had come true. The Pacific Northwest style of cooking was (and still is) so inspiring to me, and completely agrees with my palate. Farm-to-table, forest-to-table, and sea-to-table is how I can most eloquently sum it up. Most foods are served fresh and local. Our forests are home to some of the most delicious chanterelles I have ever tasted. Our hillsides and ditches are covered with blackberry brambles that produce an abundance of sweet ripe fruit in the early summer months. We have herbs and greens, fresh local produce, cheese, beer, wine, and some of the most delicious seafood I have ever tasted - Penn Cove mussels, Dungeness crab, Chinook salmon, Alaskan halibut, clams, and oysters. With the abundance and variety of seafood available, I've been fortunate enough over the past few years, to have been able to experiment with the many different preparation methods (grilling, frying, sautéing), which has made me fall in love with seafood even more.

Speaking of seafood. Did you guys know that October is National seafood month? To celebrate, I thought that I would share some of my favorite seafood recipes that will hopefully inspire you to incorporate more seafood into your meals because it's such an important part of a healthy diet. Seafood is a nutrient-dense source of protein, low in calories and saturated fat, and rich in key vitamins and nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating a variety of protein foods, including at least 2 servings of seafood per week, as part of a healthy eating pattern, and is especially important for pregnant women. This can be anything from grilled or barbecued salmon to tuna salad sandwiches, grilled shrimp, fried Pollock, or clams.

Along with the recipes that I am sharing today, I encourage you to check out the Dish on Fish site for more delicious seafood recipes. Dish on Fish is an initiative geared towards educating consumers about the importance of eating seafood at least 2-3 times per week. The blog is written by Registered Dietitians and provides information about seafood including tips on preparing, meal plans, and nutrition-related information.

Favorite Seafood Recipes from Around the Web
Gouda Grits with Smokey Brown Butter Shrimp - How Sweet It Is
Garlic Basil Barramundi Skillet with Tomato Butter Sauce - Pinch of Yum
Cornmeal Crusted Fish Tacos with Lime Crema - Brooklyn Supper
Steamed Clams - Foodie Crush
Baked Pollock - Jamie Oliver

*This post was created in partnership with the National Fisheries Institute. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep the Flourishing Foodie delicious. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

recipe adapted from Pacific Rim Chowder - Red Fish Blue Fish
serves 8 - 10
prep time: 60 minutes
cooking time: 40 minutes

fish confit
2 lb halibut, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup fennel fronds or chervil leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups canola oil

2 tbsp olive or canola oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large (1 1/2 cups) sweet onion, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups parboiled potatoes, chopped
1 - 15 oz can corn + liquid
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
8 tbsp sweet chili sauce
3 cans coconut milk
1 - 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp hot sauce
2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce

green onions

To make the fish confit, place the fish in a shallow dish. Combine the olive oil, honey, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, fennel chervil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the marinade over the fish. Cover and place in the fridge for an hour.

Place two cups or more of canola oil in a large pot, just enough to cover the fish. Heat the oil on low heat for ten minutes. The oil should be warm, but not pop when you place the fish in.

Remove the fish from the marinade and place into the warm oil. Let it cook for 20 minutes or so, until it's cooked all the way through. You do not want to simmer the fish. If the oil start to pop and fry, reduce the heat. Once cooked, drain and set to the side.

In a large pot, fry the garlic, onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, corn (save the liquid), cumin, salt, and pepper in oil until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients including the corn liquid and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Take the fish and shred into small pieces. Add the fish to the chowder. Serve with suggested garnishes.

Can be kept in the fridge for a week, or the freezer for 3 months.

serves 4
prep time: 25 minutes
cooking time: 40 minutes

3 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lemon
1 tsp salt

2 cobs corn, soaked for 30 minutes in their husks
1 tbsp butter
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
6 oz smoked salmon, chopped
4 servings fettuccine
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated

To make the pesto, place the basil and almonds in a food processor and pulse until they've become a paste. Drizzle in the olive oil and pulse for a minute or so until the mixture becomes cohesive. Add the Parmesan cheese, juice from half a lemon (save the other half for the pasta) and salt, and pulse until combined. Set to the side.

Preheat the grill to 450ºF. Place the corn in their husks on the grill and cook for 20 - 25 minutes, rotating half way. To check for doneness, pierce the corn with a fork. If the corn is tender and the kernels are nice and juicy, they are done. Remove from the grill and let cool. Once cool, remove the husks, and then remove the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

While the water is boiling, heat 1 tbsp butter in a large frying pan on medium heat. Fry the onions and mushrooms until caramelized. Add the smoked salmon and corn, and cook until just warm.

Drain the pasta and toss in a large bowl with the pesto. Add the salmon mixture and toss. Drizzle with the juice from half a lemon. Season with salt and pepper and a generous serving of Parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

serves 2
prep time: 30 minutes
cooking time: 30 minutes 

3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar or mirin
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Korean Gochujang sauce
 or hot sauce

8 oz salmon
1 tbsp canola oil
1 cup dry brown or white rice
1/2 cup water
10 broccoli rabe stalks
pinch salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 carrot julienned
2 green onions, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
10 broccoli rabe stalks
1/2 cup water
pinch salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp olive oil

In a medium size bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, and Gochujang sauce.

Cut the salmon into 1-inch slices. Place into the bowl with the marinade and toss. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

While the salmon is marinating, cook the rice as per package instructions. 

Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil (or a light tasting oil) in a frying pan set to medium heat. Remove the salmon pieces from the marinade, and place into the frying pan. Cook 2 - 3 minutes on each side. Discard the marinade. 

While the salmon is cooking, place the broccoli rabe, 1/2 cup of water, and salt in a frying pan. Cover and simmer on med-high. Once the water has evaporated, the broccoli rabe should be tender enough to pierce with a fork. If not, add a bit more water and continue to steam until done. Once done, toss with soy sauce, olive oil, and sesame seeds. Remove from frying pan and set to the side. 

In the same frying pan, heat the red pepper and carrots until just warm. 

To assemble the bibimbap, take two large dinner bowls, and layer the bottom with rice. Arrange the salmon, broccoli rabe, red peppers, carrots, green onions, and avocado on top. Serve with Korean Gochujang sauce on the side. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of National Fisheries Institute. The opinions and text are my own.

October 10, 2016

Apple Cinnamon Loaf with a Pecan Crumble Topping

We've taken a short hiatus from all the kitchen renovations and have transferred our energy to basement renovations. If you were to set foot in our house, you would agree that we both like to start projects but rarely finish them. We've Brent put up a wall in the basement separating the tools and equipment, and all the things Sebastian should NEVER get into, from the TV and the dog play area and my new workstation. We spend a lot of time in the basement when Sebastian goes to bed and we'd like to change it so we can all spend time down there. It's cozy and warm and I like it, and I'm going to need a finished area to binge watch Gilmore Girls in the next few months anyways.

I am now in the process of deciding on new flooring options - carpet versus laminate? and then we can call this basement reno a success. Truthfully, I'm a little ok with the break from all the kitchen renovations because I can not choose a cabinet paint color if my life depended on it. So instead, I am going to paint a small wall in the basement with chalkboard paint so we can contain the drawing and messes, and then I'm going to buy a small person table and chair set, and I am going to rent a truck and go to IKEA and buy all of the organizational furniture I can possibly fit in it, because children's toys are small and have lots of pieces and parts and I am mildly OCD when it comes to clutter, as in IT MAKES ME ANXIOUS.

Autumn is in full swing around these parts, winter is right around the corner, and the days have mostly consisted of rain and overcast, which has been leaving me with a general feeling of meh. This means that the frequency in which I leave the house over the next few months will slowly diminish until it's January when I haven't shaved my legs or washed my hair in days, and I'm not even sure what day it is. Needless to say, I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I'm pretty sure I only left the house maybe 5 times last week, and there were even days that I didn't leave at all.  So, you can see why I need this basement finished.

These last few days have been a real doozy around here. Sebastian got sick his first week of daycare, and really, are we surprised? He is leaking fluid from all orifices and is general really upset. We had to cancel our weekly date night to spend the evening cleaning snot off the furniture and also because I didn't want to traumatize our 13-year-old babysitter with a sick toddler. I mean, she already has a lot to deal with adolescence and all. I am praying, to anyone that will hear me, that I don't get sick. I can't get sick. I've been doing everything I possibly can, including lots of rest, healthy foods, a little break from exercise, and a fair bit of tv watching. We did manage to leave the house Sunday morning for brunch, but that was a total disaster because Sebastian wouldn't stop crying and spraying snot everywhere, and I ordered really expensive crab cakes and I had to pull out all my energy to enjoy them in that kind of environment. We were definitely THOSE people in the restaurant.

So, until Sebastian gets over this cold and the days start to warm, like next March, you can find me at home in the kitchen baking an insane amount of all things apple and cinnamon. To start, I give you this loaf. The base is just a standard loaf recipe - flour, baking soda, baking powder, eggs, etc. To that, I have added Granny Smith apples that have been left to rest in sugar and cinnamon to bring out the sweetness. The crumb topping is a mixture of flour, sugar, butter, and pecans. This loaf is a marriage between an apple crumble and a cake. The kind of wedding that I want to attend. It is soft and delicate, subtly sweet, with juicy pieces of apple throughout. The crumble is buttery and crunchy and slightly more sweet than the cake. I made a little icing sugar glaze to pour on top, which is completely optional. I just mixed icing sugar with cream until I had the desired consistency. This loaf is perfect served warm with a slice or two of aged cheddar, or eaten as is, with your hands, standing at the kitchen counter.