Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cooking hard-boiled eggs is in the oven

Are you daring enough to try this with a couple of eggs?

Alton Brown recommends this method, and it allows you to cook a lot of eggs at once in a more ‘gentle’ fashion rather than using turbulent boiling water.

Alton recommends placing the eggs on the oven rack itself. (with aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven just in case something breaks)

325 degrees for 30 minutes.

Dunk them in cold water upon completion to stop the cooking.

Now see this useful video on shelling the egg without having to peel it!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Peach-Glazed Roasted Asparagus

Combine 2 tbl peach preserves, 1 tbl light soy sauce, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp salt. Pour the preserves mixture over 1/2 bunch of asparagus. Toss well to coat. Bake at 400º for 10 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Asian Pear & Gouda Grilled Cheese

Asian pears can usually be found next to the regular pears, they are round (not pear-shaped) and often cradled in a webbing of Styrofoam. My good friend Calvin introduced them to me years ago in college; he said that when they went on family vacations, his father used to buy them and take them back to whichever hotel they were staying in, fill the sink with ice and water, and chill the pears. Then when they got back from a day of hot sweaty sight seeing, they would have the cool crisp pears waiting for them. That story always stuck with me, and the first time I saw a bunch of them nestled in the store, I snatched them up. Indeed, a chilled ripe Asian pear is quite something--when you bite into it, it is crisp like an apple, but juicy like a good pear. A ripe one is never mushy or mealy like some of the regular pears can often be. Try slices of it between good toasted bread, with thick melted gouda oozing out the sides.
+ + = YUM

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall Favorites: Split Pea Soup

1 medium onion chopped. 3-4 stalks of celery chopped. Sweat lightly in a large non-stick pan with a few tsps Olive Oil. Salt. 1 tbl chopped garlic. Add 1 small bag of frozen carrots & peas, or use about 3 cups worth, allow to cook down and flavors to meld.

In a large pot, start boiling 4 cups of water and 4 cups of stock. Rinse and strain 1 bag of split peas, then add to the pot. Combine the contents of the pan into the pot, and bring to boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Add your favorite additional flavorings such as: Thyme, Paprika, Worcestershire, Mustard, and Red Pepper. Adjust the Salt as needed.

Use a hand mixer in the pot to blend about 1/3 of the volume of soup, leaving a good amount of the vegetables intact for texture. Don't forget the garnishes, they really do a lot to finish the dish: A generous sprinkle of smoked Paprika, and a thin dollop of Creme Fraiche, topped with a swirling drizzle of good Olive Oil, and some Dill weed. When re-heating, add a little bit of water to thin the soup since it will thicken naturally, but you shouldn't have to consume something with the consistency of library paste. This is hearty, flavorful, and perfectly Fall food!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Polynesian Style Black Beans and Rice

Put some rice on the boil, I use Uncle Ben's boil in bag brown rice (make sure to salt the water, just like when doing pasta or potatoes, this is the only time you can season the inside of these foods). Open a can of black beans, and empty it, juice and all into a large non-stick pan (you could also use red beans). Add a cup or so of chicken stock. 2 tbl New Mexican chile powder. 2 tbl diced garlic. 1 tbl flour. Now the key ingredient: 2 tbl Virgin Coconut Oil (mine is from Spectrum, I bought it at Whole Foods, and it is solid white oil in a jar) this is what gives the recipe its Polynesian flair! Salt, pepper. Bring to high heat, then reduce to simmer to allow the liquid to cook down, stir often. Add 1 tbl dried basil leaf for sweetness. When the beans are ready, drain the boil in bag brown rice, and stir the rice into the beans. Cut some fresh green onions over the dish, this small extra step really ups the flavor profile. Feel free to top with Jamaican jerk shrimp. Delicious, hearty, and super easy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tom Yum Soup

This recipe comes courtesy of my friend Rahim. I can't wait to try it out, and may just run out to the store for a few items right now!

1 cup chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup lime juice
Simmer those first for 15 minutes:

- Either you add your paste (3 cups = 3 tbsp of paste) or you make 'it from scratch, your choice. I won't judge if you use paste.
- 1 1/2 tbsp of red curry paste (this is what makes it spicy, BE CAREFUL!). Can also use
1-2 small red (or substitute green) chilies (depending on desired spiciness), finely sliced.
- Add chicken (bite size) or prawns (raw, shelled) or whatever
- 3 tbsp of fish sauce (I like the Safeway kind, less umm fishy)
- After the chicken is cooked, add shiitake mushroom
- Let mushroom cook a bit, then add green onion
- Add cilantro, and lime wedge for garnish
Rahim makes spicy jasmine rice to go with it, but says you can just eat it with white rice. :)

I noted that this recipe uses no coconut milk or lemongrass, and found out that
the soup is often made without coconut milk (by simply replacing the coconut milk with more stock). This keeps it nice and simple, but a quick search on the Internet might inspire you to use those ingredients as well (I have some coconut milk in my pantry, so I'll be trying that). Other nice additions would be sliced red bell pepper, garlic, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and noodles.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Aloo Gobi

Slice and boil 2 Yukon Gold potatoes in salted water. Saute 2 small sliced Yellow Onions in some Olive Oil in a big pan & some salt until golden. Add to onions an assortment of Indian spices (mine came in a tin) plus Chile powder, Cumin, Mustard powder, Ginger, Garlic, Salt & Pepper. Chop a whole head of Cauliflower, and add to onions. Add drained potatoes. Chop 1 White Chili Pepper with seeds and add. Stir well to coat. Add a little bit of stock/broth to pan, just enough to allow cauliflower to cook and to result in a nice gravy. My version is topped with feta cheese!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Veggie Pizza

Boboli Wheat Pizza Crust. Spaghetti sauce/pizza sauce. Broccoli, Mushrooms, Black Olives, Mozzarella. You know what to do.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Snickerdoodles from Boxed Cake Mix!

Mix well: 1 box white cake mix, 2 eggs, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and 3 tsp vanilla extract. Allow the batter to chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, it is MUCH easier to drop the dough into the cinnamon/sugar mixture if it is cold. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. On a shallow rimmed plate (I use the lid to the same mixing bowl) combine 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tsp ground cinnamon. Using your hands, form small balls of the dough, about 1 inch in diameter, and roll each ball through the sugar/spice to coat it entirely. Arrange on a greased (cooking spray) cookie sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should come out of the oven just shy of being done, and should be lightly brown, but remain nice and soft inside when cooled. The softness is the crucial part of a good snickerdoodle!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Grilled Eggplant and Ricotta Crostini

1 medium eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
Cooking Spray
1/2 medium onion
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Cayenne pepper
1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices on the bias
Garnish: Prepared, minced garlic. Sliced tomato. Diced cucumber. Dried dill weed. Cayenne pepper.

Preheat grill or broiler. Spray each eggplant slice generously with cooking spray and sprinkle generously with salt. Place the slices under the broiler. After about 2 minutes, flip the eggplant to slightly brown the other side. Remove and allow to cool. In a food processor, chop the onion and parmesan cheese. Add the eggplant and pulse. Add the ricotta, balsamic vinegar, cayenne pepper. Stream in olive oil till smooth. Season with salt. Place the baguette under the broiler and toast on both sides, watching carefully to prevent burning. Top each piece of toasted bread with the grilled eggplant mixture, and garnish as desired. DELISH! Great for parties.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Asparagus and Zucchini Crudi

This one comes straight from Giada De Laurentiis, and is soon up for me to try!

* 2 zucchini, trimmed
* 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
* 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 ounce shaved Pecorino Romano, for garnish

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the zucchini into long thin strips. Thinly slice the asparagus on a diagonal. Toss the slices together and place the salad in a serving bowl. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and drizzle over the vegetables. Toss to coat. Garnish with the pecorino shavings. Serve.

Note: I think I may blanch the asparagus first so that its not too raw tasting.

Peach French Toast Bake

Spray a 9x13 pyrex baking dish with cooking spray. Tear up a baguette of french bread into big chunks, layer into the dish. Whisk together 4 eggs, and 4 egg whites, 1 cup of milk, and 1 tbl vanilla extract. Pour over the bread. Slice up 3 peaches, and a couple handfuls of blueberries, toss with juice of 1 lemon, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Scatter the fruit over the bread. Sift on more cinnamon and brown sugar. Refrigerate overnight. Bake in the morning at 350 for 40 minutes. Also good cold the next day. Can be enjoyed alone or with yogurt or maple syrup!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Spicy Tuna Pasta with Peas

Easy...peasy! Mix all into a bowl: Cooked farfalle pasta, frozen peas, peeled & chopped cucumber, and one tin of white tuna. Finish off with: Mayo, Salt, Celery Salt, Cayenne Pepper, Cayenne Flakes.

The perfect amount of sweetness, softness, and crunch. Satisfying!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Clam Chowder My Way

Most traditional recipes use heavy cream and butter, resulting in rich and delicious chowders, but fine chowders are also made with milk which is sometimes thickened with a small amount of flour to reach the thickness of those made with cream. I am told that authentic New England chowders are never thick, however, with most relying on the starch from the potatoes to slightly thicken the broth and milk or cream. The thick, pasty chowders served in many restaurants are full of flour which masks the flavor of the clams, and would never be served by any self respecting Yankee cook.

3 cans chopped clams
1 small bottle clam liquid
3 medium yukon gold potatoes, chopped
2 medium yellow onions, diced
4 oz natural applewood smoked bacon
2 tbl bacon drippings
2 cups whole milk
1 cup half & half
5-6 sprigs fresh sage
Dill weed, garlic powder
Sea salt & ground pepper.
Optional ground cayenne if a little heat is desired.

Get the bacon started in the oven (see oven bake method below).

In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm the milk, half & half, and whole sage sprigs.

Transfer some of the bacon pan drippings to a large stock pot, add onion and cook, stirring until soft and translucent. Add reserved clam liquid or bottled clam juice and water if needed to total 3 cups and increase heat to high. Add chopped potatoes and cook until potatoes are just soft – they will break slightly and thicken the broth. Mash a few against the side of the pot and stir to further thicken the broth.

Remove the sage sprigs, and pour the warmed milk and half & half into the stock pot. Add the chopped clams to the pot, lower heat and simmer until clams are cooked (4-8 minutes, depending upon the size of the chopped clams). Crumble the bacon into the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the dill and garlic powder. (The dill weed is key for "chowda my way", I had it that way in a Cambridge, MA hotel once and was blown away by how the dill added so much to the dish. I also like to add Cayenne because I like a little kick.)

This is a quick recipe, the chowder can be served immediately, but most feel that that the flavor improves with sitting for 30-45 minutes off heat. Reheat over low heat before serving; chowder should not boil after milk and cream are added.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Best Way to Cook Bacon

In honor of the transcendent "Vegetarian, Except for Bacon" population, I have selected cured pork as the topic of my first Flexitarian post. So what is the secret to making perfect bacon; straight, crispy, and splatter-free every time?

The broiler pan. Yes that's right, do the bacon in your oven! Grease drips down into the pan, while the strips stay straight and crispy on top. Cook at 400° for 15-20 minutes; and flip every strip over to its other side about half way through the cooking time.

When I devote an afternoon to cooking, I like to plan recipes for two complimentary dishes so I can shop for ingredients once, and use them in different ways. Today, my common ingredients of: Bacon, Milk, Half & Half, Butter, and Fresh Sage leaves were used for 1. Clam Chowder, and 2. Mushroom Bacon Mac & Cheese. Recipes to follow!

The Crafty Veggie Blog Goes Flexie

I tend to go through phases in what I like to eat, and have spanned the gamut from Vegetarian (raised that way), Omnivore, back to Ovo-Lacto, dabbled in Pesc, and even for one hard-core month this year, Vegan (whooo baby, that was hard to get used to!). But I did it. I tried it all in an effort to find the best way to eat for my body type, and I had an open mind, having fun with food. During that time I even heard of people who were "Vegetarian, except for bacon"! LOL, which of course is absurd and yet sublime. So after fluttering around the garden for years, sipping from each bloom, I noted that I kept returning to one particular flower. Or maybe it's just that when I discovered the new wavey term for the way I was eating a few years ago, I happily e mbracedthe label: Flexitarian.

I had kept this blog strictly Veggie for a few years, letting it go fallow in the times where I was eating meat, or when I was just frankly not doing a lot of home cooking. But I've decided to make the blog work for me again, not the other way around. So I will now be posting a mixture of recipe notes, this time for the veg and the carn alike; and most importantly, for my fellow Flexies, who may need the occasional cooking inspiration as they are wandering the garden.

ways my friends. There you, go stick to your label. Unless you realize that labels are just that.
P.S. Some vegetarians/vegans have a problem with the word flexitarian. Most omnivores have never even heard of the term, so either couldn't care less, or are at least intrigued by the idea. I say it matters little either way as long as we're both happy with ourselves. Flexitarian is a label of convenience, just the same that Vegetarian is also merely a label, a foodie designation. It doesn't have to be a sacred mantra. Therefore I say if there must be a label, then this is what I proudly choose to label myself! Got a problem with it homies?

So to head off any veggie related scandal on the very personal way that I choose to label the way I nourish my body, I will say this:

If you insist that I call myself an omnivore, then you are simply an herbivore.
Semantics go both ways my friends.

But if
you realize that labels are just that...
Well then, take my hand, and let's go eat!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Beans on Toast

Simple breakfast or snack: Vegetarian baked beans, butter, toast, S&P, (optional Mustard, and Hot Sauce). Heat up the beans while you make the toast. Add a little water to the bean pot to produce more "gravy" AND drop in a pat of butter--trust me, it's all about the butter in these beans. Next, butter the toast, then top with the beans in tomato sauce, add salt & pepper. Easy peasey. I add a little bit of horseradish mustard, and a few drops of hot sauce all around, because this English classic tends to be a bit bland. But put it all together and it's quite a satisfying nosh! Knife & Fork.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

White Chocolate Bread

I don't do much baking, but a friend just coughed up the recipe, and having tasted the evidence in the past I know that it's a winner!

2.2 Lbs. Flour, (about 5 cups)
1 1/3 Table Spoon Dry Yeast
1 1/3 Table Spoon Salt
2 table spoons of gluten
2 1/2 cups of water
1 lbs. white chocolate chips
Yield: 3 Loaves

In a large bowl, add together yeast, water, flour, gluten and salt. Mix for 15 minutes. Add chocolate chips. Mix 5 minutes. No loaf pan required, just shape into baguette style loaves. Let loaves rest for 1 1/2 hours, score the tops. Bake at 450* F for 15 to 20 minutes. Tip: Place a small of water in the oven, which will help to create steam! PS: Make sure that you add the gluten! (found in the baking aisle).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

No eggs, nor other dairy, and yet these muffins are still light and fluffy!

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c granulated sugar
1/3 c canola oil
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 c water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c non dairy semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease your muffin tins. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking soda. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and the oil. Then add the mashed banana and chocolate chips. Stir in the water and vanilla until incorporated. Add flour mixture, a little at a time and stir until just incorporated. Fill all 12 muffin cups evenly and bake about 30 minutes, until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of one or two comes out cleanly.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chef George's Veg Paella

I was looking for recipes from real restaurant chefs, and this one comes from Chef George Krumov.

Now, I don't know if there is such a thing as vegetarian paella in the Spanish cuisine, however I created this tasty recipe for all the vegetarians who want to try the wonderful taste of the paella without all the meat and seafood.

Ingredients: 2 cups parboiled conditioned rice, 1 cup sofrito sauce (follow the link to find the recipe), 1 cup vegetable stock, 1 tbsp. vegetarian oyster sauce, 2 cups mixed steamed vegetables of your choice such as broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, sweet peas, mushrooms, etc., 1 tbsp. chopped onion, 1 garlic clove, chopped, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 50 ml. dry white wine, salt and pepper.

Recipe: Rinse the rice with cold water and boil it until fully cooked but still a little bit hard, about 1 minute away from being cooked to your taste. Strain the rice and wash it with cold water. In a large non-stick skillet (or cast iron pan) saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the steamed vegetables and saute for 3 minutes more. Deglaze with the white wine and add the oyster sauce, vegetable stock and sofrito sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil and add the boiled rice. Reduce the temperature and simmer the vegetarian paella for about 10 minutes, tossing it with the skillet to stir only a few times. When the desired consistency is achieved, taste for salt and serve the vegetarian paella in two pasta bowls or directly with the skillet.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Seared Peas

Lately I've been digging on a snack that I'm going to call "Seared Peas". Taking a cue from "Roasted Brussel Sprouts" (the only acceptable way for me to eat brussel sprouts) I decided to throw some frozen peas into a non-stick pan with a little butter, and just let them go. Allow the peas to darken, they won't burn as long as you keep stirring through. Add in salt, and finish with cayenne pepper or Cholula/Tabasco sauce. I've also done this using a cooking spray instead of butter, and balsamic vinegar instead of using spice. The flavor is really great, and since I always keep frozen peas in the house, a really easy snack to whip up in a jif, you don't even have to thaw them first.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes WE Did

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Barbecued Lentils

Easy, and loaded with fiber, this is a great take-along for a vegetarian potluck or picnic.

2 tbl olive oil
1 medium chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp mustard powder
4 cps vegetable broth
1 large can Muir Glen Crushed Tomatoes 16 oz
3 tbl balsamic vinegar
2 tbl Dijon mustard
2 tbl nectar or honey (withhold for vegans)
1 tbl dried thyme
1 tbl dried marjoram
1 tbl celery salt
1 pound dry lentils, soaked in water overnight (if you don't soak, double the cooking time)
1 can black or kidney beans
4 cps fresh spinach
Ground black pepper and additional salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and spices and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute; do not brown garlic.

Add everything else but the beans, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, but intact, about 15 minutes. (Lentil cooking times vary, so if needed, add an additional ¼ cup water and simmer for 5 minutes longer if lentils are not tender. Note that you don't want a finished product of a runny soup, but more a thick lentil chowder). Add the beans and spinach to finish off. Season with salt and pepper.
Lentil Factoid: Lentils are very high in folic acid. One cup of cooked lentils provides 90 percent of the daily recommended intake for adults.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Black Bean & Mushroom Tortillas

Saute a handful of mushrooms in 1 tbl olive oil and a dash of salt. When the mushrooms are ready, add 1 cup of rinsed black beans, and 1/2 cup of salsa to warm the mixture through. Fill one side of a whole wheat tortilla with the mixture, and spread 1-2 tbls hummus on the other side. Rollup and munch. Delish! No pic, because I ate it up so quick!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Quick Snack! Sliced Ripe Tomatoes with Avocado (add Balsalmic)

The title says it all. Just slice and drizzle. (Tip: 1/4 Avocado and a 3" Tomato = 105 calories).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Easy Pancake Breakfast

*2 pancakes (4" diameter), 1 tbsp Syrup, 1 cup of halved Fresh Strawberries, and handful of Toasted Walnuts. Add 1 Yoplait Light yogurt, and you've got a good balanced breakfast (Tip: 574 calories). *To make things easier, you can now buy a variety of pre-made pancakes and warm them in the microwave for 1 minute.

To toast any kind of nuts: Turn on your oven's Broiler. Line a small cookie sheet with some Aluminum Foil (do NOT spray or grease the foil, the nuts themselves will take care of it). Crush the nuts, and scatter on the cookie sheet. Place under the broiler, and WATCH carefully for 2-3 minutes. DO NOT WALK AWAY, the minute you do, you'll forget, and the nuts will burn like THAT! Taking the extra time to toast your nuts is well worth it, the extra nutty flavors brought out by the heat are delicious.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Quick Snack! Blueberries and Sunflower Seeds

1/2 cup fresh blueberries, sprinkled with 2/3 oz salted sunflower seeds. (Tip: 150 calories)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head of chopped cauliflower florets, 1 chopped medium onion, 1/2 cup greek olives, and as much minced garlic as you like. Add all to a baking dish with some salt & pepper, and a few splashes of olive oil (or cooking spray). Roast in the oven at about 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fried Tomatoes

Olive Oil for the pan, or use vegetable cooking spray
Slice green, or firm red tomatoes about 1/4-inch thick
All-purpose flour to lightly coat tomato slices
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook over medium heat until browned, two to three minutes on each side. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper (you can add herbs such as basil and thyme if desired).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Roasted Green Beans

Here is a yummy and different way to enjoy slightly wilted or woody fresh green beans. Wash about a pound and break off the ends. Throw into a plastic bag and add a tbsp of sesame oil, and 2 tsp soy sauce. Toss until coated and spread on foil lined cookie sheet. Bake in hot oven 475. After 10 minutes, stir and cook another 10 or so minutes until browned. Eat them warm from oven!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Acorn Squash

Squash are truly great when oven-roasted, but in a pinch..the microwave is your friend. (Realize that Acorn Squash is relatively high in natural sugars, so have this only occasionally.) Cut one in half and scoop out the seeds. Add a tsp of water to each half and cover with saran wrap. Microwave both halves for 8 minutes. Carefully uncover and add a little salt/pepper. If eating it for a meal and not as a side, you may want to add 2 tbs ricotta cheese.