Friday, May 27, 2011

Fried Zucchini with Cheese-Filled "Meat"balls and Tomato-Basil Onions

Ok - so I'll be honest here; this did not turn out as good as I expected. It tasted good, sure, but could have used more spice, and the cheese in the meatballs ended up to be superfluous. Nevertheless, I'd had this in mind for a few days, and all-in-all it was fun, and surprisingly easy to make. Give it a try, and I encourage you to tweak where you see fit...

- 1 small Zucchini, sliced in rounds
- 4 cloves Garlic, sliced thin
- Olive Oil

- 1/4 tube GimmeLean Veggie Sausage
- 1/4 package SmartGround Crumbles
- Worcester Sauce
- Spices (Garlic Powder, Thyme, Pepper)
- Soft/Spreadable Cheese (any type)

- 1 small Vidalia Onion, sliced thin
- 2 small vine Tomatos, sliced thin
- 2 pieces Pickled Okra, sliced thin
- Fresh Basil, minced
- White Wine
- Spices (Onion Powder, Italian Seasoning, Black Pepper)
- Hot Sauce

In a large skillet, brown sliced Garlic in Olive Oil, then add Zucchini and brown till crispy on both sides, being careful not to burn your Garlic. Remove from pan and put on a paper towel to drain oil.
In another pan, saute Onions till translcent, then add Tomatos and Okra, then Wine. Season with your Spices and Hot Sauce, and let simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, then stir in your minced Basil.
Mix Crumbles into Veggie Sausage with your hands, then add Worcester Sauce and Spices, mix, and then form into six to eight small patties. On four of the patties put a small piece of the Cheese, then top with another patty, and form into a ball. Brown the "Meat"balls on each side and then serve them over the fried Zucchini and top them with the Tomato-Basil Onions. Enjoy with some extra Hot Sauce, grated Pecorino Romano, and a big glass of Red Wine.

variations: next time, I would proably make one big, cheese-filled patty instead of dividing into "meat"balls, or simply make the "meat'balls without cheese. While the flavors here are simple and highlight the fresh ingredients, some crushed red pepper would kick things up a bit, and if you don't have pickled okra you can use capers. Also, feel free to substitute ground beef for the fake stuff.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

CinnaSwiss Breakfast Panini

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this tasty sandwich is an ideal on-the-go breakfast; quick and easy, as delicious hot out of the pan as it is cold, packed up as a moveable feast.
The CinnaSwiss Panini is the perfect combination of salty and sweet in the unlikley pairing of spreadable swiss cheese and ripe banana. Add a handful of fresh berries to the mix and a cup of strong coffee for dunking, and you've got all the stuff you need to start the day off right.

CinnaSwiss Breakfast Panini
- 2 slices Whole Wheat Bread, lightly toasted
- 1 to 2 wedges Spreadable Swiss Cheese

- 1/2 of a ripe Banana
- Blueberries (or other berries)

- Cinnamon

- Butter Flavor Cooking Spray

Mash your Banana with Cinnamon, leaving a few small chunks. In a toaster, lightly toast bread, then remove, and spread one slice with Cheese, then top with Berries. Spread the other slice with the Banana mash, then put it all together in standard sandwich fashion. Spray each side with a Cooking Spray and sprinkle on a little sugar if you know what's good for you. Cook until brown and crispy on each side, starting with the cheese side down, then flipping to the banana side and giving it a little squish.
Cut this baby diagonally in half and enjoy dunking in coffee, milk or breakfast beverage of your choice. You might even want a second one...

variations: use any berry, any fruit, or swap out cheese for peanut butter to make a PB+Fruitwhich Panini

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Veggie Stoganoff

While I'm on the topic of pasta, it's a good time to post another favorite creation of mine, something I like to call Veggie Stroganoff. Unlike Beef Stroganoff, this recipe uses vegetarian sausage and doesn't contain sour cream, but it is rich, winy, and plain delicious.

Veggie Stroganoff
- Whole Wheat Spaghetti
- GimmeLean Veggie Sausage, sliced in rounds
- Vidalia Onion, sliced thin
- Garlic, sliced thin
- Baby Portobella Mushrooms, sliced
- Cooking Sherry
- Vegetable Broth
- Packet of Onion or Brown Gravy Mix (optional)
- Baby Spinach
- Spices (onion powder, garlic powder)
- Pecorino Romano, grated

Boil pasta water and add the spaghetti. Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute onions until transparent, then add the garlic. Season with salt and onion and garlic powders and add the mushrooms. Add the sherry, and let simmer. When this has cooked down a bit, add some vegetable broth and a couple spoonfulls of gravy mix.
In a separate pan, brown the veggie sausage, then remove from pan and chop into bite-size chunks. Add sausage and spinach to sauce and simmer briefly just until the spinach is wilted. Serve over pasta, top with romano cheese, and dig in!

variations: substitute veggie ground beef or a veggie burger for the sausage, swap out the spinach for peas

Clam Sauce

All families have their standard meals, and one of the favorites in mine is my father's Linguine with Clam Sauce; a delicious, garlicky white-sauce served over pasta. However, while I do love eating this dish every time Dad makes it, I must say that my heart belongs to another... RED clam sauce! It all started one night when I found myself alone in the house with a bag of fresh basil, some tomatoes, and a few too many cans of clams in the cupboard...A half hour of pondering and a few glasses of wine later, a star was born.

(1 serving)
- Whole Wheat Spaghetti
- 2 fresh vine tomatoes
- roasted red peppers, diced

- 1 sweet onion , sliced thin
- 4 garlic cloves, minced (love the garlic)

- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 can baby clams (save the juice)

- 1 can baby shrimp
- capers

- fresh basil leaves, chopped
- spices (onion powder, garlic powder, salt, oregano, tarragon, crushed red pepper)

- Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated

Pour a glass of wine. Drink half of it while reading this recipe... Finish it. Refill. Start cooking!

Boil some pasta water and add spaghetti. Slice onions and garlic, and heat a skillet with olive oil. Saute onions till transparent, then season with onion and garlic powders and salt. Throw in your red peppers, then add the wine, tarragon, oregano and crushed red pepper. Add clams, clam juice, shrimp and capers and let simmer until most of the liquid has cooked down. When pasta is done, drain it and return to pot and stir in your minced garlic and chopped basil. Put pasta on a plate, spoon clam sauce on top, pour yourself some more wine, and enjoy with copious amounts of romano cheese!

variations: swap shrimp for another can of clams or crab meat. or live dangerously and do all three!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The PB+Fruitwhich

Since I'm on a breakfast kick, I want to post a favorite morning sandwich that I made up. I should tell you here that I am a peanut butter maniac, and it has a special and disproportionate place in my heart. PB and J, PB and Banana, PB and Fluff... i could go on forever. But before I forget, go buy yourself a pound of Whole Foods' grind-yourself Honey Roasted Peanut Butter. Trust me, all PBs are not created equal, and this is the king of them all!
The funny thing is that this sandwich actually grew out of the first fruitwich that I invented, the CinnaSwiss Breakfast Panini, which replaces the peanut butter with spreadable Swiss Cheese.
But this concoction, combining my love for PB with the use of old bananas and any other on-the-verge fruit, has quickly replaced it's predecessor as my go-to breakfast. This + a cup of strong coffee makes you want to seize the day and kick its ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(I kid... but really it's delicious!)


- 2 slices Whole Wheat Bread
- Honey Roasted Peanut Butter
- 1 ripe banana
- Blackberries (or whatever you have)
- Cinnamon
- Butter-flavored cooking spray

Mash the banana with cinnamon, leaving a few chunks if you're a cool guy. Toast your bread till just a little toasty, but still soft and then spread one slicee with as much PB as you can handle and spread the other with your mashed banana. You can mash the berries or just leave them whole, but in either case put them on top of the PB slice and then close it all up with the banana slice on top. Spray a skillet with your cooking spray and brown the sandwich on each side, squashing it down a little after you flip it. Put it on a plate, cut it in half, dip it in your coffee, and fall in love.

variations: use any kind of berry you want, or any other fruit for that matter (apples, raisins, etc.), substitute honey, maple syrup or jam for the fruit, or become my hero and make this sandwich, dip it in egg, and make yourself the most ridiculous frenchtoastwich this world has ever seen!

Kasha Cakes

For my first recipe, I thought that it would be good to start with something totally original, at least as far as I'm concerned! I was introduced to Buckwheat by a close friend who comes from a Russian family. You can eat it at any meal, but it's most commonly served as a breakfast porridge, like oatmeal, with a little butter, sugar and salt mixed in. There was always leftover "kasha" (as it's called in Russian) in the fridge, and after waking up on a sunday morning with an American hunger craving pancakes and maple syrup, a beautiful creature was born... behold the Kasha Cake!
For this recipe it helps to have leftover buckwheat in the fridge, but if you're not so lucky, simply cook some up with a 2/1 ratio of water to buckwheat, salt and a drop of oil. Boil until water is absorbed and then remove from heat and stir till cool.

Kasha Cakes
(makes 2 pan (or man)-sized cakes)
1 cup cooked buckwheat
3 egg whites
1 yolk (if you want it)

Whisk the eggs in a bowl till fluffy, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. (Make sure buckwheat is totally cooled so that it doesn't cook the eggs!)
Heat a skillet with some cooking spray and a dab of butter. When it's really hot, ladle in half of the buckwheat mixture. As it cooks, continually tuck in the sides to form a circle shape. When it's good and crispy on one side, flip carefully (these things aren't so stable) and cook until cooked through. It may help to press gently on it with your spatula. Repeat for the second round of buckwheat mixture.
Serve Kasha Cakes hot and top with Maple Syrup and salt, if you know what's good for you.

variations: i've also mixed in ripe banana with the batter, and topped cakes with sour cream and berry compote. this recipe is versatile; go wild!

The First of Many?

I never expected to do this, create a food-blog, that is. There are already so many out there sustaining this culture focused on food... But for as long as I can remember I've had a passion for cooking and, if you promise not to tell, I think that I'm pretty good at it.
Cooking for me is a meditation. I stop thinking about everything else, and everything I've got goes into the dish. I cook by instinct and almost never by recipe. This leads to some unlikley ingredients and funky combinations, but in the wise words of someone somewhere; if it tastes good, eat it!
So, as a pat on the back or a silly way to share a solitary meal, whatever, I have decided to create this blog to document some of my experiments and productions in kitchens far and wide. If you like what you see, give it a try, cook it up! You won't be dissapointed...