Saturday, February 28, 2009

Quick and Easy Samosas

Yes, I know this is a cheater recipe. I have had a stressful time as of late, and I did not want a long recipe to make for dinner. So we had this super-quick samosa recipe. It was good, and it was quick. We probably wouldn't make it again though unless we were like, "Hmm I want some samosas RIGHT NOW." But most likely I would be willing to put in more effort to make more traditional samosas. These are definitely good though and they look really pretty in their little cones because I used my pastry wheel to cut the edges before I folded them up.

samosas

Quick and Easy Samosas
Real Simple, March 2008

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 cups (about 16 ounces) refrigerated mashed potatoes
1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
1 15-ounce package refrigerated piecrusts
1 jar mango chutney (optional)

Heat oven to 375° F.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the curry powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the potatoes and peas.

Unroll the piecrusts and cut each into 6 triangles. Place a heaping tablespoon of the potato mixture in the center of each piece. Gather the corners of the dough and pinch to form a point. Pinch the seams to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet.

Bake the samosas until golden, about 25 minutes. Serve with the mango chutney, if desired.

Yield: 12 samosas

Friday, February 27, 2009

Snickerdoodles

I forgot to post that Gibby made our favorite Snickerdoodle recipe to take to work with him today. He made them last night before I got home from work, and after burning himself several times, produced some delicious cookies. He accidentally used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour (we have a LOT of flour in our pantry...) but surprisingly the cookies turned out kind of better than they usually are. I might play around with using bread flour for them in the future. Good job, husband!

Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant

This recipe sounds like it takes a long time to make, but it doesn't. Nothing needs to saute as long as it says to saute them for, and the saute mixture can easily be made during the 15 minutes that the eggplant shells are cooking. Then you just toss the stuffing in, put it back in the oven, and 20 minutes later you have your stuffed eggplant. We had some strawberries on the side, but I wish I'd had some Kashi pilaf to go with it. It needed a grain, I think.

I liked it, but not enough to make it again. I like Greek flavors and feta and all that good stuff. It's a good dish and isn't too mushy, as eggplant tends to be.

eggplant

Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant
Cooking Light, June 2007

3 medium eggplants
Cooking spray
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium summer squash, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1 1/4 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell, and reserve pulp. Place eggplant halves, skin sides down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; bake at 350° for 15 minutes.

Chop the reserved eggplant pulp into 1/2-inch pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add reserved eggplant to pan, and sauté 8 minutes or until eggplant begins to brown. Place eggplant in a bowl. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in red and green bell peppers and the next 7 ingredients (through squash); sauté 6 minutes. Return eggplant to pan. Stir in 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and black pepper; sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in feta cheese and 1/4 cup panko. Cool slightly. Spoon about 1 cup eggplant mixture into each eggplant shell.

Combine remaining 1 cup panko, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle panko mixture evenly over stuffed eggplants. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated and tops begin to brown. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Refried Bean & Corn Quesadillas

This is a very old recipe that I have had for a very long time! It was printed in Cooking Light in 1995! That's crazy. It was super-fast, pretty good, and very filling. I accidentally bought the 10" burrito tortillas so we had some huge quesadillas and neither of us could finish ours! That's crazy because I'm like a vacuum and very rarely don't finish my food. Anyhow, this was good and we would definitely make it again.

No photo because you know what a quesadilla looks like.

Refried Bean & Corn Quesadillas
CL 1995

1/2 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
8 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers
Vegetable cooking spray
1/2 cup nonfat sour cream
Cilantro sprigs (optional)
Jalapeño peppers (optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, and stir well. Spread about 1/2 cup bean mixture over each of 4 tortillas, and top each with 3 tablespoons cheese and remaining tortillas.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 quesadilla, and cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove quesadilla from skillet; set aside, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining quesadillas.

Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges. Serve warm with sour cream. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and jalapeño peppers, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, February 23, 2009

French Toast

This is super fast and super easy and is apparently exceptionally delicious if you like french toast. I do not. I always think I do, and then when I eat it, I realize I don't. Why? It's too eggy. And if any of the bread is too mushy then I get paranoid and think I'm eating raw egg and it freaks me out and I don't like it. He, however, LOVED this recipe. So I think my dislike of it is really just because I don't like french toast. If you like it, you will like this recipe.

I cheated and didn't do the "stick it in the oven for 30 seconds" thing that Alton Brown says to do. Maybe if I had watched the episode, I would know why he says to do that, but oh well. I also made it in my cast iron skillet instead of in a nonstick pan, and I think that's totally the way to go.

Edit: I posted this picture and then got grossed out because it looks shiny like I didn't cook it all the way. I did. The egg is cooked. It is shiny because of all the maple syrup he poured on his plate. Maybe no one else noticed this, but I did so I had to clarify.

frenchy

French Toast
Alton Brown

1 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread
4 tablespoons butter

In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Microwave Brownies

These are the best brownies you'll ever make in 5 minutes. They're not the best brownies of all time, but when you desperately want some brownies and only have 5 minutes and a microwave, this is certainly quite excellent. I enjoyed them and would make them again in another time of desperation, which I'm certain will occur. In fact, if you have the ingredients, you could print this out, go make it, and be eating the same delicious brownies in 10 minutes. You know you're tempted.

brownies

Microwave Brownies
Ham on the Street
on Food Network

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Put the butter and chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds to melt the chocolate. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar.

In a large bowl sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the egg and chocolate mixtures along with the vanilla and stir well to combine.

Spray an 8 by 8 by 2-inch or 8-inch round microwave-safe glass pan with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan, spread it out evenly, and scatter the chocolate chips on top. Cook on high for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 3 minutes before cutting and eating.

Borscht

Casualties incurred whilst making this soup:
1) My thumb. It was burned when the boiling soup splashed on me.
2) My green sweater. It got beet juice all over it, which I am trying to wash out but beet juice stains so only time will tell.
3) One of my kitchen towels. Covered in beet juice. Covered. Its life is over.

My boss has been getting so many beets from his CSA (and passing them onto me) and I am out of ideas. I have roasted them, made them into salad, done some other random stuff, and now I resort to the only last thing I can do: borscht. This beet soup contains so many other vegetables, and yet all you taste is beet. Not the beer, not the mushrooms. Just the beets. And more beets. Sometimes a hint of dill. And more beets. I like beets, but I am no Dwight Schrute. I can only take so much of it before I can't stand it anymore. Not a fan of the borscht, no.

borscht

Borscht
Cooking Light, January 2008

There are many different versions of this Russian soup. Unlike this interpretation, many are chunky. If you puree the soup as the recipe directs, you don't have to worry about precision when you're chopping. The simplest way to peel celeriac is to remove the rough, knobby skin with a sharp chef's knife.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 3/4 cups chopped onion
1 3/4 cups chopped peeled celeriac (celery root)
1/3 cup chopped carrot
1/3 cup chopped parsnip
1 tablespoon tomato paste
7 cups water
1/2 cup light beer
2 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups chopped peeled baking potato
2 garlic cloves, crushed
12 ounces sliced peeled beets
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion; cook 6 minutes. Add celeriac, carrot, and parsnip; cook 4 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste. Add 7 cups water and beer; stir well. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in cabbage, potato, garlic, and beets; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Place half of beet mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining beet mixture. Stir in vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 3/4 teaspoon dill.

Yield: 8 servings

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Veggie Calzones

I haven't found a great calzones recipe yet, and tonight's still isn't a contender. It was good - good enough to freeze some for later - but not a make-again. The inside needed more flavor.

calzones

Veggie Calzones
Taste of Home

Bread dough makes it a breeze to assemble these savory turnovers from Lee Ann Arey of Gray, Maine. "If you have a favorite pizza dough, use it instead," she recommends. "These freeze well and once they are frozen, they can be heated in half an hour."

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 loaves (1 pound each) frozen bread dough, thawed
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

In a large skillet, saute the mushrooms, onion and green pepper in oil until tender. Add tomatoes; cook and stir for 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; set aside. Combine cheeses and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a 7-in. circle. Spoon a scant 1/2 cup of vegetable mixture and 1/4 cup of cheese mixture over one side of each circle. Brush edges of dough with water; fold dough over filling and press edges with a fork to seal. Place calzones 3 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Whisk egg and water; brush over calzones. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Cool desired number of calzones; place in freezer bags. Seal and freeze for up to 3 months. Bake the remaining calzones 18-22 minutes longer or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

To use frozen calzones: Place 2 in. apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Yield: 8 servings. To use frozen calzones: Place calzones 2 in. apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield: 8

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spanish-Style Shrimp

Today was very stressful! And I still managed to create this amazing meal in less than 30 minutes. We had Spanish-Style Shrimp with Garlic over quinoa, and some Lemon-Parsley Bruschetta. I also found a cactus pear and decided we should try it. I don't think we ate it right. We didn't like it, although it's a really awesome color of pink. Oh well. Tried something new.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cauliflower-Apple Soup with Apple Cider Reduction

This did not take very long to make and was very, very yummy. The apple makes it sweet, the cauliflower makes it substantial, and the curry powder makes it spicy. Don't skip the cider reduction, because it adds a lovely taste. We had this with some nice sharp white cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches and it was perfect. We would definitely make this again.

apple

Cauliflower-Apple Soup with Apple Cider Reduction
Cooking Light, 12/08

Soothing soups provide nutrients like vitamins and fluids. If you crave more spice, add a little more Madras curry powder. Substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth would make this a fine vegetarian option. Serve with a salad and cheese toast points to add fiber, protein, and heartiness to a light lunch or dinner.

1 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
6 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
5 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 Gala apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/3 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

1. Bring the apple cider to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook until cider is reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature.

2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add curry powder and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add cauliflower, broth, and apple; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until cauliflower is very tender.

3. Remove pan from heat; cool 5 minutes. Place half of cauliflower mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining cauliflower mixture. Return to pot. Stir in half-and-half; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in juice, salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Ladle about 1 cup soup into each of 8 bowls; drizzle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons cider reduction. Garnish with coarsely ground pepper, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Eggplant Tartines

Tonight we had Eggplant Tartines with Hummus and Arugula and it was delicious as always, and ready in 15 minutes. Always a plus with my hectic schedule. This recipe has really made it into the rotation which is always surprising since we don't repeat many things.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Artichoke Ravioli

This is such a non-recipe I'm almost ashamed to be posting it. We used the last bag of marinara sauce for it. It was pretty boring and not really worth making.

We didn't use olives, and we used jumbo cheese ravioli from TJ's.

ravioli

Artichoke Ravioli
Taste of Home

“This dish is so quick and easy to put together, but it tastes like you spent hours preparing it,” writes Darlene Brenden from Salem, Oregon. “The artichokes add a tangy gourmet flavor folks love. Serve with a salad and bread, and you’re done with dinner!”

2 packages (9 ounces each) refrigerated cheese ravioli
1 jar (26 ounces) meatless spaghetti sauce
1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
1 jar (4-1/2 ounces) whole mushrooms, drained
1 can (2-1/2 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Cook ravioli according to package directions; drain and return to the pan. Add the spaghetti sauce, artichokes, mushrooms and olives; gently toss.

Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Smoky Stuffed Peppers

Even though this sounded oddly bland to me, I had some more smoked gouda that I wanted to use up so I figured we'd try this recipe. Surprisingly enough, this turned out to be quite delicious and everyone was a big fan of it. The smoky flavor from the gouda and the chipotle is delicious. It all cooks very nicely and is very yummy. We would make this again.

Note: I have no idea what poultry seasoning is but I figured it had sage in it so I used a Tuscan seasoning that had some sage and other stuff in it and it seemed to work just fine.

peppers

Smoky Stuffed Peppers
Vegetarian Times, 9/07

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 stalks celery, minced (1/2 cup)
1 medium onion, minced (1 cup)
2 Tbsp poultry seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, drained and minced
2 cups cooked brown rice or wild rice medley
1/2 cup yellow raisins
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
5 oz smoked Gouda cheese, grated
3 red bell peppers, halved lengthwise

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add celery, onion, poultry seasoning, and garlic, and saute 7 minutes, or until soft. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Stir in chipotle pepper and saute 2 minutes. Add rice, raisins, and broth to pan, and cook 5 minutes more, or until consistency of stuffing, stirring constantly. Set aside.

4. Divide cheese among pepper halves, then top with rice mixture. Place peppers in 9x12 casserole dish. Add water until it comes 1/2 inch up sides of peppers. Bake 30 minutes, or until peppers are soft and filling is hot.

Yield: 6 servings

Almond-Cranberry Corn Bread

When cranberries hit the grocery store, I bought several bags and put them in the freezer so I could use them later. But then I forgot about them! I came across this recipe recently and made a note of it so I could use up the cranberries. Or at least some of them. So that is what I did.

Obviously I substituted fresh cranberries for dried, and there's probably a discernible difference since Craisins are sweeter, but I liked the fresh cranberries' texture in it. The cornbread doesn't really taste like corn bread - more like a light cake. I'm not really sure why. I toasted the almonds a little too much so the toasty-almond flavor is very strong in ours, but that's good. It will be yummy for lunches but I don't think this is something we would make again.

cornbread

Almond-Cranberry Corn Bread
Cooking Light, 1/09

Nut meals can replace up to one-fourth the all-purpose flour in baked goods. Almond meal's hearty texture works well in corn bread. Look for it at health food stores or from Bob's Red Mill (www.bobsredmill.com), or place about 1 cup blanched almonds in a food processor; process until finely ground. If you don't have a cast-iron skillet, you can also bake the bread at 400° in an 8-inch round cake pan for 16 minutes.

3 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2/3 cup)
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sliced almonds
3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 large egg whites
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl.

3. Heat oil in a small skillet over high heat. Add almonds to pan; cook 2 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Strain oil through a fine sieve into flour mixture. Set aside 1 tablespoon almonds. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons almonds to flour mixture. Combine buttermilk, dried cranberries, and egg whites, and add to flour mixture, stirring until well blended.

4. Spoon batter into an 8-inch cast-iron skillet coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle reserved 1 tablespoon toasted almonds over top of batter. Bake bread at 400° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Yield: 12 servings

I Mentioned the Bisque

Last night for Valentine's Day we went to a four-course prix fixe meal at a restaurant I've been wanting to go to ever since I moved to Maryland: Rock Creek Restaurant, which has branches in Mazza Gallerie and in Bethesda. We went to the Bethesda location. I read about it in Cooking Light one time because it's "mindfulness-based dining." All the food is under 600 calories, everything is made with healthy ingredients and local produce and stuff like that, and nutritional information is available right on the menu. It's neat. And it was YUMMY! We had an enjoyable time.

The meal started off with multigrain bread and hummus. The best hummus. Yum. The rest of our meal was as follows. I'll post the parts of the menu that we ate.

First Course

Lobster Bisque (We both had the bisque, it was delicious)
Maine Lobster, Pernod, Tarragon

Second Course

Blue Fin Tuna Tartare (Gibby had this and it was yummy, like a spicy tuna roll)
Jalapenos, Scallions, Sesame Seeds, Seaweed, Wasabi-Tamari Sauce

For some reason mine isn't listed. I had sweet potato gnocchi with cranberries, pistachios, butternut squash, feta cheese, and a vegetarian demi glace that was quite possibly the best dish of the night.

Third Course

Passion Fruit Glazed Diver Scallops (This is what I had, and it was yummy)
Red Quinoa, Arugula, Guajillo Passion Fruit Sauce

Grilled Duck Breast (This is what Gibby had, and he didn't like it. He has pet ducks)
Chestnut Spaetzle, Brussels Sprouts, Pink Peppercorn Sauce

Dessert

Rock creek Chocolate Cake (Gibby had this and it was kind of like a brownie lava cake)
Whipped Cream and Chocolate Sauce

Broiled Pineapple (I had this and it was absolutely fantastic)
Saffron Sauce and Coconut Lime Sorbet


Then as we were leaving they gave us two little truffles: a chocolate one for Gibby, and a coconut-covered passion-fruit filled one for me. Delicious.

Yaaaay for Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I Love Trader Joe's

I will miss it when it's not around when we move :( Maybe they'll open a branch. At least I'll have this video to remind me of the good times (although our store doesn't have alcohol)...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bean & 'Bello Burger

Maybe I need to start subscribing to Self magazine because I keep finding excellent recipes from it online. I was drawn to this recipe because it hides little bits of portobello mushroom in the burger. This was easy to make and was very VERY good! We really liked it a lot, especially with our favorite Sweet Baby Ray's bbq sauce. He expressed that he enjoyed how the portobello subtly added a meaty taste to the burgers. His words! We would definitely make these again.

burger

Bean & 'Bello Burger
Self, Feb.2009

4 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium portobellos, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
4 whole-wheat buns
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
4 lettuce leaves
4 tomato slices

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pepper begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add beans, paprika, garlic powder and black pepper. Cook, smashing beans with the back of a spoon, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer mixture to a bowl and mix in eggs, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and breadcrumbs. Form into 4 patties. Wipe out skillet; heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat and cook burgers until brown and feels firm, 6 to 7 minutes each side. Place on buns; top with barbecue sauce, lettuce and tomato.

Yield: 4 servings

Barbecue-Flavored Onion Rings

Well, for baked onion rings these are really good. But they're still baked. That's what happens when I refuse to deep fry things. But it's true that these are really good, especially for baked onion rings. Not soft or oily like regular ones, but very light and crispy. We probably won't make them again but they were perfect with our dinner!

onions

meal

Barbecue-Flavored Onion Rings
Cooking Light, April 2008

Regular yellow onions will work in this recipe, but sweet onions have a milder flavor. Coating the onion rings with breadcrumbs in batches keeps the crumbs dry for maximum crispness. Rotate pans during cooking for even browning.

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 pound Vidalia or other sweet onions, cut into (1/4-inch-thick) slices and separated into rings (about 2 large)
1 1/2 cups dry breadcrumbs, divided
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Combine flour, sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, paprika, allspice, and eggs in a large bowl. Dip onion rings in flour mixture. Place half of onion rings in a zip-top plastic bag; add 3/4 cup breadcrumbs, shaking bag to coat onion rings. Repeat procedure with remaining onion rings and remaining 3/4 cup breadcrumbs.

3. Arrange onion rings in a single layer on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat onion rings with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes. Rotate pans on racks; bake 5 minutes. Turn onion rings over; lightly coat with cooking spray and bake 5 minutes. Rotate pans and bake 5 minutes or until crisp. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vegetable Gyoza and Edamame Succotash

I saw the edamame mixture at the grocery store a few weeks back so I bought it because I remembered seeing this recipe in Vegetarian Times, and then I found some gyoza so I bought those too. And I just now got around to making it! It took about 15 minutes, which was nice. I thought it was yummy, but he was not a fan. I'm not sure why. I think the gyoza was a little bit gingery (it was a shrimp gyoza from Trader Joe's) and maybe that was it? I'm not sure. I liked it, but since he did not we will not make it again.

Vegetable Gyoza and Edamame Succotash
Vegetarian Times, 2/09

Gyoza are crescent-shaped Japanese dumplings (sometimes called pot stickers) that can be steamed or pan-fried and are usually served as an appetizer. Here, they are stir-fried with frozen edamame succotash and topped with a black bean sauce for a spicy main dish. If you can't find edamame succotash in your freezer section, feel free to use any regular frozen succotash.

Chili-Soy Dressing
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp rinsed and chopped dried fermented black beans (or 1 tsp black bean sauce)
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)
1 tsp chili oil

Gyoza Succotash
2 tsp canola oil, divided
8 frozen vegetable gyoza
1 16oz package frozen edamame succotash mix
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 green onions, chopped (1/4 cup)

1. To make Chili-Soy Dressing: Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. To make Gyoza Succotash: Heat 1 tsp canola oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and add gyoza. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned on bottoms. Add 1/4 cup water to pan, cover, and cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer gyoza to plate, and pour remaining oil in pan.

3. Add succotash, and saute vegetables 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Remove pan from heat, and stir in cilantro, green onions, gyoza, and Chili-Soy Dressing. Toss to combine and serve warm.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, February 09, 2009

Quinoa Salad With Black Beans and Mango

Well this recipe really is almost the same as the Mango & Black Bean Salad that we really enjoy, except it has some minor changes and uses quinoa instead of rice. But since I have like 8 lbs of quinoa in my pantry, I decided to try this out anyway.

Despite the changes, it really does taste similar. I splurged on some grapeseed oil but have no idea why. At least I have it for future recipes. The meal was very good, but I think we prefer the rice version. I'd recommend this if you want to use quinoa.

The reason our quinoa looks more like couscous than regular quinoa in our photo is because this is from the Spiritual CSA stash my boss gave me, and apparently quinoa that has been prayed over looks different from quinoa that comes in a box from Trader Joe's. At first I thought it was a mistake, but it cooks like quinoa, tastes like quinoa, and smells like quinoa. Must be quinoa?

quinoa

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango
Veganomicon via Recipezaar

1 mango, peeled and diced small
1 red pepper, seeded and diced as small as you can get it
1 cup chopped scallion
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
1 1/2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed (a 15-ounce can)

Combine the mango, red pepper, scallions, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add the red wine vinegar, grapeseed oil, and salt and stir to combine. Add the quinoa and stir until everything is well incorporated. Fold in the black beans. Serve immediately or let it sit for a bit to let the flavors meld.

Yield: 5 1/2 cups (fed two of us as a main dish with a little bit left over)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cupcakes

I've made Red Velvet Cake before, but a) it was a long time ago, b) that recipe has WAY too much butter in it, and c) I decided we needed some cupcakes instead of actual cake.

My grandma sent us a cupcake-making kit for Valentine's Day, so this weekend was the time to make our red velvet cupcakes.

kit

The recipe I have in my program "to try" was for the Magnolia Bakery red velvet cupcakes, but they were also way too unhealthy. We've gotten so sensitive to butter and oil in our desserts so I really read the ingredients thoroughly to make sure it won't be off-putting. After a lot of searching, I found a highly-recommended recipe for Waldorf Astoria Cake, which is a red velvet cake. I read through my other cupcake recipes and adapted the cooking time from 30 minutes to 17 minutes (I had planned for 20, but the first batch was done in 17 minutes so I put the second one in for 17). Despite my comments on my last attempt at red velvet, I found a one ounce bottle of red food coloring - it's huge! It makes them sooooooo bright! Look at how red the batter was when I put it in the oven! It looks like I put red paint into the pan.

oven

They came out after 17 minutes looking perfect.

cool

I made some light cream cheese frosting to go along with it since I did not want buttercream. I alluded to this recipe in my previous red velvet experience, but never posted it for some reason. I will post it after the cake recipe.

So. Summary: Amazing! AMAZING. I will make this as my standard recipe for red velvet cakes or cupcakes. Remember, 17 minutes for cupcakes. Makes 2 dozen. Use a 1 oz bottle of food coloring. The end.

cupcake

Waldorf Astoria Cake
Waldorf Astoria / CLBB (dorothyntototoo)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1- 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
2 Tbs (one 1-oz. bottle) red food color
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp salt
1- 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbs white vinegar

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 13x9-inch baking pan.**
2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl; add eggs and vanilla, beating well. Stir together buttermilk and food color. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; add alternately to butter mixture with buttermilk mixture, mixing well. Stir in baking soda and vinegar. Pour into prepared pan.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Frost; garnish with chocolate chips, if desired. About 15 servings.

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

VARIATION: For heart shapes: Using open-topped heart-shaped cookie cutter (at least 1-1/2 inches deep and 3-inches wide), cut cake into 12 hearts. Frost and decorate as directed.

**Cake can also be baked in two greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake at 350 F. for 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely. Frost as desired.

Light Cream Cheese Frosting
The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook page 129

1 8oz package Neufchatel cheese (do not soften)
1 Tbsp light butter (do not soften)
5 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

Beat cream cheese and butter at high speed with an electric mixer until soft and creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed just until mixture is light. Gently stir in vanilla and pecans. Chill until ready to spready.

Yield: 2 2/3 cups

Breakfast and Dinner

This morning Gibby was in charge of making egg & cheese bagel sandwiches. I don't make them right. He makes them very well, so he is in charge of making them when we eat them on weekends. He decided he needs some credit so he took a picture for you to see his masterpiece.

bagel

Then for dinner we had Baked Potato Soup. I was frosting cupcakes while it was cooking for the first 8 minute stretch, and I lost track of time and when I came back it was super-super-super thick! It was kind of neat though. Still tasted like it should, but I should pay more attention in the future.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Spiced Lentil Tacos

Another thing that I got in my boss's CSA was a huge bag of lentils. I already had lentils in my pantry, but these are spiritual lentils. See?

lentils

I also happened to find this recipe fairly recently for lentil tacos. Basically it's just using lentils in place of beef, but it's delicious. It was really, really yummy. The chipotle cream on top was very yummy as well. We also had some fresh cantaloupe to go along with the meal and it was wonderful too. It was a very good meal. Definitely a make-again.

I used the Old El Paso Stand & Stuff taco shells, and since they need to be heated a little before serving, I performed my secret trick for how to make tacos awesome: I put the cheese into the shell while it warms up. That way, you get cheese in every bite and it doesn't fall out with the rest of the toppings. Plus melted cheese is yummy.

One more note: I discovered Old El Paso taco seasoning (the one I've always used) has trans fat in it. Why? Why does a seasoning have trans fat? That's ridiculous and stupid. I am going to be switching to Penzeys' Taco Seasoning from now on. It doesn't have all the extra crap ingredients.

tacos

Spiced Lentil Tacos
Self, Feb 2009

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
1 package (2.25 ounce) taco seasoning
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped (use half for less heat)
2 teaspoons adobo sauce
8 taco shells
1 1/4 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat (2 percent) cheddar

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, garlic and salt until onion begins to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add lentils and taco seasoning. Cook until spices are fragrant and lentils are dry, about 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Mix sour cream, chile and adobo sauce in a bowl. Uncover lentils and cook until mixture thickens, 6 to 8 minutes. Mash with a rubber spatula. Spoon 1/4 cup lentil mixture into each taco shell. Top with 2 heaping teaspoons sour cream mixture, lettuce, tomato and cheese.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, February 06, 2009

Fruit-Topped Whole Grain Waffles

I think waffles are maybe the easiest dinner ever and they're always so yummy. This recipe was good. I used wild blueberries so they would be sweeter! Oh well. At least we both liked it a lot! We would make this again.

Side note: I got a bounty from my boss's CSA again - this time instead of vegetables, I got all the starchy non-perishables like dried beans, lentils, cornmeal, oats, and quinoa (MORE QUINOA WHYYYYYY). All this food has not only been grown organically and pesticide-free, but has been prayed over and treated with spiritual conditions. I used some of these oats in our waffles, so I guess we're blessed now, having ingested these spiritual oats. Awesome.

waffles

Fruit-Topped Whole Grain Waffles
EatBetterAmerica.com

Nutty whole wheat flour, sweet oats and tangy buttermilk make waffles with lots of flavor in less than 30 minutes!

1 cup fresh blueberries or Cascadian Farm® frozen organic blueberries (thawed)
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries or Cascadian Farm® frozen organic strawberries (thawed)
1/4 cup real maple syrup

1/2 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Gold Medal® whole wheat flour
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup fat-free egg product
2 tablespoons canola or soybean oil

Heat waffle maker. (Waffle makers without a nonstick coating may need to be brushed with vegetable oil or sprayed with cooking spray before batter for each waffle is added.) In medium bowl, stir together topping ingredients; let stand while making waffles.

In large bowl, mix flours, oats, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Add buttermilk, egg product and oil; beat with wire whisk until well blended.

Pour about 1/2 cup batter onto hot waffle maker. (Check manufacturer's directions for recommended amount of batter.) Close lid of waffle maker.

Bake about 3 minutes or until steaming stops and waffle is golden brown. Carefully remove waffle. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve waffles with topping.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Cheesy Corn Chowder

I'm the only one to go vegetarian (/pescetarian) in my family of origin, so my mom figured out how to make things versatile so that all of us could be eating something similar. She hacked together a popular chicken-corn chowder from Cooking Light and a similar recipe from a random cookbook and created this recipe back when I was in high school. If you are a meat-eater, you toss some cooked chicken in at the end and voila! Chicken corn chowder.

She gave this recipe to me in a binder when I went to college in 2002, but I've never made it until tonight! So that was exciting. I don't even remember how hers tasted so I can't compare it to anything, but it was great! Definitely a make-again. Good job, Mom!

chowder

Cheesy Corn Chowder
Mom! - 4/29/02

Combination of Corn Chowder (from some cookbook) and Cheddar Chicken Chowder from CL

6 cups corn kernels (if frozen, thaw)
Veggie canadian bacon
2 Tbsp oil
4 cups finely chopped leeks
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 cup diced red bell pepper
6 cups chicken broth
1 lb new potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup lowfat buttermilk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch cayenne
4 tsp flour

In a blender or food processor, puree 4 cups of corn; set aside.

In a medium-size stockpot, saute the bacon over medium heat - will need to use oil, since it's veggie bacon.

Saute leeks, onion, and garlic until softened. Add bell pepper, thyme, and potatoes.

Add flour - stir in and cook to make a roux.

Stir in chicken broth, pureed corn, other 2 cups of corn kernels, buttermilk, salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Heat - but do not boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add cheese and stir until melted.

(If you want to add chicken, put warmed chicken pieces in the bowl and cover with the chowder, stir to mix).

Yield: 12 servings

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sczechuan Noodles

Tonight we had Open-Faced Jerk Vegetable Sandwiches, which I started last night so it took only about 10 minutes to get it on the table today. It was great.

Last night, as you may have noticed, I did not post about our dinner because just as I put it on the table, our realtor called to say that the bid we put on a house was accepted and that we are heading towards becoming the owners of a beautiful house in Easton, PA! We ate hastily and then got busy calling everyone. From what we remember, our dinner was yummy and it's pretty quick to put together, but we wouldn't make it again. The tahini is a little bit strong, and there's too much oil. It's not really a light recipe since it is from Ina Garten. You could probably lighten it a lot by reducing the amount of vegetable oil and tahini. Not a make-again for us, but not bad.

noodles

Sczechuan Noodles
Barefoot Contessa

6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup good soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
4 scallions, sliced diagonally (white and green parts)

Place the garlic and ginger in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the vegetable oil, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sherry, sherry vinegar, honey, chili oil, sesame oil, and ground peppers. Puree the sauce.

Add a splash of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook the spaghetti al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, place it in a large bowl, and while still warm, toss with 3/4 of the sauce. Add the red and yellow bell peppers and scallions; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. The remaining sauce may be added, as needed, to moisten the pasta.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Monday, February 02, 2009

Big News!

We bought a house! We put in an offer, not even expecting them to accept, but they did! And now we are going to be homeowners in March! It is in Pennsylvania!

I will not be posting the recipe for Sczechuan Noodles tonight because I am too busy being excited. I will post tomorrow. Deal with it.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella

I have like three boxes of quinoa in my pantry so I'm desperate to find recipes to use some of it up! Tonight we made these patties, and they took a really long time. Maybe an hour and a half. And a lot of it requires hands-on preparation so now I am tired. But it made a yummy product. We decided that crispy quinoa cakes are preferred to the regular couscous-like quinoa we typically eat. We couldn't find any smoked mozzarella, so we used reduced-fat smoked gouda, which is delicious. It was very yummy in the dish. We really liked this but probably won't make it again due to the time it took to make it.

cakes

Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella
Gourmet, Feb. 2008

Food editor Lillian Chou, who is also gourmet's resident runner of marathons, swears by quinoa: "I have so much more energy if I eat it before a race!" And transforming this power grain into crisp cakes topped with a substantial rustic sauce and gooey softened mozzarella creates another compelling reason to love it—it just tastes so good.

For quinoa cakes
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

For topping
1 1/2 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup drained bottled roasted red peppers, rinsed and chopped
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 lb smoked mozzarella, diced (1 cup)

Make quinoa cakes:
Bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan.

Meanwhile, wash quinoa in 3 changes of water in a bowl, then drain well in a fine-mesh sieve.

Stir quinoa into boiling water and return to a boil, then simmer, covered, until quinoa is dry and water is absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, then stir in egg.

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and lightly brush with oil. Lightly oil a 1-cup dry-ingredient measure. Pack enough quinoa into measure with a rubber spatula to fill it two-thirds full. (If spatula becomes sticky, dip in water.) Unmold onto baking sheet and gently pat quinoa into a 4-inch-wide patty with spatula. Make 3 more quinoa cakes, brushing measure with oil each time. Chill cakes, uncovered, at least 15 minutes.

Make topping while quinoa cooks and chills:
Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in a colander and drain 30 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of eggplant to extract liquid, then pat dry.

Cook eggplant, onion, garlic, oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, roasted peppers, and water and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender and mixture is thick (if dry, thin with a little water), about 10 minutes.

Cook quinoa cakes:
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Carefully add quinoa cakes and cook, turning once carefully and adding remaining 2 to 3 tablespoons oil, until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes total (pat cakes to reshape with cleaned rubber spatula while cooking if necessary). Transfer to plates.

To serve:
Return eggplant ragù to a simmer and stir in parsley and half of mozzarella, then simmer, stirring, until cheese just begins to soften, about 30 seconds. Spoon over quinoa cakes, then sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

Cooks' notes:
• Quinoa cakes can be formed 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
• Eggplant-tomato ragù, without parsley and mozzarella, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Yield: 4 servings