Saturday, March 24, 2007

28 Cooks' Weekend Remix

As I've mentioned before, this is my favorite time of year. The temperatures are getting warmer, the sun stays out a little bit longer each day, and the smell of spring is in the air.

This is about the time of year I shelve all of my heavier winter comfort food recipes and start making those recipes that are light and fresh tasting. I was going through my archives recently and thought I would share some of spring recipes that caught my eye.

If you've made any of these recipes, I'd love to to hear how they turned out for you or any changes you've made in the comments.

Southwest Couscous Salad with Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette

SW Couscous Salad

This recipe contains some of my very favorite ingredients - cilantro, black beans, chipotle peppers, and fresh lime juice. It also lasts a few days in the refrigerator, so it's perfect to have on hand to throw in lunch bags throughout the week.

Spinach & Strawberry Salad with Cinnamon Vinaigrette

Spinach Strawberry

I'm a huge fan of spinach salads and this one is no exception. I love the combination of fresh strawberries, parmesan cheese, and the cinnamon vinaigrette.

Mediterranean Stuffed Tomatoes

Med stuffed tomatoes

Just looking at this picture makes me think of warmer temperatures and sunny days. Even though it's not tomato season, there are some decent ones available. If you can't find any great ones, chop up a few okay ones and mix it into the couscous salad.

Bueno Fresh Salsa

Bueno Salsa

This is probably one of the most requested and most made recipes. I can't count how many people have told me that they make this religiously, and have shared the recipe with their friends and family. It's so easy to make, and is hands-down one of the best salsas I've tasted. A coworker of mine made a guacamole, using 2 cups of salsa (slightly strained), and 4 mashed avocados. When she brought it into work, it was devoured in under an hour.

Wasabi Salmon with Lime

Wasabi Salmon with Lime III

This was a recently made recipe here at 28 Cooks, but it quickly became a favorite. The fresh lime juice is perfect with the salmon, and the wasabi peas give the fish an interesting yet delicious texture.

Chipotle Black Bean Cakes with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Chipolte Black Bean Cakes

Being a vegaquarian, it's often hard to find something to eat at BBQ's. These are perfect to have on hand, as they are easy to make and freeze really well. The cilantro yogurt sauce is the perfect companion to these "as-spicy-as-you-want-them-to-be" patties.

Orange Pomegranate Mousse

Orange Pomegranate Mousse

I was blown away by this dessert when I first tasted it. The yogurt and fresh whipped cream combine to make a very light and tasty dessert. I'm also a huge fan of anything pomegranate, and I love it paired with fresh orange juice.

Tropical Apricot Mousse

Tropical Apricot Mousse I

This is another great dessert to have if you're on a diet, as it's very low in fat and calories.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hearty Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Soup

I love this time of year. The sun is out longer, and the temperatures are starting to creep up. It makes you feel good when you walk outside and realize that you can shed a layer or two. I also love the food during this season. Everyone is starting to transition from the heavy, warming comfort foods of winter to lighter and more fresh tasting dishes.

This soup is a great spring soup, not too heavy, yet perfectly light tasting. The fresh lemon zest is the perfect finish to the fresh asparagus and mushrooms, and the rice helps to make it a nice substantial meal. I'm not a huge fan of cream-based soups, so I wanted to find a way to replicate the creaminess without the heaviness.

This is a perfect soup to enjoy on these longer spring days.

Hearty Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Soup

Hearty Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Soup
1 (6 oz) box of long grain and wild rice blend, prepared
1/2 c dried mushrooms
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 cups vegetable broth
salt/pepper to taste
3/4 tsp dried thyme leaves, crumbled
1 can evaporated milk (fat-free or 2% work well)
2 tbsp cornstarch
Zest of 1 lemon

Prepare rice according to directions. Set aside. Place dried mushrooms in 1 cup of boiling water. (I used a combination of porcini, straw, and shiitake mushrooms) Allow to soak for 20 minutes. Strain, reserving the water, and chop mushrooms. Set aside, along with soaking water. In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute for 2 minutes. Add asparagus and saute an additional 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, rice, and thyme, and stir well. Add reserved mushroom water and broth, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. In small bowl, whisk cornstarch into evaporated milk, and pour into pan. Bring back to a boil and boil for 3-5 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Baked Potato and Cauliflower "Samosas" with Tamarind Mint Chutney

I tried my first samosa when we lived in Nairobi, Kenya. There was a great little Indian restaurant that made the absolute best ones. However, theirs were made with highly-seasoned ground beef, wrapped in a thin little pastry shell, deep fried, and served with fresh lime wedges. It wasn't until many years later I discovered that traditional samosas are potato-based.

I've been wanting to try my hand at making samosas for a long time, and I finally decided to just go ahead and do it. I'm so glad I did, since they were fairly easy to make. I also baked them instead of the traditional deep-frying method, which makes them a bit healthier than the regular ones. They also freeze really well, so you can always have them on hand. I used wonton skins, and since it was fairly difficult to get a nice "samosa triangle," I decided to just roll them like an eggroll.

The chutney is amazing. It's super fresh-tasting, and it has that nice spiciness to it. I love the combination of the fresh mint and cilantro.

Potato and Cauliflower "Samosas" with Tamarind Mint Chutney

Baked Potato and Cauliflower "Samosas" with Tamarind Mint Chutney

3 cups diced and peeled potato
2 cups cauliflower, cut into smaller florets
1 c chopped red onion
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chili garlic sauce
2 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard seed
1 pkg wonton wrappers

In a large saucepan, place potatoes in highly salted water. Boil until tender, drain from water, and place into a large mixing bowl. Mash, retaining some texture. Bring a smaller pot of salted water to boil, and boil cauliflower until tender. Drain and add to potatoes. In a small skillet, saute onion in olive oil until tender. Add to bowl, along with remaining ingredients. Combine all ingredients well. Place a generous spoonful on the end of a wonton wrapper, and roll up like an eggroll, sealing the end with a touch of water. Place on oiled baking sheet and continue with remaining filling and wrappers. Place into a 425 degree oven, and bake 30 minutes, turning every so often, until samosas are nicely browned. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving.

4 cups fresh cilantro, torn
1/2 c fresh mint
4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 habananeros (or peppers of choice)
1/2 c tamarind paste
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, diced

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until finely minced. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two for flavors to meld together.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tamarind Glazed Salmon

I recently discovered some great tamarind paste at my local Vietnamese store, so you'll probably see a few more recipes using this tasty ingredient over the next few weeks.

This was my first dish using it and I loved it. The tamarind and fresh cilantro are perfect for salmon, and this is yet another quick and easy dish that takes about 20 minutes to make (not including marinating time). I actually loved this fish so much that I made it for dinner one night, and then made another batch the next day so I could take some into work for lunch.

No matter what time of day you eat this, I'm sure it's another salmon dish you're bound to enjoy.

Tamarind Glazed Salmon

Tamarind Glazed Salmon
2 salmon fillets
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tsp water
pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp coriander seed
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Place salmon fillets in a ziploc bag or in a shallow dish. In a food processor, process cilantro, tamarind, and water until cilantro is well chopped. In a small skillet over high heat, toast cumin and coriander seed until fragrant. In a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, grind until fine. Add to processor, along with salt and cayenne pepper, and pulse until mixed. Pour marinade over salmon and marinate at least 30 minutes. Preheat broiler, and place fillets in oiled shallow baking dish. Broil until done, about 4-5 minutes each side. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Super Bars

With my busy schedule, even though I try and eat breakfast every morning, there's some mornings that just doesn't happen. If I can't grab it and eat it on the go, then I usually just go without eating. Anytime I can find a quick-to-make, easy-to-grab healthy recipe for a breakfast treat, I'm all about it.*

These awesome granola bars were posted over at Domestic Affair, which is a great blog if you're looking for a wealth of info and recipes on whole foods and holistic nutrition. As soon as I saw this recipe, I immediately began making a list of what I needed from the grocery store. I've changed the recipe a bit, replacing the oil with applesauce and I added some silken tofu for protein.

I was really amazed at how this "very healthy for you" recipe was so tasty. It's perfect for breakfast, or anytime you're looking for a not-too-sweet snack. I also love that it's loaded with whole grains. The recipe is also flexible enough that you can use whatever grains/fruits/seasonings you want, depending on your mood. A bonus - these freeze well, so you can always have them on hand.

Super Bars

Super Bars
3 cups Bob's 7-grain Rolled Oat Mix
1 cup water
1/4 c flax seeds, partially ground (coffee grinder works great)
2 tbsp amaranth
1/2 c oat bran
1/2 whole wheat flour
3/4 c dried fruit (I used a tropical mix with mango, apricot, etc.)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp sea salt
2/3 c pure maple syrup
1/2 c apple sauce (I used an organic apple apricot sauce)
5 oz silken tofu
zest of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350. Spread the oats out on a baking sheet, and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally until toasted, about 20 minutes. At the same time, heat water, flax seeds, and amaranth. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine oats and all dry ingredients. In a food processor, process apple sauce and tofu until combined. Add to dry ingredients, along with maple syrup and lemon zest.
Spread in a lightly oiled square baking pan and score into bars. Place into 325 degree oven, and bake 30 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool and then slice. To freeze, individually wrap in foil. Toss into a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes to thaw and enjoy.

*For more quick and healhty breakfast items, try these ginger carrot morning cookies or this Gingerbread Baked Oatmeal.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Tilapia with Spicy Asian Black Bean Sauce

Since my schedule is so busy, working full-time as well as a full load of classes, it's sometimes hard to fit in time to cook, take pictures, and update my blog. So I've gotten into the habit of making 2-3 different dishes on my day off, and then sprinkling the posts throughout the week. It's a good system that seems to work well for me.

But sometimes, I'll make a dish that is so amazing that the waiting to post kills me. This is one of those meals. I made this on Saturday for lunch, and immediately fell in love with it. I sent my roommate, who was out running errands, a text message that said "come home soon for excellent tilapia!"

The black bean sauce is absolutely amazing. The flavors work so well together, and it's absolutely perfect on the tilapia. The greatest thing about this dish? It took me 20 minutes from start to finish. With such ease of making this dish, I'm sure this is one that will be in the "weekly favorites" rotation for a long time.

Tilapia with Spicy Black Bean Sauce II

Tilapia with Spicy Asian Black Bean Sauce
4 tilapia fillets
1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c black beans, drained, rinsed, and coarsely mashed
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp chili garlic sauce
1/4 c sesame oil
1/4 c seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce

Preheat broiler. Spray a flat baking dish with cooking spray. Place fillets in pan. Lightly rub each side of the fish with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Place in broiler, cooking 4-5 minutes each side, until done. Meanwhile, in a small pan, saute red onion for 1 minute. Add all remaining ingredients, and over high heat, bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until sauce thickens up. Serve fish topped with a generous portion of sauce.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Citrus Sesame Hummus

It's winter, it's cold, and if you're like me, this season makes you gravitate towards comfort foods. And because you're dressing in bulkier, camouflaging clothes, it's easier to slip up on eating healthy. But then one day, you wake up, realizing you have a few extra pounds on you, and you make a vow to go back to the healthier foods.

Hummus is such a great filling food, and as you can tell from my sidebar, I'm slightly obsessed with it. You're looking at one of my favorite ways to enjoy it - on a whole grain wrap, loaded with sprouts, fresh veggies, and a healthy portion of hummus. It's such a filling meal, yet very satisfying due to the low-fat hummus.

This version is kicked up with fresh lemon and orange zest, touched by some freshly minced ginger, and finished off with toasted sesame seeds for some crunch. And because there is only 2 tbsp of olive oil in the entire batch, it's very low in fat.

Citrus Sesame Hummus

Citrus Sesame Hummus
2 (15 oz) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tahini
zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly minced ginger
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Process beans with olive oil and tahini until well processed. Or if you're like me and like a little more texture, mash with a potato masher. Stir in remaining ingredients. Allow to relax in the refrigerator for an hour or two for flavors to mingle. Serve and enjoy!