Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A couple of coleslaws

I'm not sure what the rules are for considering something coleslaw.  When I was a kid it came from KFC and was ignored in its sad little Styrofoam cup.  Now, I think of it as a salad that it is featured in many magazines and episodes of Chopped often atop sandwiches.

To me... coleslaw consists of crunchy veggies mixed with just the right amount of sauce (the veggies must be recognizable in taste and texture and covered but not dripping in sauce).  I think it's delicious!

The following slaw recipe is pretty versatile depending on what kind of sauce you put on it.  You could use mayo, sugar and vinegar to get a more traditional slaw but I prefer something a little more sweet and sour (not to be confused with the bright red sauce that accompanies crab rangoons).

sweet, sour coleslaw

4 small carrots
1/4 purple cabbage

1/4 Cup peanut butter
2 T rice wine vinegar
2 T water
a handful of sesame seeds
a handful of peanuts

Shred carrots and cabbage with the food processor's shredding disc ... ( or use a vegetable peeler to create more ribbon-like pieces of carrot and chop your cabbage finely) and set aside in a bowl.
In another bowl mix peanut butter, vinegar and water until it turns liquid-y and has the desired balance of sweet and sour (you may need to add more of one of the 3 ingredients to get to this point).
Combine veggies and sauce.
Garnish with peanuts and sesame seeds!

I had extra carrots so I also made this other, sweeter salad with raisins.

carrot raisin slaw/salad

3 small carrots
1/4 C raisins
2 or 3 T mayo
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar

Shred carrots.
Mix with raisins in a bowl.
In another bowl, mix up mayo, sugar and vinegar.
Combine then enjoy!

In preparation for days where I will need to pack my lunch, I now have some tasty food waiting for me!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Black Bean "Burger" with Beet and Sweet Potato Roasted Fries

I finally found the time to spend a few hours in the kitchen, taking my time, making some good good food.  Last evening as a Spring rainstorm, that's been happening off and on all week, stormed on, I cooked up a storm in my happy kitchen.

Shout-out to my husband for helping me clean up the colossal mess that came with dinner.

I modified a black bean/quinoa burger I've made a few times before and here's the recipe I ended up using:


1/2 Cup uncooked quinoa

roughly chopped vegetables:
     2 carrots
     1/2 red onion
     1/4 of a small purple cabbage

2 cloves garlic

spice blend:
     1.5 tsp. paprika
     1.5 tsp cumin
     1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
     1/2 tsp. cayenne

1 can black beans, drained

2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sriracha

1/2-1 cup breadcrumbs

olive oil
salt and pepper

cook quinoa with water or vegetable broth.
meanwhile, wash and roughly chop the vegetables.
heat olive oil in a pan and cook vegetables until they begin to soften.
add cooked vegetables, spice mixture and beans to a food processor and begin to mash them together.  (the length of time you process the mixture depends on how chunky you'd like your burger.)

next, mix the tomato paste, soy and sriracha. then add to the bean and vegetable mixture in the food processor until combined.
transfer mixture to a large bowl.

the quiona should be finished by now.  add quinoa and mix everything together with your hands.  slowly add breadcrumbs until the mixture starts to hold together if you ball it up, and loses most of its moisture.  it will be slightly sticky.  make into round patty shapes and set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

while the burgers were chilling and settling in the fridge I made beet and sweet potato roasted fries.

one beet & one sweet potato, both peeled and sliced into thin rounds

salt, pepper, olive oil

optional:  spices such as rosemary, cumin, cayenne...

I saw a recipe for beet chips with rosemary, salt and cayenne here, which I tried.

mix up a small amount of olive oil, a pinch of rosemary, cayenne and salt.
let the beets sit in this mixture for about 10 minutes.

I kept the sweet potatoes plain except for a small amount of salt, pepper and olive oil.

roast at 375 for about 20-25 minutes, turning the veggies over halfway.

Before I cooked the burgers in a pan on the stove, I chopped up some more purple cabbage, red onion and a half of an avocado to top the burgers with.  I also chopped up one adobo pepper (great fridge item to have on hand)... the kind that come in little cans that can be found in the Hispanic section of the grocery store and mixed it with mayonnaise.

Then, I heated some olive oil in the pan and cooked each burger for about 3-5 minutes per side.  The ingredients are all pretty much cooked, the mixture just needs to heat through.

Get that burger on a bun with some toppings and dinner is served!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Cara, this post is dedicated to you, the true lover of breakfast.  When I do take time to make something for breakfast other than cereal or oatmeal, it's usually waffles.  Ryan and I got a waffle maker as a wedding gift, and I LOVE it.  It's just a simple waffle maker like the one found here.  

Now, it shouldn't come as a surprise when I tell you that the best recipe for waffles is the kind made from scratch as written by Mark Bittman in my favorite cookbook How To Cook Everything.  If I may, Bittman says the following about pancake batter, but I feel that the same applies to waffles:

     "Americans must have been sadly alienated from the kitchen for pancake mixes to ever have gained a foothold in the market, for these are ridiculously easy to make."  

Preach on Mark.

Anyway.  Here's the basic recipe.  I always like to add a little something special to the waffles.  Be it some multi-grain flour, fruit, or spice.

2 C all purpose flour 
     (I like to mix 1 C multi-grain or whole wheat flour for a heartier, more        flavorful waffle)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T sugar
     ( I like to use 1 T brown sugar instead)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 C milk
2 eggs
4 T (1/2 stick) butter melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla

suggested add-ins:  1/2 tsp. each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom
thinly sliced bananas or apples added right before you close the waffle maker
chopped almonds, walnuts

melt the butter first so that it cools back down!
brush waffle iron lightly with oil and pre-heat it.
combine the dry ingredients.
mix together the milk and eggs.
stir in the butter and vanilla.
stir in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
if the mixture seems to think to pour, add a little more milk.

spread a ladelful or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3-5 minutes, depending on your iron.  serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.

topped with chopped almonds, real maple syrup and butter, of course. 

i like to eat my waffles in sections! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Childhood Memories

I have a fondness for sense memories that involve food.  As I strolled through the market doing my grocery shopping yesterday I had a sudden craving for tapioca pudding. This creamy snack reminds me of afternoons at my Grandma's house. It's a total comfort food. I had to get some. I like the combination of creamy custard and the little snap of the tapioca pearls (I know people hate this for the same reason!).  I wandered to the Jell-O aisle (have you been there?! It's CRAZY!) and bought a box of Island Brand small tapioca pearls.  

I decided to put my own spin on the flavor by adding some warm spices.

Here are the directions according to the package.    

1/2 cup Tapioca
3 cups Milk
2 Eggs
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla. 

Combine Tapioca, milk and salt in a 1 1/2 quart pan. Stir until boiling. Simmer 5 minutes, uncovered, over lowest possible heat, add sugar gradually. Beat eggs, mix in some of the hot Tapioca mixture very slowly to equalize the temperature of the two mixtures (to avoid curdling). Return all to pan. Bring to a boil, stir 3 minutes more over lowest possible heat (or longer to achieve pudding consistency). Stir constantly. Cool 15 minutes then add vanilla. Serve warm or chilled.

Instead of adding the vanilla after the pudding cooled, I added in the final stirring/cooking stage.  I also added: 1 tsp each of cinnamon, cardamom, freshly grated nutmeg.  topped each serving with a few chopped almonds

I let the pudding sit and cool a little to firm up.  But, I like to eat it warm.  It's almost a good substitute for ice cream in the winter!  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Found Winter "Stew"

Sunday brought unexpected snow and sub zero temperatures, so leaving the house to go do my regular grocery trip wasn't gonna happen.  When dinner time rolled around I scrounged the fridge for ingredients I could throw together.  I found...

2 chicken sausages
half of a red pepper (already chopped... bonus!)
some red onion (also already chopped... hooray!!)
1/3 bag of baby spinach.

With the snow and temperatures falling, I couldn't think of anything else to do with those chicken sausages but make but comfort food.  Beautiful magazine photos of sausage and white bean stew in rustic bowls popped into my head.  This dish seemed intuitive to me though I've never made it before!  Luckily a quick search of the pantry yielded one can of white beans!  I was in luck.

Next I thought about what I could create to bring a creamy element to the dish without the use of actual cream or cheese (to keep things on the lighter side). I experimented with making a little sauce or gravy (it worked!!).
Here's what I did...

For the sauce:

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1-2 Cups chicken broth

in a medium sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat and slowly whisk in the flour.  it will mix into a crumbly mixture.    
next, slowly add about 1 cup of the broth, whisking continuously until flour lumps dissolve. reduce heat to med-low and whisk/stir.  (when my sauce was thick enough to coat a wooden spoon I called it done.)  scrape sauce from pan, put into measuring cup or bowl and set aside.

For the rest:

2 chicken sausages, sliced into small discs
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/3 bag baby spinach, chopped to small pieces
1 can white beans drained and rinsed
olive oil, salt, and pepper

in a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil.  add onions and peppers to the pan on med-high heat.  cook until onions are soft.  add sausage.  cook for about 5 minutes, then add beans and stir.  next, add the previously made sauce and begin to stir it all together.  add more broth if you think the liquid is too thick. lastly add the spinach until it begins to wilt.  season all with salt and pepper. serves 2.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Another Quinoa Bowl Idea

Happy New Year!!

This week I finally feel like I'm getting back on track after the weird schedules of Christmas and New Years plus winter blizzard/snow day craziness!  Was it just me or did it seem like there were more Christmas cookies around than usual? It was wonderful to be able to spend time with family and friends, but I'm also grateful to be getting back to a normal schedule, though I'm still on semester break from school.  On Sunday I planned, shopped and have been cooking again!!

I haven't been using a lot of recipes lately.  Either out of just convenience or instinct, I'm not sure which it is yet, I've been doing more ingredient combining rather than following others written recipes.  A couple recipes I know quite well by now as they've been popping up at the table many times this season (for instance: butternut squash soup, roasted Brussels sprouts, and black bean soup).

Here's a dish I made last night.... a tasty quinoa bowl that comes together quickly.  I like to use quinoa in a dish where I might use rice and vice versa.  Lately I have been just throwing things together that sound good.

On Winter evenings  I find myself just wanting to eat something steaming hot that comes in a big bowl and can be eaten with a fork or spoon rather than the sandwiches, salads and grilled items that are so good in the warmer months.

What ingredients would you put in a quinoa or rice bowl?  

1 c quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 C vegetable broth or water

1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 C frozen corn
a handfull or two of raw spinach
1/4 lb. pork sausage
1 C black beans, drained and rinsed

salt, pepper, olive oil

condiments:  hot sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream (salsa might also be good!)

Set the water/broth on the stove on high heat, then rinse the quinoa.
Add quinoa and heat to boiling.  Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low.

Prep other ingredients.

Heat olive oil in large skillet and add onions, salt and pepper.  Cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add sausage breaking it up into small pieces.  When sausage begins to brown, Add corn and beans.  Stir and cook on medium heat.  Add spinach last right before plating.  Cook until lightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper and add hot sauce if desired.

Check on the quinoa.  It should be done and the water should almost be gone.  Keep covered and if it's done turn off the heat, if not quite done, keep it on low for a few minutes more.

Mix quinoa and other ingredients in a large bowl.

Serve with toppings such as cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, or salsa... perhaps avocado!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vegan Coconut Nog Recipe

We just had our first big snowstorm in Boston and I've spent the day in my kitchen trying out new recipes.

As the egg nog begins to disappear from the grocery stores, I'm still keen to hold on to this rich, winter treat.

Because real egg nog can be a bit overwhelming for the senses (as well as the stomach) with its cream and raw eggs, I've been fond of the dairy free So Delicious coconut nog I found at my supermarket. And today, I had a revelation: I can totally make that myself!

With a little taste testing, this is what I came up with for a dairy free, vegan and delicious homemade coconut nog.

Homemade Vegan Coconut Nog

1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
2 Tbsp raw sugar
1 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground turmeric, optional (this gives the nog a mellow yellow color, without the egg yolks)

In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk until it is steamy, but not quite boiling. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat.

Stir in almond milk, vanilla, nutmeg and turmeric.

Serve warm or chilled. Add rum if desired (try coconut flavored rum!), and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Happy New Year, Allison. It was so good to visit with you over the holidays! And eat food from your kitchen. xoxo Cara