Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lemon Roasted Beets with Feta

Beets. I know. You don't like them. Neither did I for many many years. But I'm going to have to ask you to trust me on this. These are different. I promise.

I hated beets for years. I just couldn't get into them. It wasn't until I was in Guatemala and had beets that were freshly picked from a garden and prepared perfectly until I started to see the light. Since then, I've been in love.

This recipe is the perfect one to try if you think you don't like beets. I made a batch of these and took them into work. A few "beet haters" tried them and couldn't believe they actually liked them. I think it's because they are so fresh tasting and have a great flavor and texture to them.

So go ahead. Give them a try. I promise this time will be different.

Lemon Roasted Beets with Thyme and Feta II

Lemon Roasted Beets with Feta
Serves 4

3 large beets
4 cloves garlic
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1/4 c feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel beets, cut in half, and slice into 1/4" thick slices. Place in large baking dish with garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Tightly cover dish with foil, place into oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until beets are fork tender. Remove from oven, place on serving platter, and top with fresh thyme and feta. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Figs in Red Wine

Mele Cotte is hosting a food event that I just had to take part in. Cooking to Combat Cancer is a great event for foodies to get involved in promoting cancer awareness and to create recipes that include some of the cancer fighting foods and spices.

Although my family has not been immediately touched by cancer, I have quite a few friends who have been. One of my very best friends lost her mother to cancer, then her aunt a few short months later. It wasn't long before she was diagnosed with cancer as well. Thankfully, it was caught early enough and after a few rounds of chemo and radiation, she's been cancer free for the past few years. But how many haven't been that lucky??

That's why prevention and awareness is so important. According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly one-third of all cancer deaths may be diet related. That's crazy, isn't it?? The food we eat has a direct correlation to our health. Why wouldn't we want to eat as healthy as possible?? (As an aside, if you haven't yet read the book The China Study, I strongly suggest you do. It is an amazing research study about the relationship between diet and disease, and it's done in a very readable format. I highly recommend it!)

When I read the list of Cancer Fighting Foods and Spices on The Cancer Cure Foundation website, figs and red wine immediately jumped out. I have had a recipe for Figs in Red Wine scribbled down in my food notebook that I believe came from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Although I don't have the book and can't vouch for its content, I did like the idea of this recipe.

According to the list of foods, figs contain vitamins A and C, and calcium, magnesium and potassium, may curtail appetite and improve weight-loss efforts. They also contain a derivative of benzaldehyde, which investigators at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Tokyo say is highly effective at shrinking tumors. Red wine has polyphenols that may protect against various types of cancer. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants, compounds that help neutralize disease-causing free radicals.

These figs are perfect by their own, but would be a fantastic addition to a cheese plate. A jar of these would also make a lovely gift to a fellow foodie.

Figs in Red Wine

Figs in Red Wine

1 1/2 c dry fruity red wine
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
1 strip orange zest
1 tsp honey
8 oz dried mission figs

In a small saucepan, bring red wine, bay leaves, and peppercorns to a boil. Lower heat and simmer uncovered, until wine is reduced to 1/2 cup. While wine is simmering, cut figs in half. Place in small jar with wine and add remaining ingredients. Cover, shake, and store in refrigerator.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lemon Thyme Tilapia Packets

If you're a long-time reader of 28 Cooks, you know that I favor recipes that are simple and quick to make, yet look like you invested a few hours in the kitchen. I also try and eat as healthy as possible, so I like to find recipes that not only fulfill the above qualities, but are also nutritious and filling.

Tilapia is a recurring ingredient on 28 Cooks because not only is it delicious and nutritious, but it's so easy to prepare. I wanted something quick to throw together for dinner tonight, so I knew tilapia was the perfect choice.

These packets literally take 5 minutes to throw together. The most time consuming task is slicing the lemons. Seriously. And the best thing about this recipe is that you can literally take it in a hundred directions. Use salmon or halibut in place of the tilapia. Try another herb instead of the thyme. Use lime instead of lemon. Throw some snowpeas down instead of the spinach. Use a flavored olive oil. No matter how you make it, this is a delicious dish that's sure to be a favorite!

Lemon Thyme Tilapia Packets

Lemon Thyme Tilapia Packets
Serves 2

2 tilapia filets
Salt and pepper
A touch of olive oil
1 organic lemon
2 large handfuls of spinach leaves, washed
A few sprigs of fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 425. Lightly spray 2 large sheets of foil or parchment paper with cooking spray. Slice lemon into 8 slices and discard the 2 end pieces. Place 3 slices of lemon horizontally in the center of the foil. Place handful of spinach on top of lemon. Place seasoned tilapia filets on top of spinach, drizzle with a little olive oil, and place thyme sprigs on top of fish. Fold up packets and place in preheated oven on baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven. Allow to rest for a few minutes before opening packet. Discard lemon slices and thyme sprigs, serve, and enjoy!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

And the winner is.....

This was by far the best comment contest ever. If you haven't read through the comments of reader's favorite summer recipes, please do so immediately. There are so many good recipes!

And the big winner of the great Grilled Pizza cookbook is Rogue Cook!
Here's their favorite summer recipe:

I eat pesto like there's no tomorrow during the summer. My favorite is cilantro lemon pesto, a refreshing take on the traditional basil pesto:

1 bunch cilantro
2 cloves garlic
zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts
olive oil
1/2 c. grated or shredded parmesan cheese

Add all ingredients (except cheese) into a food processor. Add enough olive oil to achieve desired pesto consistency (i.e., like a very soft butter). Toss with your favorite pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Congrats, Rogue Cook! Please contact me with your mailing address!
And to the rest of ya'll, enjoy your day!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Another Giveaway!

Let me just say one thing - spring has finally arrived here on the East Coast and it's positively amazing. I spent the day yesterday with 2 of my best friends in Baltimore, just walking around the harbour and enjoying the day. It was positively gorgeous and made me anxious for long summer days with cookouts and BBQ's.

Imagine my surprise when I returned home to find a cookbook waiting for me.

Grilled Pizzas

This cookbook looks like it would be just perfect for summer entertaining. Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas is full of recipes for all sorts of pizzas and piadinas. Instructions are included for almost all grilling surfaces, ranging from your typical outdoor grill to indoor grill pans, griddles, and panini makers. As I was flipping through the book, I found plenty of recipes I want to try in the very near future. There's a Gamberian pizza topped with sauteed shrimp with pesto and tomato, The Artisan is topped with roasted vegetables with a creamy garlic cheese, and the Habaneran sounds amazing with hot peppers, avocado, cilantro, and lime. There's also plenty of recipes for carnivores.

This cookbook also includes great recipes for salads and desserts so you can have a full meal. There's a recipe for a S'more pizza that looks absolutely incredible.

So why am I telling you about this fantastic cookbook? Because the publishing company has generously offered an extra copy for one of my readers.

So what do you have to do to win it?
Simply leave me a comment with your favorite summer recipe by Midnite, April 22. I'll announce the winner on April 23 and we'll get a copy of this fantastic cookbook in your hot little hands before the weather starts heating up.

So go ahead, tell me about the summer recipe you adore.
Good luck!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Midweek Chat


So here it is, Wednesday. And to be honest, I haven't been doing much cooking. Spring weather has finally hit us and I've been out enjoying it as much as possible. I recently was gifted with a new bike, so I've been out blazing the trails whenever possible. I've also been trying to get back into the routine of running and walking. I forgot how good it feels to be active.

My semester at school is also winding down which means the work load is ramping up. I've got reports and presentations and all sorts of fun stuff to get done these next few weeks, so I can't promise I'll be posting as regularly as possible.

I did just have a great moment this past weekend. I was inducted into the Phi Alpha Honor Society, which was a goal of mine when I started back to school a few years ago. See, when I had my first go-round of college right out of high school, I didn't really give it my best shot (see also: academic probation). So when I started back again, I set some goals for myself, including maintaining a high GPA as well making it into the honor society. It was definitely a great feeling to have accomplished that.

In 28 Cooks' news, I do have some exciting things and developments coming up. I've got some guest bloggers lined up, as well as some other changes, so stay tuned. I hope to be back on Friday with a new recipe for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sun-dried Tomato Dip

I adore sun-dried tomatoes. The flavor is so outstanding and intense and any chance I get to use them, I love it. I saw a recipe for Sun-dried tomato dip in Veganomicon and I instantly bookmarked it.

This recipe is quite different than the original version, but I think you'll find it to be quite tasty. It literally took me 10 minutes to throw it together, and all of the ingredients are readily stocked in any full pantry. Guess what that means?? You've got an instant dip to throw together when unexpected guests arrive. Who doesn't love that??

Sun-dried Tomato Dip

Sun-dried Tomato Dip
A variation of Veganomicon's version

1/2 c slivered or sliced almonds
1/2 c oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 c oil from tomatoes
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 c canned navy beans (or other white beans)

In food processor, process almonds until they are ground to a powder. Add tomatoes and process until chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Serve and enjoy!

If you're looking for more sun-dried tomato recipes, check these out:
*Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade
*3-Bean Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes
*Sun-dried Tomato and Pesto Hummus
*Sun-dried Tomato and Peppercorn Biscotti
*Sun-dried Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Cinnamon Doughnut Holes

I have a confession to make - I'm not a baker. I could probably count on 1 hand the number of times I bake something during a year. Matter of fact, if you look through my recipe archives to the right, I can guarantee the percentage of baked goods is probably about 3%. To me, baking seems too rigid and strict. You have to keep exact proportions on certain ingredients, and you can't just wing it, which is what I love about cooking. On top of that, I'm not really a sweet-eating girl. Don't get me wrong - I love a chocolate-chip cookie or a good blueberry muffin as much as the next person. But you'll tempt me much faster with a crunchy salty treat than a sweet one.

But every once in awhile, I'll see a recipe for a baked good that sounds tasty enough that I just want to make it. Enter La Dolce Vegan's Cinnamon Doughnut Holes. I don't know why this caught my eye, as it's been probably years since a doughnut has crossed my lips. But maybe I just have fond memories of those boxes of Munchkins from Dunkin Donuts that my mother used to buy for special occasions when i was younger. Either way, I saw the recipe and immediately bookmarked it.

These are tasty and the perfect bite-size treat. A few of these with a cup of coffee in the morning will set you on the right path. And not only that, they are relatively light and very easy to make.

Cinnamon Doughnut Holes

Cinnamon Doughnut Holes
A variation from La Dolce Vegan
Makes about 24

Cinnamon Sugar Coating
1/4 c Earth Balance margarine (or butter)
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 c flour
1 cup Rice Crispies cereal, coarsely crushed
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c vegetable shortening
1/2 c soymilk

Preheat oven to 425. Melt margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Place in small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
In large bowl, combine flour, cereal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in vegetable shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in soymilk until just combined. Start rolling dough into 1-inch balls with your hands and set aside until finished. Roll each ball in margarine and then shake well in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place in lightly-oiled 8x8 baking dish. Place into preheated oven and bake for 16-18 minutes. Remove and cool in pan.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Famous BBQ Ribz

I've been a vegaquarian for almost 4 years now. And although I don't crave meat at all, there are certain times that I miss the idea of it. For example, I love summer. I love the heat, I love the sun, I love being outdoors. And there's nothing better on a summer day than throwing a BBQ with friends and family. The smell of the grill, the charcoal - it's all good. And I've done just fine grilling fish and seafood for the past few years. But every once in awhile, I'll get the whiff of barbequed chicken or ribs and it almost makes me miss the meat. Almost.

Enter Susan V's BBQ Ribz. This is a recipe so brilliant and so tasty, I wish it was my own creation. First off, it's super super easy to make. It takes about 5 minutes to measure and mix the ingredients together, and then you throw it in the oven for 25minutes. After that, it's simply a matter of grilling, either on a grill or using a grill pan, and viola - you've got tastiness! I love that the texture of the seitan isn't too meatlike, but it still has enough bite to it that you feel satisfied biting into it.

You can absolutely guarantee that this recipe will be making many appearances this summer. And when it looks this good, don't you want to try it too??

BBQ Seitan Ribz

Susan V's BBQ Ribz
An ever-so-slight variation

1 cup vital wheat gluten
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter
1 tsp Better than Bouillon Vegetarian Beef Base (optional)
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients, from gluten to garlic powder. In a smaller bowl, whisk together tahini, bouillon, Liquid Smoke, and soy sauce. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until combined. Press and pat into lightly-oiled 8x8 baking dish. Cut in half lengthwise, then slice each half into 6-8 pieces. Place into oven and bake for 25 minutes. Start heating grill or lightly-oiled grill pan. Brush top of baked seitan with a generous amount of BBQ sauce. Place, sauce-side down, on grill rack. Brush bottom side with BBQ sauce. When there are nice grill marks on bottom, flip and rebrush with sauce. (Mine took about 2-3 minutes each side) Remove from grill and cut into riblets. Serve with additional sauce if desired.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Just Because It's Vegan: Thai Curry Tempeh Salad

This is another installment in the "Just because it's Vegan" series. These are vegan dishes that are tasty and delicious enough to wow any eater.

I love red curry paste. As of right now, I just counted 6 small cans of it in my pantry. I wanted to make some sort of salad to throw in wraps and pitas for lunch this week and thought some sort of thai curry mayo would be a great base. This is a great recipe that's perfect for weekday lunches. The bold flavors of the curry paste, combined with the fresh cilantro, makes a lovely flavor base for the tempeh. If you haven't had tempeh before, I think this would be a great introduction. High in protein, low in fat, it's meaty enough to fill you up. It also has plenty of variations. Don't do tempeh? Substitute tofu. Want some meat? Substitute tuna, chicken breast, or shrimp. Want a lower fat salad? Substitute yogurt for the mayo. This recipe is open to almost any suggestion.

Give this salad a try. With only 6 ingredients, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how simple yet tasty this is.

Thai Curry Tempeh Salad

Thai Curry Tempeh Salad

2 pkgs (8 oz each) soy tempeh
1 c vegan mayonnaise
1 tbsp red curry paste
1/2 c diced red bell pepper
1/2 c diced green onions
1/4 c fresh cilantro, minced

In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to boil. Break tempeh into large pieces and add to boiling water. Boil for 15 minutes. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water. Cool tempeh. Line colander with 2 layers of paper towels. Crumble tempeh into small pieces. Cover with 2 more pieces of paper towels and press out as much water as possible.
In a large bowl, whisk together mayo and red curry paste. Stir in remaining ingredients, including tempeh, and mix well. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Serve in a wrap, pita, or eat with tortilla chips.