Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I am acutely aware that next year R will embark on full-day school and my one-on-one time with him will be greatly diminished. And while that is just a part of life, and I am okay with it, I created a fun tradition this school year that has become one of my favorite parts of the week.
Each Monday and Wednesday morning, while G is at his Mom's Morning Out program for a couple of hours, R and I have what we have deemed "Special Mommy/R_____ Time." This is when R and I do things that are, quite frankly, just easier to do without a 3 year old helper. (And for the record, G and I have "Special Mommy/G_____ Time" every afternoon when R is at kindergarten)
Yesterday while G was at school, R and I decorated some Easter Cookies. For the first time, I tried a new Royal Icing recipe, and I was thrilled with the results:
I am not sure why, but I had never tried making Royal Icing prior to Monday.
But making Royal Icing couldn't be easier (one egg white's worth will give you enough icing for about 3 dozen cookies):
1. Crack an egg white into a bowl*.
2. Add a cup or two of powdered sugar.
3. Mix well with a hand mixer or stand mixer.
4. Add more powdered sugar until you get a thick, but not too thick mixture.
5. Oops. You added too much powdered sugar. Now what? Add a few teaspoons of water. Thin it out until you get a the right consistency, (you can alternatively add more sugar if needed).
6. Take a plastic bag and place it in a small cup and pull the bag over the sides of the cup:
7. Add the food coloring to a small part of your icing, and fill in the cup with a portion of the icing.
8. Close the plastic bag and cut a small (think 1/8" or less) hole in a corner:
9. Give a bag to your sweet pea, and let the creative juices flow:
10. Voila! Cookie Time:
A memorable Special Mommy/R_____ Time to be sure-
*Raw eggs--yeah, I know, you aren't supposed to eat them. You can either get pasteurized eggs, heat the egg whites over a double boiler until they reach 160 degrees or use meringue powder instead of raw eggs.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Kielbasa making is a family tradition on my mom's side of the family, whose patriarch was the owner of a small butcher shop in Cleveland. Grandpa Kay passed his kielbasa-making equipment (circa, hmmm...probably 1940s) on to my Uncle Frank, who each year at Easter time prepares dozens of pounds of kielbasa.
You know what they say about watching sausage being made? Not true of small-batch kielbasa, even to a Lenten vegetarian like me. The boys got in on the action, which I would have loved to have captured on my camera, except that I forgot the memory card in my laptop, which was home on my desk.
This is our last week of strict vegetarian living. Next week at his time we could have a hamburger slider with a hot dog chaser. But for now, we are still really enjoying our run at vegetarianism. Truly.
Here's our meals for the week:
Refried Black Bean Tacos, Cilantro Rice and Jicama, Orange and Avocado Salad
Meatless Meatloaf, Braised Red Cabbage, Cauliflower Mash
Sesame Orange Tofu and Broccoli Stir-fry
Spring Risotto, Carmelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Goat Cheese Toasts
Poached Eggs and Marinara Pasta
Have a sweet week all-
PS--Remember the Thai Veggie Wraps I recently posted? Well, I tried the peanut sauce on some Asian noodles and the result was sublime. Find the recipe at this FamilyEducation.com post.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
If you haven't tried quinoa by now, it is time to reconsider. A newbie to quinoa myself, I am loving it's versatility (think of it as a variation of couscous) and simplicity. But here's the cool thing: it is a complete protein. Yep, soy and quinoa are the only two plant based complete proteins. Maybe this fact alone doesn't exactly get your fire started, but just know that if you include quinoa in your diet, you are doing your body a favor.
This recipe for quinoa is a great balance of salty, sweet and umami in one dish. What's umami you ask? Click here.
1/4 cup apricot preserves or orange marmalade
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash cayenne pepper
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup shelled edamame, cooked until tender
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup roasted slivered almonds
In a medium bowl, mix the sauce.
In a medium pan that has a lid, bring the 2 cups of water and quinoa to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the water has fully evaporated. Remove from heat and let cool.
Mix the quinoa and sauce together, stirring well to fully incorporate the sauce. *Add the edamame, cilantro and almonds, tossing well.
*I added only the edamame and almonds to R and G's quinoa, since they are still learning to love green bits in their food.
Monday, March 22, 2010
So while I wish I was writing merely about our meals for the week, food is not my prime concern this morning.
I know R is in good hands with the wonderful chief surgeon we have performing the surgery, and I know this whole situation is in God's perfect hands too. For this I am thankful.
I'll be back blogging about food as soon as possible...
Friday, March 19, 2010
Today I consider some of my blogger and Facebook friends imaginary too. There are people with whom I have never talked face to face, but I figure if we met in person, aka "for real," we would be fast friends. People like Jersey Baby, Fearless Chef and Rookie Cookie.
I wish I knew Rookie Cookie in person, because I would give her a huge hug for this recipe. Oh-my-goodness, this Thai Veggie Wrap is good. I pilfered it from her website a couple weeks ago and made minor changes for us. Even R and G gobbled it up, albeit with a few tweaks to fit their tastes.
The sauce for this wrap is so tasty, it prompted SPH to note, "you could put this on horse meat and it would taste good."
Rookie Cookie's Thai Veggie Wrap
For the peanut sauce:
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the filling:
1-2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 red or yellow bell pepper
1 cup chopped peanuts
optional: seared tempeh, tofu, or other protein
6 burrito-sized tortillas or wrap bread
Prepare the sauce: Mix all ingredients in a bowl, stir, set aside.
In a large bowl, combine cabbage and cucumber. Pour 1/2 the peanut sauce over the cabbage mixture, tossing well to combine.
(*I used this mixture with some tofu for the boys' wraps, and it worked great)
Add the cilantro, pepper and peanuts and mix in remaining peanut sauce.
Place a large scoop of the mixture at the end of each tortilla and wrap well. Cut in half crosswise and serve.
*This is a perfect "as you like it" wrap. Don't like peppers? Omit 'em. Really love carrot? Pile 'em on. I added sauteed tempeh to mine. You can alter things, but in my humble opinion you don't want to mess with the cabbage or peanut, and for-the-love-of-God don't mess with the peanut sauce.
Makes 6 large wraps.
Have a sweet weekend,
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
This pasta dish is a new twist on a quick (read: less time in the kitchen, more time outside) no-cook pasta sauce that is quite tasty. Fresh lemon, briny capers and olives and creamy feta combine to create a really wonderful tasting, quick and easy, healthful pasta. As an extra touch, you can toast up some breadcrumbs for the top...an unconventional but contemporary way to finish off your pasta.
Just look at how tasty it looks:
For SPH and I, we included steamed asparagus, the boys had green peas with their pasta. Want a quick and easy multi-tasking way to steam your asparagus and/or peas while the pasta cooks?
Cook them in a strainer while the pasta cooks, and by the time your pasta is cooked, your sauce will be complete!
Lemon Caper Pasta
1 pound penne or other small or medium size pasta, preferably whole wheat
1/2 cup drained and rinsed capers
1/2 cup chopped olives
1 - 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
optional: steamed asparagus, sweet peas, green beans
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Cook the penne or pasta according to the package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, steam the asparagus, peas or beans, if using until crisp-tender. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the capers, olives, artichoke hearts, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, feta cheese and ground pepper.
If desired, toast the breadcrumbs under your broiler for a minute or two, or until slightly browned.
Drain the pasta, but allow a tablespoon or two of the cooking water to remain. Add the caper mixture to the pasta and toss lightly. Add the asparagus, peas or beans, if using and toss lightly.
Serve immediately, topping with 1-2 tablespoons breadcrumbs.
PS--Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Then SPH and I moved to Columbus and we took a Supper Club hiatus, but last autumn, we began again in earnest. This weekend we gathered with our SC friends and did an Indian feast (thanks Dan for photo).
(That's the Mango Dal recipe from last week, a new Mater Paneer recipe (to be shared soon), Cumin-scented rice (ditto) and some okra fried in a chickpea batter)
Frittatas, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus
Mushroom (Carne Asada style) Tacos, Green Chili Rice, Frijoles Refritos
New Recipe: Thai Veggie Wraps, Quinoa Salad
Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan, Pasta
New Recipe: Homemade Falafel Pitas, Hummus and Greek Salad
Have a sweet week-
Saturday, March 13, 2010
And while the calendar still says "winter," it won't be but a week before spring is officially here. I love the juxtaposition of this time of year summed up in this picture of R riding his bike last Tuesday, the day our weather went from cold to 65 degrees in the blink of an eye:
Alas, today is gray and rainy, but exciting nonetheless, because all of the warm rain from yesterday and today has fully melted the snow. I cannot spot a flake.
As spring and its welcome friend summer, approach, my soup days begin to wane. Sure, soup is good any ole' time, but do you really crave a soup or stew in the dog days of summer?
But as I look out my back kitchen window to the rain steadily falling, this would be a perfect day for this Tortellini Soup. Simple and classic, I have yet to find the person who doesn't find comfort in a bowl of this soup.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium onion, diced
10 cups water
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
Optional: 1 cup thinly sliced hearty greens (ie, spinach, bok choy, kale, argula)
Optional: 2 egg whites, beaten
1/2 pound fresh or dried tortellini
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil to medium high. Add the carrot, celery, and onion. Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the bottom of the pan begins to brown.
Add the water, salt to taste and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 10 minutes.
While the broth simmers, add the greens, if desired. Stir and allow to wilt. For a thicker broth, slowly pour the egg whites into the broth as it simmers. Stir well, and allow the egg whites to fully incorporate. Alternatively, you may omit this step.
After the broth has simmered, increase the heat to high and return to a slow boil. Add the tortellini and cook according to the package directions. Cover the pot while cooking the tortellini.
Once the tortellini is finished cooking, remove from heat and serve.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Little did I know how good a veggie burger could taste. But don't just take my word for it...
--Eating-SF.com, a San Francisco food blog says, "this is the place I'd take every out of town visitor if I lived in Columbus. But what has given this place almost cult-like status is its vegetarian burger, appropriately deserving of its name: The Northstar Burger."
--Thekitchn.com calls it the best-ever veggie burger, stating, "They are unlike any other veggie burger you've ever had."
--Even PETA awarded the Northstar Burger its "Golden Bun Award" for best veggie burger in the nation.
So when I decided to go vegetarian for Lent, in the back of my mind I started plotting how to replicate this out-of-the-world burger at home. I started finding other versions of the burger on other websites, but no true Northstar recipe.
This recipe is my attempt at veggie burger nirvana. Northstar clearly uses beets in their burger, because not only do they taste like a regular burger, they look like one too, with the red beets substituting for red meat. Black beans and brown rice also are evident, but beyond that, it took a few times to come up with this version (thanks to the above websites for their input on the matter too).
Serve on a toasted bun with pickles, shredded lettuce and ketchup. Oh so good.
(Almost) Northstar Cafe Burger
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup cooked, sliced beets (you can used canned, just don't use pickled beets)
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 - 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
3-4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
In a medium size skillet, heat the olive oil to medium high heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5-6 minutes or until the onions are translucent and begin to brown a bit. Deglaze the pan with the soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, cooking for another minute or two or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture, beets, brown rice, black beans, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper. With a pastry blender or potato masher, begin to mash the mixture. Mash well until most of the black beans are no longer whole.
Once the mixture is very well combined, add a couple tablespoons of flour. Test the mixture. If it holds together fairly well, then do not add anymore flour. But it may need a tablespoon or two extra flour until you can form patties.
Form 6 patties. If you wish, you can throw them in the fridge until you are ready to use them.
Heat a large skillet to high heat. Once hot, reduce to medium high, and add the vegetable oil. Cook the patties, about 3-5 minutes per side.
Serve on toasted buns.
I'm getting hungry for these just writing this post...and it's 9AM. Good thing I have some patties all ready to cook for lunch today!
Friday, March 5, 2010
All of this has me really considering how we will continue to eat after Easter. In other words, will I be eating ham on Easter? Or just my Uncle Paul's wonderful potato pierogies? Time will tell...
Whether we return to our pre-Lent diet or not, this recipe has a firm place in our future dinner repertoire. "Dal," (pronounced "doll") is a sort of Indian chili if I had to break it down. It means a dish that contains lentil beans, but beyond the lentils, you can serve it any ole' way you wish. This particular dal uses mango, and is light enough on the Indian spices that it is a good starter dal for someone unsure of whether they like Indian food.
We love Indian food and this recipe is a great example why. Complex flavors married with a touch of sweetness and savory all in one dish.
Mango Dal (adapted from an Eating Well recipe--I'm not quite brave enough yet to develop my own Indian recipes and magazine's recipes rock!)
1 cup lentils, preferably yellow lentils
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt, divided use
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup diced mango (I use frozen mango)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cups cooked couscous
In a medium stock pot, combine the lentils, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and turmeric. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a dry skillet (no oil), place the cumin seeds and heat to medium. Let the seeds brown for a minute or two, being careful to not let them burn. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over medium heat or until the onions become a bit translucent, about 3-5 minutes..
Add the coriander, cayenne and mango to the onion mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Once the lentils have cooked for 20 minutes, add the onion/mango mixture to the lentils. Cook the lentils for another 10 minutes or until the mango is very tender and the lentils are your desired consistency.
Serve over couscous and top with cilantro, if desired.
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side.
Have a sweet weekend all-
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
(Note: you can omit the honey and replace it with light corn syrup)
Peanut Butter Energy Bars
2 cups whole oats, toasted
2 cups honey nut Os
1 cup roasted and salted peanuts
½ cup sesame seeds (alternatively, you could use dried fruit)
½ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup ground flax seed (alternatively, you could use wheat germ or just more oats)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
½ cup brown sugar
In a large microwave safe dish, place the oats and cook on high in the microwave for one minute. Stir, repeat two times.
In a large bowl, mix the oats, Os, peanuts, sesame seeds, chocolate chips and flax seed.
In a microwave safe bowl, mix the peanut butter, honey and brown sugar. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until bubbly. Pour over the oat mixture and stir well.
Pour into a 9x13 dish or in a rectangle shape on top of a cookie sheet, lined with either a Silpat liner or parchment paper.
Let cool and enjoy!
Makes 16 bars.
Monday, March 1, 2010
(ok, bad joke)
Seriously though, I had the idea to replace most, or in my case, all of the cheese in a calzone with some well-caramelized onions. True, my Lenten vegetarian diet allows for cheese, but I just wanted to see if the ooey-gooey goodness of caramelized onions could stand-in for the cheese.
I like the cheese-less caramelized onion calzones better than the cheese calzones I made for the boys. And I *love* cheese.
Something about the sweetness of the onions, mixed with a bit of marinara, more than adequately makes up for the usual ricotta. Doesn't it look good?
Now, here's a caveat: really good caramelized onions take some time to go from this:
But trust me, it is time well spent, and can easily be done on the weekend or in advance. You simply keep the heat low to medium, and stir them every few minutes. Once the bottom of the pan gets good and brown, throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar to deglaze and continue cooking until the vinegar is fully evaporated.
Once cooked, either use them immediately or refrigerate or freeze for future use. Note that about 4 cups of onions will yield about 3/4 cup caramelized onions.
Caramelized Onion Calzones
Pizza/Calzone Dough for 4 calzones
1 cup marinara
3/4 cups caramelized onions
ricotta cheese, seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Roll out 1/4 of your dough in a circle. Repeat 3 times. Let dough rise under a towel while you prepare the filling.
Mix marinara and caramelized onions in a bowl. Place 1/4 of the mixture on half of each dough circle.
Top with preferred toppings (I used mushrooms, olives, and spinach). Fold other half of the dough on top of the toppings, and pinch the seams closed. Gently poke the top of the calzone with a fork. Brush the top with a bit of olive oil.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until brown on top.
Makes 4 calzones.
(Note: when you seal the calzone, make sure there are no toppings between the top and bottom dough pieces when you pinch it closed. Toppings will make the two pieces of dough separate while baking).
Here's one last bonus with this recipe: no cheese = wayyyyy less fat and calories!