Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vegetarian Enchiladas

Along side the picture below of (post from Saturday, February 20) is a picture of the enchiladas I created to grace the plate with the Green Chili Rice. In a shout-out to my friend Lee, who has gone vegan for Lent, these enchiladas can easily be made vegan too.

The base for the filling of these enchiladas is mushrooms. I love using mushrooms to replace meat since they have a good earthy flavor profile. Think portabella mushrooms...they make a great "burger" when done up right.

Like most children, my boys wouldn't come running to the table if I announced we were having mushrooms. But "portabellas" or "porcinis" may sound exotic to little ears, or you can just say they this recipe is for enchililadas, and leave it to that.

Feel free to alter the filling as you wish, using other vegetables to replace the mushrooms in such...

Vegetarian Enchiladas

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz package of portabella mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup ( or 4 oz can) of sliced black olives
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup light sour cream (OR--silken tofu to make this dish Vegan)
8 - 8 inch tortillas
1 cup jarred red enchilada sauce
optional: top with thinly sliced Colby Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

Add the mushrooms, olives and yellow pepper to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened.

Remove from the heat and add the oregano, cumin, salt, pepper and sour cream (or silken tofu). Mix well.

Place 1/8 of the vegetable mixture on the end of a tortilla and roll up, placing in a 9x13 glass dish seem side down. Repeat 7 times.

Pour enchilada sauce over all the top of the enchiladas, and top with cheese, if using.

Bake 20-30 minutes or until the edges of the tortilla brown slightly.

Serves 4-6.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Green Chili Rice

We're about day 4 into my new (temporary?) vegetarian lifestyle and I have to say I'm having a blast. Really. It has been so fun to have a new angle with which to research recipes, try recipes and do some new cooking.

This recipe is hardly new though. I recall vividly the first time I tasted it, at my friend Noelle's house when I was in grade school. Noelle's dad is a true gourmet, and when he made this rice dish for us, I was hooked.

I had forgotten about the recipe until I recently ran across an old recipe box in a dark recess of my kitchen. Remember recipe boxes? I haven't used mine in many years, so when I found Noelle's dad's recipe for Green Chili Rice, I was thrilled.

The original recipe called for a stick of butter, lots of full-fat sour cream and cheese and the like. It also used white rice. I replaced the butter with a mere 2 teaspoons of olive oil (the butter *really* wasn't necessary with all the cheese) and the full-fat cottage cheese, sour cream, and cheddar cheese with lightened versions.

I wasn't sure what all my changes would do to the taste, but let me tell you, I was transported back to the 5th grade as soon as I tasted this dish. Maybe I need to find my old Swatch Watch and neon telephone cord belt and really get into the 5th grade mind set.

Green Chili Rice
(works great as an easy side dish, but also a good main dish when paired with a salad or soup)

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup lightened sour cream
1 cup lightened cottage cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
a pinch of ground pepper
2 - 4 oz cans of diced green chili peppers
1/3 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.

While the onion and garlic are cooking, in a medium bowl mix the rice, sour cream, cottage cheese, salt, pepper and green chilis. Add the onion and garlic once cooked.

Pour into a 9x9 glass baking dish. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese begins to brown a bit.

Serves 6.

(see the side dish there, next to those *amazing* vegetarian enchiladas (recipe next week)? That is the green chili rice. Yum.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shrimp Ceviche and my Lenten Challenge

Happy Fat Tuesday to you. Need a festive dish that isn't so fat but still tastes decadent and is great for a celebration? Try this Shrimp Ceviche. Unlike a *true* ceviche, the shrimp is cooked and mixed with wonderful melange of goodness.

"But SPC," you may be thinking, "isn't ceviche more of a summer dish?" Yes. Which is exactly why it fits the bill for a cold winter celebration or everyday meal. It tastes like summer. So close your eyes and eat some, and dream of the warmer weather to come.

Shrimp Ceviche

2 pounds shrimp (I used precooked shrimp, so I didn't have to pre-cook it)
6 limes, juiced
1 large orange, juiced (use a blood or sour orange, if available)
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 small bunch cilantro, minced (about 1/2 - 1 cup)
1 serrano chili, deseeded and minced
2 avocados, diced
1 English cucumber, diced
Tortilla chips

Cook and peel the shrimp if necessary and cut into 1/2 pieces. Mix with the lime and orange juice and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 8.

Mix the tomato, onion, cilantro, and chili. Combine with the shrimp mixture.

Immediately before serving, dice and add the avocado and cucumber.

Eat with tortilla chips or a spoon. :)

Makes about 6 cups of ceviche.

Side note: I am going to particularly celebrate Fat Tuesday this year, because as you may have read, tomorrow I begin our family's vegetarian challenge. No shrimp ceviche, no bacon, heck, not even a smidge of anything that was once breathing.

So let this vegetarian journey begin...


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Hope you and yours enjoy a warm (in your heart, if not in your climate) Valentine's Day!

Hope your day is full of sweet surprises,

Friday, February 12, 2010

Asian Salmon Burgers with Lime Mayonnaise

This recipe surprised me. I mean, I never set out to make things that my kids won’t eat, but there are certain dishes that I create that are sort of “a wing and a prayer” type meal.

Asian Salmon Burgers don’t cry “kiddie food” to me and most likely you may have already decided that this is a recipe you won’t be serving your own brood anytime soon. But before you surf on over to another site, let me persuade you…

These burgers are:

Super Healthful
Quick to Make

Using canned wild Salmon that has been de-boned and de-skinned makes this recipe extra fast. Side note: if you aren't that keen on Salmon, the fresh and bold flavors of the other ingredients make this a very non-fishy Salmon recipe (does that even make sense?).

Asian Salmon Burgers

2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup minced onion (I used red onion)
1/2 jalepeno, deseeded and minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
zest and juice one lime,divided use
1 cup bread crumbs
1 - 14.5 oz can deboned Wild Salmon
1/4 cup mayonnaise, divided use

Preheat broiler.

Mix all
ingredients, except mayonnaise, reserving 1 teaspoon of lime juice for another use.

Add 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and test the mixture. Can you form a patty with it? Is it too crumbly? If it is too crumbly, add another tablespoon of mayonnaise.

Form 4-6 patties and place on a cookie sheet. Broil for 5-6 minutes or until browned. Flip and repeat.

While the burgers are broiling, mix remaining 2-3 tablespoons of mayonnaise with the reserved lime juice to use as a topping on the burgers.

Serve each burger with a dollop of lime mayonnaise and some cilantro. We used pitas, and the boys gobbled up these burgers quicker than you can say, "really? you like them?"

Serves 4.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow Day

It's a snow day here. You havin' a snow day too? Here are a couple of fun kitchen ideas to help keep little hands busy:

Jersey Baby's Playdoh recipe

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Homemade Granola Bars

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Homemade Pudding

We just made some chocolate pudding, which I layered with mini-marshmallows and Annie's Honey Bunnies to create...

S'Mores Parfaits:

Layer a bit of chocolate pudding, followed by a layer of marshmallows, more pudding and then some honey bunnies on top. I tried to get a photo of this creation when the boys were eating it, but I stepped out of the eating area to grab my camera and came back seemingly seconds later to find:

That R is a speedy eater.

Well, we're off to go traipsing in the snow.


Monday, February 8, 2010

There's a hole in my kitchen, dear Liza, dear Liza

We've been looking up for much of the weekend, and into this week, as we have had a good snow, and more is to come tomorrow. So how appropriate that our looking up continues in the kitchen.

Let me explain...

We live in an old house. Old houses are wonderful in many ways: lots of architectural character and fine wood working are just two of them. But old houses also creak, have leaks and at least in our house, offer a peak...

What began as a very small suspicious area of moisture on our kitchen ceiling, is now a full fledged hole, created by SPH as he investigated the area. The boys are amazed that now they can peak up the hole and see the bath tub in their bathroom. I am less-than-amazed, more in a state of wonderment, as in "I wonder how much this is going to cost to repair?" The plumber arrives tomorrow, so we shall see. In the meantime, G and R will be resigned to showering in our bathroom.

Speaking of sneak peaks, a very elite artist's reception was held this weekend in Columbus. I was able to snap a portrait of the artist as a young man:

R was chosen to display his "Kandinsky style line and color study" in our city's Municipal Building. If he starts wearing berets, I may be concerned; but for now, his monster truck shirt is his favorite.

Lastly, I know that lots of the readers of this blog are into local foods, organics and healthy options. I wanted to share an idea for Valentine's Day:

Go to Equal Exchange's website and you can pick up some organic chocolate or coffees. If you enter "chocolatelove" they will ship it to you for free.

Speaking of chocolate, I have a fun kid's dessert/snack I am sharing with R and G today after school. I'll snap some photos and share.

Have a sweet week-

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Whiter Shade of Pale Chili

I've been on the hunt for a good white chili recipe for awhile. My friend Paige forwarded me a recipe, which I combined with another friend's recipe and then altered in my usual Sweet Pea style.

This recipe is good. A lot of times when I am trying to develop a new recipe, it takes a few times to come up with something that is worthy of sharing. I have only made this White Chili once, but it is at the top of my "Make Again" list.

Ready for the best part? While I adapted this to make in the slow cooker, you can easily speed this up and do it on your stovetop. However you choose, this tastes good.

Slow Cooker White Chili

3-4 skinless chicken thighs, bone-in if possible
2 large onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 quart chicken broth
6 cups white beans (either 3 - 15 oz cans of white beans, drained or 2 cups of dried beans that have been soaked and are tender)
1 - 4 oz can diced green chilis
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
additional salt and pepper to taste (probably about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon)
Garnish with a lime slice and chopped cilantro leaves

**If you want to add a little extra flavor and are using the slow cooker, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the chicken, onions and garlic before you place them in the slow cooker. To do this, cook the chicken for about 3-4 minutes per side, flipping once. After you cook the chicken, add 1 cup of the broth to the skillet to deglaze the pan and get up those tasty browned bits off the bottom of the skillet, then add everything to the slow cooker.**

Add all ingredients except the "additional salt and pepper to taste" in the slow cooker. Cook on high 6-7 hours, low 10-12 hours.

Remove the chicken thighs and shred with two forks (it will just fall apart). Add the shredded chicken back into the slow cooker and stir. Season to taste.

Serve with a lime slice and chopped cilantro.

Serves 6


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pine Mouth

Have you heard of Pine Mouth? I certainly hadn't until a friend mentioned that she had eaten some pine nuts and had a metallic/bitter taste in her mouth for days afterwards. Weeks later, a second friend mentioned the same thing.

So I did a little research...

Apparently, the initial concern was that pine nuts from China may be suspect. There was concern that the lack of a strong food safety track record may have been to blame for imported Chinese pine nuts' ability to cause an aftertaste in your mouth. But reports now continue that pine nuts from other parts of the world have caused the same reaction.

Has this ever happened to you?

I have successfully dodged the pine nut mouth epidemic, but I have to be honest with you, after reading about pine mouth and talking to my friends, I will think twice before eating pine nuts again.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy Love Month

R and I were in Target last week and picked up some Star Wars Valentines. The Valentine Heart wreath is up on our front door and today is the first day of February. So how 'bout some heart-shaped muffins that also do your heart well?

These muffins have some real heart-healthy ingredients. Ground flax seed, pomegranate juice and whole wheat flour grace these healthful little goodies. Add to that some shredded carrots and apple and you have a health bonanza in every bite.

An aside: I was hoping that by using pomegranate juice I would not only boost the nutritional value of the muffins but create a pink-ish hue for the muffins. No such luck.

It would take a *lot* of juice to alter the color, I discovered. But non-pink or pink, these heart-y muffins are delicious, healthy, and good for you no matter what shape you make them.

Heart Muffins

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
3 eggs (or 2 eggs and 2 egg whites)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup pomegranate juice (or orange)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 cups shredded fruit/vegetables (I used 4 carrots and 2 cored, but unpeeled apples)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring to fully incorporate, but being careful not to overmix.

Shread the carrots and apples, using a food processor. Add to the muffin mix.

Pour into lined muffin pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean.

Makes about 18-24 muffins.

Valentine's Day is Sweet,