Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Corn & Green Beans

By all means, I want you to use fresh veggies in this recipe, so please ignore my frozen beans... I am actually kind of embarassed by them.  It all started with a very large 5 lb. bag of frozen petite green beans... here's why I bought them; I love French green beans and used to buy them fresh at Costco, and they went bad in about 2 days... ick.  A waste of money and food, I usually threw away half of them every time.  So, when I saw this bag, I thought BINGO, I can have my beans anytime I want them. Yeah, except now, I am seeing fresh green beans at the Farmer's Markets and looking at my frozen beans with some disdain!  I have GOT to use those things up...

Yikes, I had TWO frozen ingredients in this dish... what the heck is wrong with me?  Ease? Convience? Yeah, I'm all about that! Thanks to my neighbors (who are both awesome and good test kitchen eaters...), I found out about Trader Joe's pre-roasted frozen corn!  If you can't find that, you are going to have to roast your own corn on your grill and slice it off the cob.  I was short on time, and didn't feel like the mess and time of roasting my own!

This salad is nice and healthy with great flavors and textures, and it will keep nicely for an outdoor BBQ for the 4th of July. 

1 1/2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed
3 cups water

1 cup roasted corn
2 cups green beans, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup parsley or green onions, chopped
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper

Bring 3 cups of water to boil and add the 1 1/2 cups of rinsed quinoa to salted water.  Bring down the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork and let cool.

Mix and chop all your veggies while your quinoa is cooking, and cooling. Mix them all together and toss. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning to taste. 

If you like this salad, you might like these too:
Couscous Black Bean Salad
Grilled Vegetable Couscous Salad
Quinoa, Cauliflower and Feta Salad
Whole Wheat Asian Noodle Salad

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hop, Skip and Jump Naked Cocktail

Really this cocktail is called a 'Hop, Skip and Go Naked'.  I just thought 'Hop, Skip and Jump Naked' sounded more fun... aaah, drink a couple of these and you'll know where I am coming from.

I'm pretty much a wine and beer purist, not into too many cocktails, but this one caught my attention... mainly because my husband was drinking it and that was very unusual for him. I had to try it, so of course, I swiped a big slurp from right under his very nose- - yum!  We were on a little vacation getaway in Leavenworth (the Bavarian Village in WA, NOT the penitentiary in KS) and we were walking  back to our lodging, so it was all good.  But, I will caution you, these go down pretty easy and you may not notice how happy you are before you are hoppin, skippin' and well... jumpin' naked (wink, wink).

This is a great mixed drink for a hot day, or to serve with Mexican, Indian or any other spicy food. Even people who say they don't like mixed drinks will probably like these!

Here's the important stuff, this drink is served in a pint canning jar! Yep, that's what everyone says.  I know, I know, seems kind of silly to use a jar, when you have nice crystal, but hey, this kind of red neck tradition is important too!

1 part vodka
2 parts lemonade
3 parts beer, I prefer something dark and nutty
Lemon or Lime wedges

Pour over ice, in the order above (or any ol' order by the end of the night) and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lemon-Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies

I got my new Bon Appetit yesterday, and needed to make these today.  I pretty much followed the July 2011 issue's entire recipe for Lemon-Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies, only changing (and noting) a couple of things. I used lime juice instead of lemon juice, topped with flaked salt instead of sugar AND (the big AND) I only baked for 15 minutes.  Their recipe says 20 minutes, which would have burnt mine to a crisp... kinda thinking it may be their recipe, not my oven, since I tend to be right on the baking length on other recipes. 

I think the basil flavor is very subtle, almost unnoticable, and so did our son, but my husband said it was strong (he actually said "pesto" to which I said "no way")... so there you go, not sure how you'll feel.  These would be great with a glass of crisp white wine, or sangria before dinner, almost like a mini appetizer.  Though, I will happily eat these with a cup of coffee, or tea, any afternoon.

Makes about 18-20 cookiesIngredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar plus more for pressing cookies
1/2 cup (1stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Coarse flake salt or Sanding sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°. Place flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, butter, basil, both zests, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor.

Pulse until large, moist clumps form.

Measure level tablespoonfuls of dough; roll between your palms to form balls. Place on a large baking sheet, spacing 2" apart. Lightly dust the bottom of a flat measuring cup with powdered sugar and press cookies into 2" rounds, dusting cup bottom with powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking. Sprinkle tops of cookies with sanding sugar, if using.

Bake until edges are brown, about 14-15 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs

I was trying to do two things at once, as usual, and didn't catch the details of Ina Garten's Italian Wedding Soup.  Later, when I was hungry for lunch and nothing sounded good, I remembered the soup and that I had a package of turkey sausage and a bag of spinach that I needed to use in the fridge.  I whipped up this soup in about 20-25 minutes.  It would be an easy dinner during the week, or a great lunch with friends.

As I was getting ready to post this, I looked up Ina's recipe in order to give her some credit and link to the original recipe.  Her's looks really good, but mine is easier and quicker. 

Serves about 4
2-3 carrots, diced
1/2 onion, diced
3-4 stalks celery, diced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
20 oz package of Turkey sausage
1 egg
9-10oz. bag of baby spinach
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup orzo, or other small pasta
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)
Salt & Pepper

I used a cookie scoop to make the turkey meatballs... they weren't totally round, but my hands stayed clean and it was FAST!  Simmer the soup and meatballs for about 5 minutes and then add the spinach... you are almost there!

Here's what the spinach looked like after I dumped the whole bag in.... it cooks down in about 2-3 minutes. 

Top with Parmesan Cheese and serve:

I am a HUGE soup lover, here's some others that you may like too:
Albondigas, Mexican Meatball Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Mediterranean Tomato Soup
Mexican Chicken Posole Stew
Pork and Chorizo Soup

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Breakfast Migas

I thought about titling this dish just Migas... not a silly thing like "Breakfast Migas"... but then I thought, hey what if you don't know what it is?  I needed to get your attention with the Breakfast thing, and then hook you with the Migas... get it? 

Migas is a simple dish of eggs, corn tortillas, cheese and chilies... and whatever else strikes your fancy!!!  I opened up the fridge, pulled out the eggs, cheese and corn tortillas and then started to dig around to see what else I should use up.  Had some awesome leftover "dry" salsa (mix of chopped cilantro, jalapenos and white onion)- check, had some cherry tomatoes - check, had a going brown avocado- check- - -Migas creation coming my way!

There is lots of argument about Migas and the "proper" ingredients and how to make it. Frankly, I just don't care, I do it my way, which for the most part, works for me!

This is a fantastic dish to eat anytime, don't wait for breakfast, it's easy to whip up any time at all.  Migas has kinda a bad reputation as a 'hangover' cure, but frankly, you'll feel better if you eat these after a night on the town then if you wait til morning.  Not that I know, it's just what people tell me...

Serves 2 generously
5 eggs
2 corn tortillas
2 Tbsp canned green chilies, chopped
1/2 cup cheese of your choice
a small amount of oil

PLUS this is what else you could add:
  • cilantro
  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • jalapenos
  • leftover taco meat
  • chopped sausage or chorizo
  • diced chicken
First, chop your corn torillas into about 1" squares.  Fry in a small amount of oil over medium high heat, until they get some small brown bits, but not too many. 

NOTE:  Many recipes request that you deep fry them first, I feel that is wrong on so many levels (too messy, too fattening, too timely)... the corn tortillas are going to get soft again when you add the eggs, so don't bother. I actually sprayed mine with a little oil and then fried, it worked fine.

Beat up your eggs.  Add green chilies to the tortillas (and anything else you're adding) to warm them up and then add your eggs and cheese.  Stir and cook until combined. Top with more cheese and salsa and serve hot. 

NOTE: I stir continously because I like a soft consistency and no egg "balls" from cooking hard when not stirring.

I had lots of different sauces in the fridge, so I served ours with some green salsa, mole sauce and chipotle sour cream sauce... kind of a sauce 'fest' at the breakfast table. I've been using the mole sauce non-stop since I made the Tequila Lime Pork with Mole Sauce last week, my husband has reached saturation level on it, but not me!  

The only sauce I didn't have was a traditional red salsa, which would have be terrific!

If you need more breakfast inspiration, here are some other favorites:
Piper's Joe's Special
Huevos Rancheros, Mexican Eggs and Tortillas
Eggs Goldenrod
Feta & Spinach Strata

Friday, June 24, 2011

Margarita Filled Cupcakes

I've been wanting to make these for a long time, but the other day, I got a BIG reason to go for it.  My husband graciously offered to go to the grocery store the other day and I asked him to pick up 6 limes (because I know they are 6 for $1 at that store).  Ahhh, here's where the fun starts, he saw a "sale" bag of limes for $1 (also known as 'reduced for quick sale") and thought that was a good deal, BUT, since he wasn't sure if I would be happy with those old limes, he also picked up the 6 'new' limes.  Soooo, I counted up my limes when he got home... here it goes; 2 limes already in my fruit bowl, plus 6 'new' limes, plus 18 "old" limes = 26 limes!!!!  I guess now is the time to make Margarita Cupcakes and Tequila Lime Pork with Mole Sauce too!

I would make the filling first and get it chilling in the fridge, maybe even make it the day before.  I think the filling really makes the cupcakes sumptous, so I wouldn't skip it.  This filling would be incredible on top of cheesecake too. You can sometimes Lime Curd in jars at speciality grocery, but they are usually about $6 a jar... so maybe you should just make it!

You may notice that the cake does not have any eggs in it, it is actually a great Vegan recipe that is the best cake that I have had.  Of course, the filling and the buttercream frosting are not vegan friendly, but wanted you to know about the cake. 
I also have a whole listing of Vegan Cake recipes on another blog posting.

If you really want, you could sprinkle your cupcakes lightly with flake salt, like Maldon, which isn't too salty and goes with the Margarita theme! 

Lime Margarita Filling
Make about 1 1/2 cups
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp tequila (optional, use 2 Tbsp lemonade instead)
1 Tbsp Triple Sec (optional, use 2 Tbsp lemonade instead)
1 teaspoon lime zest
3 eggs, beaten

Place the sugar, butter, lime juice, lime zest in the top of a double boiler; stir over medium-high heat until butter melts.

Mix 2 tablespoons hot lime mixture into the eggs and stir to blend. Reduce heat to medium until water simmers. Slowly whisk egg mixture into the lime mixture. Whisk in tequila and triple sec.

Cook over the double boiler until lime mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly and spoon into a clean, glass jar. Cover and refrigerate.

NOTE:  I will admit that I didn't use a double boiler, I thought I could do it carefully without using one.  Guess what?  I was wrong...  Below you will see that I have Margarita Scrambled Eggs and I had to strain my filling to get those bits out of it.  Really though, it wasn't hard, so you can strain the filling to get your egg curdles out of there if you do it too. Don't panic, you can fix it!

Margarita Buttercream Icing
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp lime zest
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp tequila (optional)
A little salt

Whip the butter, lime zest & juice, tequila until fluffy, slowly add the powdered sugar until peaks form. Add salt if desired.

Margarita Cupcake Ingredients:
Makes about 18 cupcakes
2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp tequila (optional, use 2 Tbsp lemonade instead)
2 tsp lime zest
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar, white or Cider


Baking Instructions :
Preheat oven at 350.
Mix together all dry ingredients, then the liquid (water, lime juice, tequila etc), oil and extract, then add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until uniformly moistened. 

This batter is a bit more liquid than most batters, but it cooks up nice and moist! Line your muffin tin with papers and fill each one about 1/2 full.  Bake for about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Whew, finally, here's how to assemble:

Cut little cones out of the top of each cooled cupcake.

Fill each hole with Margarita filling and replace the cone, it will still be slightly poking out, which is OK because you are going to frost around it because it gives your cupcakes a nice shape!
I used a pastry bag for the filling because it was easier to do quickly!

Pipe frosting over the cake and filling using a large star shaped pastry tip, or use a small icing knife to spread. Serve with a little lime wedge, or sprinkle with some green decorator sugar.

If you like filled cupcakes, here's two more that are very popular on my blog:
Reese's Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Awesome Cupcake Batter- Moist, Versatile & Vegan Friendly

I am not a Vegan... but, awhile back I inadvertently made a recipe that was Vegan... and I was hooked.  Here are five different variations on the same recipe- Chocolate, Red Velvet, Lime, Coconut and Vanilla.  After trying the first chocolate recipe, I made up the others, it's that easy.  Use your imagination, I bet you can come up with something great too.

 Directions are below, but here is a list of some variations on the base recipe!

Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients:
Makes about 18 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar, white or Cider

Coconut Cupcake Ingredients:
Makes about 18 cupcakes
2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar, white or Cider

Red Velvet Cupcake Ingredients:
Makes about 18 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water, minus 2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp red food color
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar, white or Cider

Vanilla Cupcake Ingredients:
Makes about 18 cupcakes
2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water, or vanilla soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar, white or Cider

Pumpkin Cupcakes
2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or cinnamon
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar, white or Apple Cider

Margarita Cupcake Ingredients:
Makes about 18 cupcakes
2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp tequila (optional, use 2 Tbsp lemonade instead)
2 tsp lime zest
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar, white or Cider

Baking Instructions for all cupcake recipes
Preheat oven at 350.
Mix together all dry ingredients, then the liquid (water, coconut milk, juice, soy milk, etc), oil and extract, then add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until uniformly moistened.  This batter is a bit more liquid than most batters, but it cooks up nice and moist! Line your muffin tin with papers and fill each one about 1/2 full.  Bake for about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

If you do mini cupcakes, bake for about 6-8 minutes. Makes about 48-50

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grilled Vegetable Couscous Salad

Israeli cousous is just FUN... I like those little round balls of pasta.  Tastes good and looks great with fresh grilled vegetables.  Use any veggies you like, I decided I wanted to use up a bunch of Swiss Chard and decided to grill it, which turned out beautifully for the salad.  The stems were a great color and had some crunch, but maybe they looked a bit like rhubarb!!!

I served this with steaks for Dad's Day but I noticed that it was the gals eating the most of it!  We all liked it, but I was happy I made this particular salad as I had forgotten that my niece was Vegan, so this was perfect for her.  Yesterday, I ate some leftover salad with some cold cut up steak in it, and is was fantastic.  This salad would be a good keeper for a picnic or somewhere else where you couldn't keep something chilled.  Nothing to go bad, or wilt, in the heat of the day with this salad. You could make this salad with regular couscous or quinoa also!

Serves 6-8
2 cups israeli couscous
2 1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp oil
some salt

1 pepper, roasted, peeled and diced
1-2 small zucchini, cut into slices 1/2" thick and grilled, then diced
1 onion, cut into 3/4" slices and grilled, then diced
1/2 bunch Swiss Chard, lightly grilled and chopped
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1 tsp lemon zest
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar, or lemon juice
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

Boil 2 1/2 cups of water and oil, add the Israeli couscous and boil for 2-3 minutes.  Turn off heat and cover pan, letting sit for about 10 minutes.  Rinse immediately to stop the cooking and make sure that they don't stick together.  Drain.

Cut your vegetables and give a light coat of olive oil.  Grill over medium hot coals or gas grill. 
  • Zucchini cooks quite quickly probably 2 minutes per side. 
  • Bell peppers can take a while and you will need to char the outside, then peel and chop. 
  • Onions tend to fall apart unless you cut very thickly and just grill to give some grill marks and to soften the onion.
  • With Swiss Chard (or kale) I sprayed them with olive oil cooking spray and then quickly grilled them to soften.

Let your veggies cool and then chop into bite size pieces.  In a large mixing bowl, mix your dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and salt and pepper.  Add veggies and cooled couscous and toss. 

Taste and adjust seasoning, you may need more oil and vinegar if it seems too dry.  I made this salad up the day before and then tossed again with a little more dressing as the pasta and veggies tend to absorb the dressing.

Here are some other meatless salads that are good for summer picnics or vegetarian options:
Couscous Black Bean Salad
Kale, Cherry & Almond Salad
Quinoa, Cauliflower and Feta Salad
Southwestern Edamame Salad
Spicy Coleslaw
Whole Wheat Asian Noodle Salad

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chicken Frankie - Mumbai "Burrito"

I guess you might wonder how I can make something that I have never heard of before last fall? Friends of ours who go to St. Maarten all the time raved about about something called "Chicken Frankies".... hmmm, what is that? So I did some research online (Hilarious YouTube Indian Cooking Video with subtitles here!) to see what it was, and it didn't take long to convince myself that a "Chicken Frankie" was the thing for me.  Let's see...  
I love Indian Food,
I love Burritos,
I love street food!
- - -what's not to love here?

But, I've had this recipe for a while and what was holding me back was the chapati bread... I just have to admit I didn't feel like making it. I wanted to buy it!  I've been meaning to get to the Indian Market, but it just hasn't happened. So I was at Trader Joe's the other day and saw these Lavash wraps and thought "Hey, that would work!". 

Now that I've read up on the differences in the flatbreads (Cool food substitutes website), I see that maybe soft Lavash is not the best, and maybe a flour tortilla would be better.... I mean, easier!

NOTE- This is messy to eat!  The kind of yummy, juicy meal that once you have it in your hand you are loathe to put down.... whoa, almost like it should be eaten on the street!  Where the drips and the chowing down don't seem to matter to your companions on the street. 

Also, this would be great served with a yoghurt cucumber raita sauce to cool down some of the spicy heat, if need be.  I've also heard that some recipes call for ground chicken or turkey which would be great too. 

Makes about 6 "Frankies"
3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
3/4 cup of tomato puree/crushed tomatoes
1 onion finely chopped
4 to 5 cloves of garlic crushed
1 inch piece of ginger finely grated
1 teaspoon chili powder (more if you want it hotter)
1 teaspoon  garam masala
1 teaspoon  ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 - 4 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh mint coarsely chopped (optional)
2 to 3 Tbsp oil
salt to taste

For the salad stuffing:
1/2 onion thinly sliced,
1 cup cabbage thinly sliced,
3-4 green onions, sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded removed, then minced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp chili powder
a pinch of salt
Sliced tomato, if desired

First, make the salad for the frankies. Shred the cabbage, dice green onions, mince jalapeno and chop the cilantro. 

Toss with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, add the lime juice, salt and the chili powder. Set aside.

For the meat filling:
Heat the oil in a saute pan and fry the chopped onion and fry until it is golden
Add the garlic and the ginger and saute another minute. Next add the tomato puree and all the spice powders (chili powder, cumin , coriander and garam masala). Cook over moderate heat until the tomato is thoroughly cooked and as lost some of its moisture.

Add the chicken pieces at this stage and cook further adding a little amount of water if needed . You want a moist filling for the frankie, which takes about 4-5 minute. Once the chicken is cooked add the fresh cilantro, mint and salt and give it a stir.  Give it a taste, adjust the seasonings, and set aside. It should be quite well seasoned as it will be muted a bit when combined with the chapati and the salad. 

Chapati recipe if you are going to try making it yourself!
Makes about 6 large
1 cup wholewheat flour and 1 cup plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp oil

Mix all the above ingredients into a soft dough. Roll out the wraps one at a time and half roast them. When all the wraps are cooked keep them covered till you need them.

Beat the 2 eggs into a large plate, big enough to dip your chapati in. Heat a flat pan and spray a little oil on it . Place one wrap in the egg, and then immediately add to the hot grill pan, egg side down. It should cook almost immediately. Flip again and heat up the other side. Set aside and continue with the rest of the egg dipped chapati. This step will form a delicious egg coating on the inside of the wrap... but I think you could omit this step if you wanted, I know it's authentic, but I'm not sure what it really adds to the flavor.

Remove the wrap from the pan. In the center of the wrap place 1/2 cup of the chicken stuffing and some of the salad mix.

Dot it with any spicy sauce of your choice and roll it up into a fabulous frankie.
Repeat the procedure with all the other wraps...

If you like Indian flavors, you might like these too!
Balinese Grilled Chicken
Indian Butter Chicken
Turkey Keema Curry
Tandoori Turkey Burger