Friday, May 30, 2008

Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread 1.0

This is the best endorsement of my recipe I could have asked for! Especially, since I made it during a bout of insomnia at 3:30 this morning! I missed a shot of his initial two-fisted cram. :-)

The loaf went to the park today to visit with out of town friends and their babes. Here's Mike enjoying a butter slathered piece while wee marmoset Verena is busy nestling.

It was well received (most frenetically by young Ian), but it could have been more moist. I'd planned to use unsweetened applesauce in it, but found the jar I had in the fridge to be "not viable". Flavor was there though. The next version can only be better...I've already gone out and bought the ingredients I'll need for Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread 2.0! We're talking about a whole grain, oil and butter free, lightly sweetened with agave nectar bread. Alright, so the dark chocolate chip marble could be of contestable healthiness...but everything else IS pretty good for you. I suppose you could use unsweetened cocoa powder in lieu of the melted dark chocolate chips if you want to be a party pooper. I'm going to post the 1.0 version and the recipe as I plan to make it in the 2.0. Debbie has promised to let me know if she thinks the second version will work in the comments section! Hear that Deb? ;-)

Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread 1.0:
(Inspired by this recipe from Cooking Light)

2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup organic flaxseed meal
1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
3-4 mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup Greek yogurt and fat-free plain yogurt mixed...I didn't have enough Greek
1/3 cup agave nectar
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
canola cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix dry ingredients through salt in a medium bowl.
Place wet ingredients, bananas through eggs, into a larger bowl and mix with a hand mixer until well combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and continue to mix on low to medium until just combined.
Place chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl and nuke for 25 second increments, stirring in between. Mine went for a total of 50 seconds and then I just stirred them until any remaining chunks melted.
Mix one cup of batter into the chocolate, stirring well to combine.
Spray an 8.5x4.5 inch loaf pan with canola spray and spoon both the plain batter and the chocolate batter alternately into the loaf pan. Swirl together by drawing a knife though the batters willy nilly (that's a technical term).
Bake for about an hour, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

Marbled Chocolate Banana Bread 2.0:

The only changes to the first version are adding applesauce, and using 1/3 cup of straight Greek yogurt. Baked using the same instructions but the cooking time will need to be longer. Alright Deb...what do you think?

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
3 large overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
canola spray

Mango Chicken with Red Pepper and Mint Raita

We really enjoyed this chicken dish...other than prep work it went together pretty quickly. I think I was just trying to do too many other things at once. I won't type up a recipe for the greens...they needed work, but the raita was nice and cooling alongside the spicier chicken dish. This can obviously be made with as much heat as you choose to add, but we liked it as it's written below!

Mango Chicken with Red Peppers:
(Adapted from Hooked On Heat)
Prep time: 10 min (she must have mad prep skilz that I don't possess!) Cooking time: 20 min Serves: 4

2 whole boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (CM's come 2 whole breasts to a pack usually)
2 large mangoes, diced into cubes
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 medium-sized onion, sliced
2 red chillies, finely chopped (I only had serranos and I seeded and deribbed them...)
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste (subbed 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger and 1 large clove of fresh garlic, minced)
1/4 cup chicken stock/water
~1/2 tsp turmeric powder
~3/4 tsp ground red pepper
3/4 tsp cumin powder
3/4 tsp coriander powder
2 tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
salt, to taste (I used 1 tsp+ Kosher salt)
fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped for garnish
I added the following that the recipe didn't call for:
juice of 1/2 a lemon
Siracha chili sauce (a couple good turns of the pan)
a little agave nectar (it just wouldn't be Erinafied if I didn't use this! My mangos were just a little on the tart side, you may find you don't need it)

Heat oil in a large non-stick wok and saute chopped chillies, ginger-garlic paste and onions till lightly browned.

Add in chicken pieces, peppers and spices and salt, and stir-fry till chicken is cooked through. Try not to cook on too high a heat or your chicken will toughen up. Stir in chicken stock and mango, and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Add the lemon juice, Siracha chili sauce, and agave (if needed) and adjust salt if necessary.
Serve with over brown basmati rice and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

Mint Raita:
(Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking)

1 cup plain yogurt (I used non-fat, but use whatever floats your boat)
1 (~1/2 lb) English cucumber, shredded (calls for peeled, but I didn't and I only needed 1/2 of one large cuke)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set in the refrigerator for ~1-2 hours to let the flavors marry.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quickie Chili and Veggie Pancakes

This recipe is from my special-est of friends Debbie (who just happens to have written this beautiful cookbook). Not sure she'd be caught dead putting beans in hers though. ;-) I'm just one of those weirdos that happens to live in Texas AND likes beans in her chili. This cooks up in a flash making it a cinch for a quick weeknight meal. It's one of our favorites!

Quickie Chili:

1lb lean ground beef (or turkey)
1/2 onion minced finely
~2 cloves garlic, minced
1- 15oz can tomato sauce
about a 1/2 or more of your tomato sauce can of water
2+ TBS chili powder
1/2 TBS chipotle chili powder
~1 TBS cumin
~1 TBS tomato paste
a squeeze of agave (or sprinkle of brown sugar)
salt to taste (depends on how salty your tomato sauce, tomato paste, and beans are)
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Optional toppings:
Greek yogurt
grated cheddar cheese
minced green onions
diced avocado
a squeeze of lime

Brown beef with onions, then drain fat.
Add minced garlic, tomato paste, chili powders, cumin, salt, and agave (or brown sugar), and water.
Simmer 10-15 min. adding more water as necessary.
Add beans in last few minutes.
I usually serve this with tortilla chips, but tonight we're giving the veggie pancakes a try.

Veggie Pancakes:
(Adapted from The Real Food Co.)

1 cup grated carrots (a food processor shredding plate makes quick work of prepping this and the zuke)
1/2 cup grated zucchini
2 green onions, chopped fine
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a dash of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg white
1/4 cup low-fat milk of choice (I used Silk unsweetened soy milk)
canola oil for the pan (I used Spectrum high-heat canola spray)

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Beat together egg, milk, carrot, zucchini and scallion. Stir wet ingredients into dry until just combined. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Pour batter by tablespoonfuls into pan, making a few pancakes at a time. I had to spread them out in the pan with a fork since it makes a really thick batter. Cook until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Add remaining oil to pan as needed to cook remaining pancakes. Serve immediately.

Recipe claims to serve 4 people, but Monster and I ate them all by our wee selves. :-) I'll be making these yummy guys again.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thai Tofu Noodle Soup with Lemongrass and Watercress and Avocado Salad

I used a recipe found quickly online tonight, but it was definitely lacking punch to the broth. I amended each bowl with more soy sauce, rice wine vinegar (not called for in the original recipe) and Siracha chili sauce until we were happy with it. This is really going to be a to-your-taste recipe guys. You'll have to tweak it for sure. Wish I could be more exacting with amounts, but then...when have I ever been?? :-)
The salad was delicious! The original recipe from Epicurious called for 3 Tbs. of oil. I didn't think that was necessary and heard no complaints from using much less. Try this simple salad if you find yourself standing in front of some lovely watercress in a grocery store.

Thai Tofu Noodle Soup with Lemongrass :

1-2 stalks lemongrass (see complete instruction here), OR 4 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (I actually just grated 2 stalks on my microplane and used all of it)
1 package Thai rice noodles (I'm using brown rice noodles that I'll cook as per the pkg instructions)
1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, thinly sliced into matchstick-like pieces
6 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth if making a vegetarian version)
1/2 package firm, medium or soft tofu (packed in water) - drain off the water and slice tofu into cubes or slabs (I'm using thin slices of extra firm tofu sliced into ~1/8"+ thick rectangles)
sugar snap peas sliced in half on the diagonal
2 carrots, sliced (I used baby carrots)
2-3+ Tbsp. fish sauce (If making veggie version, there is vegetarian fish sauce available)
2+ Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 can+ good-quality coconut milk
3-4 kaffir lime leaves (usually available in frozen packets at Asian/Chinese food stores, I subbed 3-4 tsp lime zest)
about 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped if leaves are large
fresh roughly chopped cilantro
couple spoons of chili garlic sauce
seasoned rice wine vinegar to taste
juice of a lime
Siracha chili sauce to serve at the table

1. Again for complete instructions on how to buy and cook with lemongrass, see: All About Lemongrass: Your Guide to Buying, Preparing, and Cooking with Lemongrass.
2. First, place noodles in a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the noodles to soak in the hot water while you prepare the soup.
3. Place broth in a soup pot along with lemongrass (include left-over stalk pieces), plus galangal (or ginger), lime leaves, and carrots. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Allow to simmer while you chop up and add the remaining vegetables (about 5 minutes).
4. Add the remaining vegetables. Stir and then allow to simmer 2 more minutes.
5. Reduce heat to minimum and add the coconut milk, stirring until dissolved. Finally, add the tofu, gently stirring it in so it doesn't fall apart.
6. Add the fish sauce and soy sauce. If you prefer your soup spicy, add 1-2 tsp. chili sauce (OR simply serve it on the side for those who like it).
7. Do a taste test, adding more fish sauce or soy sauce if not salty enough. If you find the soup too salty (this depends on how salty your broth was to start with), add 1 to 2 Tbsp. lime juice. If too sour for your taste, add 1 tsp. agave nectar. Tweak until you're happy with the broth
8. Check rice noodles to make sure they are cooked (if still a little hard, boil briefly). Drain the noodles and portion them out into bowls. Tip: If you have extra noodles left over, leave them in the colander and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking.
9. Pour ladles of soup over each bowl of noodles. Sprinkle fresh basil and cilantro over each bowl.

Avocado and Watercress Salad:
(adapted from recipe)
serves 2

1/4 cup unseasoned or light seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon grated sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (use large holes of a box grater)
1/4 cup finely grated peeled Gala apple (I used a Pink Lady)...use box grater again...chop a bit more after grating.
4 teaspoons soy sauce
a small touch of agave nectar (taste first, you may not want this)
1-2 tsp vegetable oil
watercress (thin stems and leaves only; from 1 large bunch)
a couple of handfuls of torn baby spinach to flesh out the salad
1/2 firm-ripe avocado

Stir together vinegar, onion, apple, soy sauce, and agave nectar, then stir in oil.

Just before serving, toss watercress and spinach with enough dressing to coat. Quarter, pit, and peel avocado, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Gently toss with greens.

Cooks' notes:
•Watercress can be trimmed 1 day ahead and chilled in a sealed bag lined with damp paper towels.
•Dressing can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Stir or shake before using.

Broiled Tilapia Fish Tacos with Mexican Black Beans

Wow, I've amassed quite a lot of photos for "posts to write"...this is the third I've written today!! And, I've got at least 3 more to go. At least I'm catching up a little bit. Here's a dinner we made on Saturday. Delicious fish tacos...can't go wrong with these.

Tilapia Fish Tacos with Mexican Black Beans:

fresh natural tilapia filets
olive oil
~1/4 tsp garlic powder
~1/2 tsp chili powder
~1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
~1/2 tsp cumin
Kosher salt (I didn't measure...just add it by eye, or salt your fish filets individually)
red cabbage, very thinly sliced (food processor with the shredding disk for this and the carrots is awesome)
carrots, finely shredded
minced green onions
chopped cilantro
store-bought remoulade (Central Market makes their own in the seafood dept.)
optional: crumbled cotija cheese
corn tortillas
lime wedges
Mexican Black Beans

Combine garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne, cumin, and Kosher salt in a small bowl.
Line a baking sheet with foil.
Rinse and dry your tilapia (I worked with 2 large filets that totalled just under a lb.)
Rub the tilapia with some olive oil on both sides of the filets.
Sprinkle each filet with your seasoning mix to your taste and place on lightly oiled sheet pan.
Cover sheet pan and place in the fridge to marinate for ~20 min.

Make the Mexican Black Beans (without the cocoa)

While the beans are cooking, combine the cabbage, carrots, green onions, and cilantro. Mix in some remoulade right before serving on the tacos.

Heat your broiler on high with the rack in the topmost position of your oven.
Place tilapia in the oven and broil for ~4-5 minutes per side if large filets, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Nuke your corn tortillas under a damp paper towel in the microwave to steam and wrap up the fish topped with the slaw and a little cotija cheese in the warmed tortillas. Serve with black beans topped with cotija cheese and more cilantro.

Quail eggs and other goodies!

Check out a few of the fun things I got at the monster Asian grocery store on Saturday...well these are some of the EXTRA things that made their way into my basket. :-)
How could I pass up these little dappled quail eggs??

I need an idea for something to do with them if any of you could help out with suggestions. I'd wanted to blow them out so I could save the shells, but I don't really have to have 10 of them. I could make the world's tiniest omelette, or how funny would it be to just make itsy bitsy fried eggs? Anyway...if you DO have any good idears just leave a comment!

I also found spring roll wrappers with black sesame seeds embedded in them. Didn't think The Monster would be too jazzed about the ones with wee dried shrimp in them, but the sesame seemed tame enough. I think what I am most excited about are the black rice noodles with no dyes, etc. Also, some buckwheat noods from the same company. I still have 3 more stalks of lemongrass, so I'm going to try to make a noodle soup tonight with either these noodles, or the brown rice spaghetti style noodles I'd bought earlier in the week from Central Market.
Can you see a wee poached egg atop each bowl? ;-)

There were all sorts of sweeties of course. The only one (in the photo!) that I caved to was a jar of dried banana curls with sesame seeds and sugar on them. I ate a few, then sent the rest to work with Monster this morning. I have no idea what the heck the other goodie that didn't make it to the photo was called. Grabbed from the fresh bakery items at the front of the store, they (I got 3) were still-warm sesame coated (fried?) dough balls, that had a sweetened root paste (cassava??) in the middle. They were sooooo good and obviously didn't make it home. :-)

The produce was really great both in quality and in price. I couldn't resist this beautiful jicama with it's long rat tail of a root still intact...they all still had their roots.
I bought a bag of 8 huge limes for a buck, and 2 good-sized bunches of crisp watercress for 68 cents a piece. The lemongrass...4 humongo stalks of it, was only 60 cents for the bunch. Almost balances out the cost of gas to get there!

Next trip I might have to brave the seafood department where they had tank after tank of live fish for sale. Even my favorite cheap and tasty tilapia. 3.99 per lb. Wonder how many pounds a typical whole tilapia is...

All this discovered due to an urge to make my own bubble tea. So check out your local Asian market and see what you come home with!

Curried Chicken Salad and Jicama Stix

This recipe is by special request from my friend Marenka! It's really easy to do and is so tasty for a weekend lunch or light dinner. We often serve it in half of an avocado nestled in a pile of shredded romaine lettuce, but it would be awesome on whole grain bread or a good croissant (if you're in Paris!) for a meal on the go.
We packed it for a picnic in Pedernales State Park on Memorial Day and ate it scooped right out of the container with tortilla chips. I also made veggie sticks out of half of the beautiful tailed jicama from our expedition to the Asian market on Saturday. A light and delicious snack served Mexican style with cilantro, lime and chili powder.
Thanks Marenka for asking for a recipe for chickie salad! Somehow it had fallen out of the rotation and we'd forgotten how good it is! :-)

Curried Cashew Chicken Salad:

2 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
1/2 Tbs real mayonnaise (don't use the light stuff, it's full of gross stuff. You can leave it out altogether if you want)
a nice big spoonful of 2% greek yogurt (use non-fat, 2%, or full fat...whatever you'd like)
~1/2-3/4 tsp mild curry powder
1 Tbs minced green onions
~1/4 cup diced celery
~1/3 cup chopped cilantro
zest of 1/2 a lemon and a squeeze of it's juice
~1/4+ cup roasted cashews (if you don't plan on eating the chicken salad soon, leave the cashews out and just add before you eat, so they don't go mushy on you)
~1/4-1/3 cup dried fruit such as good dried apricots, cranberries, or golden raisins...I used chopped apricots and they were delish!
Kosher salt and pepper

Set oven to 350.
Place chicken breasts (the better the layer of skin covers the breast the better they'll turn out) on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Rub them with olive oil.
Salt and pepper liberally.

Roast for 35-40 minutes...or until temperature taken at the thickest part of the breast reaches 170 degrees.
Remove from oven and let cool until you're able to handle them. I usually wrap them in the foil they baked on and just set them to the back of the counter until I'm ready for them.
Prep all of your other ingredients.

When cool, remove the skin from the chicken (I usually turn the top over and rub it on the meat to get some of the salt and pepper onto the actual meat), then pull all the meat from the bone.
Cube the chicken and put in a medium bowl.

Add the green onions, celery, cilantro, apricots and cashews to the chicken and stir to combine.
Now add the yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, zest, curry powder. Stir and taste.
Add the salt and fresh gound black pepper, give it one last light stir and taste...if you're happy with the flavor, cover and chill in the fridge until you're ready to eat.

Jicama Stix:

as much jicama as you plan on eating, peeled, and sliced into sticks
lime juice (for 1/2 a good sized jicama I think I used 1-1 1/2 limes worth)
chili powder to taste
a good handful of chopped cilantro
a touch of Kosher salt
Mix all of the ingredients together and let marinate in the fridge for 2 or more hours, then enjoy!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Thai Coconut Bubble Tea

I got a wild hair this weekend and seized upon the idea of making my own bubble tea at home. Mind you, I didn't have a recipe! No, I decided to make one up. The Monster loves him some coconut bubble tea, so that had to be my main ingredient. Sounded like we needed to make the trek to My Thahn Super-Insanely- Large Asian market waaaaaay up north. I had all kinds of weird goodies to get afterall...not all of which were found. I KNOW they used to have fresh kaffir lime leaves, but this time I couldn't find them anywhere, frozen or fresh. No worries, I just subbed some lime zest and that seemed to be just fine.

The Plan:

steep aromatics in heated soymilk and sweeten the mix with agave nectar

freeze a can of coconut cream (cream is 70% coconut, versus 55% in coconut milk, but both are unsweetened) in a gallon sized freezer baggie on a sheet it'd freeze faster and I could break off thin chunks as needed...and, I don't have an ice cube tray!

cook up my 5 minute tapioca balls (I got bags of both green tea flavored and the regular dark ones)

blend the iced coconut cream, a little crushed ice and now chilled soymilk concoction

add a scoop of tapioca balls to a glass and top with blended coconut milk mix

stick pilfered (actually the guy at our local Vietnamese restau was kind enough to give us some)
tailpipe-sized straws in and slurp til we regretfully reach the bottoms of our glasses

So are you just nutty enough to try this yourself? Yay! Here's the recipe loony! :-)

Thai Coconut Bubble Tea:

6 whole sprigs of cilantro
10 large thai basil leaves
1 Tbs grated lemongrass (outer leaf removed)
1 1x1" piece of galangal, peeled and sliced (our HEB has actually started carrying this now!)
1 1x2" piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 kaffir lime leaves, or 2 tsp grated lime zest (I forgot to put it in the bowl when taking the shot of the ingredients.)
2 cups of plain unsweeted soymilk (although I suppose if you want you can use the sweet one)
1/4 cup agave nectar (or to taste)
1 large can of unsweetened coconut cream (I'm sure the regular coconut milk would work just fine...I bought both at the Asian market just cause I couldn't make up my mind)

crushed ice
large tapioca balls (the softer kind made for putting in drinks)
large straws! (didn't come across these at the market, but they HAD to be there)

Pour whole can of unsweetened coconut cream into a gallon-sized freezer bag and lay flat on a baking sheet in the freezer. Let it freeze solid.
Put cilantro through kaffir lime leaves (or lime zest) in a food processor. Blend until well smooshed.
Add to a saucepan and add 2 cups of soymilk. Bring to the boil, stirring and making sure that it doesn't scorch.
When it comes to the boil, remove from heat and cover. Leave to steep for 20 min. or so.
Place a fine seive over a bowl and pour soy mixture in to strain all the solids from the milk.

Make sure you squish out all the good liquid from the solids with your teflon paws.
Add agave nectar to your taste...I used 1/4 cup of amber agave, but the light agave would be really good.
Cover bowl and place in fridge to chill.
When your coconut cream is frozen and your soymilk mixture nicely chilled, cook your tapioca as per the instructions on the package. Scoop some into each glass of bubble tea you'll be making.
Get out your blender.
Per glass of bubble tea i added ~___coconut cream, ~___soymilk mixture, and ___crushed ice....(ok, this was written before I had an idea how much of each to use. Guess what. I still don't know how much!! :-) Just play with the amounts and make sure you have a really good blender. We ended up with chunks of frozen coconut cream in ours. A better idea might be to mix liquid coconut cream into your soymilk mixture until the flavor is right, then add more plain soymilk to dilute if you want. Then just serve over ice instead of blending with frozen elements. Not as much fun, but I've had it served this way plenty of times in restaurants)
Blend until smooth.

Now pour over the tapioca pearls in each glass.

Stick in that huge straw and start slurpin'!

This version should probably be reserved for days you've really kicked your ass at the gym!
My next flavor is going to be fresh honeydew with the green tea pearls and it should be decidedly lighter in calories and less trouble to make. :-)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Roasted Lima Beans with Italian Herbs

Wow! Marenka (my new proof-reader!) noticed that the turkey meatloaf recipe from back in February was missing the onion from the list of ingredients! That has now been amended and I'll repost the recipe for tonight, since we'll be thawing out leftovers of the one M. made for us when she was visiting to eat for dinner. This will coincide with her eating the meatloaf she just made completely on her own in her (soon to be well stocked) S.F. kitchen. Very cool!!
I'm trying out a new side dish tonight that uses frozen lima beans. I can honestly say that I'd never purchased lima beans before this. The recipe comes from Whole Foods website which has provided us with a couple good ones so far.
I'm making a big spinach salad round things out.
Just thinking...this blog must be a kid's worst nightmare. Brussels sprouts and lima beans on back to back nights! :-)

Herb-and-veggie Meatloaf: (adapted from a Cooking Light magazine recipe)

This our favorite meatloaf recipe so far. I started making this recipe when I couldn't eat wheat, or milk and from the first taste, I knew it was a keeper. You could make it with beef, but try it with the turkey first. It's really moist, you get the benefit of all the extra veggies, and it uses whole oats instead of breadcrumbs. I like to keep pasta sauce in the freezer in 1/2 cup measures just for this recipe.

1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
1 cup shredded carrots (I shred organic baby carrots in my food processor, but you can buy pre-shredded, or use a box grater)
1/2 cup pasta sauce (I used primavera sauce)
2 lbs. lean ground turkey (I used 93/7)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup uncooked regular oats
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Olive oil
homemade ketchup (The Heinz has high fructose corn syrup in it and the Annie's Organics brand, although sweetened with evap. cane juice, is way too sweet for my taste.)

Sauté onion and garlic in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 3 minutes. Add carrots, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is tender; cool slightly.

Combine onion mixture, 1/2 cup pasta sauce, turkey, and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet coated lightly with a little olive oil and shape mixture into a 10- x 5-inch loaf.

Spread ketchup over loaf and bake at 350° for 55 min-1 hour, or until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers ~170°. Cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let stand 10 minutes. Serve with additional ketchup, if desired.

Calories 203 (25% from fat); Fat 5.6g (sat 1.5g, mono 1g, poly 0.6g); Protein 26g; Carb 12g; Fiber 3.3g; Chol 82mg; Iron 2.4mg; Sodium 884mg; Calc 83mg.

Makes 8 servings

Roasted Lima Beans with Italian Herbs:
From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook

"Lima beans have been cultivated in Lima, Peru since about 5000 BC — hence the name. Lima beans can be found fresh, frozen, and dried. Fordhooks (also called butter beans) and baby limas are the two most common varieties. Frozen limas work best in this simple dish. This is an unusual recipe because the legumes are herb roasted, which really enhances the delicate bean flavor. It also crisps the surface of the bean, which steams the inside, making the texture more fluffy than boiling."

Serves 4–6

1 pound frozen lima beans (I used baby limas)
2 teaspoons olive oil (I use more)
2 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup pitted, chopped green olives
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (I add a handful of fresh before roasting then add more fresh when it comes out of the oven...I ain't got no time for dried basil)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (I use ~1/4 Greek oregano)
1/4 teaspoon dried sage (I have have a sage plant so use about 1 Tbs, minced fresh sage, it's sooo good)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup jarred diced roasted red peppers, well drained

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cook the lima beans in enough boiling salted water to cover them until firm-tender, ~10-12 minutes. Drain the beans well, and dry them on paper towels. Place the lima beans in a medium mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, garlic, olives, basil, oregano, sage, and pepper. Toss well.

Place the bean mixture in single layer in a baking pan, spreading thinly and evenly.

Roast until the beans are softened and golden brown, 10 (said 10-15...but don't let them dry out) minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the baking pan and place in a medium serving bowl. Mix in the roasted red peppers.

Nutrition Info
Per Serving: calories 110; calories from fat 25; calories from saturated fat 0; protein 6g; carbohydrates 17g; total fat 2.5g; saturated fat 0g; cholesterol 0 mg; sodium 170 mg; 23% calories from fat

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Spice Bread Experiment 1.0

You don't need amounts for this recipe...just the ingredients and the method. Try this recipe if you were ever fed mushy, over-boiled Brussels sprouts as a kid only to have your gag reflex kick in! Roasting them this way is the only way we eat 'em. :-)
Try to buy sprouts that are approximately the same size, so that they cook at the same rate. They'll be crispy nut brown on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. Nom! A great pairing with pork tenderloin because they cook at the same oven temp.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts:
(from the Barefoot Contessa)

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons good olive oil (I don't measure this)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (don't measure this neither!)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (...or this :-)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves.

Line a sheet pan with foil and put your sprouts on. Sprinkle them with olive oil and rub the oil on with your paws. Salt and pepper them then roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time (about every 5-10 min) to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt if desired and serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Spice Bread version 1.0:

Has cooking become an obsession if I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for the next stage of my sweet potato bread experiment? If so, then I'm there.
I'm posting about the first go just so I remember where I started. The idea was to make a semi-savory quick bread using roasted mashed sweet potato. Not being a baker, I really don't have a clue what I'm doing, or why in a recipe like this, but I'm always game to try.
I want this to be a loaf rather than muffins, but in the interest of being able to change half the batter and cooking time involved I made muffins for the experimentation stage. I wanted to see just how much sweetness the potatoes would provide without adding too much in the way of extra sweetener. 3 Tbs. between the molasses and agave nectar is all I added this time, but next time I think I'll try for using some orange juice for the liquid, and more than 3 Tbs of maple syrup or agave. For the next batch I think I'll nix the molasses and wheat germ, add more cinnamon and salt, and use a combo of white whole wheat flour and oat flour.
In other words almost a totally different recipe! :-)

3/4 whole wheat flour
1 1/8 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups mashed roasted sweet potato
1 Tbs molasses
2 Tbs agave
2 Tbs canola oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
optional: chopped walnuts pushed into the tops of the muffins after dividing batter into cups.

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Mix all wet ingredients in a smaller bowl.
Add wet to dry and mix until just combined.
Divide evenly between 11 oiled muffin cups and bake for ~18 minutes.
Let rest in tin for ~5 min then remove to a cooling rack until cool.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sweet Potato Casserole with Carmelized Onions and Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad

Boy, it's been so long since I posted! This is due to two big events happening at once...a wonderful visit from my dear friend Marenka and the IMac seizing up. Good thing I had Marenka to distract me from the loss of our 24" glowy friend!
After feeding M. her favorite meal upon her arrival Sunday (Thanksgiving turkey and my pared down version of trimmings), I put her to work the following 3 nights cooking us meals from the blog. Dishes we thought she'd be able to replicate easily at home with her newfound talents in the kitchen. :-) She made Curried Green Pea soup, Strawberry Crisp, Mediterranean Baked Tilapia, Tofu Chocolate Pudding and her second favorite next to Turkey Day dinner...Turkey Meatloaf.
This is all to say that the only new things I have to write about are the Sweet Potato Casserole and the Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad we had for our welcome to Texas Thanksgiving dinner for M. The casserole was just a spur of the moment dish. I'd made some roasted sweets the day before and mashed 'em with a little butter, salt and pepper. I'd also carmelized some onions the day before too, so added those to the mashed sweets. We'd bought some amazing brioche rolls from Central Market for our dinner and sure weren't going to eat 12 (so we thought!), so I grabbed a couple to buzz in the food processor. These were combined with some grated cave-aged Gruyere and a weenie bit of butter and used as a topping for the mashed sweets. Can I just say...SO GOOD! I'll be making these again soon. The quinoa dish was a stand-in for all of the following...cranberry sauce, green beans, and stuffing. It's one of our favorites that I know you'll love.

Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad: (adapted from Juan-Carlos Cruz recipe from foodtv)

1 cup quinoa
~3/4 cup dried cranberries
~3-4 cups cut green beans, boiled until crisp tender (the original recipe calls for 1 cup frozen, but I like a lot more green beans and don't care for the frozen ones)
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
~3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Trim and cut your beans into ~2 inch pieces and boil until crisp tender, drain and place in a large bowl.

Add the cranberries, walnuts, and green onions to the beans.

Combine quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and continue cooking until all water is absorbed. Usually about 10-15 minutes. When water is absorbed, turn off the heat, fluff with a fork and recover the pot.

Heat olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and saute for 1-2 min. The original recipe calls for 4 cloves of minced raw garlic, but this is much friendlier. :-) When done, add balsamic, salt and pepper. This will be your dressing.

Add hot cooked quinoa to the cranberry, walnut, bean mixture. Toss with dressing until well mixed. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. You can also make this the day before.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Carmelized Onions:

I'm not going to be able to give any firm amounts for the ingredients because I didn't type this up soon enough and I just made it up as I went along. Next time I make it, I'll be sure to take notes and amend this.

3 (or more) smallish roasted sweet potatoes, mashed (wrap each individually in foil and bake at 400 until soft (about an hour), peel and mash with a little butter, salt and pepper to taste)
~1/4-1/3? cup chopped carmelized onions (I used this method, only with sweet yellow onions, that were cut in half lengthwise, and then sliced horizontally into ~1/4" or less slices. Then you don't end up with skinny ends that tend to burn rather than carmelize)
2 brioche rolls or equivalent in a loaf form, buzzed briefly in a food processor
~1/4-1/3 cup grated aged Gruyere cheese
a pat of softened butter

Mix mashed sweets with onions then spread in a small (size will actually depend on how big a recipe you're dish is a little over a quart).
Mix brioche crumbs with cheese and butter and spread over mashed sweets to cover.
This is the part I really don't remember...I think I baked it at 350 til warmed through. I can't remember if I covered it with foil for the better part of baking and then broiled uncovered for a minute or so...but, that sounds like a good idea. :-)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hoisin Cashew Chicken Noodles

I've got 2 chicken breasts left from last night's meal, so we'll go with another Asian inspired meal tonight. Some organic broccoli is also residing in our fridge, and I've got some angel hair spelt pasta in the pantry. Just need a sauce to bring it all together. The cashew hoisin dipping sauce from the spring rolls we made went over really well with both the Monster and myself, so I think I'll make up a batch of that and thin it with some of the pasta water. I've got another batch of green onions that I'll lightly saute and toss in with the whole works and call that dinner.

ABORT, ABORT, ABORT!!! The organic broccoli was riddled with buggies that I could NOT wash out! Ick! Organic good, bug infested that you can't wash out, baaaaaad. Not up for that extra protein tonight...sorry.

Alright let's revisit the fridge. Looks like it's going to be those green onions, a weenie bit of red pepper, and a bunch of fresh basil. There's a cucumber and carrots that can pass as a salad. Ok, crisis averted.

Hoisin Cashew Chicken Noodles:

~1-2 tsp canola oil
cubed cooked marinated chicken (2 breasts from last night)
a bunch of green onions, sliced in ~2 inch lengths on the diagonal
~1/2 red pepper, diced
spelt angel hair pasta (or chinese egg noodles)
hoisin cashew sauce (recipe follows)
3 ladles full of reserved pasta water, save more than you think you'd need
generous handful of rough chopped basil
lime wedges

Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
When water is boiling, heat canola oil in a non-stick skillet over med.-high heat.
Drop noodles (the spelt only takes 4 minutes), and saute red pepper and onions for a couple minutes. Add diced chicken and warm though. Drain noodles, and toss into skillet with as much sauce as you'd like, a couple ladles of water...until you're happy with the consistency and toss with basil. Remove from heat and serve with a wedge of lime.

Hoisin Cashew Sauce:
(slightly adapted version of Steamy Kitchen's recipe)

This is great to have on hand. Quick to whip up and saves well for about a week in the fridge.
I end up finding all kinds of uses for it.

1 Tbs canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup hoisin sauce (if you're in Texas, Central Market has a great organic one)
a small squeeze of agave nectar
juice of 1/2 a lime
1+ Tbs chili garlic sauce (I use more than 1 T)
3 Tbs roasted cashew butter (look for it in the bulk section of your grocery store)
1/4 cup+ water (you'll need more than the quarter cup)

Heat oil in small sauce pan. Saute garlic until it starts to turn golden, then add
the hoisin, chili garlic sauce, agave nectar, lime juice, and cashew butter and whisk til creamy. Add water to thin, remove from heat, cover and set aside until ready to use.

Carrot and Cucumber Salad:

rice vinegar
a spoonful of chili garlic sauce
a squeeze of agave nectar
a few drops of toasted sesame oil
quartered and sliced English cucumber, peel on
shredded carrots (I just put a hopperfull of baby carrots into my food processor and shredded using the grating plate)
a couple Tbs of chopped cilantro

Mix rice vinegar through sesame oil in the bowl you'll serve the salad in. Then add carrots, cuke, and cilantro and toss.

Asian Marinated Chicken over Arugula with Green Onion and Sesame Potato Patties

I took a different turn with last night's meal than I'd originally planned. I had chicken breasts that I'd intended to make another chicken pot pie with, given I have another piece of buttermilk crust in the freezer. Only we had a beautiful box of baby arugula that had been languishing in the fridge for too long and how to use enough of that with a big ol' chickie pot pie sitting on our plates?? Another salad seemed to be in order. The leftover mashed potatoes morphed into what I thought might pass for Asian-esque patties. If you make this, just make sure to marinate your chicken about mid-day, so it'll be ready for you at dinner. Or, you could just make the chicken the day before and eat it cold to save time. Just don't slice it until you're ready to make the salad.

Asian Chicken Marinade:

Durn...I guess I should have written down amounts when I made this! I just threw a bunch of stuff into a big ziplock bag as a marinade without measuring. If it sounded like it'd be good, it got tossed in! I'd love to be able to replicate it to some degree though, so I'll try to write up a semi-recipe for the marinade.

~5 Tbs soy sauce
~2-3 Tbs dry sherry
2 glugs (that's a measurement!) of organic hoisin sauce
2 spoonfuls of chili garlic sauce
3 whole smashed cloves of garlic
~2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
a squeeze of agave nectar
~1 tsp toasted sesame oil
lime juice
~1" of ginger, grated (it looked like about 1-2 tsp?)

Place all ingredients in a bag with 4 skinless boneless (and natural if you can get it) chicken breast halves and marinate for ~4 hrs., turning the bag periodically. When you remove the chicken to cook it, pour the marinade into a small sauce pan.

Sauce made from marinade:

~1/2 tsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
more agave nectar

Bring the marinade up to a boil and cook for at least 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pass the marinade through a sieve to remove the solids. Return the marinade to the sauce pan and whisk in about 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder (or 3/4 tsp cornstarch) and another squeeze of agave. Simmer to thicken then set aside. You'll brush a little of this on one side of the chicken while cooking and use the rest to drizzle over the sliced chicken.

Cooking the chicken:

You could either grill these, or use a skillet like I did. I lightly oiled a non-stick skillet and heated over med.-high. Cooked the chicken breasts for ~6 min. on the first side, then flipped, brushed with some sauce made from the marinade, covered the skillet, and turned down the heat a bit. The marinade will tend to burn onto the pan and cooking it in a more moist environment helps a lot. I even added a bit of water at the end so that I could continue cooking the chicken to an internal temp. of ~165. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover for ~10 min.

Prepping the Green Onion Black Sesame Potato Patties:

Cold mashed potatoes
Green onions cut into thin lengthwise strips
~1-2 tsp black sesame seeds (got these in the bulk spice aisle at CM, just for fun one day)
one egg
Panko bread crumbs
canola oil
canola non-stick spray

This recipe assumes you have cold leftover mashed potatoes in your fridge that need to GO. :-)
The potatoes were already adequately seasoned, so all I did was saute up the green onions in a little toasted sesame oil on lowish heat and mix them into the taters. Mix in the sesame seeds too. Now set up a potato station...
Your bowl of mashers is the first stop. Then, in a medium bowl, mix the egg and a little water to make an egg wash for your second stop.
Now place a thick even layer of Panko crumbs on a medium sized plate for the third stop.
You won't cook these until you've plated your salad.

Plating the salad:

organic baby arugula
slices of ripe avocado
slices of orange
rice wine vinegar
toasted sesame oil
kosher salt and black pepper

Pile up some arugula on each plate. Sprinkle with a little rice wine vinegar, a couple drops of toasted sesame oil and toss.
Arrange alternating slices of orange and avocado on top half of salad. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the whole plate and a little more sesame oil on fruit. Fan out chicken breast just below the fruit. Now cook the potato patties if your making them.

Cooking the Potato Patties:

Heat a little canola oil in a non-stick skillet over med.-high heat.
Scoop up some of the tater mixture and form about a 3 inch patty. Dip into your egg wash, then
dredge it in the Panko crumbs.
Place the patties as you make them into the heated skillet. Spray the tops with a little canola spray. Turn when browned on first side, and continue cooking until 2nd side is browned.
Plate the patties just below the chicken and garnish with a little toasted sesame oil, sliced green onion and more black sesame seeds.
Drizzle your sauce made from the marinade over the chicken and sprinkle with more sesame seeds.

Whew! You're done! And you don't even need to wait for a damn photo to be taken to eat it! :-)
We liked this a lot. Next time I'd use a stiffer mashed potato mixture and I'm going to try just coating the patties in a dusting of brown rice flour, without the egg and panko. It was a fun morph of our Sunday mashed taters in any case!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Taco Seasoning

See that kitty up in the header? His name is Sammy. And Sammy is a beeeeeg taco salad fan! Well technically, he's a carb slut and he's lusting after the corn tortilla chips broken up on the top. Someday if I have help, you'll see a thought bubble coming from his wee noggin that says "I can haz taco salad?"! For those of you that might be concerned that I'm feeding our 15 year old boy taco salad, you can stop "freakinout" as my young niece Kate would say. Much to his chagrin, he subsists solely on a raw food diet...'cept for the stuff I happen to drop while cooking. He's quite the sneaky hoover.
All this is leading up to writing up a recipe for the seasoning mix I've just started using. Most of you probably have something you like already, and I'm the only one that's just started mixing up her own taco spice combo in lieu of "the envelope". But, in the case that there are any other people out there that still need's the recipe.

Taco Seasoning:
(This will make enough for ~2 lbs of meat...if not a little more)

This seasoning mix approximates the icky little envelopes of taco seasoning you can buy, but without all the icky little things in it! Tasty, easy, and you can always adjust the spice and salt level to your tastes.

4 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
5 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp kosher salt (if using regular salt, cut back the amt....or you can just cut this from the mix altogether and just add whatever amt. of salt you want to the meat when cooking)
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cayenne

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne. Store in an airtight container.

Taco Meat:

In a small bowl mix 2 1/2-3 TBS spice with 1 1/3 tsp of arrowroot powder, or 2 tsp cornstarch and set aside.
Brown 1 pound of ground turkey, or beef with fresh diced onion, drain.
Add spice mix, 3/4 cup water, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Use in tacos, or as we did last night atop of a big pile of thinly sliced Romaine with all kinds of other goodnesses for taco salad.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Banana-Cranberry Muffinks

I seem to be muffin crazed these days...3 batches in the last month or so? I got bold this time and kind of made up my own recipe after looking at a mass of them online. For the last couple days my pal James and I have IM-ed back and forth about much of this, what could sub for that, etc. Well, my bananas were sufficiently ripened today and I finally went for it.
This recipe created a good healthy muffin. No added oil or butter, lightly sweetened with agave nectar and the fruit, whole wheat flour and whole grain millet.
I'm undecided as to whether I like the millet in there. The Monster had asked me to make him some millet muffins the next time I fired up the pan, so that's how it made it's way into the recipe. They stay crunchy, which he loves, but I'm perfectly happy with just the crunch the walnuts provide. It's up to you, put it in or leave it out. If I use it the next time, I might go with only 1/4 cup. These muffinks are nice and moist from all the nanners and applesauce, with a nice tartness from the whole crans. I'd definitely make 'em again!

Banana Cranberry Muffins:
(makes 12 regular sized muffins at about 200 calories per muffin w/millet, 180 w/out)

3 ripe bananas
a rounded 1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce...probably close to 1/2 cup, but just use the 1/3 rounded since I know that worked. :-)
1 cup of whole frozen cranberries
1 large egg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup whole millet (I used 1/3 cup the first time I made these, but used a little less than a 1/4 the second time)
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
canola non-stick spray

Preheat the oven to 325° F.
Peel all three bananas and mash them in a large bowl with a fork.
Add rounded 1/3 cup applesauce, egg, and agave and mix well with a fork.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, millet, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring until just incorporated.
Fold in walnuts and cranberries
Distribute the batter evenly in an oiled 12-muffin pan for ~25 min. Cool in pan for 5, then turn out onto cooling rack.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mediterranean-Style Baked Tilapia over Sauteed Baby Spinach

My family, covering 4 generations, blew into town for a Sunday overnight visit this last weekend. Since they're forever eating out, I thought it'd be nice to host dinner at our house. We had a really great time and dinner came together in a flash...due to all (and I mean ALL) the prep having been done the night before and morning of. I shopped my blog for ideas in the menu department and decided on making the Greek pinwheel steaks, chile-spiced asparagus, mashed potatoes, and a big green salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Strawberry crisps with vanilla ice cream for dessert all around!
Let me just say this...I may have over-shopped a bit. I'm left with a huge bag of spinach, lots of tomatoes on the vine, an extra block of feta cheese and a goodly number of pine nuts (unfortunately no more strawberries!) and an open bottle of white wine. All these ingredients will be put towards concocting a baked tilapia over spinach dish tonight. We'll see how it comes out...although I can't imagine it'd be TOO terrible. :-) I had some brown rice left from another meal, so that's getting eht up too, tossed with some diced, sauteed zukes.

Ok, the rice was too good not to write up a quasi recipe. Don't wanna forget this as a great use for leftover rice!
This whole meal turned out to be a real keeper for us.

Zucchini and Garlic Fried Rice:

olive oil
pat of butter
2 small zucchini, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
cold cooked brown rice
salt and pepper

Warm a non-stick skillet over high heat. Melt butter in olive oil and let it get really hot.
Add diced zukes and toss with salt. Try not to stir it too much at first so that it has a chance to caramelize. When about 2 minutes from done, add garlic and continue to saute for ~1-2 min.
Add a little more olive oil to pan and then add rice. Toss to coat the rice and then spread it out in a level layer in pan. Let it cook undisturbed for a few minutes, stir then re-level the rice leaving undisturbed for another minute or so. You'll want the garlic to caramelize but not adds a ton of good flavor. Taste to see if it needs more salt and add pepper. Remove from heat and keep warm until the rest of the meal is ready.

Mediterranean-Style Baked Tilapia:

1 lb of natural tilapia fillets, or other lean white fish (our 2 fillets came to just under a lb.)
thinly sliced red onion
thinly sliced red pepper
1 chopped tomato
~2-3 oz of crumbled feta
fresh basil
salt and pepper
olive oil
~1/4-1/2 cup white wine
garnish with some chopped Italian parsley if you've got it

Pre-heat oven to 450. Oil a baking dish. Season the fillets with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice, and arrange in one layer in the baking dish.
On top of fillets, layer very thin slices of red onion, and red (or green) pepper. Sprinkle the fillets with 1 chopped tomato and 2-3 oz of crumbled feta, then top with basil. Pour white wine around fillets, drizzle with olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper and more salt.

Here it is before going into the oven...I promise there IS fish under all that goodness!

Bake uncovered for about 15-19 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. I checked our 8oz fillets at 15 but they took about 18-19.
About 4 minutes before your fish is done, start the spinach.

Wilted Spinach with Garlic and Pine Nuts:

olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 package baby spinach
salt and pepper
1-2 Tbs of pine nuts

In a large skillet, heat about 2 Tbs olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add minced garlic and saute until it becomes golden...don't burn it.
Add pine nuts and let them start to color slightly. Add spinach, some kosher salt, pepper and toss to wilt. Serve fish over your lovely spinach and done! Make sure to spoon the cooking liquid over the fish too. It's really good!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cocoa Buttermilk Whole Wheat Waffles...the decadence continues

Do I really have to convince you to try it? I thought not.

Cocoa Buttermilk Whole Wheat Waffles:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 Tbs cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
slightly rounded 1/2 tsp baking soda (I added the tiniest bit more since I added Sucanat to the recipe)
~1 1/2 Tbs sugar or Sucanat (I used Sucanat, but next time I'll try agave nectar)
3 Tbs high quality unsweetened cocoa powder (Valrhona!)
1 egg, divided
1 cup buttermilk (make sure you shake it up first)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Optional: pure maple syrup, sliced ripe banana, chopped walnuts

Preheat waffle iron.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, cornmeal, salt, baking soda, cocoa, and Sucanat/sugar.
In a smaller bowl, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks, but are not dry.
In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolk, buttermilk, vanilla, and butter, then gradually add to the dry ingredients to form a batter.
Gently fold egg whites into the batter to incorporate.
I lightly oil our waffle iron then put 1/2 the batter onto the iron, close and cook for ~6-8 minutes for a Belgian-style waffle iron.
Top with butter if desired, pure maple syrup, sliced nanners, and chopped walnuts. Yum!!
Makes two large waffles.

Ohmydogthisisgood Maple-Chile Popcorn!

Ok, I've now made this twice in as many days...and STILL no picture! There's a total disconnect in my brain when it comes to this stuff. Wait for to eat??? NO!! ok obviously this has been amended...finally was able to snap a quick pic. :-)
So until I've made this for the 20th time and have become somewhat blase about it (enough to get the camera out before stuffing it in my gob) you'll have to go to the place I found the recipe in the first place for a lovely photo. Culinary in the Desert's blog has become like one-stop recipe shopping for me. I've bookmarked a good many of his recipes to try in the future as there's a huge index of yummy dinners and desserts. I'm trying to stay away from the latter, but this one sneaked in! This has just enough sweet, salty, and spicy to make just about any normal person ecstatic.

Ohmydogthisisgood Maple-Chile Popcorn: (Adapted from Culinary in the Desert's adaptation of a Cooking Light recipe :-)

1 bag of as plain as you can get microwave popcorn, popped. (I like Central Market's Organics brand 94% fat-free and only stuff in it you'd use to make popcorn at home!)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (I tend to add a little extra)
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)

Preheat oven to 300.
Line a baking sheet with foil.
In a small sauce pan, add the maple syrup, butter, salt and red pepper and place over medium heat. While the mixture heats, stir the ingredients just until combined. When it comes to a boil, cook, without stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add popcorn to a large heat safe bowl (removing any unpopped kernels).
Now carefully pour the syrup mixture over the popcorn in a slow stream, stirring to coat.
Transfer popcorn mixture onto foil-lined baking sheet and spread to an even layer.
Bake for 15 minutes, stirring midway. Remove and let cool completely in pan then serve. Um, that should read let cool if you can...I however lacked any willpower required for this step and immediately unhinged my jaw. It was not a pretty sight.
There was no breathing involved...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Spinach-Zucchini Soup with Savory Oatmeal Muffins

I made this on Tuesday for dinner tonight. We had just finished cleaning out all of my premade meals over the last week and I tend to get a little anxious with nothing stocked in the freezer! After eating a healthy portion of this we'll still have enough in the freezer for a second meal.
Whew! The muffins freeze well too.

Spinach and Zucchini Soup: (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
big pinch of salt
~2 large potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (~3 1/2 cups)
~3-4 zucchini , quartered and chopped (~3 1/2 cups)
6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
4 cups fresh chopped spinach leaves, packed
1 cup cilantro, loosely chopped
lemon juice to taste (I think I used about 1 1/2 lemons?...try less first then just add to taste)

In a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot (but not smoking) add the garlic and onions and saute for a few minutes along with pinch of salt - just until they soften up a bit. Stir in the potatoes and zucchini. Add the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft throughout, roughly 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, and wait for it to wilt, just ten seconds or so. Now stir in the cilantro. Puree with a hand blender until smooth. This may take a little time with the stick blender since the spinach tends to get bound up in ours. Chop the spinach pretty small or just use a regular blender. Whisk in a big squeeze of lemon juice. Now taste, and add more salt if needed. Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt on top, or a drizzle of olive oil and muffins, or toast. We had a nice ripe avocado tonight so I chopped it up and topped the soup with it.

Savory Oatmeal Muffins: (Adapted from Real Food via Culinary in the Desert)

If you want to make a veggie muffin, just use cheese instead of the bacon.

1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (I think I added an 1/8th of a tsp more because of the Sucanat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried sage (I used 1 1/2 tsp fresh minced sage)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
2 tablespoons grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup packed brown sugar ( used 1/4 cup Sucanat)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I subbed 6 Tbs flaxseed meal for 2 of the Tbs. of butter)
3 ounces Canadian bacon, diced (buy a good quality bacon in the deli and have it sliced thicker...just say no to corn syrup. Ick!)

Preheat oven to 375

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sage.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the oats with cheese.

In a large bowl, stir together buttermilk and remaining oats - let stand for 5 to 10 minutes to let the oats soften. Stir in brown sugar, egg, and butter until combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened - fold in diced bacon.

Evenly divide the batter between the wells of a 12 cup muffin tin lightly coated with nonstick spray. Sprinkle tops with oat-cheese mixture. Bake until lightly browned and a toothpick placed in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove and let stand for 5 minutes before transferring the muffins to a wire rack. Serve warm.

Makes 12 muffins.

Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce, Japanese Carrot Dressing

This is one of our favorite meals. I made this for my family while in California and my aunt hasn't stopped making it since! Good for a quick weeknight meal, or even nice enough for company. You can make the sauce ahead of time so you're not too harried while the fish is broiling. Just set it to the back of the stove and gently rewarm before serving if necessary.
Look for never frozen, fresh tilapia that's US farm-raised. Natural, if you can get added hormones, etc. It's only about 2 bucks more per pound and in my book, totally worth it. The salad, albeit of Japanese influence, was a great compliment to the coconut-curry sauce.

Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce: (Cooking Light)

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, divided (I actually use a lighter blend of canola and sesame)
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green onions (they look pretty cut on the bias)
1 teaspoon curry powder (use hot or mild)
2 teaspoons red curry paste (or more if you're daring)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 teaspoons soy sauce (the recipe calls for low-sodium which I didn't have, just adjust the salt down)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (I subbed agave nectar)
~1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk (this dish is crazy good with whole fat coconut milk, but's reaaaaally fattening. :-) I did go back to using the lite this time, but sometimes I use a half and half mix. Buy a can of regular and a can of lite, mix the two, and freeze the rest in 1/2 cup measures for future use.)
2 tablespoons or more, chopped fresh cilantro
4 (6-ounce) farm-raised natural tilapia fillets (I just used 2 really big filets, we have extra sauce and rice for lunch the next day)
Cooking spray
hot cooked brown basmati rice
lime wedges

Preheat broiler.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and onions; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar (agave), 1/4 teaspoon salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

Brush fish with 1/2 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes (I flipped our large 8oz filets over at 6 minutes, and broiled for an additional 3 minutes for a perfectly done, moist fish) or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet, 1/2 cup sauce, 3/4 cup rice, and 1 lime wedge)

CALORIES 506 (30% from fat); FAT 17.1g (sat 5.9g,mono 6g,poly 2.5g); PROTEIN 29g; CHOLESTEROL 82mg; CALCIUM 47mg; SODIUM 616mg; FIBER 3.1g; IRON 2.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 56.6g

Japanese Ginger-Carrot Dressing:

We love this dressing that's always served at our favorite sushi restaurant. I found this recipe online and it's really, really good. I tend to use more carrots than called for...about a fistful of baby-sized carrots, but I'll type up as written and you do as you like. If it's a little too thick with the extra carrots just add a small amount of water to thin. I used orange juice last night and it just changed the flavor too much. It should be fairly thick. Just dollop a good amount in the center of your salad and scoop some up with each bite. Delish!
All of these ingredients can be increased to your taste of course.

1 small carrot (or more)
1 Tbs mirin (orig. recipe calls for 2, just add one then taste)
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs soy sauce
couple drops dark sesame oil
1 Tbs prepared mustard (not French's)
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger root

Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and mix until smooth. Well covered, it keeps in the fridge for about a week.