Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad

This seemed like a nice, summery dish to welcome in the weather so I scheduled it in, and then the hot weather disappeared and I went ahead and made it anyway.

This was very yummy and Gibby especially loved the vinaigrette. The only complaint is that since it's deconstructed, we had to cut everything up and mix it up at the table. We are lazy, and that is why this was a problem. We would make it again though. It was really yummy.

Moving Challenge: I used up a ball of fresh mozzarella, the rest of our linguine, and a red onion. Two weeks left!

No photo yet because Gibby was running late to work.

Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad
Family Circle, 6/14/05

Dressing:
1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Vegetables and Pasta:
2 sweet red peppers (about 1 pound), cored, seeded, sliced 1 inch wide
2 medium-size zucchini (about 1 pound), sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick
1 medium-size summer squash (about 1/2 pound), sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
3 medium-size tomatoes (about 1-1/2 pounds), cored and halved crosswise
1 pound linguine, cooked following package directions
1/4 cup firmly packed fresh basil, rinsed, dried, cut into thin strips
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1. Dressing: In medium-size bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Drizzle in oil, whisking until oil is thoroughly incorporated. Stir in garlic, thyme and oregano. Set aside half of the dressing.

2. Vegetables and Pasta: Prepare outdoor grill with medium-hot coals or heat gas grill to medium-high. Lightly brush grill with vegetable oil. Generously brush peppers, zucchini, squash, onion and tomatoes with some of the remaining dressing.

3. Grill vegetables in batches about 3 minutes per side or until tender, about 18 minutes total. Brush vegetables with additional dressing halfway through grilling. Remove vegetables from the grill; keep warm.

4. In large bowl, toss together cooked pasta with reserved half of dressing and any remaining dressing used for grilling vegetables. Toss in basil and mozzarella cheese. Arrange grilled vegetables over top. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

4. Stovetop Method: Heat stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush pan lightly with vegetable oil. Generously brush vegetables with some of the remaining dressing as above. Working in batches, cook vegetables about 3 minutes per side or until fork-tender. Brush with additional dressing halfway through cooking.

Yield: 6 servings

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stir-Fried Noodles with Green Onions and Eggs (Char Kway Teow)

This has a super-small list of ingredients and took about 10 minutes to make. It was very yummy, especially with some sriracha squirted on it. We would definitely make this again because it's so easy!

noodles

Stir-Fried Noodles with Green Onions and Eggs (Char Kway Teow)
CL, March 2008

Often served with chili garlic sauce on the side, this traditional lunchtime dish is a hearty and quick option for dinner, too. Sometimes fresh broad rice noodles are sold in sheets in Asian supermarkets; just cut the dough to about 1/2-inch-wide strips (or use flat rice stick noodles and prepare them following package directions).

1 pound fresh broad rice noodles (shah fen or banh canh)
Cooking spray
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons peanut oil
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1/2 cup (1-inch) pieces green onions
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark (or black or thick) soy sauce

1. Place noodles in boiling water for 2 seconds; drain.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add eggs to pan; cook for 3 minutes or until done. Remove eggs from pan; cut into 1-inch pieces. Wipe pan clean with paper towels.

3. Heat peanut oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add noodles to pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add bean sprouts and remaining ingredients to pan; sauté for 1 minute. Return eggs to pan; cook for 30 seconds or until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grilled Cheese and La Tasca

Last night we got home from our house inspection in Pennsylvania and we were exhausted so we popped a frozen Kashi pizza into the oven. Instead of having our Mozzarella Grilled Cheese last night, we had it for lunch today.

Then for dinner, we went with Steven and Nicole to La Tasca. It was delicious but sad because they are going on vacation and then we are moving and we won't see them again for a long time.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

This was ok but not a make-again. It just wasn't special. We enjoyed the mixture of things in the filling, and the pepper-jack cheese was yummy. Just not worthy of being added into the rotation.

Things used up in the Moving Challenge: 1 of our boxes of quinoa (we have way too much quinoa!), frozen spinach, carrots, celery

peppers

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers
Vegetarian Times, February 2009

This dish freezes well for future meals. Quinoa provides whole-grain goodness and a serving of protein.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 ribs celery, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
1 10oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 15oz cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup quinoa
3 large carrots, grated (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups grated reduced-fat pepper jack cheese, divided
4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs discarded

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and saute 1 minute. Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.

Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Preheat oven to 350. Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.

Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour. Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 Tbsp remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cheesy Baked Tortellini

Tonight we had Cheesy Baked Tortellini because it is delicious and we needed to use up our mascarpone. I also used up some of our mozzarella and provolone cheeses instead of using smoked mozzarella. Excellent.

We've never taken a picture before so here you go.
tortellini

Counseling Party

At my school we like to bring food at the end of classes because it's always enjoyable to eat in celebration. Last night was our last internship class and so we all brought food. I brought Hello Dolly Bars, and there was all kinds of delicious food and we had a lot of fun. This was our last official counseling class ever (I still have two more Mondays of my elective) so it was especially exciting. So close to finishing my master's degree! Hooray!

Here are some pictures of food.

Samosas (spicy and non-spicy) from Sangeeta, and my Hello Dolly bars:
samosas

Maria with her chocolate bundt cake, and Sangeeta and her Bhel Puri:
bhel puri

Adding the tamarind chutney:
bhel puri 2

Fun times.

Chile Con Queso

Dip is delicious, and cheese is delicious, and we had some leftover beer so ta-da! Chile con queso. We had it with some baked Tostito Scoops and it was delicious. We enjoyed it quite a bit. I would make this again for a party or something. Yum!

Moving Challenge: We used up our beer. That's pretty much it.

con queso

dip

Chile Con Queso
Eating Well, Jan/Feb09

Our healthier version of chile con queso will have ooey-gooey-cheese lovers celebrating. Now you can enjoy this Tex-Mex dip without all the fat and calories. We replaced some of the cheese with a low-fat white sauce and used sharp Cheddar plus a splash of beer to boost the flavor. Our version cuts the calories in half and reduces total fat and saturated fat by nearly 60 percent.

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pale ale or other light-colored beer
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 3/4 cups shredded sharp Cheddar, preferably orange
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles (see Note), drained, or 1 1/4 cups drained petite-diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1/4 cup sliced scallions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add beer and cook until reduced slightly, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup milk and bring to a simmer.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the pan and cook, stirring vigorously, until bubbling and thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add cheese and cook, stirring, until melted. Stir in drained tomatoes, lime juice, salt, chili powder and cayenne (if using). Serve warm, garnished with scallions and cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

Hello Dolly Bars

All my friends were confused when I said I was making Hello Dolly bars for my counseling class party. Most people know them as 7-Layer Bars, or Magic Cookie Bars, or one of a billion little titles. Hello Dolly bars are the cookies that have graham crackers at the bottom, a bunch of layers of things like chocolate chips and butterscotch chips and pecans and coconut, and then you pour a can of sweetened condensed milk over the top and bake it. Deliciousness ensues.

I've always loved these cookies, so I was happy to find a healthier version from Cooking Light. I made them super-quickly between work and class yesterday. And I suppose people liked them since I came home with only one little square. Hooray!

Note: I did not use parchment paper and it did not make a sticky mess.

Moving Challenge: I used up chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and sweetened coconut that I had in the freezer.

Hello!

Hello Dolly Bars
CL, 12/07

These bar cookies are also known as seven-layer bars. They can create a sticky mess in the pan, so it's crucial to line it with parchment paper. Because the milk needs to seep into the graham cracker crumbs, don't pack the crumbs too tightly in the bottom of the pan.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 cookie sheets)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 (15-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper; cut off excess parchment paper around top edge of pan.

Place crumbs in a medium bowl. Drizzle with butter and 1 tablespoon water; toss with a fork until moist. Gently pat mixture into an even layer in pan (do not press firmly). Sprinkle chips and morsels over crumb mixture. Top evenly with coconut and pecans. Drizzle milk evenly over top. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly around edges. Cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 2 dozen (or 9-ish)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lemon-Poppy Seed Waffles with Blueberry Sauce

Usually I like lemon-poppy seed things, but these are just not very good. I was not at all impressed. The blueberry sauce was not really special either. Disappointing!

Moving Challenge: Used up the rest of our frozen wild blue berries and the rest of our buttermilk.

waffles

Lemon-Poppy Seed Waffles with Blueberry Sauce
Bon Appetit, Sept. 2000

There are only five employees at The Little Rooster Cafe, a small breakfast and lunch spot, but its terrific food and friendly service make it popular with locals and tourists (especially those who come to browse the town’s outlet stores). Chef and co-owner Hub Poelmann features a different waffle every day. "We have an open kitchen," he says. "People smell the waffles cooking, and then order them." Poelmann credits his cooks with this lemon-poppy seed recipe, which was the happy result of "playing around in the kitchen."

These light waffles would also be good with maple syrup, if you prefer.


Blueberry sauce
1 pound frozen blueberries, thawed, undrained
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Lemon-poppy seed waffles
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

For blueberry sauce: Bring blueberries, 1/2 cup apple juice and sugar to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes. Dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in remaining 2 tablespoons apple juice and add to blueberry mixture. Add lemon juice. Bring to boil, stirring constantly; simmer until thick, about 1 minute. Cool slightly. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat before serving.)

For lemon-poppy seed waffles: Whisk first 6 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and lemon peel in small bowl to blend. Add buttermilk mixture all at once to flour mixture and whisk until just blended. Let mixture stand 15 minutes.

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon batter onto waffle iron. Cover and cook until golden and cooked through, about 7 minutes (cooking time will vary, depending on waffle iron). Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately with warm blueberry sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

1000th Post! SMEEPS!

For my thousandth post, I shall post about S'meeps. Background: I hate Peeps. I think they are vile, and yet I always get a package around Easter, even though I hate them and I don't even celebrate Easter. So we have all these peeps and nothing to do with them.

And then I discovered S'meeps.

First you take the unsuspecting peeps and put them on a graham cracker.
peep peep

Here they go, swimming to slaughter.
swim swim

Oh no, they're all fat and bloated from 10 seconds in the microwave!
after

And then we top them with chocolate and another graham cracker and smash them and they die.
death

This is a way to make peeps taste yummy, and it is also fun.

Edit: This pathetic recipe actually comes from a book entitled Peeps: Recipes and Crafts to Make With Your Favorite Marshmallow Treat by Charity Ferreira.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

Tonight for dinner we had Spanish-Style Shrimp with Garlic because my dad was here to visit from Connecticut and this is one of our favorite meals. It went over well.

But the star of the day were the oatmeal bars I made early in the day. In between the two layers of oatmeal mixture is a rhubarb-strawberry jam that you make on the stovetop. It cooks down into a nice thick gooey jam-like substance that spreads well and cooks nicely in the oven. Don't skip the glaze! It adds extra deliciousness. These are wonderful and we really liked them a lot. I kept finding my dad eating a piece that "just fell off, so of course I had to eat it." (It can't "fall off," it's in a 9x13 sheet pan). We would definitely make this again.

Ingredients used up in the Moving Challenge:
The rest of our frozen rhubarb
The rest of our whole-wheat pastry flour
A lot of our spiritual oatmeal

rhubarb

Strawberry-Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars
Land O' Lakes via Joe's Blog

For the filling
1 1/2 cups 1" chopped fresh rhubarb
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the drizzle
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

To make the filling
In a medium saucepan, stir together rhubarb, strawberries and lemon juice. Place over medium heat - cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until fruit is tender, about 8-12 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Stir into fruit mixture. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue boiling until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make the crust
Preheat oven to 350

In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, oats, brown sugar, butter, baking soda and salt. Mix at low speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of this crumb mixture. Scoop the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish lightly coated with nonstick spray. Evenly spread filling over crust. Scatter the reserved crumb mixture over the top.

Bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the drizzle
In a small bowl, whisk confectioners' sugar and enough of the milk until it flows easily. Drizzle the mixture over the cooled bars before cutting.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Red Lentil-Rice Cakes with Simple Tomato Salsa

This took a really long time to make and I am really tired now. After a day of packing, this was not really the best idea of what to make. But oh well. I needed to use up some ingredients in our Moving Challenge.

Things I used up to create this meal:
Basmati rice
Yellow split peas (subbed for the red lentils)
Capers

Despite taking forever to make, it was good. Even the salsa. We both liked this and thought it was very yummy, but I don't really want to make it again because it took so freaking long. Maybe if I had some leftover basmati rice to use up. I don't know. Something AWESOME about this recipe: when I put the mixture in the pan, I thought, "There is no way the cakes are going to stay together, there's nothing binding or cohesive in them. Let's go to Taco Bell." But I was amazed to discover that in a rare occurrence, the patties actually retained their shape. It was incredible! That wins this recipe some points.

lentils

Red Lentil-Rice Cakes with Simple Tomato Salsa
Cooking Light, 10/08

Crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, these salsa-topped cakes make a lovely vegetarian entrée. They offer a great way to use leftover basmati rice; if you're starting with cooked rice, use about 1 1/2 cups. Add mixed greens to the plate for even more color.

Salsa:
3 cups finely chopped plum tomato (about 6 tomatoes)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons capers
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cakes:
5 cups water, divided
1 cup dried small red lentils
1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

1. To prepare salsa, combine first 5 ingredients; set aside at room temperature.

2. To prepare cakes, bring 4 cups water and lentils to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Place lentils in a large bowl.

3. Combine remaining 1 cup water and rice in pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Cool 10 minutes. Add rice to lentils.

4. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, fennel seeds, and garlic to pan; saute 2 minutes or until tender. Cool 10 minutes. Add to rice mixture. Add mozzarella cheese and remaining ingredients, stirring until well combined. Let stand for 10 minutes.

5. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Spoon half of rice mixture by 1/3-cupfuls into pan, spreading to form 6 (3-inch) circles; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Carefully turn cakes over; cook 5 minutes on other side. Remove cakes from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and remaining rice mixture. Serve with salsa.

Yield: 6 servings

Joe's Noodle House & Explanation

First I will begin by explaining what is going on in life. We are moving to northeast Pennsylvania on May 15. Therefore, much like back in 2006 when I moved to Maryland, the journey begins to try to cook everything that's in our freezer and pantry without having to buy new, fancy ingredients that we will just have to throw out when we move. So you might get a random assortment of recipes over the next few weeks, and that is why. Sometimes fascinating, delicious new recipes are discovered in moments of desperation, like the Tollhouse Pie I made in 2006. Awesome. So we'll see what happens.

In addition, my cooking creativity and adaptability will be forced into play on May 15 because we will be moving into a Residence Inn until our house closing on June 29. So that's like six weeks in a hotel room with a kitchenette. It has a full refrigerator, microwave, toaster, and stovetop... but no oven! That means no cookies :( We're figuring out which items we will bring with us to hopefully ease the difficulty of missing an oven, because everything else is going into storage. Scary! More updates about that as they come about, though.

Long-time readers may also remember that last time, as kitchen stock was depleted, eating out became more frequent. This is likely to happen again this time, especially as we pack up our stuff. I will post about the places we eat.

So summary: things will be weird for awhile, but come June 29 we'll be in a house with a huge kitchen, huge pantry, and the ability to create amazing new foods. Bear with me.

Joes

To begin our restaurant journey, we went out to dinner with my beloved coworker Michelle last night to Joe's Noodle House in Rockville, MD. Labeled one of the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the US and honored by Martin Yan, yet with all menu items priced below $10, we had high hopes for this restaurant. Perhaps our spoiled American palates are not prepared for true Chinese food though, because we were disappointed. I had see-u noodles with tofu, vegetables and egg and it smelled so weird and tasted only a little bit better. I also ordered steamed sweet bean cakes because I usually really like them, but these were ginormous and not so great. Gibby had the super-spiciest thing on the menu, some super-spicy stir-fried beef. He said it tasted spicy for the purpose of being spicy, not for the purpose of tasting good. He said it did not really taste good. He enjoyed his pork dumplings, though. My coworker ordered sesame chicken and apparently loved it because she was the only one to finish her meal. Maybe we ordered poorly? I don't know. If we were staying in Maryland we probably would give Joe's another shot, but since we're leaving soon we'll have to say goodbye and take our memories of crappy food with us.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spicy Broccoli Sprout Sushi

This sounded kind of scary at first, but the picture looked yummy and then the recipe sounded yummier the more I thought about it. And you know what? It was DELICIOUS! We really liked it a lot. I've used the pre-cooked marinated tofu before - Trader Joe's has an excellent teriyaki flavor - and I'd never had broccoli sprouts before but they tasted good even though they smelled weird. I sprinkled sesame oil and hot chili oil on the rice before rolling it up and that was a good idea. I skipped the pickled ginger because I hate it. We liked this a lot and would make it again.

tofushi

Spicy Broccoli Sprout Sushi
Vegetarian Times, March 2009

Spicy sprouts, such as broccoli, arugula, or leek, give sushi rolls a delicate crunch and peppery flavor. A sushi mat makes it easy to wrap the nori and rice tightly around fillings, but it's not necessary.

1/2 cup sushi rice, rinsed and drained
2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 sheets nori (roasted seaweed)
Hot sesame oil, for sprinkling, optional
4 sliced avocado
4 sliced red bell pepper
2 sliced baked seasoned Asian-style tofu, each cut into 4 thin strips
2 Tbsp pickled ginger, drained
1/2 cup broccoli sprouts
Soy sauce and wasabi for dipping

Place sushi rice and 1/2 cup water in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and cool 20 minutes. Stir in rice vinegar.

Place 1 sheet nori on sushi mat or work surface. Spread half of warm rice over nori with back of spoon, leaving 1 1/2-inch edges on top and bottom to seal sushi, but spreading rice all the way to both sides. Sprinkle rice with hot sesame oil, if using.

Lay 2 avocado slices, 2 bell pepper slices, and 4 tofu strips in lines down center of rice. Top with 1 Tbsp pickled ginger and 1/4 cup broccoli sprouts. Brush edges of nori with water. Tightly roll nori around rice and f illing, pressing bare edge at top to seal. Cut into 8 pieces with sharp knife. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi.

Yield: 4 servings (or 2, in our case)

Bhel Puri

I was looking through Cooking Light recently and came across this recipe for Bhel Puri, an Indian dish specific to Mumbai. It reminded me that my friend Sangeeta, originally from India, made Bhel Puri for a potluck dinner we had at school last year. She made all the components separately and assembled it in a bowl at the last minute so the crunchies wouldn't get soggy. So rather than making the CL version, I decided to try Ms. Sangeeta's. It took some emails to her to find the ingredients. I ended up going to a little Indian market in Gaithersburg called India Bazaar to find the Bhel Puri mix and the tamarind-date chutney (which is not really like a chutney, it is more like a sauce). The whole thing comes together quickly and is extremely yummy. We used a red onion because I had an extra one and Sangeeta didn't say which one to use. Love it. Definitely would make it again. Kind of have to because I don't know what else to do with bhel puri mix.

Lighting on this picture isn't great because we were hungry.
bhel puri

Bhel Puri
My friend Sangeeta

1 pkt Bombay Mix
2 cups of puffed rice
1 cup of sev (optional)
Alternatively pick up a pkt of Bhel puri mix from any Asian Store (if using this, ensure that you roast it for a few mins. in an oven
before use, as it can be very oily and not taste as fresh)
1 finely chopped onion
2 finely chopped tomatoes
2 boiled and chopped potatoes
chopped up cilantro
chopped green chillies (optional)
Bottle of tamarind Chutney.

Mix all dry ingredients
Mix chopped onions, tomatoes and cilantro
Mix potatoes
Mix tamarind chutney to taste.
Note: The ingredients must be mixed minutes before eating as the Bhel is suppose to be a little crisp

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese

This is really interesting because it creates a nice, rich sauce but doesn't use tomatoes other than the tomato paste. You can't really tell. It's very cool. We used porcini, shiitake, oyster, and cremini mushrooms. This was very yummy and I think the mascarpone added a nice texture. Plus I just love mascarpone in general. We would make this again. I am taking the leftovers with me to work tomorrow for lunch.

bolognese

Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese
Giada de Laurentiis

1-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces assorted mushrooms (like shiitake, cremini, and brown), stemmed and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1/4 cup Parmesan

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with 1 1/2 cups very hot water. Set aside and let the mushrooms soften.

Place the carrots, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse the vegetables until finely chopped but still chunky. Place the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Strain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the porcini mushroom liquid. Add the porcini mushrooms, fresh mushrooms, and tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring to dissolve the tomato paste, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the porcini mushroom liquid and red wine. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and stir just until the cheese is incorporated.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and add to the vegetable mixture. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid, if necessary, to moisten the sauce. Toss with Parmesan and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, April 12, 2009

White Bean Enchiladas

These enchiladas are filled with some pureed white beans and a bunch of other stuff (see recipe). We have made similar recipes before (this, two, three, four, for example) and have always been relatively underwhelmed. This one turned out nicely and was probably the best bean-filled of the bunch. I would make this again.

This is one of those recipes that tastes yummy but looks absolutely awful.
enchiladas

White Bean Enchiladas
Cooking Light

2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat Mexican blend or cheddar cheese, divided
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chiles
1 tablespoon sliced green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso), divided
1/4 cup water
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine the sour cream and beans in a food processor; process until almost smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese, chiles, onions, chopped cilantro, and cumin.

Combine 1/3 cup enchilada sauce and 1/4 cup water in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Dip one tortilla in the sauce mixture to soften; transfer to a plate. Spread 1/4 cup bean mixture down center of tortilla; roll up. Place roll, seam side down, in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas and bean mixture. Add remaining sauce to pan; cook 1 minute. Spoon over enchiladas; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with minced cilantro, if desired.

Yield: 3 servings

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yum

After a long day of house-hunting, Trader Joe's organic spaghettios are the best things of all time.

Real recipe tomorrow, I promise.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pasta & Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, and Pine Nuts

In the days of yore, before this blog was birthed, I used to make Pasta & Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, and Pine Nuts a lot. I think I made it even after I started the blog and just forgot to post about it. Regardless, I haven't made it for a really long time, so tonight I introduced it to Gibby. Sans tomatoes, of course. Those went into my bowl, not into his. He LOVED it! And of course I always love it. So it's definitely a make-again, and next time I'll make an extra big batch so I'll have some left over for lunches. Yum yum.

Picture from tonight:
Pasta

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Vegetable Antipasto Stuffed Bread

I PROMISE as soon as I'm done writing this I will delete ALL Rachael Ray recipes from my program, with the exception of the vodka pasta recipe. I promise. Done. Because I keep thinking, "Oh maybe this is an exception to her sucking at life." No. It never is an exception and it always ranges from sub-par to awful and vomitous. This was just sub-par. Very salty. Not really very good. Not a make-again.

sandwich

Vegetable Antipasto Stuffed Bread
Rachael Ray Sucks


1 loaf crusty bread, 9 to 12 inches in length
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained, chopped -- 1/2 a small jar
1/4 cup black pitted calamata or oil cured olives, your preference, chopped
1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce
1/4 pound deli sliced provolone
1 jar, 16 to 18 roasted red peppers, drained
1 (15-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 cup giardiniera, pickled vegetables (hot pickled peppers, cauliflower, carrots available on the Italian foods aisle of market or in bulk bins near deli section with bulk olives)
Coarse salt and black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Cut the top off a loaf of crusty bread. Hollow out the inside of the bread.

Mix chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped olives and store bought or homemade pesto sauce. Spread the mixture evenly across the bottom of the hollowed out bread. Layer the cheese into the loaf. Layer the roasted red peppers on top of the cheese. Coarsely chop the drained artichoke hearts and add them in a layer over the red peppers. Sprinkle in the chopped hot pickled vegetables and drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil on top.

Replace the top, cut the stuffed loaf into pieces and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Wheat Berry & Barley Salad with Smoked Mozzarella

Because we have SO many grains in our house, I am trying to use them all up! I happened to have both wheat berries and barley, so I decided to make this. I couldn't find any smoked mozzarella so I subbed in some smoked gouda, which is our favorite. This was delicious! It sounds like it takes a long time, but when the grains are boiling you don't have to do anything. You can go twitter or fold laundry or play Wii and not really put forth any effort until the last few minutes when you need to chop up the tomatoes and cheese and toss them in with everything. The final product is delicious! I will be taking it for lunch tomorrow. It's very, very good.

Note added on April 9, 2009: It passes the lunchbox test with flying colors. Amazing! Refrigerate it, but let it warm up to room temperature before you eat it. Delicious.

barley

Wheat Berry & Barley Salad with Smoked Mozzarella
Gourmet, July 1994

1 cup wheat berries
1 cup pearl barley
1 small red onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
6 scallions, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups cooked corn (cut from about 2 large ears)
1/2 pound smoked mozzarella cheese, diced fine
1 pint vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

Into a kettle of salted boiling water stir wheat berries and cook at a slow boil 30 minutes. Stir in barley and cook grains at a slow boil 40 minutes.

While grains are cooking, in a large bowl stir together onion, garlic paste, vinegar, and oil.

Drain grains well and add to onion mixture. Toss mixture well and cool. Add scallions, corn, mozzarella, tomatoes, chives, and salt and pepper to taste and toss well. Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter-Pecan Frosting

These are great. Really, really great. Very tasty. It's like a really exceptional banana bread, and the frosting is quite delicious. The browned butter adds a beautiful flavor. I did have some problems cooking it - the middle just would NOT cook. I probably added 15 minutes total onto the cooking to get the middle to cook through. The frosting is tasty but due to the frailty of the bars, I had to warm up the frosting and spread it very, very gently across the top so as not to pull up any crumbs. These really are super-delicious though and I would definitely make them again.

bananans

Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter-Pecan Frosting
CL, Feb 09

Category Winner: Desserts. "I have been baking banana bars with my mother since I was old enough to stir the batter, so I was pleased when I was able to lighten them for my family and still maintain the original flavor. I browned butter in a saucepan to enhance its richness, thus eliminating the need for full-fat cream cheese. This is a great way to use ripe, speckled bananas." —Lindsay Weiss, Overland Park, KS

Bars:
2 cups sliced ripe banana (about 3 medium)
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
9 ounces cake flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Baking spray with flour

Frosting:
1/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. To prepare bars, combine banana, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon butter in an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake at 400° for 35 minutes, stirring after 17 minutes. Cool slightly.

3. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°.

4. Weigh or lightly spoon cake flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 9 ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) flour, soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Combine banana mixture, buttermilk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in another medium bowl. Place 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs to granulated sugar mixture; mix well. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternating with banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

5. Pour batter into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

6. To prepare frosting, melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly. Combine browned butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread frosting over cooled bars. Sprinkle with pecans.

Yield: 2 dozen

Monday, April 06, 2009

Rolled Omelet with Spinach and Cheddar

This is yummy! This seemed kind of scary and I thought I was going to seriously screw it up, but it worked out beautifully! I halved the recipe (no way am I using 10 eggs!!!) and still baked it on a 10x15 baking sheet and there were no problems. It's surprisingly easy to roll up, too. I am surprised by all of this. And it was very yummy, kind of like quiche filling. We had it with some frozen hash browns and everyone was happy. All 2 of us.

omelet

Rolled Omelet with Spinach and Cheddar
Joe's Blog
Adapted from Everyday Food

1 cup milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and fresh ground black pepper
20 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded sharp white cheddar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 10" x 15" rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the two short sides. Lightly coat parchment with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk and flour. Whisk in eggs, egg whites and mustard - season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Pour mixture into the prepared pan - evenly scatter the spinach over to the top.

Place into the oven and bake until the edges are set, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter the cheese over the top. Place back into the oven and bake until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack. Starting at one of the shorter ends, carefully lift parchment and roll up omelet, peeling back parchment as you go. Let it cool for a couple minutes before slicing to serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Leek-and-Mascarpone Cheese Risotto

I will start this off by saying that I cheated. I did. I did not make the stock. I used box Trader Joe's vegetable stock. Am I proud of this? No. Did it work out fine? Yes. I was just not in the mood to make homemade stock. The end.

The risotto was very yummy and didn't take very long since I didn't make stock. I used extra leeks but they still got a little bit lost in the shuffle. I added extra mascarpone too because I love it. It gives the risotto such a creamy texture. It is delicious. This is good, but it isn't particularly special, which is a let-down since I've had this recipe for years and had really high hopes for it. I might make it again someday. We'll see.

risotto

Leek-and-Mascarpone Cheese Risotto
CL, April 2000

Leeks, golden saffron, a touch of lemon, and a few of the first basil leaves of spring make this a cheerful risotto. Mascarpone (mas-kar-POHN) is a buttery Italian triple-cream cheese found in many supermarkets and gourmet food shops. Regular cream cheese makes an acceptable, though not as rich, substitute.

8 cups water
6 cups chopped leek (about 6 large), divided
2 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 thyme sprigs
2 carrots, cut into 1-inch-thick pieces
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup (3 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Combine water, 2 cups chopped leek, 1 cup parsley, 1/2 cup basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and next 5 ingredients (salt through celery) in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 35 minutes. Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Reserve 5 1/2 cups broth; reserve remaining broth for another use.

Bring 5 1/2 cups broth and saffron to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 4 cups chopped leek; sauté 5 minutes. Add rice; cook 2 minutes. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until the liquid is nearly absorbed. Stir in 2 cups broth; cook 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 15 minutes total). Add 1 cup parsley, 1/2 cup basil, mascarpone, lemon rind, salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until mascarpone melts. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Yield: 8 servings

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Crunchy Shrimp with Toasted Couscous & Ginger-Orange Sauce

I made this shrimp recipe once before, a couple of years ago, and it was so good but I never made it again. I have no idea why. Well, I've pulled it out of retirement. It is excellent. This time I made the sauce properly and it was delicious as well as noticeable. I will definitely try to make this more often because it is so yummy.

Picture because last time we didn't have a camera:
shrimp

Friday, April 03, 2009

Forbidden Rice Stovetop Bibimbap

OK. Let's just stop and take a moment with this. It is NOT bibimbap. THIS is bimimbap. Tonight's recipe is NOT bibimbap. Where is the sriracha? Where is the fried egg? No.

So let's rename to Crazy Magic Forbidden Rice. OK. So I found black Chinese "Forbidden" rice at Whole Foods for about $3. I got some kimchee at Whole Foods, too. Kimchee is a Korean pickled spicy cabbage that is absolutely delicious but it smells like baby diapers. It is sooo good though. It worked nicely in this recipe. The whole recipe worked great. It was delicious! We would definitely make this again. We sort of have to, since it's the only recipe I have that uses black rice!

rice

Forbidden Rice Stovetop Bibimbap
Vegetarian Times, February 2009

Bibimbap is a Korean rice dish traditionally served in a hot stone bowl that crisps up the rice on the bottom. Here, you get the same taste and texture by cooking chewy China black or "forbidden" rice in sesame oil in a hot skillet or wok. Serve with soy sauce, if desired.

1 1/2 cups China black rice, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
1 16oz pkg frozen vegetable blend with edamame, such as Seapoint Farms
8 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths (1/2 cup)
1 cup kimchee, coarsely chopped

Bring rice and 3 cups water to a boil in medium saucepan. Cover, and cook 30 minutes, or until rice has absorbed all water. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Heat 1 tsp sesame oil in wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add frozen veggie blend and green onions, and stir-fry 5 to 6 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown. Stir in kimchee and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, or until heated through. Transfer to bowl, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Keep warm.

Add remaining 1 Tbsp sesame oil to wok or large skillet. Stir in rice, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until rice on bottom begins to crisp and smells nutty, stirring once or twice. Serve vegetable mixture over rice.

Yield: 8 servings

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Broccoli Rabe

April is not off to a good start so far! This would have been good if it didn't smell like cat food. And taste like cat food. The tuna was overpowering and our house smells like 8 cats live here now. We like tuna, but for some reason it was made horrible in this recipe. Maybe this would be yummy if we omitted the tuna. We used broccolini instead of broccoli rabe because I think rabe is too bitter.

tuna

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Broccoli Rabe
Shape, March 2009

Broccoli rabe has a slightly nutty and pleasantly bitter taste. If you can't find it, substitute Swiss chard.

8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
1 pound broccoli rabe, thick stems discarded, cut into 2-inch pieces
½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 14.5-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and chopped
12 Mediterranean olives, such as kalamata, pitted and chopped
1 6-ounce can tuna packed in olive oil, drained
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano
Chopped fresh basil or parsley (optional)

Cook spaghetti in a pot of boiling water for about 9 minutes or until al dente. Add broccoli rabe to the pot 3 minutes before pasta is done. Cover; return to a boil. Uncover, finish cooking, and drain.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook until golden. Add red pepper flakes and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Toss in capers, olives, and tuna; season with black pepper. Simmer for 2 minutes more; remove from heat. Return spaghetti and broccoli rabe to large pot. Add tomato-tuna mixture and toss. Divide among 4 bowls, shave Parmigiano-Reggiano over pasta with a vegetable peeler, top with herbs, if desired, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Cuban Black Beans & Rice

OK so maybe the reason this wasn't great was because I made a lot of changes due to being so lazy, but I think part of it is the recipe's fault. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't really anything more than a pile of beans on some rice. Very quick since I used microwave brown rice and I didn't use radishes because that sounded weird. Not a make-again.

beans

Cuban Black Beans & Rice
Real Simple, March 2009

1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 15.5-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 radishes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Cook the rice according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the cumin and cook for 1 minute.

Add the beans, oregano, and 1 cup water. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and smash some of the beans with the back of a fork to thicken.

Serve the beans over the rice and top with the radishes and cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings