Friday, April 29, 2011

Stuffed Poblanos (Chorizo, Shrimp, Rice)

I have another confession. I have yet to successfully "sneak" anything into P's diet. Or to successfully "sneak" a vegetarian meal in. All the vegetarian meals I make are for just me, usually for lunches during the week. This week, I decided to try and sneak in Soyrizo instead of chorizo into this recipe. I mean, the chorizo is not the main meat, just there for the flavor. So I put the pork chorizo back on the shelf, and took home the Soyrizo. First thing when I get home....P helps to put groceries away and spots the Soyrizo. Sigh. So much for being sneaky.

Once the peppers were done though, P didn't even notice that I used the Soyrizo. It did the trick, and had all the flavor needed for this dish. And was A LOT better for you! I also used long grain brown rice for this recipe. It did extend the cooking time a bit, but is so much better for you!

Recipe adapted from Food Network-Guy Fieri
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 pound Mexican-style chorizo, I used Soyrizo!
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
6 large, fresh poblano chiles
1 pound shrimp, shelled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup shredded mixed Mexican cheese

In a medium saucepan, heat oil and chorizo, cook for 3 minutes. Add peppers, jalapeno, onions and garlic. Cook until translucent, then add rice and cook until all the grains of the rice are coated with oil. Add all liquids and stir over high heat for 3 minutes, cover and reduce heat to low. Check rice for doneness after 40-50 minutes.

 I just love how red and green peppers look! 

The mixture before rice is added.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place poblano chiles on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, cut top 1/4 of chile off and remove ribs and seeds and peel. Split open.

When rice is finished cooking, fluff with fork and stir in shrimp. Stuff chiles with 1/6 of the rice mixture. Place all the chiles on baking sheet and place into oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, mix cheeses together and cover pepper with cheese. Broil for 3 minutes to melt and brown the cheese.

Yum! These were really good! I highly recommend trying this!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oregano Chicken and Potatoes

I finally purchased Vefa's Kitchen. I am so excited about this book. It is the bible of Greek cooking, and Vefa is the Julia Childs of Greece. Yay!
Take a look in all its loveliness:

It even looks Greek! All I need to do now is spray some Windex on it.

I decided to try two simple recipes for my first (of many!) out of this book. The Chicken With Fresh Oregano and Potatoes Roasted With Lemon. Simple, classic Greek flavors. Nothin' fancy. I changed the recipes slightly, my adaptations are listed below.

4 lb yellow potatoes, cut into wedges
5 T lemon juice
pinch of dry oregano
1 garlic clove, chopped
salt and pepper
5 T olive oil
5 T butter

Place potatoes, lemon juice, oregano, garlic in 9x13 pan. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350. Drizzle potatoes with oil, dot with butter. Cover with foil, roast 1 hour. Uncover, roast and additional 1/2 hour until tender and slightly browned. This says it serves 6, but it made a boat-load of potatoes!

Chicken with Fresh Oregano:
2 boneless chicken breasts (Vefa calls for a whole chicken, cut up)
1 lemon, cut into wedges
salt and pepper
5 T olive oil
1 cup white wine
3 T chopped fresh oregano
2 T lemon juice

Rub chicken with lemon wedge, season with salt and pepper. I cut the chicken breasts into large chunks. Heat oil in pan. Add chicken and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, turning a few times until lightly browned. Pour wine over chicken, cook for a few minutes to evaporate alcohol. Add oregano and lemon juice, cover, simmer about 40 minutes. Chicken will be tender.

I served this with roasted carrots and zucchini. Drizzle veggies with olive oil and lemon pepper, roast in 350 oven for 30 minutes.

The final meal

Yum! Next to try: Phoenician Honey Cookies!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cajun Pasta

Let me preface this post with some facts. P has a sensitive stomach and a picky palette. Therefore when he doesn't like something, that does not mean that millions-perhaps billions-of people will agree. He also asked me to announce in the blog that turkey sausage is not sausage and does not count as sausage. He disapproves.

Now onto the recipe. I got this recipe from The Rookie Baker, and adapted it a bit. Added peppers, reduced the amount of half and half, used whole wheat pasta, etc.

Cajun Pasta with Turkey Sausage

1 box of whole wheat penne pasta
1/2 cup half and half
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red and green bell pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (16-ounce) package turkey kielbasa, cut into bite-size pieces

In a large pot, boil water for pasta.

Brown kielbasa over medium heat in a large skillet. Once browned, transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

In the same large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute for approximately 2 minutes. Add peppers and saute 1-2 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant. Meanwhile, boil pasta and cook until al dente.

Add white wine and chicken broth to skillet and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom. Let wine or broth reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in Cajun seasoning, paprika, pepper, salt, and tomato paste.

Add half and half and heat to almost bubbling, then reduce heat to low. Allow the cream mixture to reduce, approximately 5 minutes. I added the sausage back to the pan here to reheat.

Drain pasta and add to skillet, toss.

The verdict: Tasty, quick and easy weeknight meal. P did not care for the turkey sausage, the Cajun seasoning, or the cream sauce. (basically the whole dish) More leftovers for me! This dish is not AMAZING, but better than out-of-a-box and not labor intensive.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Strawberry Yellow Cake

I have a confession to make. I am not a good cake-baker. Those of you who know me, you have seen lots of desserts come out of my kitchen...but if you think about...very few cakes. And even fewer layer cakes.

This is because I make an ugly cake. I have decided, since attempting this cake, that this is a project I need to work on. Ugly cakes are good for some things (I have a friend that has the ugliest possible cake for her birthday-on purpose), but I should be able to make a beautiful layer cake.

I will share this recipe with you, in the hopes that you will be able to make it pretty. The cake tastes delicious, except P said "I don't really like strawberries". This means he will not really eat much of the cake, which means unless I want to gain 10 pounds, we will not eat the whole cake. Sad. But if you like strawberries, you will like this cake.

The batter:

I used a recipe from King Arthur Flour.

2 cups sugar
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt

Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy. Ugly cake problem #1: I added two sticks of butter by mistake, not 1.5 sticks. Oops.

Combine the milk and vanilla and add, all at once. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.

With the mixer running at low speed, add 1 egg. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Repeat this procedure with the second egg. Continue adding the eggs, scraping after each addition, until all 4 are added.

After the last egg is added, scrape the bowl once more, then beat at medium-high speed for 30 more seconds.

Add to pans, I used 9" round pans. Ugly cake problem #2: I lined with parchment paper instead of greasing and flouring (I was out of shortening). This resulted in a weird looking shape.

Bake for 27 minutes for 9" layers.

The cake is done when it's golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

Strawberry filling:
Mix 2 cups strawberries, sliced into quarters and 1 T strawberry jam.

I used the recipe for buttercream frosting on the back of the sugar box. It was really runny, and not that great. I will search for another buttercream recipe. Ugly cake problem #3.

To assemble:
Place one cake layer on plate. Spread with thin layer of frosting, top with layer of strawberries.

See odd ugly-cake shape due to parchment paper?

Top with other cake layer.

Ack! Odd shape, and I think thicker than normal due to my butter addition.

And now, due to the runny frosting, I present my Ugly Cake!

I will work on this. I promise. But, aside from the looks, it does taste good! If you like strawberries.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spontaneous Grill Night

Sorry the blog has been so quiet the past few days! We had family in town for a few days, they left Easter morning. Friday night we decided to grill out. We don't have a grill at the apartment, but the complex pool has a lovely gas grill.

Brief rant: I know the charcoal vs gas grill is an eternal debate. After owning a charcoal grill for the last two years, I can honestly say I will never get one again. I can't ever light it, P has to do it every time, and adjusting the temp is such a pain. Maybe the flavor is better, but just get some grilling wood and grill on that! Slow roasting anything in the charcoal grill was impossible for us. Gas grill all the way! 

Anywho, we opted for Chicken and Shrimp Kebabs, Sweet Potatoes, and Asparagus. All grilled. For dessert, strawberries, whipped cream, and pound cake. Since this was last minute, I will admit I purchased the pound cake. 

This is one giant sweet potato. Whole Foods must have mutant sweet potatoes. For my grilled sweet potatoes, slice into fry-size strips (peeled), and place in aluminum foil tray or foil tray. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and shake 1-2 tablespoons steak seasoning over them. I have used the McCormick Steak Seasoning, and the Paula Deen brand, and both were good. The reason I use steak seasoning is for a little extra kick. If you don't have any on hand, kosher salt, cracked pepper, and a touch of cayenne pepper also do the trick. It takes about 40 minutes to grill these guys, so we usually put them on first.

For the asparagus, place in a foil tray, drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, and slice 1-2 cloves garlic to add to the pan. Salt and pepper to taste. These grill for about 20 minutes until tender.

For the kebabs, we assembled chicken and shrimp. I kept the seasoning plain, just salt and pepper.

And the veggies. Onion (sweet or red), mushrooms, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper.

Thread onto soaked bamboo (or metal) skewers.

Grill until done. By the time we got done grilling it was dark outside! As it turns out, the pool area doesn't have lights at night! oops!

For dessert, sliced strawberries in a bowl, add 1/4 cup sugar. Keep the strawberries a little wet after washing them to get a nice syrup.

Terrible picture because it was dark, but slice of pre-made pound cake, strawberries, whipped cream.

Not bad for a last minute meal for guests! Yum!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Asian Potstickers with Cabbage and Pork

I have no idea what possessed me to try these. But I had saved two different recipes since 2009, so clearly this has been on my list of things to try for awhile. Despite having saved those two recipes, I just decided to wing it, even though I've never made potstickers before and don't claim to be an expert in asian inspired cooking. They turned out pretty well! I made them along with honey-soy monkfish, brown rice, and a veggie stirfry. P thought the potstickers were the best part of the meal. Good stuff.

I have read that once assembled, you can stick these babies in the freezer to cook later. This may be a good way to have premade appetizers/finger food in your freezer. Or to freeze the "extras". Because now I have like a dozen or so leftover in my fridge.

The only thing I will say...the assembly took awhile. Much longer than I anticipated. You have been warned.

Cabbage-Pork Potstickers
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and grated
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 c bean sprouts
1/2 head green cabbage, sliced thin and into 2-3 in long strips
1 head baby bok choy, cut into thin strips
1 tea soy sauce
1 T sherry
1 T sliced green onion
1/2 lb ground pork
1 package premade potsticker wrappers (in produce section)
2 T canola oil

Heat the sesame oil over med heat in a skillet or wok. Add ginger and garlic, stir for one minute. Add bean sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, green onion. Saute 1-2 minutes. Add sherry and soy sauce. Saute until soft (4-5 minutes). Add ground pork, cook until no longer pick, crumbling into small bits.

Once the pork is cooked and the vegis are nice and soft, cool slightly. I recommend laying out the wrappers on parchment paper, assembly line style. For speed. Get a small bowl or glass of water to dip your fingers into.

Add one spoonful of the pork/vegi mixture to each wrapper. Moisten fingers with water, fold over the edges to seal. Warning: if you overstuff (which I did towards the end because I got tired of making these...) they will burst.

Heat skillet over med heat again. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil, heat. Add potstickers to pan (will probably only fit half of batch in pan), cook for two minutes until brown. Flip over, add 1/2 cup water to pan, cover, let steam 4 minutes. Uncover, cook until liquid evaporates and they are golden brown.

I didn't really count, but I think this made about 30-35 potstickers.

The whole meal:


Monday, April 18, 2011

Baked Spaghetti

I had a craving for cheese, pasta, and tomato sauce. Who doesn't? I mean, really?? I didn't help that I came across this post from Jessica at How Sweet It Is. I have made Baked Ziti countless times, but never even tasted Baked Spaghetti. I adapted the recipe slightly. I would highly recommend using fresh mozzarella instead of the pre-shredded version. It is not that much more expensive, and tastes so much better. The only downside is that it doesn't come in low fat. :) Same goes for parmesan. Buy a block, don't use the Kraft version-cheese that doesn't have to be refrigerated weirds me out (think Velveeta, Cheese Whiz, etc)!

I went a bit heavy on the cheese. You could use less to lighten this up. 

3/4 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
salt and pepper, to taste
10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 cups pasta sauce
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

And what pasta dish is complete without garlic bread?

Garlic Bread:
1/2 baguette, split lengthwise
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, minced

350 oven.
Boil and drain spaghetti.

Add olive oil to skillet over medium heat. Cook onions until soft (about 5-6 min), add garlic, cook another minute. 

Add ground beef, cool until no longer pink. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add basil, cook until wilted.

Add cooked spaghetti and 1 cup sauce, stir to combine.

Spray 13x9 pan with cooking spray. Add 1/2 spaghetti mixture, top with 1/2 cup sauce and 1/2 cheese. 

Repeat, topping with remaining cheese.

Bake 20 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned. 

For garlic bread: Combine butter and garlic. Schmear over bread. set oven to broil, broil 2-3 minutes until browned.

Yum! This was really very good, and the leftovers are amazing!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

Call me a snob, but I really won't eat store-bought cookies. They just taste processed and dry. The only exception is when the are used in another recipe (aka Oreo cookie crust for an ice cream pie-yum!). P, on the other hand, will eat any cookie in mass quantities. Last weekend he sat down with a bag of frosted animal crackers and ate the whole bag. Does he stay skinny?-yes, will he have diabetes if he keeps that up?-yes. To prevent him from eating entire bags of store-bought cookies, I try to make cookies that are at least a bit better for him. These Spiced Oatmeal Cookies are delicious, soft and chewy with a nice hint of spice (molasses and cinnamon).

1/2 c butter, soft
1.5 c sugar
1/2 c molasses
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 3/4 c flour
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
2 c oatmeal (uncooked, regular)
1 c raisins

375 oven. Beat butter until creamy, gradually add sugar and molasses, beating well.
Add eggs and vanilla.

Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients. Add to butter mixture, beat at low until blended.

Stir in oatmeal and raisins.

Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet. I line mine with parchment paper for easy cleanup.

Bake 9-12 minutes until golden. Cool on sheets on a rack for 5 minutes. Cool on rack completely. Makes 4-5 dozen.

Yum! Lucas watched me cook these, isn't he cute?