Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The busy bee breakfast

This week has been particularly difficult for my work/school/life balance; Papers, presentations, work deadlines, taxes, beautiful weather and cherry blossoms all mix to form a noxious brew of stress. Yes, the cherry blossoms are making me stressed.. First there's the throngs of happy people skipping out of work to head downtown. Not only do they remind me of how much fun I could be having if I wasn't in school-- no that's just not enough-- they also clog up major access routes like the Arlington Memorial Bridge or the Key Bridge with their minivans and open top jeeps. Laughing and having oh so much fun. Makes me ill. Second, the blossoms are signaling the onset of spring-- a boon for everyone except the poor souls living in constant fear of final exams. **shudder**

So what? Everyone gets stressed, right? Right! And stress is certainly no excuse for eating poorly-- although recently I've been throwing down espressos and eating all the greasy food I can get my hands on (daily french fries at the school cafeteria... Boooo). So what's a girl to do? Start over. Thankfully the Washington's Green Grocer has continued to faithfully deliver fresh fruits and veggies to my door, and today I decided that I needed to actually eat more of them.

This quick and easy egg is topped with a lightly spiced spinach.
1 Egg
10 large spinach leaves
sprinkle of Ms. Dash (or your choice of seasoning really) and salt
ketchup or salsa

I fried the egg on both sides in a bit of cooking spray (I have olive-oil spray that works pretty well). When done, I removed the egg and added the chopped spinach; it cooked down in about 10 seconds without any stirring. sprinkle seasoning as desired, and top the egg! voila! You're on the way to a healthier day.

Some other tips to get you on your way:
  • Eat raw. Save time and savor the crunch of raw veggies
  • Avoid drinking your calories. That vanilla latte from Starbucks? its made with whole milk and a whole lotta shugga.
  • Try tea instead. Many teas offer natural sweetness (try Good Earth Sweet and Spicy for a cinnamon sweet delight)
  • Be simple. Save elaborate dishes for another time. Try a plain baked sweet potato, simple steamed green beans, or a quick tuna salad.
  • If you must be elaborate, cook in bulk. It will get boring, but hey, it's food, its homemade, and it's ready.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

Easy Portobello Pizzas
  1. Olive oil
  2. Portobello mushroom caps, 1 per serving
  3. spaghetti sauce
  4. Grated cheese mix (I used provolone and parm)
  5. few arugula leaves (optional)
I drizzled the washed and de-stemmed mushroom caps with olive oil and baked, gill side up, for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. I then spooned the spaghetti sauce into the caps and topped with grated provolone and fresh Parmesan and the lightly chopped sprigs of arugula.

I thought this was delicious! Potato, still claiming to not be a fan of mushrooms, meanwhile finished the entire cap. So I didn't woo him with the recipe.. at least I know I liked it ;)

I'm looking for other uses for the Arugula that arrived in my veggie delivery last week. I've been eating 2-3 bunches in my salads, but truthfully I don't eat much salad... any suggestions?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mom's homemade bean dip

Is so good

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Crab legs

This Holiday season we found an abundance of seafood on sale. Here are some amazingly huge crab legs purchased in Big Fork Montana, where I spent a few relaxing days with my folks at their cabin.

Before this, my crab vocabulary consisted of those preformed sticks of imitation crab meat or the flake variety of the same. Boy was I missing out!

My dad prepped these by boiling in water seasoned with salt and pepper. Most crab legs are cooked and flash frozen to preserve flavor; the boiling step is really to bring the crab up to serving temperature. We made a quick garlic butter dip with ground garlic simmered in butter... And voilĂ ! A delicious and extra special treat.

A couple of cautions/tips

1. The crab smell like seafood, turn the vent on while boiling to minimize the eau de sea

2. You might need to break huge legs to fit in the boiling pot

3. Steaming the crab legs (as opposed to boiling) will prevent excess water from soaking into the meat... But the boiled stuff tastes good too

4. Be careful with the shell, it's tough. I don't think you need to buy special seafood utensils- you can use a knife and kitchen scissors carefully enough to successfully pick out the meat.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Parripu Vadai (fried split yellow pea snacks)

This delicious snack is our Christmas treat this year! Many thanks to my mom for her wonderful recipe and prep tips!

1 1/2 c split yellow peas
1 small red onion
Green chili- adjust amount according to desired hotness level
1/4 cup cilantro (can adjust)
1/4 tsp Aesofoteda
1tsp finely chopped ginger
Salt, to taste

Soak the split yellow peas in warm water, until a fingernail easily breaks through a test lentil (less than 1 hour). Be careful not to oversoak, and make sure the grinding step takes place without added water. Blend coarsly in blender (it's ok if whole pieces of lentil remain in the mix). The material should be blended enough that it will hold its shape during the frying stage. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Form into silver dollar sized rounds with your hands, pressing the lentil mix tightly together. Flatten each ball into a disc shape. Fry over medium-high heat (ours took about 3 minutes and had a wonderful browned shell).

These vadai are also served soaked in rasam-- mmm yum!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Portobello Saute with Green Beans

This dinner was incredibly fast and delicious-- mashed potato, portobello mushroom saute, and steamed green beans. I sliced the portobello caps (saving the stems for quesadillas-- don't waste them!) and sauteed in olive oil with garlic and large onion slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and arrange on a bed of steamed green beans. Yum!
Plus-- we're approaching thanksgiving-- keep this in mind as a classy side dish or preserve the entire mushroom cap to serve as an entree portion for vegetarian guests.

Hearty Brunch Veggie Scramble

This hearty scramble is great for a brunch when hunger is high-- the potato adds a filling quality to balance the excessive vegetables, and the use of only two eggs doesn't throw the fat and cholesterol levels of this dish through the roof.
Microwave the potato until cooked. Make sure to stab it a few times with a fork to prevent the potato from exploding in the microwave.

Saute the onion, after it softens, add the bell pepper and chopped broccoli. Slice the cooked potato, and add to the mix. Now season-- add generous amounts of black pepper, cumin, basil, oregano, salt and paprika. Mrs. Dash (no msg and low salt) is also a good option for those with a limited spice pantry.

In a separate pan, prep the eggs. I scrambled mine to be assembled in a breakfast burrito, cause thats just how we roll in the deliciousconsumption kitchen. You could also top the veggie mixture with the eggs and some cheese and heat through in an oven for a casserole style. Up the egg count if you're serving more people.

Have you seen that V8 commercial on tv? Basically this guy is walking down a crowded city street, and all the people have #s floating above their heads representing the number of veggies they've eaten already. As he's drinking his V8 his number keeps ticking up, and the commercial equates this to being on the express lane.

It always amazes me the length that we will go to eat/drink "vegetables" when to me they are so delicious in their pretty natural state/close to natural state. Think of this veggie scramble as your "express lane"-- but without all the sugar that comes along with any drink. And all that wholesome chewy fibrous you have to work to eat it goodness. (Smoothies are good-- but seriously chewing is like meditation.... rumination if you will).
Chew your food. A public service announcement from us to you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Honeycrisp Apples

Move over red delicious, there is a new apple in town. The honeycrisp is not sweet like candy. It has tart undertones that cut the sweet, but the real advantage in this apple is texture. It is practically exploding with crispiness, which is where I presume the name honeycrisp originated from. Try it. If you're a fan if extra crispy apple, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Spaghetti Squash is so good

I have never had spaghetti squash before. It arrived in my veggie delivery box last week, and the yellow orb had been sitting on my dining table, half serving as decoration and half mocking me with it's squash mind waves...you don't know what to do with me. I've invaded your dining table and I plan to stay here forever.. bwahahahahaha. Finally I decided to tackle the squash-- from my experience with the acorn variety, I figured, how bad can it be? I mean sure it's got mind waves, but I have a meat cleaver.

The hardest part was cracking this baby open. Luckily Potato was off this weekend, so I set him to work halving the squash with a giant meat cleaver (I am glad I saved that knife from the great kitchen purge of 09). With brute force he was able to cut it.. and the rest was easy!
I microwaved the halves face down in a shallow dish of water for about 15 minutes, until a knife was inserted relatively easily into the rind. Once cooked, I took a fork and flaked out the fleshy innards...and this is where the fun starts. It flakes off in noodlie segments (like vermicelli). But it is not delicate/squashy to the point of being mush. the noodle segments actually hold up really well.

In this recipe, the flaked spaghetti squash is placed in a shallow baking tray, and drizzled with marinara sauce (I used bottled Spicy Marinara) and then topped with mozzarella and Gruyere cheese. Baked at 350 degrees, just until heated through.

Try it! So worth the effort...which isn't that much considering the awesome flavor and texture of this veggie.

Fire and Spice Chicken Curry

Its cold and flu season! Time to beat back the misery and heighten your immune system with some spicy curry.

Be forewarned-- this one is HOT. I recommend cutting the whole red chilies to take away some of the kick. Serving alongside plain yogurt will also help you conquer this curry.
Chicken-- 2 breasts, or 3-4 thigh portions well trimmed
Yogurt-- plain. Any fat content will work. Approx. 1/4 cup.
Spices: 1 Tbsp of: cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, paprika; 1/2 tsp of: turmeric, black pepper, ginger powder
Trim the chicken. This is best done with partially frozen chicken-- it is easier to cut and maneuver than a fridge-temp piece of meat. Add all the powdered spices listed above and the yogurt, and marinate at least 1 hr. The goal is to have the chicken well coated, so if you need more spice don't be afraid to add it! I leave mine overnight, with a little warning so that Potato doesn't eat it:

After the chicken is done marinating:
1/4 cup onion
1" piece fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove
4 dried red chilies
4 Tbsp Coriander seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1 tsp cumin seeds
2" cinnamon stick
8 peppercorns
4 cloves
1 14 oz can of diced tomato
10 cashews
1/4 bag of frozen green peas
2 med red potatoes, stabbed with a fork, microwaved till cooked, and diced.

Brown the onions, garlic and ginger. Add red chilies, saute for a minute. Add coriander, mustard, fenugreek and cumin seeds. stir. Add the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns. Put these spices,1 can of diced tomato, and 10 cashews into a blender or food processor and blend till smooth.
Cook the chicken. Make sure to discard the excess yogurt marinade. After the chicken has cooked for 5 minutes, add the blended spice mix and cook till the chicken is done. Add green peas and 2 potatoes immediately before serving. Enjoy!