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Swordfish with Island-Mediterranean Orzo

Hello Cooking Friends,

I was in the mood to clean out my freezer the other night, so I decided to make up some swordfish steaks I had sitting in there. I wasn’t sure about sides, but canned corn is always a winner for me, and so is orzo pasta mixtures. So voilà, that is what we’re cooking today. Or rather what I’m telling you about today that I cooked earlier this week. Details. Blech.

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Swordfish Dinner, mmmm!

For any of you that have not had the pleasure of trying swordfish, this is a very meaty fish. Think more like chicken or pork in the consistency and thickness of flavor. It is delicious, not overly fishy at all (compared to tuna especially), and incredibly easy to cook.

I pan-seared the swordfish for this recipe, so for those of you who have always wondered how to do that – here we go. For everyone else, well, you’re stuck with us too! Hang on and enjoy….

What you’ll need (plus 1 skillet or frying pan and a wooden spoon):

– 2 swordfish steaks (thawed completely, preferably overnight in the refrigerator)
– 2 teaspoons ground chipotle chile powder (like this), separated
– 1/8 cup Butter Infused Olive Oil
– 2 tablespoons Pineapple White Balsamic Vinegar, separated
– 1 tablespoons Blood Orange Olive Oil
– 2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper, separated
– 3/4 cup uncooked Orzo Pasta
– 1 clove garlic (fresh), shelled and chopped into tiny pieces
– 1/2 cup frozen peaches, diced
– 13.5-oz can spinach, drained fully
– 1 + 1/3 cup water
– 1 can sweet crisp corn, drained
– 1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Into a skillet over low-medium heat, pour your Butter Olive Oil, 1 tbspn Pineapple Balsamic, 1 tspn Chipotle Chili Powder, and 1 tspn ground pepper. Stir well until fully combined. Once heated enough where the oil starts to bubble, add your swordfish steaks. I was cooking for 3 so I sliced my steaks in half, but you don’t need to do that.

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Searing swordfish....

Keep your skillet over low-medium heat for about 8 minutes. Every 2 minutes, flip your swordfish steaks. This will sear them evenly on both sides. After you’ve flipped them 4 times, reduce heat to the lowest possible, and flip once more for each side after 3 minutes of additional cooking. This allows for a total of 14 minutes of cooking, but promotes even searing and flavors on your steaks.

Warning: oil will splash while you’re flipping so be careful! Use a broad wooden spoon to flip easier and from more of a distance from hot oil.

Once you’ve finished cooking the steaks, remove to a plate to let sit. Keep the liquid in the pan, and keep the burner on low heat. Add 1 cup water to your pan, quickly, and stir the juices and water to keep the smoke to a minimum. Yes, that is experience trying to guide you away from my mistake. The stove fan may be needed above your oven for this for a few minutes!

Once you have your water added and stirred around, pour in your orzo pasta. This will not fully cover the pasta, but will more look like you’re soaking it. This is what you want. Up the heat to low-medium and let cook for 8 minutes or so, stirring every few minutes to keep pasta from sticking.

While you’re letting the pasta soak/cook, chop your garlic and peaches (in that order) and add to your pasta. Add in 1 tbspn Pineapple Balsamic, 1 tbspn Blood Orange Olive Oil, 1 tspn Chipotle powder, 1 tspn ground pepper, 1/3 cup water,  and your well-drained spinach. Mix well. Cook this for about 5 minutes, stirring every minute, until pasta is tender and garlic & peaches are softened. Remove from heat. Let sit for 3 minutes, stirring twice, to soak in the flavors.

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Making orzo pasta!

While you’re letting this sit, pour your canned corn into a microwave-safe bowl, add 1 tbspn butter, and microwave for 2 minutes. Stir.

Once this completes everything is ready to serve. You may need to microwave your swordfish steaks for 30-40 seconds, if they’ve started to cool a bit. I didn’t time it the best when I did it, but that quick nuke did the trick and didn’t sacrifice flavor at all!

Plate your orzo mixture and place your swordfish on top. Plate your corn next to this. Garnish if desired with a thawed peach or sprig of parsley, but you don’t have to do that.

Enjoy!

Craft You Later,
Beth

September 11 Service Thanks – Baking

Hello Friends,

I am on the Volunteer Board for Charlotte at my company, and we recently did a pretty neat volunteer event which I thought I’d share with everyone.

In honor of the fire, police and sheriff personnel in our city who put their lives on the line and go out of their way for their community every day – we decided to honor their service with thanks around September 11. In recognition, volunteers were asked to provide any combination of baked goods, purchased snacks or drinks to any of 138 local stations for these three groups of service.

Due to being a bit special, I took on the 8 local Sheriff Department locations (605 people), and wanted to provide 2 cookies per person. Since I made this wonderful decision on Monday night, with  Tuesday being the last day to deliver for this event, I brilliantly consented to baking 1210 cookies in one night. Pre-planning is a brilliant thing, please let me tell you now!

Anyways, I enlisted a coworker to help me by making 8 dozen cookies (that is 96 for those not quick on multiplying-by-12 games). That left me with only 1114 cookies to bake! 🙂 Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, right?!

Another coworker found me a basic English Shortbread recipe that is basically flour-sugar-butter-bake. So I adapted that. If I’m doing something easy, I want it to be tasty too, seriously!

To make this amount of cookies, I bought 10 pounds of flour, 8 pounds of sugar, 135 oz of Country Crock margarine (3 tubs, proceeds from which support the Wounded Warriors Project), 2 bags of mini chocolate chips, 2 bags of toffee chips (like these), and 1 5-oz bag of Cherry Craisins. I also used on-hand vanilla extract for this recipe, so make sure you have some of that!

Doing 1 batch at a time, combine 2 cups margarine with 1 cup sugar and cream in your mixing bowl on high speed. Once mixed well, add in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and blend until well combined.

margarine sugar vanilla shortbread cookies

Cream the sugar and vanilla with margarine!

Gradually add in 4 cups flour to this mixture, on medium speed, and mix until fully combined. Dough will be very slightly sticky, but easy to handle.

margarine sugar vanilla flour shortbread cookies

Add in some flour!

Once you have this dough made, add your ‘extra flavor’ – mini chocolate chips, toffee chips, or Craisins (see note below).

margarine sugar flour vanilla chocolate chip toffee chip craisin shortbread cookies

Add in your flavor chips!

For the craisins: combine 1/2 cup craisins with 2 tablespoons sugar, and process in your food processor or pulse for 20 seconds in your Magic Bullet Blender. This allows them to be bite sized and easier to add into the cookies!

Preheat oven to 350, and spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. I put foil on all my cookie sheets then sprayed with cooking spray for easier clean-up later!

margarine sugar flour vanilla chocolate chip toffee chip craisin shortbread cookies

Scoop your dough onto your cookie sheets to bake!

Bake your cookies for 13 minutes, and immediately remove from oven to cool on an oven mitt away from the oven. Let cool 2-3 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet onto a cooling rack. Let cool an additional 2-3 minutes before putting into plastic quart-sized freezer bags for storage and delivery. Seal tightly, and deliver for a yummy treat!

Since we had 8 locations for what I signed up for, I took some paper grocery bags, labelled them for each location, calculated how many cookies (2 per person) for each location, and then bagged up the different cookies accordingly for each paper bag delivery!

margarine sugar flour vanilla chocolate chip toffee chip craisin shortbread cookies

Package cookies for delivery!

This is what it finally looked like when all cookies were completed and prepped for delivery:

margarine sugar flour vanilla chocolate chip toffee chip craisin shortbread cookies

Delivery bags for 8 locations!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Belgian Beef Stew

Hello Cooking Friends,

It is getting to be Fall, which is my favorite time of the year. And that means that stews and soups can come out of hiding and take center stage, woohoo! So my first fall stew was accomplished with a bit of this and a bit of that, as per the usual for me!

belgian beef stew egg noodles beef bacon onion garlic stew soup fall food parsley lemon juice

Belgian Beef Stew.

My brother wanted steak one night, so he had bought some steaks. Having only used 2 of them, I was trying to figure out what to do with the other 2 when it hit me: STEW!!!!! I was researching Belgian recipes for an upcoming Charlotte Beer Babes event, and found this Belgian Beef Stew recipe that sounded delicious-and-adaptable.

C’mon, you know I am almost physically incapable of following recipes all the way! 😉

Anyways, to start I took 1 lb. applewood-smoked bacon, chopped it up into 1/4-inch pieces and added to a crock pot with 1/2 cup light margarine (hellooooo Country Crock!). I cooked that over high heat for about 5 minutes. As that was cooking, I chopped up 15 peeled pearl onions, and added them and another 1/4 cup light margarine to the pot, mixing them all together. Then I chopped up 1 clove garlic, fresh, and added that and another 1/4 cup of light margarine to the pot. Remember to stir every few minutes! At this point you should be at around 10-12 minutes for the bacon cooking, and it should start to smell deliciously bacony!

Next, chop up your 2 steaks (believe me this yields plenty of beef!), into about 1/2 inch cubes. Add that to the bacon mixture and stir to mix well. Cook for about 10 minutes (still on high setting in your crock pot).

Now this should be getting some liquid gathering at the bottom of the pot, so take about 1 ladle full and pour into a cup to make a slurry (no, not a slurPee). Add 1/8 cup flour, 1 tspn salt, and about 3 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper. Mix this all until completely combined, no flour chunks remaining. Add the slurry to the stew and mix well. Let cook about 5 minutes.

Next, pour in 1 12-oz bottle of a beer of your choice. Traditionally this should be a dark Belgian, however we had a Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout on hand that sounded delicious, so I used that instead. Mix this well into the stew, and it should be a dark color. Let stew for about 5 minutes. (Har har har!)

Meanwhile, chop up most of a 0.75 oz package of fresh parsley (produce section!), without the stems, until you basically can’t chop it any more by hand. Don’t process or blend this, as that will make it into a paste, but go ahead and use a chopper if you have one!

Add your parsley to the stew, and then grate 1 lemon (all of it) directly into the stew. Slice your lemon in half, de-seed it, then squeeze the juice into your stew. I know, I know, you think this is in the “WHY are you ruining a good stew?!?” but trust me – this makes it extra delicious!

Now you just need to let the stew sit for about 15 more minutes on high, then reduce heat to low and let sit 20-30 minutes more. This will fully incorporate the juices in the meats, as well as let the stew thicken.

When you’re about 10 minutes from serving, take 1 bag of Egg Noodles (like these) and cook with 1 tablespoon olive oil until tender. When drained and ready to serve, scoop some noodles into a dish (bowl or plate that has curved sides) and top with a few ladles of stew. Garnish with a sprig of reserved parsley if desired. Serve. Enjoy.

belgian beef stew egg noodles beef bacon onion garlic stew soup fall food parsley lemon juice

Observe, plated Belgian Beef Stew! Mmmm.

Craft You Later,
Beth

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