Friday, June 30, 2006

Edamame Dumplings

I like potstickers and Chinese dumplings, so I decided to try this recipe from the April 06 Cooking Light. The filling is made of edamame - green soy beans. You can buy them frozen, and they make for a very tasty snack. I'd never had them before but I will buy them again in the future.

The dumplings were good, didn't take too long to put together. I've never made potstickers that succeeded (they usually fall apart) but these worked perfectly. I liked them but it's not worth it to make them just for me. I will probably not make them again, unless it's for a Chinese New Year party or something (and we know I go to so many of those).

Edamame Dumplings
Sauce:
2 Tbsp chopped green onions
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp honey

Dumplings:
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
20 wonton wrappers
2 tsp cornstarch
Cooking spray
1/2 cup water, divided

1. To prepare sauce, combine the first 3 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

2. To prepare dumplings, cook edamame according to package directions; drain. Rinse edamame with cold water; drain well. Combine edamame, juice, sesame oil, cumin, and salt in a food processor; process until smooth.

3. Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to prevent drying), spoon about 1 tsp edamame mixture in center of each wrapper. Moisten edges of dough with water; fold opposite corners to form a triangle, pinching points to seal. Place dumplings on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch.

4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Arrange half of dumplings in a single layer in pan; reduce heat to medium. Cook 1 minute or until bottoms begin to brown; turn. Add 1/4 cup water to pan; cover. Cook 30 seconds; uncover. Cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates. Repeat procedure with the remaining dumplings and water. Serve immediately with sauce.

Yield: 4 servings (5 dumplings each)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Roasted Beet and Citrus Salad

Today is my birthday, so that means I get to eat whatever I want. I've been wanting to replicate this salad I had at a restaurant in New York, and the May issue of Cooking Light had a fairly similar recipe. So I decided to make it for my birthday.

Making this dish was just like a series of disasters. First, the beets I bought a few days ago had gone bad. So I sent xx out to buy some beets at the grocery store. When he got home, I pulled out the salad greens and HEY they had gone bad, too. But it all worked out.

My changes: I couldn't find golden beets so I used the traditional red ones; I added some shallots to the salad; I used clementines instead of tangerines, and I used a combination of beet greens and romaine lettuce as the salad base (instead of the arugula/greens mix I'd originally planned to use).

I thought it was great. I loved it. It was so pretty with the red beets and orange slices and greens - very colorful. It was also very yummy. It was very similar to the restaurant version. If I added some mascarpone cheese instead of Parmesan, I bet it would be exactly the same. I will definitely keep this recipe on hand for company or special occasions.

One note though: beet juice stains like hell so be really careful.

Roasted Beet & Citrus Salad
The sweet flavors of roasted beets and tangerines balance the earthy flavor of the beet greens. If small golden beets are unavailable, substitute red ones.

1 1/2 pounds small golden beets
Cooking spray
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups mixed salad greens
3 cups chopped beet greens (about 3 ounces)
1 1/2 cups tangerine or orange sections, halved crosswise (about 8 tangerines)
2 tablespoons shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 400°.

Leave root and 1-inch stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Place beets on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat beets with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool beets slightly. Trim off beet roots; rub off skins. Cut beets in half.

Combine orange juice and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add beets, tossing gently to coat. Remove beets with a slotted spoon, and set aside, reserving orange juice mixture in bowl. Add salad greens and beet greens to bowl; toss well. Place about 1 cup greens mixture on each of 6 salad plates; top each with about 1 1/2 cups beets, 1/4 cup tangerine sections, 1 teaspoon cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon nuts. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Here is one of our plates after eating had already commenced:
beets

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ravioli with Roasted Zucchini

Tonight we had Ravioli with Roasted Zucchini again. It's even better with freshly ground black pepper, something I didn't have access to last time I made it. My notes in that post still apply, fresh parmesan is definitely the best.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad

The latest issue of Cooking Light had this great-sounding recipe for Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad. Trader Joe's had an excellent deal on high-quality Coho salmon, so I decided to make it this week. Plus it would give me an excuse to use my grill pan, and we all know how much I love my grill pan. :)

I was pretty underwhelmed, actually. Maybe it's because I still don't fully like fish. The salad dressing was great and makes for an excellent vegetarian Caesar salad dressing, so I might use it again. But I'd definitely add some croutons next time. It was kind of boring just with the lettuce and dressing. I will keep the recipe to make the dressing again sometime, but I was disappointed with this recipe as a whole.

Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-pound) salmon fillet
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
8 cups torn romaine lettuce

Spoon yogurt onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels; spread to 1/2-inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes. Scrape into a food processor or blender using a rubber spatula. Add cheese and next 6 ingredients (through garlic); process until smooth. Transfer yogurt mixture to a bowl; cover and chill 30 minutes.

Prepare grill.

Sprinkle skinned side of salmon with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place fish, skin side down, on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove and discard skin. Break fish into large flakes with a fork.

Place lettuce in a large bowl. Drizzle with yogurt mixture, tossing to coat. Place 2 cups lettuce mixture on each of 4 large plates; top each serving with 3 ounces salmon.

Yield: 4 servings

Carrot Cake Cookies

I have made these cookies two or three times so far, and was craving some sort of cookie so I decided to make these today. They are excellent. I got the recipe from an issue of Gourmet magazine a couple years ago. I don't make any changes, except that I don't usually make the filling. It is very yummy with the filling, but you get more cookies if you don't sandwich them :) I will continue to make these again and again.

Inside-Out Carrot Cake Cookies
1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
1 scant cup walnuts (3 oz), chopped
1/2 cup raisins (2 1/2 oz)
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup honey

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 2 baking sheets.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in carrots, nuts, and raisins at low speed, then add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons batter per cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 12 to 16 minutes total. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

While cookies are baking, blend cream cheese and honey in a food processor until smooth.

Sandwich flat sides of cookies together with a generous tablespoon of cream cheese filling in between.

Makes about 1 dozen if you sandwich them, 2 dozen if you just eat them straight up.

cookies

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Penne al Forno with Artichoke Hearts

I found this recipe in a little advertisement from Bertolli awhile ago. It sounded good and easy, so I decided to make it. I omitted the prosciutto, but if you eat meat you will probably want to include it. I bet it would be really good. We really liked the meal, but it was kind of more of a glorified baked ziti than anything else. I liked how easy it was - no mixing of anything, just cook the pasta, cover it with the other ingredients, and cook it. I will probably make this again, but I will probably experiment with other fillings besides artichoke hearts, like spinach or broccoli. The artichokes kind of got lost under all the cheese. Oh that's another thing: you definitely do not need the whole container of ricotta cheese. Maybe half or a little more than half.

Penne Al Forno with Artichoke Hearts
8 ounces penne pasta, cooked and drained
1 jar (26 oz.) Bertolli ® Tomato & Basil Sauce
2 jars (6 oz. ea.) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto or boiled ham, cut into thin strips
1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz.)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

In large bowl, toss hot penne with 1/2 jar of sauce.

In 2-quart baking dish, spoon 1/2 of the mixture. Top with artichoke hearts, prosciutto, ricotta cheese and 1/2 of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Spoon on remaining pasta, then pour over remaining Sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, June 23, 2006

Taco Salad

Once upon a time I made this for xx and he hated it. But that was back when he hated all vegetables and all salads. So I decided to try it again. The recipe I've always had (that my mom used to make) is very similar to this Paula Deen recipe. I incorporated elements of both. Next time I will make tortilla shells to serve it in because those are always delicious.

Anyway, so he really liked it this time. He pretty much inhaled it. He even ate the leftovers. Crazy!!

Edit: I forgot to mention that I used soy crumbles instead of the beef. And I seasoned it with some taco seasoning.

Taco Salad
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 pound sharp Cheddar, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 head iceberg lettuce, washed, drained and shredded
1 pound lean ground beef, browned, crumbled and drained
1 cup salad dressing (recommended: Catalina)
1 (7-ounce) bag taco flavored chips, crushed
1 cup salsa
Tortilla chips, to serve

Combine the tomatoes, cheese, onion, lettuce, and ground beef in a large bowl. Add the salad dressing and mix well. Just before serving, add the taco chips, tossing to combine with other ingredients. Top each serving with salsa. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Creamy Tortellini

Tonight I made a recipe for Creamy Tortellini, from the Kraft Foods website. I picked it because it was extremely quick to make, and since I work late on Wednesdays, that was important.

My only change to it was that I didn't use any cherry tomatoes, because we didn't have any. It was pretty good, and I got it together in about 8 minutes. I will make it again, but I will add the tomatoes next time, because I like tomatoes.

Creamy Tortellini
1 pkg. (16 oz.) DI GIORNO Three Cheese Tortellini
1-1/2 cups milk
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
6 Tbsp. KRAFT 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
Grated peel from 1 medium lemon
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes

COOK tortellini as directed on package.

MEANWHILE, place milk and cream cheese in large skillet. Cook on medium heat until cream cheese is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring occasionally. Stir in 4 Tbsp. (1/4 cup) of the Parmesan cheese and the lemon peel. Add spinach; stir to coat. Drain pasta. Add to spinach mixture in skillet; mix lightly.

SPRINKLE with tomatoes and remaining 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese just before serving.

Green Tea Ice Cream

Sunday night we had one of our favorite meals: Leek, Potato, and Fontina Tart.

Last night, we had one of our other favorite meals: Fettuccine Bolognese.

Also last night, I decided to make some Green Tea Ice Cream. I found a recipe from Cooking Light from June 2002. I had all of the ingredients already, so it worked out. I used two bags of Celestial Seasonings White Tea with Pear, and one bag of Tazo Ohm tea (a green tea).

It was not excellent.

It has a very icy consistency, not at all creamy like it should be. It is also ridiculously sweet to the point where it is not pleasant even to me.

However, this will not deter me from making use of my ice cream maker this summer. I have a ton of ice creams I want to make, so my goal is going to be one per week. We'll see if I can stick to that. For reference, this is my ice cream maker, and it is wonderful.

And here is the recipe, in case you want to try making it yourself. Just maybe reduce the amount of sugar to about 1/4 or 1/2 a cup.

Green Tea Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons loose Chinese gunpowder green tea or green tea (about 3 tea bags)
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups whole milk

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add tea; cover and steep 5 minutes. Strain tea mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard tea leaves. Stir in lemon juice; chill completely.

Stir in milk. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon the ice cream into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 2 hours or until firm.

Yield: about 3 cups

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Veggie Cheese Dip

Tonight's dinner needed to fill three specific criteria:
1. Easy and quick, because I was in a bad mood
2. Good for movie-watching
3. Contain at least a small percentage of nutritional value

So I had this recipe for a Tostitos Veggie Cheese Dip from an advertisement, and that fit the criteria. It worked out well, too, because it was an oozy chunky mess that fit very well with the movie we were watching at the same time (Terror Firmer). Excellent.

It was good for the following reasons:
1. It gave me a reason to use the Tostitos Scoopable chips, which I love.
2. It was full of vegetables, so that made it seem semi-healthy.
3. It took about 4 minutes to make, including prep work.

I probably won't make it again, but my friends in college might want to. It's super-fast and super-easy.

Tostitos Veggie Cheese Dip
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped spinach (Note: I omitted this)
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 1/2 cups diced button mushrooms
1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels (can substitute frozen or canned corn)
1 15.5oz jar of Tostitos Reduced-Fat Zesty Cheese Dip
1 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a nonstick pan over high heat.

Add tomatoes, spinach, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and corn, and saute for four minutes.

Meanwhile, pour Tostitos Dip into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until warm.

Remove bowl from microwave and stir in vegetables and parsley.

Serve immediately with Tostitos chips.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Friday, June 16, 2006

Paula's Fat Snacks

I love Paula Deen. A lot. She's awesome. With all this focus on health and nutrition, she is not ashamed to start off a recipe with a stick of butter. She is great. I wish she was my next door neighbor.

Tonight I made one of her less-buttery dishes for dinner. She claims it's a "snack food" but it was quite hearty and made for a filling entree. It's a very simple sandwich, with mashed white beans formed into patties. But it was delicious! I quite enjoyed them. Before I made it, I was like "ew that sounds awful," but I ate it up very quickly. I will definitely make this recipe again.

Paula's Bean Cake Sandwiches
3 cups leftover cooked white beans
All-purpose flour, enough to bind patties
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Mayonnaise
8 slices white bread
1 small onion, sliced into rings

In a medium bowl, coarsely mash beans with a fork and add flour until well combined. Shape bean mixture into 4 patties. Melt butter and oil together in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bean patties, in batches as necessary, and brown on both sides until crispy.

Spread mayonnaise on 2 pieces of white bread. Place bean patty on bread and top with onions. Repeat to make 4 sandwiches.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tuna Melts

I had a tuna melt at Johnny Rocket's at Boston/Logan Airport awhile ago, so I decided I should make one at home. So I picked this recipe from Cooking Light. For once, I did not make a single change to the recipe, other than adding a tad extra horseradish and a tad extra cayenne pepper.

It was delicious! I loved it. It was nice and spicy. I enjoyed that the tuna was covered up enough that it wasn't icky. This recipe was very quick and very easy. It was better than the one at Johnny Rocket's. I will definitely make this again.

Tuna Melt
2 English muffins, split
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (9-ounce) can solid white tuna in water, drained
4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat broiler.

Place the muffin halves on a baking sheet, and broil 5 inches from heat for 3 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Combine the onions and the next 6 ingredients (onions through tuna) in a medium bowl. Divide evenly among the muffin halves. Top each muffin half with a tomato slice, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese. Broil 5 inches from heat for 4 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield: 2 servings

Photo added on May 6, 2008:
tuna melt

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Eggplant Rollatini

Tonight for dinner I made Eggplant Rollatini. It is a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis's show on the Food Network.

My changes: I didn't use a fresh homemade tomato sauce- I used a roasted garlic marinara sauce. I didn't have any mozzarella cheese, so I skipped that. And I halved the recipe.

I liked it a lot, especially with the pine nuts. I liked that the eggplant was grilled. I enjoy using my grill pan, so that was fun. I had wanted the cheese filling to be a bit thicker but that probably is what the mozzarella cheese would have done. I would eat this again. XX, however, did not enjoy this method of eating eggplant and did not really like it. I will not make it again, as a result. But it's good! :)

Eggplant Rollatini
3 medium-sized eggplants (about 4 pounds total)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Can vegetable spray
32 ounces ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
8 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
20 basil leaves, chiffonaded
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 cups fresh tomato sauce

Preheat the grill pan and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place a rack over a large baking sheet. Cut the 2 ends off the eggplant. Cut the eggplants lengthwise, into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange eggplant slices onto rack. Sprinkle with sea salt to help remove excess moisture and any bitterness from the eggplants. Set aside for about 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse off the salt from the eggplants and pat dry with a towel. Spray hot grill pan liberally with vegetable spray and then place eggplant slices on the grill until lightly browned on each side and tender, about 4 minutes per side. Remove slices from the grill pan and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until lightly scrambled. Mix the ricotta in with the egg. Add mozzarella, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts and gently combine. Fold in basil just to combine. Do not overmix.

Place a tablespoon of the cheese mixture on 1 end of the eggplant and roll up tightly. Place the eggplant rollatini into a greased (with olive oil) 13 by 9-inch baking dish, seam side down. Continue with remaining eggplant. Evenly distribute the tomato sauce on top of the eggplant rollatini. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 5 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes. When cooked, drizzle the top with extra-virgin olive oil.

Yield: 6 servings

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Black Bean, Corn, & Pepper Fajitas

Tonight we had Black Bean,Corn, and Pepper Fajitas. I added a little bit too much lime juice and it tasted kind of like Froot Loops, but that wasn't really a bad thing.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Quinoa Grecian Salad

This week I wanted to use a lot of fresh produce, and this recipe from Cooking Light gave me the opportunity to also incorporate some whole grains. It is a very healthy dish and is excellent for vegetarians because it has so much good stuff in it.

My changes: I used vegetarian chicken bouillon cubes (dissolved in water) instead of canned chicken broth, I omitted the mint, and I added some sliced green onions.

We both liked it, which was surprising. It was our first time eating quinoa. I liked it, but wasn't too fond of the broth's flavor in it. If I made this again I would just use water instead of the broth to boil the quinoa. It's doubtful I'll make this again, but we did enjoy it.

Colorful Quick Quinoa Grecian Salad
2 cups uncooked quinoa
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup thinly sliced radicchio
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped English cucumber
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon minced shallots

Place quinoa in a large bowl; cover with water. Let stand 5 minutes; rinse well, and drain.

Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan; stir in quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Uncover; fluff with a fork. Cool to room temperature.

Combine olive oil and next 5 ingredients (through sea salt) in a large bowl. Add cooled quinoa, tomatoes, and the remaining ingredients; toss well.

Yield: 10 servings (as a side dish)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Thai Vegetable Pizza

This recipe is from Betty Crocker's Vegetarian Cooking. I don't think I've had the greatest luck with this cookbook. Everything seems to be kind of sub-par. This dish was good, it was just not interesting enough to make again. If I did make it again though, I would use Thai peanut sauce instead of the home-made sauce.

Thai Vegetable Pizza
Prep: 9 min Bake: 20 min

Purchased peanut sauce, found in the ethnic-foods section of your grocery store, can be used in place of the peanut butter spread, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Use a scant one cup of purchased sauce.

(Note: To make a Thai Chicken Pizza, omit the bean sprouts, add 2 cups chopped chicken with the stir-fry vegetables in step 2, and continue as directed)

6 fat-free flour tortillas (8-10 inches in diameter)
2/3 cup reduced-fat peanut butter spread
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 pkg (16 oz) frozen stir-fry vegetables, thawed and drained

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place tortillas on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 5 minutes.

2. Mix peanut butter spread, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar; spread over tortillas. Top each with 1/4 cup cheese. Spread bean sprouts and stir-fried vegetables evenly over tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

3. Bake 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serves 6.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Spicy Coconut Noodles

This recipe is from the April 2006 issue of Real Simple magazine. It appealed to me because it is super-quick and involves Sriracha sauce. I managed to get the whole thing together within about 15 minutes, which was excellent. I omitted the bean sprouts and the toasted coconut and added a little extra Sriracha (referred to in the recipe as 'chili paste or sauce').

I liked it, but others were a little bit underwhelmed. It's too bad, because I really did appreciate how quick and easy it is to make. I probably won't make this again, but I did enjoy it!

Spicy Coconut Noodles
8 ounces rice noodles or fettuccine
1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili paste or sauce (optional)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
8 ounces bean sprouts
16 basil leaves, whole or torn
1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted (optional)

Cook the noodles according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, over medium heat, combine the coconut milk, tomato paste, chili powder, salt, and chili paste or sauce (if using). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the drained noodles and toss. Divide the noodles among individual bowls. Top with the scallions, sprouts, basil, and coconut (if using).

Tip: To toast shredded coconut, scatter it on a baking sheet and place in a 350° F oven until it's golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Watch carefully: It goes from toasted to scorched in seconds.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Lemony Orzo Salad

I made a big batch of this to take for lunches this week. It's pretty good, and holds up well in the refrigerator. I don't know if I will make it again for my lunches, but it would be a good dish to take to a picnic. I did not make any changes to the recipe. If I make it again though, I will add more feta because I love feta.

Lemony Orzo Salad
from Cooking Light, March 2000

1 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
1 1/3 cups diced zucchini
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives

Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well. Combine orzo, zucchini, and onion in a large bowl; toss well. Combine parsley and next 6 ingredients (parsley through pepper); stir well with a whisk. Stir into orzo mixture; add tomato, cheese, and olives, tossing gently to coat.

Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Couscous-Stuffed Portobellos

I got this recipe from the Cooking Light forums, but it's originally a Weight Watchers recipe. I thought it sounded pretty good so I decided to give it a shot.

My changes: I used a roasted-garlic flavored couscous instead of the mushroom flavor. And I couldn't find arugula so I omitted that.

The results: It was good, but the cooking method was ridiculous. I can understand why it asked for a water bath (so the mushrooms wouldn't dry out), but it backfired because the water kind of melted the couscous off of the mushrooms and it was a big mess. Also, I spilled the water out of the pan about 90 times while transporting it. I also accidentally dropped a ton of Parmesan cheese onto the floor of the oven, which almost set off the fire alarm. It was alright, but I wouldn't make this again because I don't have the patience for it.

Couscous Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
1 (6-ounce) package fat-free couscous with wild mushrooms
such as Marrakesh Express)
1 1/2 Cups water
3/4 Cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 Cup chopped arugula
3/4 Cup (3 ounces) preshredded fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 Cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Teaspoon olive oil
1/4 Teaspoon pepper
4 Large portobello mushroom caps (about 1 pound)

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Combine seasoning packet from couscous and water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Gradually stir in couscous and bell pepper. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 7 minutes. Fluff with a fork; stir in arugula, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and feta cheese. Set aside.

3. Combine vinegar, oil, and pepper; brush over mushroom caps. Top each cap with 1 cup couscous mixture, pressing firmly to pack. Place stuffed caps in a shallow roasting pan; add water to pan to depth of 1/4 inch. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese; bake 10 minutes or until cheese melts.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, June 03, 2006

In praise of the pepper mill

I almost forgot! My mom bought me the Pepper Crate from Penzey's as a housewarming gift!!! It came with three kinds of peppercorns (green, black tellicherry, and white) and a kickass Zassenhaus Peppermill to grind them:

Peppermill

She also got me a four-peppercorn blend that has all of the above plus some super-rare and awesome pink peppercorns. This is awesome. Freshly ground pepper is something that cannot be replicated with store-bought ground pepper. I'm excited because this will make my food taste even better. Yay!

I love my mom, and I love Penzey's!

Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Today I actually bought ingredients to make dinners every single day this week! Hoorah! Unfortunately today was too stressful so I didn't feel like making the meal I had planned for today, hahaha! So I decided to experiment with an Olive Garden copycat recipe I found on this website. It is for their salad dressing, which is one of my favorite things about Olive Garden in general. I had already bought some bagged salad mix so I pulled out the food processor and made a batch of dressing to go with it.

The results: It is very good and is very similar to the 'real' dressing! I think I added a bit too much lemon juice though. I would cut back on that a little bit next time. Also, I didn't have corn syrup so it was very runny. The corn syrup is necessary to make it thicker, and also to add a tid bit of sweetness to take the edge off the lemon. So don't omit it like I did. I also added some freshly ground pepper, which was nice. I will definitely make this again though, especially when I have dinner guests who love Olive Garden.

Olive Garden Salad Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Romano cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the salad:
American-blend bagged salad mix
red onion slices
black olives
banana peppers
croutons
tomatoes, quartered
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Mix all ingredients in a blender or processor until well blended. Add a little sugar to taste if too tart. Create salad to your liking and toss with dressing.

Yield: I got about 1 cup of dressing from this recipe.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Icebox Diner

Still unpacking, so we have still been eating frozen crap for dinners. I'm planning on finishing this weekend and hitting up a local farmer's market to get some delicious food to cook.

However! We found this site, Icebox Diner, that has reviews for like every frozen food item ever. You can read people's reviews of it. I wish I'd known about this site before we ate so much random frozen food. Next time any of you move, you will probably want to use this site.