Sunday, November 29, 2009

Just Because It's Vegan: Spiced Persimmon Flax Cake

Wow - I just realized it's been awhile since a "Just Because It's Vegan" post. Although most of my dishes are either vegan-friendly or can be with some simple modifications, I like to make sure I'm posting recipes that highlight just how tasty vegan eatin' can be.

So this recipe is one of many firsts for me. One, first time I've ever used persimmons in anything. I was at our local Asian market and saw the most gorgeous persimmons and immediately grabbed a few to bring home, having no idea what their fate would be. Secondly, I've never used this particular bundt pan, as I'm not really a baker. (those astute readers will probably realize that by checking out the recipe archives at the side) Baking intimidates me as the science is more exact and I don't feel the liberty to just add and throw things in as it suits, as I can do with cooking.

That being said, I just decided to use this recipe as a guideline, made my own modifications, and crossed my fingers, hoping that it would actually work. And did it ever! The cake is moist, tasty, and the perfect showcase for the fantastically sweet persimmons. Not only is the cake super easy to throw together, but you can easily substitute apples or pears if you can't find the persimmons. No matter how you slice it, I think this is a tasty cake that will be making a few appearances this season.

Spiced Persimmon Flax Cake

Spiced Persimmon Flax Cake

2 cups chopped persimmon
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup golden flax seed
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup soy yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with cooking oil and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, flax seed, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. In a smaller bowl, whisk together water, lemon juice, agave, vinegar, and vanilla. Add to dry mixture, along with yogurt, and stir well to combine. Fold in persimmon until well mixed. Pour into pan and place into oven.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven, allow to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, and then completely cool after removing pan.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Happy Thanksgiving to All!

It's Thanksgiving and I'm excited to be hosting my very first Thanksgiving day meal at my home. Although most of the menu is traditionally the same, there are a few new additions. The vegaquarians in the house will be eating scallops in a mushroom white wine sauce, and there's even a vegan turkey to sample.

This year, I'm so thankful for wonderful friends, amazing family, a job, my new home, and my lovely little dog Gracie. I hope that ya'll are enjoying the day and have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Here's last year's Pumpkin Pie with Marscapone to drool over.

Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Braised Artichokes with Horseradish Butter Sauce

Those of you longtime readers will know that cooking artichokes was something I learned last year, and thankfully so! Artichokes are absolutely delicious and surprisingly, not that difficult to make.

I was shopping with a friend of mine when I spied some lovely artichokes in the produce section. I immediately snatched two up and brought them home. My intentions was just to make the old stuffed variety of last year, but that seemed boring, so I thought I'd give braising a try.

Well, that just moved this recipe into my number one spot! Not only is this recipe relatively easy, but it's incredibly delicious. The artichokes are sauteed first in the garlic and butter, and then braised in a simple horseradish stock mixture. Touch it off with a bit of stoneground mustard at the end, and you've got yourself a recipe with some serious WOW factor! This may just be another "Ace in the Hole" recipe!

Braised Artichokes with Horseradish Butter Sauce II

P.S. I think this sauce would be stunning with mussels too!

Braised Artichokes with Horseradish Butter Sauce
Serves 2

2 large artichokes
A bit of lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons butter
1 tbsp horseradish
1 cup cooking stock (vegetable, chicken, or whatever floats your boat)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp stoneground mustard

Cut off stems of artichokes. Using a very sharp knife (serrated is best), cut off the top 1/3 or so of each artichoke. Peel off the outer layer of leaves (the tough ones). Place on cutting board, bottom up, and cut in half. Using a spoon, dig out the hairy choke and all of the purple leaves. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Repeat with the other halves.
In a large pot, heat butter over medium low heat. Add garlic and saute for a few seconds. Add artichoke halves, face down, into the butter. Saute for 5 minutes or so, until lightly browned. Meanwhile, whisk horseradish into cooking stock and pour into pot, along with salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 18-20 minutes, until tender. Remove artichokes and place in serving dish and cover. Whisk mustard into remaining butter sauce, turn heat up to medium, and saute for another minute or two. Serve butter sauce along with artichoke halves as dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Braised Artichokes with Horseradish Butter Sauce

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Spicy Sweet Potato Coins

Okay, confession time. I'm not a huge sweet potato fry fan. I wish I was, but every time a friend orders them in a restaurant, I'm put off by the sweeter mealiness (is that a word??) of the inside. There is a local restaurant that serves them with some fun dipping sauces, like a chipotle aoili and a lime cilantro vinaigrette, that makes the bearable for me, but otherwise I'm out.

So I had a few sweet potatoes left over from last week, and the recurring sweet potato fry theme kept kicking around in my head. I finally decided to do something about it and this recipe was born.

Whoa. These are delicious. No, seriously. They're tasty! The brown sugar carmelizes to give them a nice crispy crust, but then the spiciness of the cumin, crushed red pepper, and chili powder comes soaring through. The best part about them - the recipe is a cinch to make so this is a side dish you'll want to make over and over again!

Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Coins

Spicy Sweet Potato Coins

2 sweet potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp salt or seasoning salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil

Preheat oven to 425 and cover a baking sheet in parchment paper. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4" slices and place into bowl. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and remaining spices. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes and toss well with hands to coat. Sprinkle spices over potatoes and toss well again with hands to coat. Drizzle with sesame oil and toss briefly to coat slices.
Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and place in preheated oven. Bake for 7-10 minutes, then flip. Bake an additional 5-7 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they don't burn. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Potatoes will crisp up more as they cool. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Crispy Baked Tofu with a Quick Curry Sauce

I know I've had this discussion before, but regular tofu just isn't my favorite thing. It's definitely a texture thing, and the crumbly texture of regular sauteed tofu isn't my first choice. However, baked or smoked tofu is a whole different story! The texture is denser and much more enjoyable. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend you do. Tofu is such a wonderful way to get protein without a lot of fat, as well as a nice dose of B-vitamins and iron.

Although you can purchase baked tofu in the store, it's so much more fun to make your own version, and here I've coated and baked it until crispy, giving it a wonderful texture. I've tossed it with a quick curry sauce, that is wonderfully rich from a touch of butter and fat-free half and half. All together, you've got a nutritiously sound meal that delivers in taste! And if you aren't a tofu eater, don't despair - you can toss this quick curry sauce with tempeh, beans, or even sauteed chicken.

Crispy Baked Tofu with a Quick Curry Sauce

Crispy Baked Tofu with a Quick Curry Sauce
Serves 4

1 pkg. water-packed tofu, drained and cut into 1" cubes
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 c cornstarch
1 tbsp chili powder

3 tbsp butter
1 cup slivered onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sugar (depending on the acidity of your tomatoes)
1/4 c fat-free half and half

In a ziploc bag, combine tofu and the remaining marinade ingredients. Place in refrigerator and allow to marinate for at least an hour, although overnight is best. Preheat oven to 350. Combine cornstarch and chili powder in a shallow bowl. Toss tofu cubes, a few at a time, in cornstarch until well coated and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Lightly spray with cooking spray and place in heated oven. Bake for 45 minutes, flipping at least once, until crispy on the outside.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat butter oven medium high heat until melted. Add onions and saute 3-5 minutes, until almost tender. Add garlic, and saute an additional minute or so. Add curry powder, coriander, cumin, and cayenne pepper, and saute for another minute. Add tomato sauce and allow sauce to simmer for a few minutes. Add sugar if desired. Simmer for another few minutes, then remove from heat. Stir in half and half. Toss tofu in sauce and serve over rice.

This is part of "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday" - be sure to check the site for the rest of the tasty recipes!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Ever come home from work on a cold, dreary day and just want something warm, hearty, and filling to eat? Today was one of those days for me, and with it getting dark earlier and earlier, I just wanted something that just felt good in my stomach.

Soup usually fits the bill for me when I get those cravings. I had a few lovely sweet potatoes sitting on my counter for a few days that I wanted to use, but knew I couldn't just make a plain old sweet potato soup. And so this soup was born. There's just enough cumin and coriander to let you know this ain't a boring soup, and the green chilies add just enough heat to make it exciting. So go ahead and give this a try - I guarantee your stomach will thank you!

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chopped and peeled sweet potato
1 (4.5 oz) can of chopped green chilies
8 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1/2 c fat-free half and half
Pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and saute until just tender. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add sweet potato, chilies, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and continue to cook, uncovered for about 15 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, and salt, and continue to cook until potatoes are tender, about another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add half and half. Puree with a stick blender until creamy. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Indian Eggplant Fritters

A lone eggplant wandered its way into my kitchen, and knowing I have a busy week ahead of me, I decided to use it up as soon as possible and cook something tasty with it. I immediately grabbed my newest "go-to" cookbook, 1000 Vegan Recipes, that I reviewed last week. Although there were a few tasty eggplant recipes, I quickly settled on the eggplant fritters, especially since everything was already stocked in my kitchen.

What a quick and tasty recipe to make. And what I love about it is that I'm already thinking of a zillion variations. I made a few changes of my own, but kept pretty true to the original recipe. I think next time, I may try using zucchini instead of eggplant, and then try a potato variation. I'm also thinking these would be lovely to make ahead of time and store in the freezer, making them just perfect for a tasty appetizer for unexpected guests.

Indian Eggplant Fritters

Indian Eggplant Fritters

1 small eggplant, peeled and diced (this was about 3 cups for me)
1/2 c water
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1 tbsp minced fresh mint
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp coriander
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

In a large saucepan, combine the eggplant, water, and lemon juice. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and cook until the eggplant is very soft, about 10 minutes. Drain the eggplant, pressing out excess liquid, and place in a small bowl. Add chili sauce and mint, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, coriander, cumin, baking powder, and salt. Add to the eggplant mixture and toss to combine.
In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant mixture, a tablespoon at a time, adding as many fritters as you can without crowding. Fry, turning as needed, until golden brown all over, 2-3 minutes per side.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lemon Custard Tart with a Gingersnap Crust

So I had some leftover gingersnap cookies from something or other, and have been snacking on them over the past few days. Every single time I took a bite out of one, I got this intense urge to pair it with something lemony and fresh. And so this tart was born.

Sure, she ain't the prettiest girl at the ball (especially since I had the oven rack just a bit too close to the heat) but she definitely knows how to strut her stuff. The custard is almost lemon meringue-y, with a nice tart flavor that sits nicely on a bed of gingersnaps. And since it's such a snap to make, this is definitely one of those desserts you know you can serve to guests at a moment's notice.

Lemon Custard Tart with a Gingerbread Crust

Lemon Custard Tart with a Gingersnap Crust

2 cups gingersnap crumbs (this was about half a package of cookies for me)
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp sour cream
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 350. Combine gingersnap crumbs and melted butter. Press into a well-greased tart pan, or individual tart molds. Press as thinly as possible. Bake in oven for 5-7 minutes until set.
Meanwhile, combine zest and sugar in food processor and process until combined well. Add eggs, butter, and sour cream, and process for 1-2 minutes. Add fresh lemon and orange juices, and pulse a few times until mixed.
Slide oven rack out and fill tart shell(s). Push rack back into oven carefully and bake until center of tarts is gently set, but not firm (should still have some wiggle to it), about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oldies but Goodies

Somehow and some way, I missed a few months' worth of recipes when I was archiving and sorting my recipes into the categories on the side. I didn't realize it until I grabbed 2 artichokes at the grocery store, thinking some stuffed artichokes would be perfect. I went through the appetizer recipes on the side and was shocked that they somehow slipped through the cracks.

And not only did that delicious and easy recipe miss the boat, but so did quite a few others that I had forgotten about! So for those who just started reading 28 Cooks, here are some you may not have seen yet. And for those longtime readers (Hi Mom!), here's a chance to remember some of the past.

Oh, and you'll want to stop back by on Thursday. I've got a lovely little tart in the oven now using up some gingersnaps and fresh lemon that I'm sure you won't want to miss out on!

But for now, enjoy these!

Stuffed Artichokes

Food 007

One of my absolute favorite snacks, Garlic Parmesan Edamame

Garlic Parmesan Edamame

This Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Braid is a cinch to make and a way to impress guests

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Braid

Ooh, Indian Avocado Spinach Dip is sure to be a hit too

Indian Avocado Spinach Dip

And finally, this Thai Coconut Curry Stirfry is simply delicious and a snap to make!

Thai Coconut Curry Stirfry

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mexican Fideo Soup with Pinto Beans

Man, I have been craving beans and soup something fierce. Even though the past 2 days have been lovely and in the 70's, today's cold and rain bring me right back to the reality of Fall and the upcoming Winter.

With the holidays fast approaching, we are hitting full stride in what's been dubbed "Cookbook Season." New authors and old alike are doing their best to get their new books out on shelves for that holiday gift giving. As a blog writer, I usually get my fair share of offers for review copies.

I must admit I was slightly skeptical when I read the title of this cookbook. The publishing company offered to send me a review copy of "1000 Vegan Recipes" and I immediately thought "quantity, not quality," as is the case with a lot of those titles. I've been burned a few times by books titled "One Zillion Greek Recipes" or "4 Million Ways to Make Indian," which are usually just huge paperweights with a few good recipes in them.

Fellow food blogger, Robin Robertson over at Vegan Plant, really got this one right. I was pleasantly surprised when I got a copy of this book and flipped through it. Right off the bat, I found quite a few different recipes I wanted to make. Each category is chock full of great looking recipes, vegan or not! From appetizers to side dishes to main dishes to brunch recipes, this book really is a go-to book for almost every occasion.

I received permission to post 3 separate recipes, and the following is the first I made, thus satisfying my desire for beans and soup. The ingredient list is simple enough and the preparation can be done in minutes, so this is a wonderful filling soup perfect for dinner.

Mexican Fideo Soup with Beans

Check back next week for another great recipe from this very useful cookbook!

Mexican Fideo soup with Pinto Beans
reprinted with permission
Serves 4-6

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
8 oz fideo, vermicelli, or angel hair pasta, broken into 2" pieces
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans (I subbed kidneys)
1 (4 oz) can chopped hot or mild green chilies
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
6 cups vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

In a large soup pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Remove the onion mixture with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil over medium heat, add the noodles, and cook until golden, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to burn the noodles.

Stir in the tomatoes, beans, chiles, cumin, oregano, broth, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the onion mixture and simmer until the vegetables and noodles are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mango Habanero Jam

This is probably one of my favorite and easiest jam recipes to make. What I love about it is that as long as you can find a good mango and some nice habaneros, you can make some good jam.

What's so surprising about this jam is that it's not as hot as you might think, nor as sweet - it just sort of meets in the middle for a wonderful flavor. This jam is perfect for pairing with a nice sharp cheese or on a piece of toast, and word on the street is that it also makes a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich. It would also be perfect for glazing a ham or pork roast, if you fancy that sort of thing.

Regardless of how you use it, this is a perfect recipe to keep stocked in your pantry and for holiday gift giving!

Mango Habanero Jam

Mango Habanero Jam
Yields 6 (1/2 pt) jars

6-8 whole habaneros
1 c cider vinegar
1 fresh mango, peeled and chopped
1/2 c apricot nectar
1/2 c fresh orange juice
6 c sugar
1 pkt liquid Certo

Blend all habaneros with vinegar, mango, and juices until well pureed. Bring mixture and sugar to boil in a heavy pot. Boil 8 minutes. Add certo and bring to boil again. Pour into 1/2 pt jars and seal*.

*The easiest way to can is this - wash and dry canning jars thoroughly. Place lids and rings in a pot of barely simmering water. Once jelly is ready, fill a jar, leaving about a 1/4" headspace. With tongs, remove lid and ring from water, place on jar, and tighten, although not all the way. Turn jar upside down on a dishtowel. Repeat with remaining jars. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Turn upright and allow to seal. Tighten rings on all jars. If any of the jars don't seal, simply store in the refrigerator once cool. The other jars can be stored in a pantry for 8 months to a year, if it lasts that long.

This recipe is also a part of Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, hosted by Blessed with Grace.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Twice Baked Indian Stuffed Potatoes

It's rainy and dreary and cold outside here on the Eastern seaboard, which is an immediate signal to make something hot and comforting. I am also a few hours post-root canal, so the only things I really want to eat are soft and comforting things.

Potatoes are like the quintessential cold weather food. Not only are there hundreds of different ways to make them, but they are filling and delicious. I love twice baked potatoes, but wanted to use up some ricotta that has been languishing in my fridge for a few days. I also pulled out some mint that was making its way towards the dark side and decided to try doing something with some Indian flavors. The garam masala is perfect for plenty of Indian flavors with not a lot of work. I also threw in some horseradish as a last minute flavor punch, just because I could.

These are tasty and easy, especially if you have a baked potato setting on your microwave, like I do. Even if you roast them in the oven, this recipe is definitely a no fuss, no muss sort of recipe that's perfect for those days you just don't want to put a lot of effort into what you eat.

Twice Baked Indian Stuffed Potatoes

Twice Baked Indian Stuffed Potatoes

2 large potatoes, baked and cooled
1/3 c ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp minced fresh mint
1 tsp horseradish
1/2 tsp salt

In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, garam masala, mint, horseradish, and salt until well-combined. Half potatoes and scoop out most of the potato flesh, leaving a nice 1/4" shell. Add potato flesh to cheese mixture and stir well. Scoop back into potato shells, filling generously. Place in preheated oven and bake 15-20 minutes, until heated throughout. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sweet Heat Hot Sauce

So last week I showed you some of the lovely peppers I was given. Although I want to try them in some different ways, there is nothing I love more than a good hot sauce, so I knew immediately I was trying a new batch.

This is another very hot sauce recipe. I have a very high tolerance for heat (I've been known to eat habaneros on their own), but even I will agree this heat will probably be around a 4 out of 5 on the 28 Cooks' Hot-O-Meter. But ohhh, does it deliver in the flavor department. I added apricot nectar and orange juice to give it some sweetness factor, and threw in some horseradish to kick it up a notch, and combined with the pure hot peppers, you have yourself a hot sauce that is absolutely delicious.

I think it's good enough to eat by itself with tortilla chips, but those more sensitive to heat may want to use sparingly and add to salsas or other sauces. And just a thought - if you have some Chile Heads on your Christmas List, this would be a perfect homemade gift! And be sure to check the recipe files for more hot and spicy condiment recipes!

Sweet Heat Hot Sauce

Sweet Heat Hot Sauce

2 cups chopped hot peppers (I used a variety of all sorts)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup apricot nectar
1 cup orange juice
1 cup cider vinegar
3 tbsp horseradish
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients, except Worcestershire sauce, in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat and allow sauce to simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour, until sauce starts to thicken. Add Worcestershiire and remove from heat. Sauce tastes best if allowed to cool and is refrigerated for a day or two.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Thai Green Tomato Soup

Okay, so let me just tell you how hard it is to find a recipe to use green tomatoes, other than the ubiquitous fried version. Seriously, Google "green tomatoes" and see how many different recipes there are for fried green tomatoes. The reason for my search was that in our last CSA offerings there were the most gorgeous green tomatoes.

Green Tomato

I've actually never had nor cooked with green tomatoes, so I was excited to find something to do with them, other than simply bread and fry them. But after a few attempts at googling and searching through some cookbooks, I was left empty and devoid of any inspiration.

Then this recipe showed up on my radar. I read through the list of ingredients and immediately was struck with some inspiration. And since I have some sort of fascination with buying cans of both red and green curry paste, I knew it would be the perfect addition.

Whoa. This is tasty. It's probably one of the best soup recipes I've made to date. What's unfortunate is how hard soups are to photograph, as this picture doesn't nearly do it justice. The coconut milk adds a lovely flavor base to the soup and the pureed potatoes and green tomatoes give it a great hearty feel, perfect for filling tummies. It's also a perfect way to use up some of those season's end green tomatoes. So go ahead and give this hearty soup a try.

Thai Green Tomato Soup

Thai Green Tomato Soup
Serves 6 to 8

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp cumin seed
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups peeled and diced potatoes
3 cups diced green tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock
1 (15 oz) can coconut milk
1 1/2 tbsp green curry paste

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add cumin seed and garlic, and saute for another minute or so. Add tomatoes and potatoes, and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add stock and bring soup to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add coconut milk and curry paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Using an immersion blender, blend to a creamy consistency. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I smell hot sauce a-brewin'!

Part of what excites me about food and cooking is that there is always something new to discover. There's always new ways to pair and prepare foods and there's always a new spin you can put on the simplest of ingredients.

I was recently gifted with a huge basket of hot peppers from one of the most talented pepper growers I know, who also happens to be a fantastic photographer. I look forward to this every year as it gives me a chance to brew up some different hot sauces.

Bounty of Fresh Peppers

I'm not quite sure which way I'm going this year. I have enough peppers to make a few different things, and the possibilities are absolutely exciting to me. (Gee, guess I'm a food dork through and through). I'm thinking I'll remake the Mango Habanero Jam again, which is not as hot or as sweet as you think it would be, but every bit as tasty as it should be. I also want to try my hand at recreating a hot sauce I purchased at some little gourmet store, so I'll be sure to keep you updated with the makings.

But while I kick some ideas around, enjoy some of these previously posted hot sauce recipes. You may want to jot these down for future presents for Chile heads in the upcoming holiday season!

One of my favorite recipes of all time, Habanero Garlic Salsa.

Habanero Garlic Salsa

Another great and spicy hot sauce, the Ultimate 7-Pepper Sauce.

7 Pepper Hot Sauce

And you want to talk about the perfect partner with a nice sharp cheese? You have to try this Hot Pepper and Garlic Jelly. It'll blow your mind.

Pepper Jelly

Monday, October 05, 2009

Indian-spiced Gratin of Spaghetti Squash

One of the things I love about cooking is that there's always something new to discover and try. My parents and I split a CSA box this year (which seriously, if you haven't done yet, please do so for next season - it's so well worth it!) and were recently given a spaghetti squash. Although I've had it a few times, I've never attempted to make it myself.

I did the normal steps of googling for a good recipe, then I flipped through my usual standby cookbooks on what to do with it. I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed at the offerings. Most of the recipes were simply baking it and eating it plain, or substituting it for pasta and topping with marinara. Neither of those ideas sounded good to me, so I kept thinking of what to do with it.

I came across this recipe for a gratin that sounded simple, yet tasty. I kicked around a few variations, but it wasn't until I tasted the most delicious Organic Coconut Curry chocolate at Wegmans today that I knew what it needed. I took a page from the spice blend of my Indian Spiced Peanut Brittle (seriously, very tasty!) and also threw in some fresh cilantro. And whoa! This dish is a great tasty sidedish to serve and a wonderful way to try this delicious seasonal squash. Plus, the recipe is dead simple, and if you use fat-free sour cream and skim mozzarella, it's pretty healthy too!

Indian spiced Gratin of Spaghetti Squash

Indian-spiced Gratin of Spaghetti Squash
Serves 6-8

1 2-3lb spaghetti squash
2 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coriander seed, fennel seed, mustard seed, white peppercorn, and cumin seed
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

The easiest way to prepare spaghetti squash is to microwave it. Cut squash in half, from stem to blossom end. Scoop out seeds of both halves. Place one half in a microwave-safe baking dish, and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 10-12 minutes until tender. Repeat with remaining half. Using a fork, scrape squash out of shells into a large mixing bowl. Throw away skin.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a mortar and pestle, grind up coriander, fennel, mustard, and cumin seeds, along with white peppercorns. Add to squash mixture with remaining ingredients. Stir well. Place in well-oiled baking dish and bake in oven for 30 minutes, until bubbly. Serve and enjoy!

Enjoy this and other great recipes with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Cream of Mushroom Scallion Soup

Well, I finally caved. I turned the heat on yesterday. I admit, I'm weak when it comes to the cold and waking up to a 63-degree bedroom isn't my idea of a good time. And most of you know that any weather colder than 70's isn't my favorite - I'm a summer baby through and through.

I must admit, however, that I do love the beginning of fall season, as I have the chance to make hearty comforting dishes. I especially love a good soup, so I wanted to make something fairly quick, yet hearty, to enjoy during our most recent cold snap.

I love cream of mushroom soup and I always have. I had some great baby bellas in the fridge and was going to just make a regular old soup. As I was browsing through a few cookbooks, just getting ideas on proportions and seasonings, I came across a Cream of Mushroom Scallion soup in the old standby, The Joy of Cooking. I was immediately intrigued and thought I'd make a few changes. The result is quite tasty. It's got the great earthy base of mushroom, but has a lovely fresh flavor from the scallions. I also threw in just a touch of cream, but overall, this recipe is about as healthy as it gets.

Cream of Mushroom Scallion Soup

Cream of Mushroom Scallion Soup
based loosely from a recipe in The Joy of Cooking
Serves 4-6

1/4 c butter
3 bunches of scallions, cleaned
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp flour
4 c vegetable stock
1/2 c white wine
1 (12 oz) package baby bella mushrooms (or any variety on hand)
1/2 c cream
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Mince cleaned scallions, using both green and white parts. (I just threw mine in the food processor) In a large stockpot, melt butter. Add onions, salt, and pepper. Saute onions over medium high heat for 8-10 minutes, until soft. Do not brown. Stir in flour, saute for 1 minute. Whisk in stock and wine, then bring to a boil. Add mushrooms, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cream and nutmeg.
Using an immersion blender, blend soup to desired texture. (I like a bit of the mushroom texture to remain). Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cooking Demo 101

So I recently gave my first official cooking demonstration in front of a group of about 20 women this past weekend. And what a blast it was!

Cooking Demo 1

I decided to do a sort of intro into being a vegaquarian, since that's usually what I get questions about when I mention that's the eating style I choose. I only had about 45 minutes and so I decided to do 2 separate preparations of tilapia, a mushroom barley salad, and then my Roasted Vegetables primer. The time absolutely flew by but amazingly enough, everything fit just perfectly in the allotted time.

I love public speaking for some crazy reason. When I had to take Communications 101 in college, I was probably one of the only students who loved getting up in front of the class and speaking. I think being a high school teacher for awhile really helped bring that comfort, as I'm a firm believer that if you can stand in front of a group of teenagers and speak, you can speak in front of anyone.

Cooking Demo 2

Anyway, it was fun and enjoyable and I hope for more opportunities to do this in the future. A huge thanks to my lovely mother, who was my willing assistant, passing out samples of the dishes and cleaning up my mess. And for those who weren't able to make it, here are the recipes I used:

*Wine Poached Tilapia with Tomatoes and Herbs
*Lemon Thyme Tilapia Packets
*Hearty Mushroom Barley Salad
*Roasted Vegetables 101

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

So where have I been?

Wow - it's been quiet around these parts over the past few weeks! Can you believe it's already the 8th of September? That just blows my mind - summer is on its way out and fall has officially arrived.

So why haven't I been posting? Well, I've got one good reason:

Gracie 1

This is my new baby, Gracie, who recently joined my household. She's a mini labradoodle and I adore her. She's almost 11 weeks old, and she's slowly coming to understand that not everything I do at the kitchen counter is for her pleasure. It's been interesting getting used to having a different schedule that doesn't revolve around me, but every step has been enjoyable.

Anyway, all that to say that I plan on returning soon, just as soon as Gracie gets a bit more settled in Casa de 28.

Happy Week!

Gracie 2

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fish Gyros with Cucumber Tzatziki Sauce

So every once in awhile, I create a recipe that immediately shoots to the top of my "Absolute Favorites" list. Usually, it's something I throw together without much thought, and then ends up completely astounding me with its deliciousness.

This recipe is absolutely fantastic and was the result of a long love affair with gyros. I can still remember the first one I ever had - I was about 11 or 12, and we were still living in Nairobi, Kenya. A new Greek stand went into the mall that had just been built down the street (the first in the country, ya'll) and we just had to try it. Their gyros had about 4 different sauces on them and were OUTSTANDING. They also made a falafel that was pretty close to heaven. But when I gave up meat, I sadly said goodbye to the goodness of the gyro. It wasn't until my mother, who is also a vegaquarian, convinced our local spot to make a gryo with grilled mushrooms, onions, and peppers that the hope came alive again.

I was on my way to the grocery store and was kicking over some ideas in my head when it hit me - a fish gyro. I wanted to make it a little more healthy and less carb-y, so I wrapped it all in a nice large Boston lettuce leaf. Whoa. First of all, the tzatziki sauce is fantastic. If you make nothing else, make the sauce. It's perfect on the fish, but it would make a fantastic salad topping or dip for fresh vegetables. Now pair it with the seasoned fish, and you have yourself a wonderful meal. I mean, look at it....

Fish Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

Fish Gyros with Cucumber Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki Sauce
8 oz plain yogurt
1/3 c diced cucumber
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
pinch sugar
1/4 c fresh cilantro, minced

1 pound tilapia filets
Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and ground coriander

Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl, and allow to chill in the fridge for an hour or so. Season fish filets with spices and cook by preferred method. (I threw mine in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10-12 minutes).
Serve fish with diced fresh tomatoes and onions, topped with tzatziki sauce, and wrap in a large washed leaf of Boston lettuce. Enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baja Fish Tacos
Seriously, without a doubt, this is my favorite thing to order at a Mexican restaurant. I must admit, that up until about 3 years ago, I was extremely skeptical about the tastiness of a fish taco. But a trip back to California and a few fish tacos later, and I'm a convert.

However, I unfortunately (or fortunately, some would say) stumbled on the nutritional data at one of my fish taco haunts. Whoa. Seriously. After reading this, and the data on other similar dishes, I just couldn't order them without feeling the guilt of eating my caloric allotment for the day.

So here's my stripped down and healthier version. It still has the delicious flavors and spiciness, yet doesn't bring the heavy and greasiness of fried fish. And like most of my recipes, you can switch it up to use your favorite fish, add pico de gallo, cheese, or whatever else you like on your taco. And the coleslaw is so fantastic, I think you'll enjoy it on its own. So go ahead, try these guilt-free tacos today! If you're heat sensitive, I'd use 1/2 chipotle pepper.

Baja Fish Tacos

Baja Fish Tacos

Chipotle Cole Slaw
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, pureed in 1 tsp sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
Pepper to taste
2 c coleslaw mix
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced

1 pound flounder, tilapia, or cod fillets
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp of a Sazon packet

In a food processor, combine lime juice, mustard, chipotle pepper, garlic, oil, honey, and pepper until well combined. Pour over coleslaw mixture, stirring in cilantro. Put into a ziploc bag, and allow it to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, oil, and Sazon. Pour over fish in a ziploc bag, and marinate in fridge for an hour or so. Remove and drain from marinade. Prepare fish on the grill, under the broiler, or sauteed in a smidge of oil until done. Serve on flour tortillas with a serving of coleslaw. Enjoy!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Mexican Beer Cheese Dip

Didn't your mom ever tell you that "it's what on the inside that counts?" Although it's a somewhat trite quote, there is a hefty portion of truth in there. Sure, something may look perfect on the outside, but the inside could be a hot mess. Or, you see something that's not conventionally attractive on the outside, yet the inside is absolutely gorgeous.

All that to say that I know this dip is ugly, but wow - its flavor profile more than makes up for its lack of beauty. Sure, it's not as fetching as guacamole or as pretty as fresh salsa, but the taste is so addictive I promise it'll be the belle of the ball.

Sharp cheddar and cream cheese lay the base for the Mexican spices and black beans. There's only 1/2 cup of beer in this, so if you're like me and not a beer drinker, and you can't either buy or beg for a single bottle of beer, then either use the non-alcoholic stuff available in the grocery store, or skip it all together. It can also be jazzed up with fresh jalapenos and cilantro, if you're looking to take it over the top! No matter how you make it, you'll have this simple and quick to make dip to wow your friends.

Mexican Beer Cheese Dip

Mexican Beer Cheese Dip
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
1/2 - 3/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c beer
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 (10 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

In food processor, process cream cheese until whipped. Add garlic salt, onion powder, cumin, coriander, and Worcestershire sauce until well combined. Add beer and sharp cheese, and pulse until mixed. Add black beans and pulse until combined, yet still chunky. Allow to relax in the fridge for an hour, then serve with tortilla chips, carrot sticks, or whatever strikes your fancy. Dip can also be served warm if desired.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Freezer Friday - Jalapeno Poppers

Out of all of the things in my freezer right now, these are definitely my favorite. Let's be honest for a minute, shall we?? I mean, we try and eat healthy and watch our fat grams and carbs and eat the good kinds of fat. But sometimes, all you want is something tasty, something cheesy, something fried.

These poppers fit the bill. Not only will they make good use of the bounty of peppers that should be springing out of the gardens, but they also freeze extremely well, which means you can always have these on hand to throw in the oven for guests or when you're just craving something tasty.

These are relatively easy to make, although slightly time consuming. (My batch took about 2 hours all together from start to finish). However, they last quite a while in the freezer if properly bagged. The recipe can also be easily halved.

Feel free to incorporate other ingredients into this recipe, such as crab meat or bacon. Switch the cheeses up and throw in some monterey jack, blue cheese, or queso fresco. You won't be disappointed if you give these a try!

Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeno Poppers
Makes 48

2 (8oz) pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
1 (8oz) bag shredded sharp cheddar
1 tsp dried minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
24 jalapeno peppers
2 cups milk
2 cups flour
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs

In medium sized bowl, combine cheeses and seasonings until well mixed. Set aside. Bring a medium sized pot of water to boil. In the meantime, remove stem from jalapeno peppers and cut into half. Take out seeds and set aside. Repeat with remaining peppers. Blanch peppers for 2 minutes in boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Allow to dry for a few minutes.
Fill all pepper halves with cheese mixture. Then dip each half into milk, then coat with flour, setting aside on baking tray. Repeat with remaining halves. Allow to dry about 10 minutes. Then dip each half into milk, and then coat completely with breadcrumbs, setting aside on baking tray. Repeat with remaining halves. Allow to dry about 10 minutes. Then repeat breadcrumb coating step.
Meanwhile, bring oil to frying temperature in large pot. Fry peppers in batches, about 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towel lined tray. Cool and serve.
To freeze, allow to cool, then place in freezer on baking tray. Once frozen, pack in portions in freezer bags, then place into a larger freezer bag. To reheat, place frozen poppers on baking tray in 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until heated through.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Baked Corn on the Cob

This baked corn on the cob recipe is tasty. I must admit when I first read the ingredients of the original recipe, I was very hesitant. Yet, it was interesting enough that I thought I'd give it a try.

Wow - what a delicious combination. The flavors mellow out to create a well-balanced sauce. Now, if you're idea of the perfect ear of corn have nothing to do with plenty of butter and salt, then look away. But if that is exactly what you look forward to when someone says "Fresh Corn," then you're in the right place. Since my new apartment is grill-less at the moment, I tried the baked method, which was super easy and super tasty.

The recipe is originally from What's Cooking America, but I am reposting my variation here for my readers.

Baked Corn on the Cob

Baked Corn on the Cob
Recipe courtesy of What's Cooking America

1 tbsp prepared mustard
2 tsp horseradish
3/4 tsp salt
freshly cracked pepper to taste
1/2 c butter, room temperature
6 ears of corn, husks removed

Combine all ingredients, except for corn, in small bowl. Spread onto ears of corn, and wrap individually in foil. Corn can be grilled until hot, or placed in a preheated 375 degree oven and baked for 25 minutes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fantastic Freezer Fridays

Every other Friday until the end of summer, I decided to do "Fantastic Freezer Fridays." Two things brought me to do this fun event: 1) this is definitely the "Preserving Season." Everywhere you turn, there are recipes and products for saving the bounty of summer's harvest. Canning, freezing, dehydrating - all ways to make sure not a bit of the fresh summer's produce goes to waste. AND 2) my job sometimes has long hours, which means I get home, famished, and no time to make a huge meal.Both of these things got me thinking about what I could have on hand, in the freezer, for days just like that.

And I'm asking you to join me - if you'd like to be included in the week's roundup, simply post a recipe, suitable for freezing, on your blog, along with a link to my original post. Send me your link by the preceding Thursday at Noon EST, and your blog and recipe will be included in Friday's post. It can be whatever you want - provided it lasts well in your freezer. Show us your favorite freezer salsa, your easy jam recipe, the best taquito recipe - there's really no rules!

I thought I'd kick things off with this recipe that I just created. The last time I had Jamaican food before I became a vegetarian, I had THE best beef patties. Sadly, when I left meat behind, I thought I had left these as well. And for some reason, I've been avoiding the vegetarian ground beef options available in the grocery store. It wasn't until a few weeks ago when my friend Wendy made some vegetarian tacos that I realized it wasn't bad at all. Since then, I've been trying to find ways to use it, and these patties were born.

Wow, are these tasty! Spicy and flavorful, and truth be told, easy to make. I made these with the ready-made Goya Discos, but feel free to make your own dough. These freeze well and can be reheated in an oven. Perfect to have on hand for a quick dinner or snack.

And don't forget to send me your links to your own Freezer's best recipes!

Vegetarian Jamaican Beef Patties

Vegetarian Jamaican Beef Patties
Makes 10

1 pkg Goya Discos, thawed
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, diced
1 pkg Boca Crumbles
3/4 c water
2 tbsp vegetarian beef broth powder (optional)
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp jerk seasoning
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
2 T fresh cilantro, minced

Set thawed discos aside. In medium saucepan, heat a few tablespoons olive oil. Add onion, garlic, and ginger, and saute until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Simmer until most of the moisture has evaporated. Turn heat off and cool meat slightly.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove one disc from plastic wrap. Place 2-3 tbsp filling in the center and fold dough over, sealing the edges with a fork. Place on slightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes, until dough is crispy. Remove from oven. If serving immediately, cool slightly and serve.
For freezing: Cool completely. Package well in freezer bags. To reheat, place frozen patties on cookie sheet and reheat in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Balti Fish Curry

Longtime readers of this blog will tell you that Mexican and Indian are definitely 2 of my very favorite foods. I am confident that I could live a happy life eating anything from either of these 2 wonderful cuisines.

My local Wegmans was having a sale on catfish this past weekend. Although I usually gravitate towards tilapia or salmon in the Seafood department, the price was almost too good to pass up. I grabbed a few filets without really thinking through what I wanted to do.

I recently checked a book, 660 Curries, out of my local library. I must admit that I have yet to crack the cover, but the idea of some sort of curried fish immediately sprang into my mind. I started pulling out things I thought would be lovely in curry - fresh ginger, garlic, onion, crushed tomatoes, and cilantro. I also found a lone can of coconut milk and added that to the pile.

Out of that pile, this recipe was born. It's easy and relatively quick. You could literally have this recipe on the table in about 30 minutes. And again, you're looking at another budget recipe, especially if most of this is already in your pantry. I guarantee this is a curry recipe you won't want to miss. And be sure to check out some of the other curry recipes in the main dish section.

Balti Fish Curry

Balti Fish Curry
Serves 4-6

1 pound catfish (or other firm-fleshed fish)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups vidalia onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 serrano pepper, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes in thick puree
1 (15 oz) can coconut milk
1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped

Cut fish into 2" pieces. Set aside. In large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger, and saute for 2 minutes. Add serrano pepper, curry powder, paprika, cumin, and salt. Stir and saute for another 2 minutes. Add contents of tomato can and stir well. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat, leave uncovered, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add coconut milk, stir well, increase heat, and bring back to a boil. Add fish and stir. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until fish is cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Serve over basmati rice and enjoy!

Monday, July 06, 2009

West Indies Salmon Cakes
(or "How I learned to read the label of a can")

My mother was, and still is, a fantastic cook. One of my favorite meals as a child that she would make were her salmon cakes. It was definitely an odd choice to have as a favorite kid's meal, but we always loved when she made them.

I was thinking about making something different, yet relatively simple, when her salmon cakes came to mind. I immediately jotted down a list of what I "thought" may be good in them and headed off to the store.

I got to the canned meat section, which can be a little scary to a vegetarian, and noticed the salmon shelf. There were a few different kinds at a few different price points. I instinctively knew the bottom tier probably wasn't what I wanted, and I grabbed 2 cans of a Wild Alaskan salmon. The label was so pretty and gourmet-looking, I just knew I couldn't be wrong.

Well, I got home and started pulling out what I needed for the recipe. I grabbed the can opener and just as I was about to open the can, I thought, "Huh - I guess I just open this like a can of tuna and go from there." I gave another quick look to the label when I read the phrase "contains skin and bones." What?!??! Why would the can contain skin and bones? I popped those bad boys open, and sure enough, there was plenty of skin and plenty of bones. I'm not lying - had I not already had the wheels in motion, I would have tossed those two cans and just gotten the cans where it's already deboned and skinned. Instead, I spent about 30 minutes, picking out the bones and skin and salvaging as much meat as I could.

All that to say, do yourself a favor and buy the other stuff - you know, the stuff that doesn't look like they just hacked up a fish and shoved it into a can. You'll thank me later. (as an aside, I just spoke with the Mama herself, and she says that she always got the skin and bone kind and just picked around the bone bits)

That aside, these cakes are very tasty. There's not much too them, yet they really deliver the flavors. They also freeze exceptionally well uncooked, so this is something you can make ahead of time and keep on hand in the freezer. They're lovely served with tartar sauce, or I made an easy cilantro aioli by tossing some minced cilantro in some mayo.

This recipe is also a very cheap option for a filling main dish. Total cost of ingredients was under $10.

West Indies Salmon Cakes

West Indies Salmon Cakes
Makes 6

2 cups flaked salmon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c onion, minced
1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 large egg, whisked
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined. With hands, form 6 patties and set aside. In a frying pan, pour a tbsp or two of oil. Heat over medium high heat. Fry patties for 2-3 minutes each side until done. If freezing, place between layers of wax/parchment paper in freezer bags and freeze. Thaw and cook as above.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tilapia Poached in a Chipotle Mushroom Broth

Listen, I like gourmet foods. I really do. I love eating at fancy restaurants, I love truffles, I love anything foodie. But the thing is, that's about 8% of what I cook at home on a regular basis.

Money is tight for everyone these days. Everyone's talking about budgets and cutting back and doing without some of those luxuries we once indulged in. Even I am looking at ways on cutting back, especially moving from an apartment with a roommate, splitting expenses, to my own abode.

That's why I love this recipe. It's fancy enough to serve to guests, yet cheap enough that you can serve it without feeling guilty about blowing your food budget. This recipe serves 4 and cost less than $10!

And not only is it cost effective, but it's also dead-easy to make. I love poached fish recipes, because they really are almost foolproof! Since the fish is simmering in a flavorful broth, you'd really have to almost go completely out of your way to overcook it. The 2 chipotles give it a bit of a kick, so if you're sensitive to spicy foods, I'd use 1/2 to 1 pepper. Now go ahead and give this simple recipe a try - you'll have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes!

Tilapia poached in Chipotle Mushroom Broth

Tilapia Poached in a Chipotle Mushroom Broth
Serves 4

2 chipotle peppers (I used the canned ones in adobo sauce)
1/4 c heavy cream
2 cups vegetable stock
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp onion powder

4 tilapia fillets
A bit of flour, salt, and pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/4 c fresh cilantro, minced

In food processor, process chipotle peppers and heavy cream until well combined. Add stock, garlic, cumin, and onion powder, and pulse until mixed. Meanwhile, lightly coat tilapia fillets with flour, seasoned with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In large flat skillet, heat a few tbsp of oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes. Push mushrooms to the side of the pan and add fillets. Allow to
brown for a minute on each side. Then pour broth over mushrooms and fish and cover pan. Allow to simmer 8-10 minutes, until fish is tender and cooked. Sprinkle fresh cilantro over dish and serve immediately. This would be excellent over rice so not a drop of the broth is wasted.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My kind of bracket competition!

I've never been one for March Madness. I mean, I can sit through a basketball game here or there, but I've never gotten into the frenzy of it all.

During my hiatus from this blog, I received an email from a reader who concocted a bracket out of all of the 28 Cooks' hummus recipes they wanted to try. What a fantastic idea! I'm curious to see who takes the entire thing - I know I would definitely have a hard time picking a winner out of a few of those listed.

And if you're a hummus lover and have yet to check out the 18 hummus recipes on this site, I'd suggest you stroll immediately over to the sidebar and give a few a try.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The First Meal

Wow - where have I been, right? It's been over 2 months since I've last blogged, and to me, it seems like much more than that. But it's not because I haven't wanted to get into the kitchen - I just haven't had the time. In short, in the past 2 months I:
*Finally graduated from college with a new degree
*Started a new job in a brand-new city
*Packed up and moved to new apartment in said city

I'm finally starting to get settled in my new home and am loving the quietness of the woods that my dining room and living room windows face. Although I still have to adjust to the lighting and windows for my photos, I thought I'd post a picture of the first meal I made tonight in my new home.

No recipes just yet, but I promise as soon as I complete the final move this weekend, I'll be back to share some recipes for all of that summer produce that is so plentiful.

For my first meal, I just had to use something fresh, so I decided to grab some lovely green beans and sauteed them in sesame oil with onion, garlic, and a few pinches of salt. I also tried this recipe for a vegetarian meatloaf option, adding more horseradish, as well as crushed red pepper, montreal steak seasoning, chopped fresh serrano peppers, and plenty of fresh garlic. It's not too bad, although I'll have to post my most favorite vegetarian meat loaf recipe sometime soon. Here's a look at the entire meal:

The First Meal

(please excuse the quality of the picture - my real camera is packed somewhere and I had to use my everyday one)

Enjoy the rest of your day and I'll see you on the flipside of the weekend!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Where have I been??

So it's been a crazy few weeks. I am about 3 weeks away from finally graduating from college, and I couldn't be more excited. I haven't spent more than a few minutes in my kitchen lately, so no new recipes or pictures today, but I promise some in the very near future.

I did, however, have a lovely experience at Pure Food and Wine, a raw restaurant in NYC. It was absolutely fantastic! I went with a group of friends, and all 6 of us decided to get the chef's tasting. I have pictures, so look for that post, along with a recipe from their cookbook that I've made.

But today's post is about the Kreativ Blogger award I was nominated for a few weeks ago and completely overlooked. I was nominated by the very lovely Raw Vegan Foodie, a blog that I admire and read frequently. She's got some lovely recipes, so take a minute to peruse her pictures and recipes.

Anyway, being nominated means:
1. I must share with you seven things that I love.
2. I must nominate seven other bloggers for the Award.

So...things I love.

First is definitely my family. I have the most incredible parents, who are always there to provide support and love me consistently, no matter what I'm doing or going through. They also inspire me by their knowledge and also their constant committment to be the best caring individuals they can be.

Second is my friends. I truly think I have some of the greatest friends in the world. Most of us have been friends since we graduated from high school some odd 12 years ago, and they always manage to entertain me and keep me laughing.

Thirdly, I love food. I love everything to do with food. I love to eat it, I love to cook it, I love to photograph it - I just love it. I could literally spend hours combing through cookbooks and recipes, jotting down notes and ideas for new recipes. If I'm feeling incredibly stressed, nothing calms me down quite like cooking.

Fourth, I love my job. I've been working in Child Welfare in the abuse unit, and I haven't loved a job quite like this. There are days that I wonder why I like it so much, but for the most part, I enjoy my part in keeping kids safe.

The fifth thing I love is sun and warm weather. Seriously. I don't know if it's because I was born in California or if I'm just a sun baby, but I absolutely adore the sunshine. I even love those hot muggy days when you walk outside and you almost can't catch you're breath, it's that hot.

Sixth on my list is probably traveling. Having grown up as a missionary kid, I had some wonderful opportunities to live and travel in different countries. As an adult, I still try to use my passport as often as possible.

And the seventh thing that I love is honestly just my life. I turned 31 this year, which wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it may be. I'm blessed with so many different opportunites, and I'm surrounded by some of the greatest people in the world. I don't think I've ever felt as comfortable with myself as I have these past few years.

Alright, and now that I've been sappy enough, it's time to nominate 7 bloggers that inspire me, and this task was probably harder than the 7 things I love! I just checked my bloglines and my food blogs list totals almost 250! So picking out just 7 that inspire me was a tough job.

A blog I've been reading for quite some time is Green and Crunchy. Her family has finally transitioned to all raw vegan, which is incredible given that she has 5 lovely children she also homeschools. She's got some great kid-friendly ideas for feeding your children raw-style.

Raw Epicurean is a beautiful website, and not only has some great recipes, but is also chock-full of great information.

Everybody Likes Sandwiches is a blog that's been on my list for years. She's spunky and has great style and I love reading her blog for fantastic ideas.

Another great blog is Straight from the Farm. It's a blog after my own heart, eating fresh and local produce. Her photography is awesome and it's very inspiring to read.

I must have dozens of recipes printed out from Adventures of Raw Goddess Heathy. Even if you're not a raw foodist, as I aspire to be at some point, she's got some great healthy raw recipes that you shouldn't miss out on.

Rawmazing is another great blog from a raw foodist. She's got some really tasty cracker and bread recipes that are on my list of things to try.

And finally, the Urban Vegan is another one of my must clicks. Great recipes, but also lots of great information about saving money and being green-friendly.

Well, that's all she wrote! This post was supposed to have pictures in it, but my photo software wasn't working at the moment, so I skipped them.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Vegetable Quiche To Go

I often struggle with eating breakfast in the morning. It's not that I don't have the time, it's just that I usually forget or don't put the effort into it. Then of course I'm starving by 9:30 and scrounging through the office looking for something to eat.

I discovered these in a South Beach Diet cookbook, but they really are quite fantastic for anyone's breakfast. One batch makes enough for almost a week's worth of meals, and they store well in the fridge. They're exceptionally easy to make and only take about 35 minutes from start to finish. They also freeze well, so you can easily have these on hand to pop into the microwave on those busy mornings. I used mushrooms, onion, and spinach, but you could easily substitute whatever veggies you have on hand - green peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, etc. Here are some tasty variations:

Feeling Greek? Throw in spinach, feta, and mushrooms.
Feeling Mexican? Try adding some salsa, green peppers, and some mexican spices.
Feeling Fancy? Try smoked salmon, chopped red onion, and capers.

The possibilites are virtually endless. So go ahead and give this quick breakfast a try!

Vegetable Quiche To Go

Vegetable Quiche To Go
Makes 6 servings

2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 c chopped onion
1 c chopped mushrooms
1 c chopped fresh spinach leaves
1 c shredded cheese
2 cups Egg Beaters (or equivalent in real eggs)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 to 1 tsp of your favorite seasoning salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. In saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and mushroom, and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and stir until wilted. Remove from heat. Place foil muffin liners in a 12-cup muffin pan. Place 1 tbsp of vegetable mixture in each cup. Top with a pinch of cheese. In a large bowl, whisk egg beaters with seasonings and evenly divide into muffin cups. Place into oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool and remove liners. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Alright - so the time has come to pick the winners. I'm very excited to be giving 5 copies of this delicious book to some very lucky readers. So without further ado, the winners, as chosen by, along with their most favorite baked goods, are:

1 - Carrie, who says, "Cinnamon buns! I like to make them because they seem extra special, but they're not that difficult. And they taste so gooey and good."

2 - Ashley, who has a penchant for "Moist, savory quickbreads. Mmmmm."

3 - DS, who says that their "favorite baked dessert is Rhubarb Crunch from the Mennonite Cook Book."

4 - Katie Nell likes "most baked goods, but probably my favorite is coffeecake, of any kind!"

and 5 - Kickpleat, who loves a good "coconut and raspberry jam bar. mmm."

Congratulations, winners! Please contact me at 28 cooks AT gmail DOT com so that I can mail off your cookbook!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Back from Jamaica with a Cookbook Giveaway!

So I'm back to business here at 28Cooks. And during my absence, I actually took a much-needed vacation to Jamaica. It was absolutely incredible! We stayed at a newer resort in Runaway Bay, the Gran Bahia Principe, which I highly recommend. It was huge with over 860 rooms, but it never felt crowded. The food was actually pretty good, considering it was an all-inclusive, and we only stood in 1 line for about 5 minutes for dinner one night. We also got the chance to climb the Dunn's River Waterfalls, which were beautiful and amazing, as well as take a Jeep tour down through a few towns and then up into the mountains. All in all, it was a fantastic trip.

And when I returned, I found a box of cookbooks awaiting me. A publishing company had offered to send me 1, but actually sent me 6! So their mistake is your gain! I'm giving away 5 copies of Baking Unplugged.


This book is specifically taking baking back to the basics and starting from scratch. There are plenty of good old recipes, such as Sour Cream Crumb Cake, Blueberry Muffins, and Moist Vanilla Pound Cake.

And all you have to do is simply leave me a comment and tell me what your favorite baked good is, whether it is to bake it or to eat it. That's it! Simply leave your comment by March 14th and I'll pick a winner at random and post on the 15th.

Good Luck! And now I'm off to adjust to the cold weather...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thai Slaw

It's the dead of winter here on the East Coast, which is typically when people crave heavy, warm, comfort foods. However, I'm of the opposite line of thinking, and crave things that make me think of warm weather.

I found this slaw recipe on The Daily Raw Cafe and immediately bookmarked it. I had all of the ingredients stocked in my pantry, so I gave it a go. I made a few moderations to the original recipe, and let me tell you - it's absolutely delicious. The dressing is quite fantastic, and I think it would be wonderful as a regular salad dressing or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls.

The recipe literally took me about 20 minutes to make, so this is one you should file away for when you have limited time but want something tasty. I also think this would be a great twist on the traditional coleslaws for those upcoming barbeques and spring get-togethers!

Thai Slaw

Thai Slaw
A variation of a recipe from the Daily Raw Cafe
Serves 4

1/2 c raw almond butter
1/4 c coconut oil
1 tbsp agave nectar
Zest and juice of one lime
1 tsp minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt

4 cups Napa cabbage, finely shredded
2 cups red cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup carrot, finely shredded
1 tbsp fresh mint, minced
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small food processor. Process until well combined. In a large bowl, combine all slaw ingredients. Pour dressing over slaw ingredients and toss well. Allow to rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving, although overnight is best. Enjoy!!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Indian Avocado Spinach Dip

There are few foods I love more than Mexican and Indian foods. I seriously think I could eat either or both of these everyday for the rest of my life without a problem. So this dip is right up my alley, with the combination of the Avocado and the Indian spice.

This dip couldn't be any easier to make. There are only 3 ingredients other than spices, and there's no added fat so you can simply enjoy the freshness of the vegetables. If you're tired of schlepping the same old spinach artichoke dip to parties, give this dip a try for a tasty and interesting twist!

Oh, and this recipe is completely raw for all you raw foodies out there!

Indian Avocado Spinach Dip

Indian Avocado Spinach Dip

2 avocados, cut in half and scooped out
3 cups packed baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/8-1/4 tsp salt
Freshly cracked pepper

In a food processor, combine avocados, spinach, and lemon juice until creamy. Add garam masala, salt, and pepper and pulse until well combined.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fun with the Dehydrator: Raw Lemon Macaroons

I'm not much of a sweet person, but if I do crave something sweet, it's usually either an oatmeal cookie or something of the lemon family. I love lemon meringue pie and lemon squares, so to make a lemon macaroon was a no-brainer for me.

The best part about this recipe is that you can easily just refrigerate these after making the batter and have a no-bake chilled cookie, so if you don't have a dehydrator, you can still enjoy them! I also believe, although I haven't tried it, that you could easily bake these in the oven on a very low temp for an hour or two.
If you're looking for more of a traditional macaroon baked in the oven, try these Coconut Cardamom Macaroons.

Raw Lemon Macaroons

Lemon Macaroons
2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 c coconut butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c agave
1/2 c cashews, ground into flour
Juice and zest from 2 lemons

Mix all ingredients together. If using the dehydrator, form into mounds and place on dehydrator tray. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 12 hours, until they are nice and crispy on the outside, yet still moist on the inside. Enjoy!

Monday, February 02, 2009

The beginning of another week...

It's been 2 weeks since I posted. Wow. To be honest, I've been so busy with work and life that I haven't had the time to post any new recipes. Combine that with the fact that now when I get home from work, it's too dark for great pictures, and you find yourself with an empty blog.

Not to say I haven't been cooking, though. I've actually been using the dehydrator like a crazy person and creating new recipes. Although I realize this is an appliance that many homes don't have, it's been fun learning and discovering new things to make in it.

I'm going to post a vegan dehydrator recipe or two this week, and then I'll be back next Monday with some new vegaquarian recipes. I also have a cookbook giveaway waiting in the wings, so be sure to check back.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fun with the Dehydrator: Mexican Crackers

So unbeknownst to you, I spent the last 2 weeks eating only raw foods, mostly fruits and vegetables. I like to do this at least twice a year, just giving my body a chance to rest from the indulgence of the holiday season and focus on whole foods. It's amazing how much better I feel when doing it, and to be honest, it flies by and I'm usually sad to see it end.

In the midst of my 2 week "Rawness," I also purchased a new dehydrator. I had been reading some raw foodie blogs and was intrigued by the raw eating lifestyle, which makes significant use of a dehydrator. According to some of what I've read, it's considered raw if it's not heated above 114 degrees. Essentially, you can warm and dry it while still retaining the desirable enzymes.

One of the toughest things for me during "Raw Time" is not having anything crunchy. Although carrots sprinkled with a little kosher salt are pretty darn satisfying, I sometimes just crave the crunch of a chip or a cracker. The recipe for these crackers turned up while reading some of the forums, so I made some adjustments and created these spicy and tasty crackers. I made them in the dehydrator and cooked them at 105 degrees, but I'm sure you could easily bake these in your oven at a very low temperature. Go ahead and give these a try for something different.

Mexican Crackers

Mexican Crackers

1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp cumin
2 1/2 tsp salt (I used Adobo)
1 tbsp taco seasoning mix
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

In a coffee grinder or food processor, process all seeds and nuts until they are ground into flour. In a larger food processor, combine all seeds and remaining ingredients and process until well mixed and smooth. Spread onto teflex or parchment paper thinly, and place into food dehydrator. Dry for a few hours until dry on top, then flip, remove teflex/parchment, and allow to dry until crispy. (This took another 12 hours). Store in well-sealed plastic container or bag.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Taking your Requests - Cucumber Dill Hummus

Wow - it's been awhile, hasn't it?? I've neglected this for a few weeks, but it sure feels good to be back. And what better way to get back into it than with one of my favorite things to experiment with - HUMMUS!

One thing I love about this blog is that I often get emails from readers, challenging me to take one of their recipes and change it, or they give me awesome suggestions and ask me to come up with a recipe. This recipe is one of the latter, and was suggested by a hummus lover who wanted a Cucumber Dill Hummus. The idea immediately jumped out of the email to me and I knew I had to do it.

As always, this hummus is super easy to make. I think I threw it together in about 15 minutes, and it's a super healthy snack to have on hand. The cucumber and dill fit perfectly, and I think it would be even better topped off with some feta cheese.

On a side note, I have gone through an appliance gathering spree, and have obtained a new food processor, food dehydrator, and blender. I've been experimenting the most with the dehydrator, so don't be surprised if you see some recipes pop up on here for that. And as always, continue to send in your suggestions and ideas. I love to hear from my readers, even when I'm not posting as often as I should. But I promise to have some new recipes for you again next week and get back to my regularly scheduled postings!

Cucumber Dill Hummus

Cucumber Dill Hummus

1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
up to 1/3 cup olive oil*
1 c cucumber, peeled and diced
1 heaping tbsp fresh dill, minced

In a food processor, add garbanzos, lemon juice, tahini, salt, and garlic. Turn processor on and slowly drizzle in olive oil, until it's creamy enough. (*I typically use between 1/4 and 1/3 cup) Add in cucumber and dill, and pulse a few times until well combined but not fully incorporated. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so until the flavors get all friendly-like. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Asian Snack Mix and a Happy New Year!

So the holidays have finally come and gone. Mine were quite enjoyable and actually very relaxing this year. I got to spend time with friends, family, and loved ones, which is really what the holidays are all about.

I rung in the New Year in a very relaxed and quiet way. Some friends of mine had a little get-together and we enjoyed some lovely Vietnamese spring rolls and soup. I brought some edamame to enjoy, but I also wanted to make something to snack on in-between courses. I searched online for Asian snack mix recipes, but couldn't find quite what I wanted, which led me to creating my own.

This is quite an easy recipe to make, and the bulk of the time is spent just baking in the oven. You can kick up the spice as much as you want - the recipe below hits about a 2.5 out of 5 on the hot scale, so feel free to adjust the chili-garlic sauce and cayenne pepper to your own tastes. Also, feel free to change the cereals and other snack ingredients to suit your own tastes.

Happy New Year, ya'll!

Asian Snack Mix

Asian Snack Mix

2 c corn Chex cereal
2 c wheat Chex cereal
2 c mini-pretzels
1 c wasabi peas
1 c Cheez-it crackers (or Goldfish crackers)
1 c Chow-mein noodles
6 tbsp butter, melted
2 1/2 tbsp ginger stir-fry sauce (I used a Kikkoman brand)
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt (I used Adobo)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large baking pan, combine cereals, pretzels, peas, crackers, and noodles. In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter and remaining ingredients. Pour over snack mixture and stir well, coating pieces evenly. Place into preheated oven and bake 30-45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes or so, until pieces are crisp. Remove from oven and cool.