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.