Coconut and basil steamed mussels

It’s January 5, 2012. While I hear the gyms are packed (like they are every year in January) and every show on the Food Network seems to be about healthy recipes (btw, although olive oil is deemed a healthy fat, its use still appears to be a little too liberal in those healthy recipes), for me – 2012 so far has just been a number I’m not used to typing Smile I’m still on track with my P90X workouts (at home, away from crowds – LOVE) and I am no stranger to healthy cooking. Those chocolate cravings, which need constant “attending to” (read: feeding)? Yup those are still there too.

I wonder how many people really wake up on January 1 and find themselves with a list of resolutions that require immediate action. Do they have a clear plan? Are they overwhelmed? Do they have a good support system to help them? I hope so!

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I’m the kind of person that attacks goals with intensity. I research, I plan, I write out mile-long to-do lists and schedules and then I go at it. This is how I’m approaching my new business (I promise to share the details with you – very soon!) and it’s been exhilarating (so exhilarating in fact that I am having trouble falling asleep thinking of a million different things I could offer and cute little touches that would make me unique). The best part? I get to eat my “research.” Open-mouthed smile [Ok some of it, unfortunately my extensive research in the logo design process has been inedible, and more expensive than originally anticipated. If only I could pay designers in cookies… or mussels. Ha!]

Coconut and basil steamed mussels is a Cooking Light recipe I’ve had bookmarked since June 2009. Mussels are such a fun protein to make and healthy to boot! It’s high in protein, low in fat and calories and when made right – so juicy, plump and delicious. I also love how these little guys absorb whatever broth you cook them in. They turn into little sponges of flavor. Yum!!

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I doubled the amount of mussels the recipe called for (they normally come in 2lb bags – why not cook the whole thing?) and added a few good handfuls of fresh baby spinach (together with the basil) for good measure. Adding baby spinach to pretty much everything is one of my favorite ways to sneak extra veggies in! The spinach soaked up some of the yummy broth as well. Awesome!

This broth was creamy and slightly spicy and had a bit of Thai flare. We loved it with big hunks of bread to soak up more broth. A quick, restaurant-worthy, healthy meal right at home! Red heart

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Those white dots, by the way, are salt. I guess I got really up close and personal with the mussels Winking smile

Do you feel the effects of the new year? Are you overwhelmed, excited or just indifferent?

Cooking mussels at home

I’m a really big fan of mussels. I like their natural sweetness, how they plump up as they absorb the sauce and can take on so much flavor. I even like the process of digging into each shell, it’s like digging for little treasures. And then there is the mandatory chunk of bread, ready to soak up all that’s left behind. It’s really hard for me to not order them w1hen I see them on restaurant menus. They are just such a perfect appetizer! [I love the ones at B&G Oysters, LTK and Sweet Basil (<—ooh, this reminds me, I have the SB cookbook, maybe they have a mussels recipe there…gotta check asap!]

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So it’s surprising that I’ve cooked them only a handful of times at home. They turned out okay but still nothing compared to the mussels I love at restaurants. Well, I’m happy to say, I finally got it right!! Smile

Thai red curry mussels

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I carefully read Lizzy’s critique of her own recipe and made a few tiny adjustments. For 5lbs of mussels (the ones I got at Whole Foods were perfectly clean, meaning sans beards <—the most annoying part of cooking mussels) I used 1.5 cups of regular chicken broth instead of Thai coconut curry broth but added 1 cup of lite coconut milk towards the end of the cooking process, just enough to let it heat through (oh and diced tomatoes work great here – the more the merrier I say!). I also tasted the sauce at the end and adjusted for sourness, heat, etc* before serving.

*I used to be so married to recipes, and while I generally still follow them, I definitely make sure to taste my food throughout the process and adjust accordingly. We all have different tastes and also the strength of our spices, their age and the conditions they are stored in affect the final taste. So if the recipe says 2T, you may need some slight adjustments to make it just perfect.

This was perfection at the end. Nice amount of heat, a bit of acid from the lime juice and slightly creamy from the coconut milk. The arugula added a bit of peppery bite and the tomatoes added some freshness. I would have gladly paid money for this dish at a restaurant but I’d rather just make it in the comforts of my own home again! Open-mouthed smile

Have you ever cooked mussels at home? If so, do you have a favorite mussels recipe?

Also, what should I do with the rest of my lite coconut milk?? I’m totally out of ideas!

Last but not least, don’t forget to enter my popchips giveaway... and if you really love me, please “like” my buffalo chicken fingers picture here (you have to “like” popchips first, sorry!). I’m really close to advancing to the next round during which I will get to make my recipe for a crowd of Bostonians for a real taste-off. That would be so fun. Help me get there!!

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