Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cilantro Slaw

As promised the other day.... the yummy slaw recipe!

It's cabbage season guys! That's right, get excited. And cabbage will be here until spring so you best be getting used to it. So sit back and let me share with you how to make cabbage fit into your regular diet.

And F*** everything you've ever heard about cabbage, because it's wrong. Cabbage is an under loved and under-appreciated vegetable. I find that a lot of cookbooks try to make it something that it's not. Cabbage... and least the mainstream green variety... isn't a mover or shaker of the vegetable world. Nope, we'll leave that to Arugula and other micro greens that chefs love to talk about. Cabbage is what we commoners cook with. It's cheap and will last FOREVER in the back of your fridge. Qualities us lazy Americans love in our produce.

Firstly, let me tell you I have been around the block with cabbage. Just ask Dennis. I think we tried two different kinds of cabbage rolls, one even had feta in it and they weren't good. I tried some kind of stir fry, but I bought the wrong kind of meat and the sauce wasn't great. So it was stir fried cow chew in brown mystery sauce.

Secondly, I have never liked the traditional creamy slaw most people love. I cringe whenever I see KFC slaw (I must know how you dice cabbage up that small!). It was just an excuse for people to copious amount of mayonnaise and still say "But there are vegetables in it!" It wasn't until I was introduced to Zoe's Marinated Slaw that I realized that I could give this slaw thing a whirl again. Furthermore, It wasn't until I had pineapple slaw on some fish tacos that I became a slaw convert.

So I actually found this recipe on Epicurious when I was thinking about making my own fish tacos. In fact, if you have any slaw leftover from this recipe it would be perfect on top of some grilled fish tacos!

The recipe calls for pre-cut cabbage mix. And if you are really that lazy and would like to pay more for less cabbage, then by all means go for it. However, I typically just shred all my cabbage in my Salad Shooter or Food Processor and make two or three different slaws out of it to serve as a winter side salad. If you half the recipe, then it is quite perfect for two people. You can use the rest of the cabbage in a soup or a different slaw recipe!

So here it is guys. The first slaw recipe of the season. Enjoy!

Cilantro Slaw
(Makes 5 cups)

12 ounces purchased shredded three-color coleslaw mix (about 7 cups)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Place coleslaw mix and cilantro in large bowl. Whisk canola oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper in medium bowl to blend. Add to cabbage mixture; toss to coat.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fresh Okra with Tomatoes and Ginger

I am that freakazoid who loves it boiled. Most people hate it boiled because the slime factor grosses them out. Okra is a vegetable that most people only eat in gumbo or deep fried. Don't get me wrong, those are both excellent - but there are some really cool ways to enjoy okra. Last year I made a okra and chickpea curry which I liked.... but Indian food is still one I am on the fence about. So this year I made one very similar to the original, but only this time with out the curry and chickpeas.

This recipe comes from Epicurious. This time last year I was mildly obsessed with the website. People would ooo and ahhh because I was cooking Gourmet Magazine recipes. However, I kept going back cause it was one of the few places that I could find interesting recipes for fresh vegetables.

This is technically a side dish, but I served it to Dennis and I as a main dish. I just put it on top of some whole grain rice pilaf to make it substantial. I made it the night before so that all I had to do was make the pilaf and then we could eat. It was also an attempt to get us to eat at home more. If it's already made maybe we won't go out to eat so much.

I used dried ground ginger instead of fresh (about 1tsp, maybe a bit more). My tomatoes probably should have been bigger, but when I reheat it for dinner I'll add a little chicken broth. This was super easy to make and I think it would freeze well (in case you found yourself with a lot of extra tomatoes and okra).

Fresh Okra with Tomatoes and Ginger
(Serves 4 to 6 as a side.)

2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (2- by 1 1/2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 to 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
3 large tomatoes, cored and quartered
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb small fresh okra, untrimmed

1. Pulse garlic and ginger in a food processor until finely chopped and transfer to a 12-inch heavy skillet. Add oil and red pepper flakes to taste and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Pulse tomatoes with salt and black pepper in processor until coarsely chopped and stir into oil in skillet. Cook, uncovered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Stir in okra and simmer, covered, until just tender, about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Corn and Black Bean Bundles

This has been a good week for me. First, Fall finally decided to arrive! Which means I will probably be spending as much time outside as possible before it actually gets cold. My scarves are coming out of retirement and my sandals are getting packed away. It's pretty awesome.

Second, I finally got my pink thrift store bike in working order. The only thing I need now are a new seat, bike lock, and basket. Hopefully you'll see me rolling down with cool sunglasses, a scarf, and a loaf of fresh baked bread. I mean, what's the purpose of cool pink bike except to look like a hipster?

So after one shaky ride from Dennis' house. I made us a very light refreshing dinner. I probably should have made a soup to go with the nice chilly night. But instead I chose cold vegetarian wraps with slaw (more on the slaw later). I needed to use up some lettuce and I was trying to come up with a cheap meal. Instead of red bell pepper, I used half a red onion for color and some more zing. I didn't have any Boston (Bibb) lettuce left, so I used some leaf lettuce. It was a bit messier, but we had fun eating with our hands. These were quite yummy and would also taste fine on warmed corn tortillas.

I got this great recipe from Weight Watchers Turn Around. I go back to this cookbook again and again because the whole thing has recipes that work with the Core (now Simply Filling) program. I lost all my weight following the Core plan and recommend it to anyone struggling with weight.

The recipe claims to serve four. However, Dennis and I devoured them all by ourselves. I think the cookbook thought you'd be serving something more substantial with it (it was in the Brunch and Lunch section). If I were serving it for brunch I would serve them with a southwest style omelet.

Messy = Grumpy?

Corn and Black Bean Bundles
(Serves Four as Light Lunch)

1 (19-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained.
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 head Boston lettuce, cleaned and separated into leaves

1. In a medium bowl, combine the beans, corn, bell pepper, scallions, cilantro, lime juice, oil, cumin, garlic, and salt. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hours to allow the flavors to blend.

2. Place a lettuce leaf on a work surface and spoon about 1/3 cup of the bean mixture down the center. Fold one side of the leaf just past the center, so the filling is covered. Fold the other side of the lead to overlap the first. Repeat, using all of the bean mixture, making a total of 8 bundles. (save any extra lettuce for a salad.)

Tip: If you're in a time crunch, simply spoon the bean mixture into lettuce like tacos.

Monday, September 27, 2010

African Sweet Potato Stew with Red Beans

So here are some facts for you....

1. I have been receiving and cooking with local produce for 14 months.
2. I have been cooking with recipes for 13 months.
3. Dennis and I have been dating for 12 months.

So when I tell Dennis he started dating me at the right time, I am not kidding. I had just decided to get serious about cooking and started to really explore. Before, I just roasted vegetables and served it over couscous. Yummy single food, but let's be honest girls... that's no way to win a man's confidence.

What does this mean? It means Dennis has put up with being fed homemade meals regularly (I know, so hard!). Also, I finally get to enjoy some recipes I cooked last year and build on my collection with new additions.

The first seasonal repeater is a recipe from Cooking Light: Slow Cooker. No it's not specifically for two (which sadly has become a theme lately). But Dennis has requested more leftovers so that he can eat them for lunch. This saves him money and is generally healthier than anything he can get around his office. This stew would also freeze very well. In fact, I might have to freeze 2 portions for a rainy day.

Because I still had tomatoes around, I used about 3 cups of chopped tomato instead of a can of diced tomatoes. I didn't take very many pictures because.... slow cooking is kind of boring. You dump all the ingredients in and 8 hours later it's ready to go! The recipe says you only need one lime wedge and like 1/2 tablespoon of peanuts. But really, I could skip the peanuts and double the lime juice. The tang from the lime really adds a fun kick . Dennis and I really enjoy this recipe. It's a very filling vegetarian (vegan) stew. The only thing I might add is some cornbread.

This is the only photo I have. So deal.

African Sweet Potato Stew with Red Beans
(Serves 6)

2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
1 garlic clove
4 c. peeled, cubed sweet potato
1 1/2 c. cooked small red beans
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 c. chopped red bell pepper
1/2 c. water
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp pepper
14.5 oz diced tomatoes
4.5 oz chopped green chilies
3 tbs creamy peanut butter
3 tbs dry roasted peanuts
6 lime wedges

1. Heat oil in a non-stick skilled over medium-heat. Add onion and garlic, cover and cook 5 minutes (or till tender).

2. Place onion mix in a 5-quart slow cooker. Add sweet potato and next 10 ingredients. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until vegetables are tender.

3. Spoon 1 c. cooking liquid into a small bowl. Add peanut butter; stir well with a whisk. Stir peanut butter mix into stew. Serve with peanuts and lime on each serving.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekly Menu | Week of Sept 27

The thing about last week was, it was a lot like the previous week. Social engagements caused us to eat out a bit. Thursday we went to the new Railroad Park. It's a fantastic space! Friday night Dennis had VIP passes to The Sidewalk Film Festival. We skipped dinner because there was a pre-party to the opening night film. So that meant free food and drink. However, we ran late and by the time we got there all that was left was chicken salad on crostini and some broke pita chips. So what did I have for dinner? Four glasses of red wine and a bite of chicken salad. Let's just say I had a good time.

I did see some excellent films this weekend. My favorite was Exit Through the Gift Shop. I volunteered so I was able to see my fill of films for free!

Something very exciting happened this weekend in Alabama. The heat wave finally broke and the weather man claims that the 90+ heat should not return. This is exciting and sad at the same time. Exciting because I am ready for the new season, but sad cause I know that I will be perpetually cold until March 2011.

So here is this week's Menu! I am going to be cooking a lot to freeze. I have some vegetables that must get used up now before they go bad (to avoid a Food Waste Friday like this). These soups and dinners will come in handy in the dead of winter when I don't get boxes. AND I think I did an excellent job of keeping the budget under control!

Monday: Okra with Tomatoes and Ginger, Whole Grain Rice Pilaf , Salad
Tuesday: Corn and Black-Bean Salad Bundles, Lime Cilantro Slaw
Wednesday: Lamb Chops with Lebanese Green Beans, Whole Grain Rice Pilaf, Salad
Thursday: Golden Summer Squash and Corn Soup, Salad
Friday: Fiesta Bean Burritos
Saturday: Sweet Potato Soup, Leftovers
Sunday: Spaghetti with Fried Eggs, Leftovers

Cooking to Freeze:
Double batch of Sweet Potato Soup
Double batch of Golden Summer Squash and Corn Soup
Eggplant Parmesan
Cajun Tomato Soup (if I have any tomatoes left over at all)

What does your menu look like this week?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekly Menu

Sometimes you make a plan and it doesn't work. Last week is a prime example. Just didn't follow any of my plans... Some things came up in our schedules and when we did have time I was too tired to cook. The funny thing about planning menus is that you can't always plan the mood you will be in 4 days from now. Last week, I did manage to make a frittata to use up some eggplant and squash. And I made the stew today but won't be eating it until tomorrow.

There will be some repeats from last week, because I still have the items on hand to use up. Some of the meals are for two and some are just for me when Dennis is busy working. I am aslo trying to get back to sticking to the budget again. So some things aren't even really recipes (Wednesday for example). But who said you need recipes?

Some new things I am also trying is the Sneaky Chef approach. Not because Dennis is a picky eater, but because he picked out the book and I like the idea of boosting the nutrition of our food. But if your boyfriend is picky then the cookbooks might really help you.

Monday - Sweet Potato African Stew
Tuesday - Boiled Shrimp, "Fried" Okra, Sneaky Chef Slaw
Wednesday - Dinner out w/Friends
Thursday -Sneaky Chef Tuna Salad over lettuce and tomatoes
Friday - Fiesta Been Burritos
Saturday - Spaghetti with Fried Eggs, Sliced Tomatoes
Sunday - Black Bean Smothered Sweet Potatoes & Side Salad
Tuna Salad w/Tomatoes & Crackers

Friday, September 17, 2010

Food Waste Friday - Mother Load

So this week I have managed throw away:

Quart of Fruit
1/2 a Quart of Soup
Quart of Cut Vegetables
Spinach & Chicken Quesadilla
Bag of apples
More peaches
4 Slices of uncooked bacon
One whole cucumber

The first four items were given to me and most likely would have been thrown away regardless. But I could have refused and maybe they would have gotten eat. But not likely. I did manage to salvage one of the cucumbers. Half was used on a salad the other was thrown into a jar with some vinegar and seasonings... maybe my pickles will taste good. I did unearth some strange variety of yellow squash that went into a frittata.

Overall, this week was the mother load of my reported food waste. Yuck!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meatless Monday | Sweet Potato Burritos

Sweet potatoes and I started out on the wrong foot when I was younger. The weird texture and sweet flavor was too much for my tween taste buds to handle. The consistency was a lot like squash and back in the day... squash was my arch enemy.

Oh the horror!

But we aren't talking about my breakthrough with squash today. But soon my friends, soon. Through some miracle (of the butter and brown sugar kind) I came to love sweet potatoes. And on all those Live Journal quizzes under favorite food was proudly listed "Sweet Potato".

Since then, I have discovered all kinds of yummy ways to eat sweet potatoes (with a fox in a box). So when I found this recipe I knew I had to try it. Sadly, I do not know where I got this one. I just have it saved in a document and I am just now testing it out.

I cut this recipe down by a lot. I was only feeding two people, so there was no reason to make twelve burritos. However, I didn't want to have that "half a open can of beans" conundrum. So I just used a single can of black beans instead of 1.5 cans. I used a single can of black beans and about 1 cup water. It was a little too much water, but I let the water cook out and I got a nice consistency. I used two medium sized sweet potatoes and that was the perfect amount. I baked the taters, let them cool, and then scraped the flesh out with a knife.

The recipe also calls for burrito sized tortillas. I could not find whole wheat burrito sized tortillas. So I used fajita sized whole wheat tortillas - they came in a pack of eight. I mismanaged my fillings and only came out with seven burritos. Next time I'll try to spare out the filling a little better to get eight.

These could definitely be frozen on a cookie sheet and then put into a zip top bag. Then you could pull one out and heat it up in the microwave. While these burritos look kind of small, they are very filling. I'd serve them with slaw or some other green veggie.

If you make the full recipe be prepared for lots of left overs. Division is your friend! These would be great for game day or feeding a bunch of people on the cheap. However, if it's just you and your room mate. Enjoy two or three and freeze the rest for another day. Enjoy!

Tip: Put the filling to the side.

Sweet Potato Burrito
(Serves 12)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups canned kidney beans, drained (variation: black beans)
2 cups water
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
12 (10 inch) flour tortillas, warmed
8 ounces shredded FF Cheddar or Soy Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Heat oil in a medium skillet, and saute onion and garlic until soft. Stir in beans, and mash. Gradually stir in water, and heat until warm. Remove from heat, and stir in the chili powder, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper and soy sauce.

3. Divide bean mixture and mashed sweet potatoes evenly between the warm flour tortillas. Top with cheese. Fold up tortillas burrito style, and place on a baking sheet.

4. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, and serve.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weekly Menu

For a while I was doing great with planning the menus and making sure they fit into our budget. What has happened is that I plan a menu, but don't really consider the cost. The side effect is that we usually skip grocery trips here and there so that we stay within the budget. Then we can't find convenient times or the energy to go the store. So we eat out.

I've also let my eating habits go downhill just a bit. Dennis and I have both expressed desires to eat healthier and for whatever reason I keep finding ways to eat out, eat cake, and generally anything that I shouldn't eat. So hopefully the blog humiliation factor will kick my butt into gear.

So the goal is to post a menu plan every Sunday. Keep in mind, I don't get my box until Wednesday and sometimes what they say will be in the box isn't always what's in the box. But that is part of the adventure of cooking. Also, breakfast and lunch during the week won't be posted. I am generally eating lunch from work and Dennis usually eats leftovers.

Monday - Eggplant Parmesan over Whole Wheat Pasta
Tuesday - African Sweet Potato Stew
Wednesday - Okra and Chickpea Curry over Brown Rice
Thursday - Dinner out with Friends
Friday - Fish and Chips & Lime Cilantro Slaw
Saturday - Black Bean Smothered Sweet Potatoes & Side Salad
Tomato Soup over Whole Wheat Couscous & Side Salad
Sunday - Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa & Lime Cilantro Slaw

We are shifting into a new season of produce, but I still have a few tomatoes that are keeping well. For example, peaches are still in the box but now I am getting sweet potatoes and cabbage instead of tomatoes and squash. All of the recipes for this week are new for the blog, but several of them I made last year. I'll also probably be freezing some stuff later in the week. So lots of good things to look forward to on the blog.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Food Waste Friday - Peach Fuzz Edition

I love peaches.

They make summer worth it. There is just something about that delicate fruit that calls to me. Sure, canned peaches don't taste bad. But they don't really taste that good (trust me, I try to convince myself otherwise with every can).

I can bite into that fuzzy flesh with no problem at all.

And let's not forget the peaches best quality... it kind of looks like a butt. And something about fuzzy butts leads to lots of off color jokes that I enjoy so much.

But in all their glories, they have one downfall. They like to rot and they like to rot fast.

The expression one bad apple ruins the bunch should change. I've had apples in a bowl that will last longer than a month and never rot like a peach. However, you put peaches in a bowl together and in less than a week you'll have a bowl full of muck with fruit flies taking over your small South Side apartment.

Now I am sure you are all wondering why I just don't eat them all, make cobbler for two, or make that peach ice cream I promised my room mate? The answer is... I don't know.

So for this long overdue Food Waste Friday, I can proudly report that I haven't thrown anything away but a few stray peaches over the last few weeks. But I am going to gobble up every peach in site. Because this is most likely the last week I'll see fresh peaches until next June.

So long my fuzzy friends.