Poke Bowl with Avocado Rice 

Usually, Saturdays are cooking days in my house while I get ready for my blog dates with Merideth. In the heat of the summer, this is way less exciting. I just got back from a week in California and, now that I’m home in, realized I never truly appreciated how absolutely hot it is in Florida. This minimal-cooking, refrigerator friendly recipe is perfect for lazy, hot summer afternoons when you want to make the most of your air conditioning and chilled white wine.

Ingredients

Ahi Tuna and Marinade 

  • 1 tuna steak, sushi grade (about 1lb), cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs ground ginger 
  • Toppings: Sriracha, green onions, and/or sesame seeds (optional)

Avocado Rice

  •  2 cups cooked jasmine rice 
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • 1 tbs ground ginger
  • Salt and pepper 

Instructions

  1. Whisk marinade ingredients together and pour over tuna in a bowl and Marinade for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Stir diced avocado into jasmine rice until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and ginger.
  3. Top rice with marinated tuna and other accompaniments as desired.

Wine Pairing: Though I’m tempted to justify a Pinot noir because I tend toward red wine, this tuna was great with a Pinot Grigio, which is slightly sweeter than a Sauvignon Blanc without being too rich.

Japanese Style Curry & Chicken Katsu with Satay Spices

This weekend, I found myself home alone which has become a bit more rare in married life. Therefore, Amanda and I got to talking about meals we like to make when no one else is home and we have the whole kitchen and day to ourselves. While I like to use these home alone days to delve into new culinary experiments, I do often love to use this time to treat myself to an old comforting favorite that I could probably eat every night of the week. Of course, for me, this means one of two meals: Curry, or Chicken Satay.

While these two meals are hardly exotic or out of the realm of Amanda’s and my normal cooking, I wanted to combine these two favorites to create the ultimate comfort meal with leftovers enough to entertain me for the rest of the weekend should I decide sip wine and watch rom-coms for the rest of the time alone. This can be as hands off as you’d like once you get past making the roux (which can be done in advance or you can buy this part), or you can go more traditional with the actual frying of the chicken if you’re feeling it. The possibilities are what you’d like to make of it! The results are something I’ll certainly be adding to my comfort food rotation and I hope you like it too.

Satay Spice Blend

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, if desired

Satay Marinated Chicken Katsu Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Satay spice blend
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts butterflied and pounded thin
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp butter (if pan frying)

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the spice blend, cilantro, water, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil until blended.
  2. Place the butterflied and pounded chicken breasts into a large zip-top bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over the chicken. Make sure the chicken is fully covered by the marinade and allow to sit in the refrigerator (covered/sealed) for 8-24 hours.
  3. Once the time has passed, prepare 3 shallow dishes (or paper plates for easy cleanup). Add your flour to one, the egg to the second (and scramble it) and the panko with some salt and pepper to taste to the third. Remove the chicken from the marinated and try to shake off any excess liquid.
  4. Dip the chicken first into the flour and shake off the excess, then dip into the egg and then the panko ensuring even coating at each step. Repeat with additional breasts.
  5. The traditional Katsu is fried, but you can either pan fry with 2-3 tbsp of butter over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side or you can bake on a greased wire rack over a baking sheet at 350°F for 30 minutes if you want a lower maintenance approach. Slice and serve with the curry.

Curry Roux:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp satay spice blend

Instructions: 

  1. Over low heat, heat the flour and butter in a small saucepan,stirring constantly so it does not burn.
  2. Once the butter has melted, continue stirring over heat for 20-30 minutes. The mixture should thicken and take on a light brown color.
  3. Add the garam masala and satay spices and heat for about 30 more seconds until the mixture is thick and there is little liquid left.
  4. Allow to cool and use immediately or refrigerate until needed. It will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week or you can freeze for up to a year if needed.

Curry Sauce:

  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Remainder of satay spice blend
  • Curry roux from above or store-bought cubes.
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes to remove starch
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Cooked white rice to serve

Instructions: 

  1. Over medium heat in a large saucepan, add the oil, onions and spices to the pan and cook until the onions are semi-translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add the carrots and potatoes to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, roux and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir to incorporate the roux, and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Serve with white rice and the breaded chicken. Enjoy!

Alternate Pressure Cooker instructions: 

  1. If you’re looking to have a maintenance free night, saute the onions, oil and spices in the pressure cooker. Then add all other ingredients and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Valve release the pressure and spoon over white rice and add your chicken.

Wine Pairing: Since these flavors are pretty unique and loud by themselves, I’d go with a Pinot Grigio to lighten it up a bit. 

Pasta with Pumpkin Sage Sauce

While cooking is one of our passions, Amanda and I do need some kind of outlet to work off all these calories from our culinary experiments (or more so the wine pairing experiments), so we have also been excitedly training for the Nashville Half-Marathon which we successfully completed this past weekend! Currently, Amanda is excelling in the exercise department, and completed her first half marathon with ease. She was kind enough to wait to run her first half crazy distance with me as her running companion, despite our attempts to complete this distance a year prior.

We were all set to run the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon during the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, when nature intervened and the Florida heavens opened on thousands of hopeful, costume-clad runners. Dressed as the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit, we were posing for our pre-race picture in front of a giant cardboard bottle of champagne when the loud speakers sounded the alarm. We were forced to evacuate the start line and get to shelter as quickly as the crowd’s pace would allow. Since this was a night race, we racers huddled inside the Wide World of Sports complex on Disney property for the storm to pass all wondering what the rest of the night had in store. When we were finally able to start the race, it had been downgraded from 13.1 miles to 7.1 miles. Since it was then close to midnight and our pre-race fuel had long worn off, we were thankful at the time but still disappointed Amanda couldn’t get that 13.1 distance under her belt. Well, one year later in a new city, we tried it again and we were not going to make any fueling mistakes.

I have a few races under my belt and have been perfecting my ideal pre-race dinner for three years. While there are loads of runners fuel recipes across the internet, it seems that a reasonable sized (not too filling) meal with simple carbs and protein, not too much fat and not too much fiber (just this once–runner’s gut is real) is the general theme for these meals. While every runner has their own food and preparation rituals, I wanted to share my go-to meal that I eat in some variation before each long training run. This recipe has been my favorite to eat before long marathon training runs for the past two years. It is by no means magical, and may not be anyone else’s race fuel but it still is great comfort food and extremely delicious. Even if you don’t have anywhere to run tomorrow, this can still be a great dinner for two tonight:

Pasta Sauce:

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3-4 fresh sage leaves, chopped into ribbons
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 dried italian herb mix or oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional. I leave this out when running and it still tastes great)
  • 4-5 oz spaghetti dry, enough for two portions
  • Water for boiling
  • salt for the water

Chicken Rub (optional, but since it’s pictured I thought I’d share)

  • Two chicken breast cutlets
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Pepper to Taste

For the Pasta:

  • Begin by boiling heavily salted water for the pasta in a large pot (the typical ratio is one tablespoon of salt to one quart of water which sounds like a lot but your taste buds will thank you).
  • As  the pasta is cooking, drizzle the olive oil in a saucepan and saute the shallot with a pinch of salt until translucent.
  • Add the sage, and stir until fragrant and no longer raw.
  • Pour in the broth and allow to come to a simmer for about 8 minutes. At this time, your pasta water should be coming to a rolling boil so it may be a good time to cook that spaghetti.
  • Stir in the pumpkin, herbs, cayenne pepper, optional cheese and salt & pepper.
  • Cover and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally as you wait for the pasta to finish cooking.
  • At this time, your pasta should be coming to al dente perfection. Before draining, be sure to save about 3/4 of a cup of the starchy pasta water and add this to your pumpkin sauce.
  • Stir your sauce with the pasta water incorporated and if it is still too watery, allow to cook for a few more minutes.
  • Optional step: If you prefer a smoother texture, you can use your immersion blender at this time to break up those shallots, or run the sauce through a blender and return to the pan to re-heat.
  • Once the sauce is a texture to your liking, add the spaghetti directly to the sauce and stir until coated.
  • Serve with parmesan cheese grated on top and I like to have mine with chicken breast.

Chicken Breast:

  • Mix all spices together and pat onto the chicken breasts until well coated.
  • Pan fry with a drizzle of your favorite higher smoke point oil (aka not extra virgin olive oil) over medium heat until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and there is no longer pink in the center.
  • Slice, serve and enjoy!

Wine Pairing: I first tried this with a Riesling as I had intended to incorporate parmesan cheese with the dish. However, if you are omitting this portion, I would recommend something a little less aromatic and fruity in lieu of something with a bit lighter body and less acidity such as a Pinot Grigio. 

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