Thursday, April 27, 2006

Breakfast Couscous

As soon as I saw this recipe in the current edition of Cooking Light, I knew I had a winner on my hands. It's easy, it's healthy, and it only takes about 15 minutes to make, most of that being non-active cooking time. I can see already having the dry ingredients mixed up in the pantry, and just boiling the water to throw it in.

The cranberries and raisins become delightfully plump and sweet, and the flax seed was added to up the nutritional ante a bit more.

Breakfast Quinoa

Breakfast Couscous
(recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

1 1/4 c water
1/2 c milk
1/2 c couscous
1/4 c cranberries
1/4 c raisins
1/8 c golden flax seed (or regular)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

Bring water to boil in small saucepan. Add remaining ingredients, remove from heat. Cover and let stand 10 minutes. Serve either hot or cold.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mediterranean Eggplant Spread

With the summertime coming up, and the party and cookout season about to get into full swing, I need some recipes that I can whip up at a moment's notice. I've had this recipe in my "to cook" file for quite some time, and I'm glad I finally got around to it. This recipe is incredible, and it's not your typical spread. I served it with pita chips, and it was a definite winner.

Roasting the vegetables gives it such a nice "warm" flavor, and the addition of balsamic vinegar and lemon juice zest it up. It's also not loaded with fat and empty calories, as many dips are known for.

Roasted Eggplant Onion Spread

Mediterranean Eggplant Spread
1 small eggplant
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub eggplant and onion with olive and place on baking sheet. Bake about 25-30 minutes, until both have softened, turning once. About 15 minutes into the cooking time, add garlic to sheet.
Remove from oven, and cool just enough to be able to handle. Cut eggplant in half and scoop out flesh, and place into a food processor. Cut onion into chunks and add to processor with garlic. Process until desired consistency. Add vinegar, lemon juice, parmesan, salt and pepper. Pulse until well mixed. Add cilantro and briefly pulse. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve warm or cold.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Chipolte Black Bean Cakes with a Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

A good friend of mine, Donna, who frequents many of the same vegetarian email lists I do, recently shared her recipe for her Red Bean Burgers. It sounded like a delicious recipe, with jalapenos, onions, and bbq sauce, and as soon as I read it, I knew it sounded like a tasty idea.

With that idea in mind, I created these Chipolte Black Bean Cakes, topped off with a Cilantro Yogurt Sauce. The smokiness of the adobo perfectly compliments the black beans, and is a perfect companion to the creamy cilantro sauce. And with the grilling season right ahead of us, I think these will be the perfect non-meat option.

Chipolte Black Bean Cakes

Chipolte Black Bean Cakes
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 c minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c breadcrumbs
2 canned chipolte chilies, plus 2 tbsp adobo sauce
1 egg white, beaten

Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
pinch sugar
4 oz yogurt

In small skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion, saute for 2 minutes. Add garlic, saute for 2 minutes, until both are tender. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl, mash beans lightly with potato masher or fork. In food processor, blend chilies and adobo sauce well, and add to beans. Add onions, garlic, breadcrumbs, and egg white. Stir well. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Shape mixture into 4 patties, and place on waxed paper. Refrigerate patties for a few hours to give flavors a chance to meet.
These patties can be grilled or pan fried. If grilling, spray rack with oil. If pan frying, heat a small amount of oil in skillet. Cook 3 minutes each side, until crispy and browned.
For cilantro sauce, place all ingredients except for yogurt in food processor. Blend until ingredients are finely minced. Add to yogurt in bowl, and stir well to combine. This will need to chill in the refrigerator for awhile for flavors to meld.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ginger Snow Peas

Sometimes, the best dish is the one you have no recipe for. The one you make when you want something quick and good, and you can throw it together in a matter of minutes.

My staple is a quick stirfry. I normally keep a pretty good selection of fresh vegetables on hand (which makes sense, being a vegetarian) and it literally takes about 3.2 seconds to have one on the table. My favorites are either a strictly vegetable stirfry, or I'll use leftover quinoa, and make a fried "rice" with vegetables.

The other day, I made that lovely Sesame Soba Noodle Salad, and I had some snowpeas left in the refrigerator. In the midst of my "cleaning out the pantry" day, I decided to make one of my most favorite snow pea dishes, Ginger Snow Peas.

Ginger Snow Peas

I'm not providing a formal recipe, because honestly, this dish is so easy and can be changed in so many ways. But it's so fresh tasting, I just had to share.

I start with a combination of hot chili sesame oil and regular sesame oil in the bottom of my wok. Once that's nice and hot, I throw in some thinly sliced red onion. After a few minutes, I toss in some minced fresh ginger and garlic, stirring for a couple seconds. I then throw in the snow peas, and cook for a minute or so. (I love my snow peas to still be a tad crunchy). At the very end, I toss in some fresh lemon juice, stir a few more times, and remove from heat.

So tell me - what is your favorite non-recipe?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Gingerbread Baked Oatmeal

I'm sure most of you are like me, and don't have the time and luxury of being able to sit down and eat a full breakfast every morning. I'm lucky if I'm able to eat a solid meal in between working and going to school full-time.

But everyone knows how breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I'm always on the lookout for something healthy that can be grabbed and eaten on the run.

Living in the middle of Amish country, baked oatmeal is like pancakes. Any restaurant worth its salt will have it on the menu. Normally, I can't stand it - sickeningly sweet, loaded with sugar and oil, and way too soft for my liking. So when E came up with a healthier version, cutting out a lot of the fat and sugar, I knew she was on to something. I took her recipe, switched a few things, and came up with this. Think of it like a really soft granola bar, loaded with flavor and plenty of whole grains, enough to keep you feeling full until lunch.

Gingerbread Baked Oatmeal Bars

Gingerbread Baked Oatmeal Bars
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1 1/2 c Bob's Red Mill 7-Grain Mix (or substitute oats)
1/4 c flax seeds
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
3/4 c soymilk
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c dark molasses
1/2 c applesauce
2 eggs (or egg substitute)
1 c crushed pineapple, drained (or fruit of your choosing)
Splash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine all wet ingredients, stirring well. Add to dry ingredients, combining thoroughly.Place into a greased casserole dish, and bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. These are excellent both warm and cold.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

Any longtime readers of this blog will know that I love noodle salads (among other things, like hummus, dark chocolate, and spicy foods). And nothing says spring like a fresh-tasting noodle salad.

This one is no exception. It has lightly blanched snow peas, soba noodles, and a flavorful dressing, kicked up with some lemon juice, scallions, and tahini. You can also feel free to add any fresh vegetables you have on hand, as well as any fresh herbs, such as cilantro.

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad
8 oz soba noodles (or subsitute whole wheat linguine)
3 slices ginger, unpeeled
1 c snow peas, washed and trimmed
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp vegetable stock
1 tbsp tahini
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 scallions, minced
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add soba noodles and ginger, and cook until noodles are almost tender, about 4 minutes. Add snow peas, and continue to boil about a minute longer.(If using linguine, follow cooking directions, adding peas a minute before they are fully cooked) Drain, rinse, and discard ginger.
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, vegetable stock, tahini, salt, and pepper. Whisk well. Stir in scallions. Combine noodles, peas, and dressing together, and toss well. Stir in sesame seeds.
Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Zucchini Tomato Tart

Yesterday, as I was deciding what I wanted to cook, I knew I wanted to make something with zucchini. I am such a huge squash fan, and zucchini is one of my favorites.

As I was searching around the internet for ideas, I came across this idea of making a tomato basil tart with a zucchini crust. Although there weren't proper credits, I believe this recipe is based on one from Everyday Italian.

This dish has incredible flavors, and is one of those vegetarian main dishes that will make meat eaters consider becoming one.

Zucchini Fontina Tomato Tart

Zucchini Tomato Tart
2 lbs zucchini, shredded (about 3 large)
4-5 scallions, sliced (use both green and white parts)
1/4 c seasoned bread crumbs, plus
2 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten (I used an egg substitute)
6 oz fontina cheese, divided
1 medium tomato, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 c loosely packed basil leaves, slivered

Place zucchini and scallions in a large dry saute pan. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until zucchini shrinks, about 6 minutes. Drain in a colander, and press out excess water with a spoon.
Return zucchini to the pan, and add 1/4 bread crumbs, and 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add egg (or substitute), and toss well.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9" pie plate with oil. Press zucchini mixture into bottom and sides of pan, but not over the lip of the dish. (It should be a thick layer) Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden.
Remove and sprinkle with 1/2 c cheese. Top with tomato slices, overlapping if necessary. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover with 2 tbsp bread crumbs, basil, and remaining fontina.
Reduce oven temperature to 350, and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until cheese is well browned.
Remove from oven, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Green Chile Hummus

I reckon it's about time for another hummus recipe, don't you? This one is fairly simple in preparation, but you'll definitely get your money's worth in flavor. You'll see it paired with wonton crisps, which were suggested to me by my ever-faithful recipe tester, E. It's another one of those things you can literally take in a hundred directions, depending on your spice mixture.

Either way, enjoy both!

Green Chile Hummus

Green Chile Hummus
2 (15 oz) cans garbanzo beans
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 c olive oil
2 (4.5 oz) cans chopped green chilies, drained
Salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cumin

Combine beans, lime juice, and oil, and process in a food processor until smooth. Or, if you're like me, and like texture in your hummus, mash beans with a potato masher, and stir in the remaining ingredients. Chill for an hour to allow flavors to make friends.

Wonton Crisps
1/2 pkg wonton wrappers
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced

Lay wrappers on a baking sheet. Brush with garlic butter, top with freshly ground pepper, and bake in a 375 degree oven for 5-6 minutes, until crispy.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Harissa Roasted Potatoes

I'm not going to lie to you. These potatoes? Fantastic. It's probably one of my most favorite roasted potato blends. And I've made some good roasted potatoes before. But this one is awesome.

Obviously, I love anything spicy, so combine the comfort of potatoes, a touch of harissa for spice factor, and then toss some fresh lemon juice over it at the end, and you've got yourself a wonderful side dish. (or main dish, if you're like me)

Harissa Roasted Potatoes

Harissa Roasted Potatoes
2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and diced
2 tbsp harissa (more or less, on preference)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Juice of 1/2 lemon, squeezed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dice potatoes and place into large bowl. Add harissa, olive oil, salt, and sesame seeds, and toss well to combine. Spread out in single layer in a greased baking dish, or on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Place into oven, and bake 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and golden brown. Remove from oven, and stir in lemon juice. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Moroccan Carrot Hummus

I was recently asked by some readers to provide some uses for the harissa sauce I made earlier this month. Harissa is such a tasty sauce, and although I haven't cooked much with it, and use it primarily as a hot sauce to go on top of things, I think it will do well in a variety of dishes. Over the next few days, I intend to monkey around with it and see what comes up.

Trying this recipe, I was a bit skeptical, as I had never tried any hummus that didn't have a chickpea base. But I figured the texture and sweetness of a cooked carrot might just be the perfect base for a tasty spread.

I must admit it is very tasty, and is also extremely healthy, which is an added benefit. Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of harrisa to suit your tastes.

This is also my entry in Sweetnicks Antioxidant Rich Foods round-up, which happens every Tuesday evening. Make sure you go check it out - it's always a good time!

Moroccan Carrot Hummus

Moroccan Carrot Hummus

1 1/2 lbs baby carrots, peeled and washed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp harissa
1 tsp lemon juice
white pepper and salt to taste

Boil carrots in salted water until tender. Drain, rinse, and cool for a few minutes. Place in blender with olive oil, and puree until it is a cream consistency. Put into a medium bowl, and add garlic, harissa, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Stir well, and chill in refrigerator for a few hours for flavors to combine.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Spicy Thai Rice

I'm a huge rice fan. There's something about it that is very comforting to me, and it's not unusual for me to eat only rice for a meal. It's relatively low in fat and calories, and can literally be sent in a thousand directions.

Lately I've been on this Thai and Indian kick. Cilantro and lime are two wonderful flavors, especially when mixed together, and when combined with some Indian spice, you've got yourself a very flavorful dish. This recipe was adapted from one I discovered on the USA Rice Recipe website.

Thai Rice

Spicy Thai Rice
2 tbsp butter
1/4 c chopped red onion
2 fresh thai chilies, seeded and minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin seed, freshly ground
1/4 tsp coriander seed, freshly ground
1/8 tsp turmeric
2 c water
1 c long-grain white rice
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
1 tbsp fresh lime juice

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion, and saute for 3 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and pepper, and saute an additional 2 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, and turmeric, and saute 1 minute. Add rice, stir well, and saute for 3 additional minutes. Add water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover pot, and simmer 20-25 minutes, until done. Stir in cilantro and fresh lime juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Marinated Olives

This, is by far, one of my most requested recipes, and one of my most favorite snacks. The combination of flavors in these is unlike any other I've ever tried, and they are extremely tasty.

You can use almost any combination of olives you prefer. I normally use whatever interests me at the grocery store - this time, I used some jalapeno-stuffed green olives, some kalamatas, and some plain black and small green olives. The other key ingredient to these is good quality olive oil. I once used an off brand, and it almost ruined them.

This is also my weekly post to be included in Kalyn's Kitchen's Weekend Herb Blogging, which always turns up some really fantastic recipes.

Marinated Olives

Marinated Olives

1/2 c fresh tarragon, minced
1/4 c fresh thyme, leaves only, minced
5 flat anchovies, minced (optional, although if you're not opposed to fish, I would recomment putting them in)
4 c olives, mixed varieties
1 c good quality light-tasting olive oil
1/2 c fennel bulb, thinly sliced (sometimes called anise)
2 tbsp minced onions
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp anise seed
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp black pepper

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. These really should marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24-48 hours before enjoying.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Spicy Lentil Dal

This is another one of those great Indian dishes, loaded with flavors, yet also a great comfort food. I wanted to find something to use up the leftover cauliflower I had, and I haven't made lentils in awhile, so this dish was perfect. The lime juice and cilantro added at the end completely bring this alive!

By the way, if you have any of that harissa left over, a little would be perfect on top.

Spicy Lentil Dal

Spicy Lentil Dal

1 tbsp olive oil
1 c onion, diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 c cauliflower florets
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
2 1/4 c water
1 c dried lentils
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
3/4 tsp salt

Heat olive oil in large pan. Add onion, ginger, cumin seeds, turmeric, crushed red pepper, and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Add cauliflower and can of tomatoes (drained, reserving liquid) to pan, and stir. Saute for 1 minute. Add tomato juice, water, and lentils. Bring to a boil, stirring well. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 35 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice, cilantro, and salt.
Serve over basmati rice.