Thursday, October 28, 2010

Whole Wheat, Chocolate Chip, Buttermilk Pancakes with Fruit Topping!

Last Friday I made some super tasty pancakes for the apartment and made them from scratch. Back home, my family makes them from scratch and I wanted to share the joy that is homemade pancakes. We used whole wheat flour to be a bit healthier.

2 eggs

1/2 c. vegetable oil
2c. milk + 2tbs vinegar (for the "buttermilk", or you can use real buttermilk)
2tbs sugar
2c whole wheat flour
1tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

Beat eggs. Add oil and buttermilk and beat slightly. Add dry ingredients. Mix well. If the batter is too thick for your taste, add milk a tsp at a time. Don't let it get too thin, though. Better to have the first couple pancakes too thick then too runny. If you like a bit sweeter taste, you can add a tsp of vanilla. I sometimes also like to add a little cinnamon.

Pour pancake batter in small circles onto a greased heated griddle (medium-high heat). Everyone seemed shocked that I didn't use a measuring spoon to do this and instead poured it right from the mixing bowl. What can I say, I'm talented like that. ;) That's how I learned it. It's easy to make your pancakes whatever size you want it then!

While the cakes are on the griddle (hehe, I always wanted to say that), drop a handful or two of semi-sweet chocolate chips into your "puddle" o' pancake. To check whether the pancakes are ready to flip, wait for the edges to look a little formed; sometimes little bubbles form, too, and then you just wait for most of the bubbles to pop!

Dee made the fruit topping with some leftover blueberries, peaches, and strawberries! mmm...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Simple Salads

I swear I'm not trying to alliterate my titles.

Sometimes you just want something light, something very healthy, something crispy and flavorful. Nothing is more fulfilling a well made salad. Quickly, before all the fruit is completely out of season! We made a salad using romaine lettuce, blueberries, pine nuts, and chopped apples. To top it all off, use vidalian onion salad dressing. It really brings the whole thing together splendifferously.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Black Bean Burgers

In case you haven't noticed, we like beans in our apartment. They're the magical fruit... *insert childish song here* They're full of protein and all kinds of vitamins and healthy things for you! And a good replacement for meat in a vegetarian household! This time we decided to make Black Bean Burgers! mmmm....

What You Need:
1 can black beans
cumin & chili powder
1 (small) can of chopped chilies
1c. bread crumbs
1 egg
handful of cornmeal (or since we didn't have cornmeal, we just used cornstarch...though it didn't really work...)

Dump the black beans, undrained, into a food processor with some cumin and chili powder. Blend just until mashed. Remove and put into a mixing bowl. Mix with chilies, bread crumbs, and egg. Shape into burger patties and slightly coat with cornmeal. Cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.

Now, we also made a chili mayonnaise to dress our burgers up with. Save some of your chilies to mix in with some mayo and you're done! Top with whatever you like putting on your burgers. We sauteed some mushrooms. We also topped ours with salsa and lettuce! mmmmhmmmmm.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stuffed Peppers - for realz this time!

The other night, we decided to do stuffed peppers for real instead of our inside-out concoction like last time. I was going off memory and sort of forgot a step, but it still turned out amazing. I'll include the step I forgot.

You will need 4-6 green peppers, depending on how many you're
having for dinner. Cut the tops off each pepper and scoop out the seeds and membranes. This is the part I forgot: [Boil the peppers for about 5 minutes to soften them up. Make sure they are completely submerged in the water. Remove them from the water when they're done or else they'll just turn to mush]. Forgetting this part really only make crunchy peppers. Boiling the peppers would make them soft. It's just however you prefer your peppers.

Stuffing- ingredients: rice, ground meat/soy sausage, onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomato sauce; spices:
chili powder, cumin, cumin, and - secret ingredient - cinnamon!

Get some rice cooking while you prepare the ingredients. We used whole wheat rice and wheat mixture from a box. It was super tasty! Saute onion and garlic and mushrooms. Add whatever you intend your meat product to be and add some of your spices. I think I may have also used some oregano...

When that's all warmed up and your rice is finished cooking, combine them and mix them up real good, adding a wee bit more of your spices. Make sure to get a healthy (but not heaping!) amount of your cinnamon. You want the flavor of the cinnamon to be noticeable but not known. Make people say, what is that flavor? It's so familiar... It is a well known flavor but not one to expect in stuffed peppers, so it's an amazing combination!

Add a can and a half of tomato sauce. Make sure it's all thoroughly mixed. The other half a can will be used for a topping sauce. In a small bowl, add a teaspoon of sugar and some oregano to this left over sauce.

Stuff your peppers with your delicious delicious stuffing and spoon a little bit of the tomato sauce on top of each. Put them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes on 350. The best way is to them in a baking dish (like a brownie pan) with a drizzle of oil on the bottom to keep the bottoms of the peppers from burning.

Remove and scarf!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Aw Yea Chili!

We went on a bean kick last weekend. The apartment wasn't the most pleasant place to be for a few days, but our taste buds were certainly happy with us! Next on our list was meat-free chili!

green pepper

kidney beans (dark and regular)
ground soy "sausage" (to replace the ground meat)
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste

chili powder
pinch of cinnamon
red pepper

Saute your veggies and then add coarsely chopped ground soy; chopping up your package of soy just makes it a little easier to break apart in the pot. Add some seasoning to bring in the flavor. Once you break apart your soy a bit, add the kidney beans and simmer until they're warm. Add the diced tomato and simmer about 5 minutes. Add your little can of tomato paste to thicken it all up, otherwise it just looks like a chili soup. Take a little sample and see if it's spicy enough for you! If not, add more chili powder, cumin, and red pepper!

Top with Mexican cheese and sour cream! (Don't forget your Lactaid!) Serve with salad and buttered whole wheat bread. mmmm....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Black Bean Burritos!!!

What is your favorite type of food? Perhaps it is...MEXICAN? Oh yea, we agree. Here's our take on some tasty tasty black bean burritos!

First, the tasty tasty innards of your burrito. We sauteed onions, mushrooms, green peppers, and (our new favorite) butternut squash. Once the squash was finally soft, we added our black beans. We just used canned black beans. Make sure to add the delicious juices from the can! Mmmm, finished innards look great! But you're still not done! What is a burrito without guacamole???

All you need is a ripe avocado and a lime for a super simple yet super tasty guacamole. Mash up your avocado and sprinkle in the juice from about half a lime. You could easily find a mix packet in a grocery store, but we like to keep things simple. :)

Of course, what's a burrito without rice? We just
used a box of Mexican rice mix. Pretty much that means it's just spicy, right? Oh yea, it was amazing.

Then there is the proper way of making your burrito. Take your super soft burrito shells and warm them for about 30sec in the microwave.

Then on your plate, build your amazing burrito!

1. Lay some salsa on the bottom for a nice little soft place for your innards.

2. Lay your bean mixture on top of the salsa.

3. Top with rice to contain those puppies.

4. Wrap it up and scarf!!!

And who would have thought butternut squash would have been an excellent addition to a burrito? But it was!!!

Breakfast for Dinner?

When all else fails, just make breakfast for dinner! Slice up some potatoes and onions, fry 'em up in a pan until soft. Saute whatever you like with eggs (we chose some mushrooms and spinach), scramble the eggs however you prefer. Sometimes I like to add a bit of milk and/or a dash of vanilla, but you could do just plain ol' scrambly doo-da eggs.

Nuttin' tastier than some breakfast for dinner! Take that IHOP!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fancy-Up Something Simple

Let's say you're wanting something simple yet elegant. You want to make it a fancy little meal, but you don't want to slave away in the kitchen. Well, get yourself an Italian loaf, a bottle of wine, and a box of spaghetti!

For some dipping oil for your bread: olive oil + tasty Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, a pinch of rosemary). We also set out a little bowel of balsamic vinaigrette for those of us with a taste for slight tartness.

No red sauce? No problem! saute up some garlic, tomatoes, and spinach with a hearty helping of olive oil, add a little goat cheese (if you so wish) and you've made yourself a rich little dish of spaghetti!

Perhaps you prefer a little protein with your spaghetti? Well, we chose to cheat a little and just make some peppered chicken, for the few of us who like to eat meat. ;)

There you have it! Simple, elegant, and delicious! Bon Appetite!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Craving a Late Night Snack?

A few nights ago, the four of us were hanging out with a friend from down the hall, and we decided that our very late lunch had worn off and we were hungry. It was about 9pm. We didn't want to actually make dinner but we wanted something. I realized I had about 6 vine tomatoes that needed eating. The following is how to make bruschetta when you don't have any bread for toasting.

You will need tomatoes, olive oil, bread crumbs, balsamic vinaigrette, and your favorite shredded cheese (we used parmigiana-mozzarella). Preheat your oven to about 350.

1. Slice as many tomatoes as you would like. As we were feeding 5, we used 4 small tomatoes for a light snack.
2. Arrange on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
3. Sprinkle with a healthy amount of bread crumbs and Itlaian spices, especially basil and oregano - don't forget some tasty salt to bring out all those delicious flavors!
4. Top with a generous portion of shredded cheese!
5. Pop it in the oven until the tomatoes are sufficiently soft - about 25 minutes. Careful the bread crumbs and cheese don't burn.

6. Remove and immediately drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette. Use as much as you enjoy - we really like it, so we used a lot. :)

Be sure to let it cool off a little before eating; they're very hot!!!

There you have a delicious late night snack! Mmmm....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

When You've Got a Hankering for Black Beans...

Last week I had a total craving for black beans. We went through an assortment of recipes for black beans and decided that we were all far too hungry to make anything too fancy (though we logged away black bean burgers for a later time); we decided on black beans and rice, salad, and tilapia.

To make it even simpler, we bought canned black beans, otherwise we would have had to soak them, and we were just too hungry for that. We picked out two nice looking tilapia fillets and got cooking! We wanted to do baked breaded talapia, so we set out some bowls with milk, corn starch (you could use flour if you so desired), and seasoned bread crumbs.

1. Get the rice started in the rice cooker.
2. Cut up some onion to mix in with the black beans and start sauteing.
3. Add the black beans with the liquid in the can; this makes a tasty little sauce for your beans. Add some garlic powder and salt once your onions are ready. Let simmer until the liquid thickens.
4. Dip the tilapia fillets into the cornstarch to make coating easier. Then dip into the milk and then into the bread crumbs.
5. Place the breaded fillets into a lightly greased baking pan. We wanted a bit of cheese, so we sprinkled some mozzarella over the fillets to melt. Put in the oven on about 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until the fillets easily flake with a fork.

All that's left to do is add to your plate with some salad! We like spinach an awful lot, and put some mandarin oranges on top with a lovely raspberry vinaigrette.

Man, I love black beans, so this really hit the spot. The mandarin oranges on the salad was fantastic, too.

Hope you all enjoy this meal!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What's in the Fridge?

Ever try to decide what to do for dinner only to look in the fridge and think, "How in the world am I going to make a meal out of this random assortment of stuff???" That's what we do most every night! Here's one perfect example.

We were getting hungry and no one had enough of anything to make a whole meal, so we decided to combine what each of us had to contribute to a meal. What did we have? Well, some collared greens, butter nut squash, and jasmine rice. One of our members doesn't handle the gluten of the white rice so well, so she went with some quinoa instead. We decided to make a quick trip to the local market for a protein of some kind, which was decided to be salmon steaks. mmm! Believe it or not, one can make a well-rounded meal by having a simple collection of one-item foods.

1. Cook rice according to packaging. This is the easiest to cook first as you just stick it in the
rice cooker or sit it on the burner and leave it alone for 15-25 minutes.
2. I believe we had bought already chopped butternut squash, so it was easy to cook up. Stick in a frying pan with some oil or partly boil in water (I believe we used water in a frying pan). Add some salt to bring out the flavors and saute until very soft, at least 25 minutes.
3. Boil up the collared greens until limp; thoroughly dry and saute with some garlic powder and salt for extra taste.
4. We seasoned the salmon with some basic Italian spices (oregano, rosemary, thyme) and added a pinch of red pepper for some spice! Bake in a deep baking pan for 15-25 minutes, depending on how thick your salmon is. It took ours a good 30 minutes; they were some thick steaks! Test with a fork to see if it flakes easily; then you know it's done.

Pile onto your plates and enjoy! The spice of the red peppers, saltiness of the collared greens, and butteriness of the squash were brought together well with the blandness of the white rice.

Lesson of this day's meal: Be adventurous!
The beauty of cooking is that it is not an exact science but rather an art form that is to be tested and perfected! Combine different seasonings; throw together strange combinations; how else will you learn the perfect way to make a favorite meal?! Till next time, lovelies....

Challah French Toast

When I was growing up, my mom's french toast was the be-all-end-all of french toasts. When I was a bit older, she started making it for my friends and my brother's friends at our lake house in the mornings after our long nights up. It became one of those meals that was just EXPECTED when you stayed with us. Though I tried today to make it just like my mom, I'm still trying to get the kinks worked out. But here's what I came up with:

1. My mom uses french loaf, but being in Jew New York, Challah is available at every corner grocery. The traditional bread cooked for the Jewish Sabbath, Challah (pronounce ha-lah or kha-lah) bread is excellent when used for french toast. I bought whole wheat holiday Challah from West Side Market. Holiday Challah is different because rather than being braided, it is in a round loaf. SO. I cut the Challah in half length wise and cut it into 1" slices. Let it sit out overnight to get a bit stale to soak up the batter you'll make the next day.

2. For your mixture, combine and whisk
-- 2 eggs
-- 1/2 C milk (we used unsweetened almond milk because 2 of us can't handle dairy)
-- 1/2 C orange juice (Allie had fresh oranges, so we hand squoze squeezed it
-- 1 tsp ground nutmeg (I was actually eyeballing all these ingredients...)
-- 1 tsp cinnamon
-- 1 tsp vanilla

3. Evenly coat as much bread as you can, making sure not to leave it in too long. I don't like over-saturated french toast, but it has to reach the inside for sure. Before you cook it up in the pan, preheat your oven to 400ยบ. Spray your non-stick pan with some Pam, just to be safe. Cook each piece until it's as brown or black as you want, but don't cook it all the way through. Take each piece off, and put onto a cookie sheet.

4. Finish cooking the french toast in the oven. It will not brown the surface any more, but will make sure to cook the egg mixture that's still inside the bread. Keep the cookie sheet in the oven for 10 minutes or less.

Et viola!

I personally like to do a lot of things to my FT. Powdered sugar, syrup, butter, what ever you want. What do you add to yours? Peanut butter and strawberry preserves maybe?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Stir-fry for the Timid

Dee here, with simple instructions on how to make your own
better than take-out at-home stir-fry. Usually, when a n00b young chef takes upon themselves the task of making this meal, a stir-fry mix is purchased from the store. Before you do, STOP! To the individual trying to stay away from scary amounts of sodium and MSG, this is suicide. However, combining the brains of four Master's students, I present to you a healthy, and surprisingly SIMPLE way to make your own stir-fry at home.

1. Prepare your protein. Chicken, steak, and shrimp take time to cook, and adding raw meat to your perfectly cooked veggies will only result in upchuck. I suggest using a healthy oil like olive, but you can go traditionally asian and use peanut. Season with something like garlic or onion powder.

2. We boiled the green beans ahead of time, mostly because I was afraid they would not cook before all the rest of the vegetables. In this pre-cook phase, we also sauteed the mushrooms.

3. Make your sauce mix. Mix 1/2 C low sodium soy sauce with 1/2 C orange juice and 3 TBSP corn starch. Someone asked me if using flour would achieve the same results, to which I replied, "why, have you completely sworn off corn products? Suck it up and use the corn starch." Whisk (singing, Just beat it!). Set aside.

4. Slowly add your veggies, what ever they may be, and sautee with more oil if needed. Once they are looking slightly cooked, slowly start to add your sauce mixture, adding in any spices you want. Right before it "looks done," add in your protein. We used tofu, and even if you get extra tough tofu, the stuff falls apart, so you have to be gentle. The protein will suck in the sauce that should be thickening up nicely.

Of course you can change any spices, oils, proteins or vegetables that are not to your taste, but the secret is the corn starch. Wok on, kiddos!

A Twist on Stuffed Peppers

One night last week we had a hankering for stuffed peppers. Upon checking the fridge, we realized we had many half-used peppers but not one whole pepper. We still really wanted to make stuffed peppers but didn't want to spend the money on buying more peppers when we had plenty to make an inside-out stuffed pepper recipe.

How does a kosher, vegetarian, low gluten household do this, do you suppose? Replace ground beef with the appropriate soy product and replace the rice with black quinoa!
  1. Saute peppers, onions; add salt and pepper to taste. We also added some yellow squash, just for some extra flavors!
  2. Cook up quinoa according to package (or if you are en expert, however you may wish to cook it!)
  3. Add ground soy product to peppers and onions; add some cinnamon for an interesting little spice; and one can of tomato sauce.
  4. Once quinoa has cooked fully (those little sprouts that pop out when it's ready are so cute), add to the pepper/soy mixture.
  5. Allow to simmer and soak up the tomato sauce a little bit.
VOILA! A delicious and scrumptious meal of inside-out stuffed peppers - vegetarian, gluten-free style!