Saturday, June 18, 2011

Honey-Jalapeño Chicken

This is America, home of the...?
Salad Bowl, Melting Pot, whatever, American culture and cuisine is a special mixture, a fusion of various flavors and cultural inspirations. Think Tex-Mex, think Cajun, think even seemingly ordinary styles like Barbecue or Soul Food...
For me, someone who appreciates complements and contrasts in food, Honey-Jalapeño Chicken hits all the bases. Spicy, sweet,light and yet rib-stickingly satisfying thanks to the soba noodles, this dish is a family favorite and almost a weekly meal in my house. And to add to its praises, it's also pretty damn easy to make.
You can buy Soba (buckwheat) noodles at any Korean/Asian market.

Honey-Jalapeño Chicken
1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled
- 1 bunch cilantro, trimmed
- 2 jalapenos, seeded and halved
- dash each of Ginger, Curry Powder
- 1/4 to 1/3 c honey
- 1/3 c vegetable broth
- 1 vidalia onion, sliced thin
- 4 scallions, sliced thin
- 2 tbsp pickled ginger, minced
- splash of soy sauce
- soba (buckwheat) noodles

Pull meat from chicken, saving the skin, and set aside. In a skillet, saute onions with Jalapeño halves until the peppers are just soft. Remove peppers and place them in a blender with Cilantro, vegetable broth and honey and puree. Add sliced chicken skin to onions and cook until crispy, then add chicken and then the cilantro/jalapeño puree. Season with ginger powder and a little bit of curry and let simmer until hot.
In another pot, boil water and cook the soba noodles. Drain and return noodles to pot and toss with soy sauce, then portion into bowls. Top noodles with the chicken and sauce and, garnish with pickled ginger and scallions, and enjoy with healthy doses of Sri Racha chili sauce.

variations: I make a veggie version of this with Quorn cutlets. Steam cutlets in microwave for 2 minutes with 2 tbsp Mirin (sweet sake) and a shake of powdered ginger. Pan-fry on each side, then cut into pieces and stir into sauce before serving

Egg-Fried Cauliflower

A good friend of mine's mom used to make fried cauliflower with egg any time we had leftover cauliflower, and it was delicious. After finding myself with some of the stuff sitting unused in the fridge, i tried to give it a go. It didn't come out quite as good as I'd remembered, missing a mother's touch, but it was tasty enough.

Egg-Fried Cauliflower

- leftover steamed cauliflower, chopped
- 3 eggs (3 whites, 1 yolk)
- dash Curry powder

In a bowl, whisk eggs with a dash of curry until well mixed and fluffy. Coat a skillet with cooking spray and brown cauliflower on both sides. Push cauliflower to center of pan to make a circle or shape of your fancy, then pour on eggs. With a spatula, scrape in the sides of the cooking egg to keep the circle shape, continuing until eggs are almost totally cooked through, spray top with cooking spray and flip carefully till brown on the other side and cooked completely. Serve with Onion Chutney, or better yet, serve Onion Chutney with Egg-Fried Cauliflower...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Veggie Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Herby Mushroom Couscous

This is another dish that just popped into my head the other day, and it was only a matter of time till I got around to making it. It was inspired by a post on CinnamonSpice's blog, but I added plenty of my own tweaks to make it my own.
Rarely am I proud of a dish, being naturally self-critical, but this was absolutely delicious! The smokey sweetness of the Red Peppers, the saltiness of the Capers and Romano, the heartiness of the Meatballs and the Couscous to soak it all up... hungry yet?

Veggie Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- Quorn Meatballs
- 1/2 Vidalia Onion, diced
- 3/4 can Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic
- 3/4 to 1 c Vegetable Broth
- 1 tbsp Ground Thyme
- 2 tbsp Fresh Thyme, minced
- dash each of Smoked Paprika and Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp Capers
- Fresh-Grated Peccorino Romano and Minced Fresh Parsley (garnish)

In a cast iron skillet, brown onions and then add tomatoes. Mash the tomatoes as the mixture cooks down a bit, then stir in Red Pepper Spread, all of the spices (thymes, paprika and pepper) and then add the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then add the meatballs and cook until meatballs are heated through, adding more vegetable broth to desired consistency.

Herby-Mushroom Couscous
(serves 4)
- 1/2 box of sliced mushrooms, minced
- 2 tbsp minced shallots
- Cooking Sherry
- 1 c dry Couscous
- 1 1/2 c vegetable broth
- Spices (1 tsp each: Onion and Garlic Powders, Tarragon, Basil)

Brown shallots and mushrooms in a skillet, then add sherry and saute until liquid is absorbed. Set aside.
Bring vegetable broth, a dash of salt, and a little oil to a boil. Remoce from heat, add Couscous, Spices and Mushroom-Shallot mixture and stir vigorously until liquid is absorbed. Let sit five minutes and fluff with fork before serving.
Garnish meatballs with fresh-grated romano cheese and minced parsley and serve alongside herby-mushroom couscous and lemon-garlic asparagus... and as always, a bottle of good wine really tops it off.

Lemon-Garlic Asparagus

Last night, Mom and I agreed again that there is nothing like fresh Asparagus. The only trick is to not to overcook it. Like my Garlic Spinach recipe, this dish keeps it simple, using only garlic, salt, and lemon to accent the natural sweetness in the Asparagus.

Lemon-Garlic Asparagus
- 1 bunch jumbo (fat) asparagus

- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- splash of vegetable broth

- squirt of lemon juice
-pinch of salt

Coat a skillet with cooking spray, toss in Asparagus, and saute/brown briefly on all sides. Add vegetable broth and pressed garlic and cover, so that the Aspargus becomes tender. When the liquid is evaporated, add lemon juice and salt, toss with tongs, remove from heat, and serve.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shephard Shmepard's Pie

If, like me, you like meat but have chosen not to eat it, then like me, you may be sorely missing Shephard's Pie, the hearty, meat-heavy casserole baked under a blanket of crispy mashed potatoes...
But never fear! Where there is a will, leftovers, and veggie meat, there is a way!!!!!
While this is more of a cold weather dish, I am always cold, so it's good whenever (also equally as tasty eaten cold as leftovers as it is hot out of the oven), and it's also good for you and good for the planet, being a plant-based meal. Notice a recurring word here?
Since I had leftover Cauliflower-Leek Puree, I used that instead of potatoes for the topping, and the results weren't good... they were GREAT!
I don't care if you're vegetarian or not, this meal hits the spot and keeps on hitting! Give it a try, it just might change your life.
even the dog wants it
Shmepard's Pie
(serves 1)
- 1/2 small Vidalia Onion, diced
- 1 Carrot, diced
- 1/4 c frozen Sweet Peas
- 1/4 c frozen Roasted Corn
- Spices (Onion + Garlic Powders, Ground Thyme, Black Pepper, Smoked Paprika)
- splash of Worcestershire Sauce
- splash of Liquid Smoke
- Cauliflower-Leek Puree (or mashed potatoes)

Preheat oven to 350.
In a small skillet, brown onions in olive oil, then add carrots and cook until soft. Stir in Veggie Crumbles and brown, then add Worcestershire Sauce and Liquid Smoke, and season with Onion and Garlic Powders, Ground Thyme and Black Pepper. Stir in frozen peas and corn, and cook until hot. Remove from heat and either transfer mixture to a small casserole dish or leave in cast iron skillet. Spread Cauliflower-Leek Puree or mashed potatoes over top and then sprinkle with Smoked Paprika. Transfer to oven and bake until heated through and beginning to brown, then give it a second under the broiler to get it nice and crispy. Grab a spoon, a salt shaker and the ketchup, and dig in!!!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pan-Seared Halibut with Red Beet Vinagrette

For some reason, this image popped into my head yesterday of a nice piece of fish propped up on a pile of garlicy spinach, topped with a spoonful of red beet vinagrette... so i ran with it. I didn't have any recipe for the vinagrette and just made it up as I went, trying to complement the earthy sweetness of the beets with the sour saltiness of cornichons and the anchoring undertone of mustard. It could use some tweaking, but it came out well and plates were cleaned.

Pan-Seared Halibut with Red Beet Vinagrette
(serves 3)
- 1 1/2 lb. Halibut or other meaty white fish
- Spices (Lemon Pepper, Sea Salt, Garlic Powder)
- 2 whole roasted or boiled Beets, chopped
- 4 sprigs fresh Thyme, minced
- 3 tbsp minced Shallots
- 1 tbsp Mustard Powder or Stone Ground Mustard
- 1/4 tsp White Pepper
- 1/3 c Red Wine Vinegar
- 2 tbps Cassis liquor
- 3 to 4 Cornichon pickles, sliced very thin
Make vinagrette ahead of time so that flavors have time to combine.
In a small food processor, blend Beets, Shallots, Fresh Thyme, Mustard Powder/Mustard, Pepper, Vinegar and Cassis until smooth, adding extra Vinegar and Cassis based on texture and desired flavor. Pour into a jar, stir in thin-sliced cornichons, and let sit.
Dust top of fish pieces with spices (Lemon Pepper, Sea Salt, Garlic Powder) and cook in a hot pan, skin side down until almost completley cooked (should be white throughout). Spray top of fish lightly with cooking spray and flip carefully onto seasoned side, cooking until just crispy. Plate pieces of fish ontop of a pile of Garlic Spinach and topped with a spoonful of the vinagrette. Serve with Cauliflower-Leek Puree on the side.
Drink some wine, and enjoy.

Cauliflower-Leek Puree

This recipe harks from my familie's days on the Atkins diet. Although it's no replacement for mashed potatoes, that doesn't mean it's not damn good! The subtle cauliflower flavor comes through really strong, and is complemented well by the leek. You can make it as cheesy as you want and add any herbs and spices that come to hand. Trust me, you'll like it.
Cauliflower-Leek Puree
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped
- 1 large leek, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 wedges spreadable cheese (french onion or swiss flavor)
- 1 tbsp butter (optional)
Boil Cauliflower, Leeks, and Garlic in water until tender. Strain and blend in a food processor with cheese, butter if desired, and any spices you want to add until smooth or your desired texture. Transfer back to pot, heat, and enjoy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Shrimp Tikka Masala with Lemon-Saffron Rice

Indian food is awesome. But did you know that you can make it at home?!?!?!
While Indian restaurants and their delicious, affordable buffets are ubiquitous here in Philly, it's always more fun to do it yourself, and thanks to companies like Seeds of Change and their line of Indian simmer sauces, preparing your own Indian feast is now really really easy!

Shrimp Tikka Masala

- 1 jar Tika Masala Sauce
- Fresh Shrimp, peeled (enough for 4)
- 1 medium Onion, chopped
- 1 medium Eggplant, peeled and chopped
- 1 c frozen peas
- Onion and Garlic Powders
- 2 tbsp Greek Yogurt
In a pot, saute Eggplant in oil until it begins to soften, then add Onion and sprinkle with salt. Add onion and garlic powders, stir, and cook until onions are translucent. Add sauce and broth and simmer until it comes to a boil. Add shrimp and peas and reduce to a simmer until the shrimp are pink on the outside. Turn heat off, stir in Greek Yogurt and let sit covered for 5 minutes before serving.

Lemon-Saffron Rice
- 1 c Jasmine Rice
-1 1/2 c water
- Pinch of Saffron
- 4 thin slices of Lemon
Boil water, and then stir in rice with a tablespoon of oil. Add the Saffron and let simmer until all of the water is absorbed. Turn heat off, arrange lemon slices on top of rice and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with fork and serve alongside Tikka Masala Shrimp with Onion and Mango Chutneys on the side.

variations: use any kind of jarred simmer sauce (curry, jalfrezzi, korma...), swap out shrimp for chicken or tofu or seitan, and add any veggies that come to hand (zucchini, mushrooms...)

Homemade Onion Chutney

If you're anything like me, the Onion Chutney at Indian restaurants often ends up being more of a side-dish than a condiment... I LOVE Onion Chutney, but when I get takeout it's hard to brave the annoyed looks of the cashiers as I keep asking for extra... And so, I decided to take matters into my own hands, and make my own. With an unlimited supply, the possibilities are endless. This stuff is great on everything from Indian Food to scrambeled eggs. And to top it all off, it takes about 5 minutes to make.

What are you waiting for?

Onion Chutney
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 2 cloves pressed garlic
- 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 c Chili Sauce
- 1 tsp each: Onion Powder, Curry, Cumin, Corriander, Chili Powder

Mix Chili Sauce with spices. In a small saucepan, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil and then add onions. Stir constantly to prevent onions from cooking too much and add onion powder and a dash of salt and then the vinegar. The vinegar should evaporate fast, and you don't want to cook your onions much - they should still be crunchy. Turn heat off and stir in your Chili Sauce mixture, transfer to a jar and let cool before capping and refridgerating. This should keep for weeks.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quinoa Breakfast Porridge with Blueberries

Quinoa Breakfast Porridge With Blueberries
- 1/2 c cooked Quinoa
- 1/4 c Vanilla Almond Milk or Milk
- Sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup)
- 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
- ground Ginger
- Handful of Blueberries
- Cinnamon

Spray small saucepan with butter-flavored cooking spray and add Quinoa, stirring constantly to prevent from burning. Mix in Almond Milk, sweetener of choice, Vanilla Extract and Ginger. Stir in Blueberries, cook until Berries are about to burst, transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with Cinnamon. Add salt or butter to taste.

Jerk Bacon and Broccoli Omelette with Ginger Honey-Mustard Carrots

I whipped this up for lunch the other day. Some leftover Jerk Sauce spooned on top rounded it out nicely, but ketchup or any old bbq sauce would suffice...
Jerk Bacon and Broccoli Omelet
- 3 eggs (1 yolk)
- 1 slice Turkey Bacon, diced and browned in a pan
- 1/2 c steamed Broccoli, diced
- Cheddar Cheese

Whisk eggs together, and pour into a hot pan. Once eggs are about halfway cooked, sprinkle on Bacon and Broccoli and once eggs are almost cooked through, add cheese and fold Omelet in half, cooking briefly on each side. Top with Jerk Sauce or ketchup, salt to taste, and dig in.

Ginger Honey-Mustard Carrots
- 2 Carrots, shredded
- 1 tbsp Honey-Mustard salad dressing
- ground Ginger
- Lemon Pepper

Shred carrots, mix them with salad dressing, and spoon them onto your plate. Sprinkle with ginger and lemon pepper. Enjoy.

variations: go vegetarian and swap out the Turkey Bacon for fake Bacon or Veggy Sausage

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cheese-Filled Turkey Burgers with Sun-Dried Tomato Onion Compote

I have this thing for cheese-filled burgers, and I like to top them with sauteed onions or mushrooms. Sometimes I cook the onions down in wine, sometimes in BBQ sauce, or even in Chili sauce, depending on the type of burger/theme of the meal...
This time, I decided to make spiced turkey burgers with an herby cheese filling, and topped it off with an onion and sun-dried tomato compote that complimented the meat very well.

Cheese-Filled Turkey Burgers
- Ground Turkey
- French Onion spreadable cheese
- Seasoning (smoke paprika, lemon pepper, salt)
- 5 leaves Fresh Sage, minced
- Herbs (tarragon, dill)

Season the meat with the paprika, lemon pepper, salt and half of the fresh sage, mixing with your hands until well combined. Form into patties, twice as many as the amount of burgers you want to make. Mix 2 to 3 wedges of spreadable cheese with tarragon, dill, and the rest of your sage, and then put a small spoonful on the middle of half of your burgers. Top each cheese-topped burger with another burger, pinch the edges shut, and form into a ball. Throw them on the grill and serve topped with the onion compote.

Sun-Dried Tomato Onion Compote

- 1 Vidalia Onion, sliced thin
- 1/2 package of Sun-Dried Tomatoes, julienned
- White Wine
- Sherry
- Spices (onion powder, thyme, pepper, mustard powder)

Soak the Sun-Dried Tomatos in White Wine for 20 minutes. In a frying pan, saute onions until translucent, then season with onion powder and salt. Add in the Sun-Dried Tomatos and season with pepper. Then add between 1/2 to 3/4 c of cooking Sherry, season with ground thyme and a couple dashes of mustard powder, and simmer until most of the liquid is dissolved.

I served these burgers with Garlic Spinach and Roasted Eggplant and Parsnip Fries, and a couple bottles of wine, of course...

It Was Awesome...

Roasted Eggplant and Parsnip Fries

I had this idea in my head for a few days until I finally got to make it. I've seen a lot of recipes for eggplant fries that have you coat the fries in breadcrumbs. I didn't do that, and only seasoned them, and although they weren't exactly crispy, they were firm enough, toasted on the outside and soft on the inside. The parsnips came out great as well, their roasty sweetness complimenting the salty-spicy seasoning very well.

Roasted Eggplant and Parsnip Fries

- 1 large Eggplant, peeled and sliced into thin strips
- 3 to 4 Parsnips, sliced into thin strips
- Olive Oil
- Spices (Garlic Powder, Smoked Paprika, Old Bay)

Preheat oven to 400. Slice Eggplant and Parsnips into thin, fry-shaped strips. Put into bowls and toss with a little bit of Olive Oil, and then add the spices and toss until well mixed. Place fries on baking sheets coated with butter-flavored cooking spray, and bake until they are golden and crispy, even a little charred, depending on your preference. It should take about 15 minutes, and the Eggplant will probably be done before the Parsnips. Renmove from oven, sprinkle with salt, and serve with ketchup or any other dipping sauce.

variations: use any seasoning at all with these, from salty-sweet to spicy... be creative, this recipe would also work with other veggies like beets, carrots or possibl even zucchini

Garlic Spinach

This dish is so simple that I feel silly even posting a recipe. But its simplicity is exactly what make it so good, celebrating the flavors of the garlic and spinach that complement each other so well. This goes great with anything from fish to steak, or even as a topping for a breakfast sandwich...

Garlic Spinach
(serves appx. 4)
- Garlic Cloves (the more the better), sliced thin
- 2 bags Baby Spinach
- Salt
In a pan, brown saute garlic until just beginning to brown, then toss in your spinach and sprinkle with salt. Use tongs to toss the spinach as it cooks, cooking till it is just wilted and still light green. Serve immediatly.

variations: add a little bit of sherry in for a nice winey flavor

Friday, June 3, 2011

Broiled Parmesan Cauliflower and Lemon Green Beens

Dinner with my family can be a difficult operation. I don't eat much meat, my sister doesn't eat seafood, and my parents are stuck somewhere in the middle... However, BBQ chicken is an easy crowd pleaser (I just throw a couple of Quorn Cutlets on the grill for myself), and tonight, instead of a regular BBQ sauce, we used a Garlic-Peanut grilling sauce, which went great with the charred taste of the grilled chicken and kept it moist.
The plan was to serve the chicken with another family favorite, Cheesy Cauliflower-Leek Puree, hailing from the days of my father's trials with the Atkins Diet, but after sauteing the cauliflower, we discovered that our leek had gone bad! What to do??? Well, I got creative; threw in some onions, some spices, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and threw it under the broiler for a few minutes. The result was a savory, crispy, oniony cauliflower dish, that along with some Lemon Green Beans that I whipped up, rounded out a deliciouse summer meal.(for the chicken, just marinate in the peanut sauce for a couple of hours, throw it on the grill, and charr a bit on each side)

Broiled Parmesan Cauliflower
- 1/2 head Cauliflower, chopped
- 1/2 Vidalia Onion, sliced thin
- Spices (onion + garlic powders, thyme, smoked paprika)
- Parmesan Cheese, grated
- Vegetable Broth

In a cast iron skillet saute the Cauliflower in Olive Oil until tender, then add a splash or two of veggie broth. Put your thin-sliced Onions on top, then sprinkle on the spices and cover, letting the steam cook the onions. Stir occasionally, trying not to mash the cauliflower too much, and when the liquid is gone, sprinkle on the Parmesan and stick it under the broiler until the top is brown and crispy. Top with chopped chives.

Lemon Green Beans

- Green Beans

- Lemon

- Lemon Pepper
- Salt

Steam green beans until al dente. Then throw them in a skillet with a spray of Olive Oil or a little butter. Cut a wedge from the lemon, squeeze the juice over the beans and throw the wedge into the pan. Season with Lemon Pepper and Salt and saute until heated through, but don't overcook the beans!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Veggie CheeseDog Wrap

Sandwiches are an art. At least as far as I'm concerned. Sure, sometimes it gets me into trouble; I'll get carried away, spending 10 or 15 minutes putting it all together, elaborating on finishing touches... I may not make it out the door in time, but I ALWAYS seem to enjoy my lunch!

This is what I packed today, so I haven't tried it and can't vouch for it yet. But it looks good, and really, what could be bad about a CheeseDog?

Veggie CheeseDog Wrap
- 1 whole wheat wrap

- 1 or 2 veggie hot dogs, sliced into strips

- 1/4 of a vidalia onion, sliced thin

- Cheddar Cheese

- 2 sweet gherkins, sliced thin

Heat a pan with cooking spray, toss in your hotdog strips. When they start to crisp, throw in your onions. Place cheese on the wrap, then thin sliced pickles, then top with crispy hotdog strips and then onions once the onions have just softened and begun to brown. Roll it all up, pack with a bagful of carrots or whatever else, and enjoy with ketchup or hot sauce if you know what's good.

variations: add anything that would be good on a hotdog - roasted red peppers, basil, sauerkraut, mustard... or add scrambled eggs for an awesome breakfast burrito!