Garlic-Red Pepper Vegetable Rice

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Garlic-Red Pepper Vegetable Rice

Garlic-Red Pepper Vegetable Rice

Huzzah! I received a great cookbook from my Secret Santa (who was nice enough to sign the title page. Thanks, Temma!) Anyhow, I immediately did what one always does when receiving a new cookbook – I looked at all the photos! And it was clear I had a new mission: cook.this.book.

The cookbook, easy vegan – simple recipes for healthy eating,  contains over 100 recipes so it will take a little over two years to fulfill this quest, recreating one recipe per week. I had thought about waiting until the New Year started, but in the category of what the heck – why wait, I have already started!

But first – a couple of caveats: (1) I reserve the right to change the recipe to fit what I have available and (2) I reserve the right to change the recipe to fit our personal taste. Number one is in response to not having enough vegetable stock to make a soup for this first recipe, and number two is in anticipation of the beet salad about a third of the way into the book.

And by the way – this is a one pan dinner. You can’t get any easier than that, can you?

 

Garlic-Red Pepper Vegetable Rice

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: approximately 40 minutes

Serves: 8

Ingredients for Step One

3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon of sesame oil

4 scallion, chopped

1 cup carrots, julienned (thin little matchsticks)

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 cup frozen green peas

8 cloves garlic, chopped (not minced)

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped – practically minced. Okay, go ahead. Mince away! Make the garlic jealous!

Ingredients for Step Two

3 cups uncooked rice (I used Jasmine-scented white rice)

4 cups of unsalted vegetable broth

1 cup of water

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

2 Tablespoons crushed red pepper (yep – two!)

Ingredients for Step Three

3 – 4 cups of hand-torn field greens

1 cup cashews or peanuts. Use more if you want. It’ll be okay.

Directions:

Using a (very) large non-stick sauce pan, pre-heat the olive oil and sesame oil over medium-high heat. Test the temperature by carefully dropping a carrot stick into the pan. If you hear it start to sizzle, add the Step One Ingredients.

Stir until the ingredients are mixed, then reduce to medium heat and cover. You are sautéing the vegetables here so be aware of how heat applied to oil reacts with damp vegetables such as frozen peas. Stir occasionally, sautéing for 10 minutes.

Can you believe it? You are almost done!

Add the Step Two ingredients, stirring until mixed. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook until the liquid has been absorbed into the rice. This might take 30 to 40 minutes.

In this step, you are allowing the liquid to cook the rice, and you are giving the spices and aromatics a chance to meld into the other ingredients. Plus you are giving yourself an opportunity to pour the glass of wine that has been calling your name since this morning. I know. I have the same thing happen to me all the time!

Just before serving, gently stir in the Step Three Ingredients. There you go – you have just created a wonderful one-dish meal full of substance and flavor. This works both as a main dish and as a side.

Optional: Add two more cups of hot vegetable broth after the rice has been cooked and you will have yourself a nice spicy soup, too.

Chef’s tip: Try to use fresh ginger whenever possible. Candied ginger is right out. All you need to do is peel the root a bit, chop what you need, then wrap the remainder in foil, place in a freezer bag (squeeze as much air out as possible) and keep in the freezer until you need more. The next time it may be a slight bit soggy, but the fresh flavor will still be there. And now you know!

Enjoy.

P.S. If you don’t use the V-word (you know – vegan) people will never know. It’s just a great tasting bowl of food!

Tomatillo Salsa with a Garlic Kick

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Tomatillo

It’s definitely Fall here on the Eastern Shore, and that means the deer have come out of their hiding places to graze everywhere. Especially when darkness sets in. By the way, did I tell you I drive to work at 4:30 am every day? I see plenty of deer. And I drive slowly because they love to eat the grass on the other side of the road. As the saying goes – it’s always greener.

What does this have to do with tomatillo salsa?

Deer out in the Fall means deer hunters will not be too far behind. And if the deer are out and about early, the hunters are up even earlier. Now, I am not a hunter, I’m just surrounded by them here on the Shore. But I do hear the complaints about the cold temperatures, the damp weather, the misery. Makes me want to run right out a get a hunting license. Join me? Didn’t think so.

But having been on more than my fair share of overnight hikes and campouts, I know exactly what these deer hunters need. They need a breakfast that will stay with them for hours as they tromp through the forest, looking for enough venison to last a few months, and maybe a set of antlers to hang on the wall, much to their significant other’s dismay. They need something that will heat up the fires inside the old gut. Something to ward off any cold or flu bug that might fly by.

If we were in England, this might call for Bubble and Squeak. However, in Northampton County, Virginia we prefer the Deer Hunter’s Breakfast Special (from my Nanowrimo novel in progress. The Apple Pie Alibi.)

[This takes a few days to prepare so some advanced planning is in order.]

Day 1: Bake up several russet potatoes. Plan on two per person, at least. Three might be better. Once they have been thoroughly baked, put them in the cooler. You are done for today; go open a bottle of wine.

Day 2: Make the tomatillo salsa

Ingredient’s

6 tomatillos, husks removed

6 cloves of garlic – with the skin still on. (This is the kick!)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon salt

1 package of chocolate truffles

1 bottle of good red wine

Directions:

In your oven, broil the whole tomatillos and the garlic, two minutes for the garlic and about five minutes for the tomatillos. You don’t want the garlic to burn and you do want the tomatillos to char and get soft. Leave the char on because it will give the salsa umpff (that’s a technical culinary term, I believe.)  Once you have taken the garlic away from the broiler, you can peel the skin off the cloves, assuming you either have very thick skin or you have let the garlic cool enough.

Once the tomatillos have choicely charred, let them cool for a minute whilst you find the blender or food processor. It is undoubtedly in the lowest kitchen cabinet, behind several cookery machines you use more often. It’s the dusty one right next to that new Panini maker you wasted 45 dollars on bought for yourself for your birthday one year, yeah, at least five years ago. Make a note to try a second time with that one. But later. For now, you need the blender way in the back. Yes, that’s the one. Don’t forget the lid.

Put all of the ingredients (except the chocolate and the bottle of wine) into a blender and pulse the blades until the salsa has the consistency you desire. Some people like to keep their salsa rather on the chunky side, others like more of a smooth sauce-like feel and as such blend the mixture until all of the pieces have been pulverized. Your choice.

Once everything has blended, put into a mason jar, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. This is important because it allows the flavors to meld together and intensify. In the meantime, eat a few chocolate truffles and then take the bottle of red wine and go watch some television. With enough wine, all of the shows will look appealing.

Day 3: Dice up the baked potatoes and put them in a large skillet. Add a good hunk or two of butter and some salt and pepper, then turn on the heat and fry the taters up. Once some of the potato cubes start to brown and crisp up, it is time to ladle on a bit of the tomatillo salsa. Let the heat sink in until the salsa and potatoes seem hot.

Now, as the potatoes and salsa are heating back up, in a separate pan scramble some eggs, again two to three per person.

Putting it all together

Put a layer of potatoes and salsa on your plate, and top with the scrambled eggs. Add salt and pepper if that’s your habit. The salsa should be enough spice today.

Eat like there’s no tomorrow. And don’t worry about the calories; remember you are going to be out in the elements so take every advantage you can.

The Deer Hunter’s Breakfast Special – you can’t go wrong!

Cheers!

 

 

 

Turnip Greens with a Twist

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With a twist of lemon juice, that is.

This past weekend I helped out our church bazaar by standing post at the fresh vegetable stand. We had sweet potatoes, hayman potatoes, kale, collards, apples, homemade vegetable beef soup and…turnip greens? This iconic Southern US side dish was one I had not ever used in a recipe or tasted on a plate. As for greens, I prefer collards with a little vinegar. Spinach is okay but I find it is usually over cooked to the point of being seaweed-like green mush. Not much mouth appeal, in spite of what Popeye may have us believe.

Back to the turnip greens. These were fresh cut, bright green and only a dollar a pound. So I thought, why not?

Turnip Greens

I asked around and everyone, and I do mean everyone said “Turnip greens? Just put a ham hock in a pot of water and bring to a boil, then add the greens until they wilt.”  I imagine this would not take too much time. Put me in a pot of boiling water and I bet I wilt quickly, too. That said, and remember – I live with vegetarians – I knew I had to find a different, bacon-less recipe.

Aha! Check it out here. This article gives you more health and nutrition facts about turnip greens than I thought possible. Huzzah for healthy eats, people!

Anyway, so I added my own little spin on the usage of the greens – and I will say it turned out okay. Not great, but for what is essentially a bunch of bitter leaves, it wasn’t bad. You try it and be your own judge. It’s only a dollar, at least at our stand.

Ingredients:

1 cup of turnip greens, the leaves only, torn from the stems and ripped into small, bite-sized pieces.

1 English muffin, halved and toasted

1 egg, scrambled (or however you like it cooked)

Dressing:

3 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 Tablespoon of lemon juice (see, I told you there was a twist!)

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large pot, add 1 – 2 inches of water and place over high heat. You will be using this to steam the greens.

While the water is heating up, make the dressing by mixing the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt/pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a fork.

Now put the English muffin halves into your handy toaster and start toasting to your favorite shade of burned light brown.

The water in the pot should be steaming now. Carefully (remember that steam can burn you very easily. I know.) add the turnip greens to a large strainer and place over the top of the pot.

Steaming the Greens

Now, in your best egg pan, cook your eggs however you like. I prefer scrambled eggs, but you may be a sunny-side up person. To each their own.

Once the eggs are done, the turnip greens will be ready to go. Now all you have to do is assemble the dish.

Starting from the bottom, here is how I layered everything:

English muffin (bottom)

Drizzle some dressing on the muffin

Add the steamed turnip greens

Drizzle a little more dressing (the bite of the lemon juice with the pungent power of the garlic will help belay the bitterness of the greens.)

Add the scrambled egg for protein and creaminess.

Drizzle just a bit more dressing on for good measure.

And top with the other English muffin half.

Eggs on muffin and greens

There you go – protein, calcium, vitamins galore, good for you fats, and some nice tasting food.

Like I said, for me this was okay. I think the next time I make this sandwich, I will add bacon. All those church ladies can’t be wrong!

Even Tink the cat liked it!

Tink

 

 

 

 

 

43 Types of Garlic? Now we’re cooking!

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Garlic 1I don’t care what the people at Taco Bueno say, my Aunt Sue is okay in my book. She sent me a care package the other day, a box with two brown paper lunch bags inside. While I enjoy a decent peanut butter and jelly sandwich as much as the next guy, I was not disappointed when I peeked inside.

Garlic!

A sampler pack of 10 varieties, sequestered in their own little individual-sized brown paper sacks and accompanied by a small slip of paper identifying the type of bulb. The notes also had a few lines about the taste, cooking suggestions and other nifty tidbits.  Where did my aunt acquire such bags of goodness?

Why, she’s a member of a “Garlic CSA,” of course.

Now stand down, ye Johnny Rebs, I am not referring to the Confederate States of America. No, this CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture.” A very cool agri-business model where people, regular people like you, buy a portion of a small farm’s crop in advance. In other words, you pay the farmer $100 up front and at the end of the growing season, you get at least $100 worth of crop. Some farms offer a number of different products, others specialize, for example Garlic!

No huge agriculture / industrial corporations needed. Just plain old, organically grown food – hold the pesticide.

My aunt belongs to the Dyer Family Organic Farm’s garlic CSA, a family owned and operated Michigan farm that is planting 43 varieties garlic this year (yes, 43.) You can learn more about Dyer’s by checking out their website here. All sorts of info and tips about garlic on this site: storage, planting, recipes, everything but the vampire stories. I am thinking garlic tomatillo salsa. Christmas is coming, people at work. Guess what you’re getting!

The really best part? One of the variety is called “Transylvania.”

Oh, the stories I will write…

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Enter Potato Kale Casserole – Stage Right

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Potato Kale Casserole

Potato Kale Casserole

Let us not call this a vegetarian dish. The V word scares too many people away. How about we just say this is a dang good bit of comfort food sans hoof and beak. The first time I made this casserole, the two of us ate the entire thing in one dinner, a breakfast and a small snack. There wasn’t time for photos. It was every fork for themselves.

So here’s to another try. I had the iPhone waiting this time. That, and I waited until no one else was home. Of course, later, once the nom nom nom-ing commenced, alas the dish was practically licked clean. Try it for yourself, if you dare. Based on a recipe from Jamie Deen – <spotlight on> Potato Kale Casserole – enter stage right. 3 – 2 – (1) Go! To the kitchen with thee.

Ingredients

7 – 8 medium-sized potatoes (red or Yukon work well,) peeled and cubed

3 cups of cauliflower, coarsely chopped

2 baby leeks, end trimmed off, white and light green parts sliced. No leaves. That’s just wrong.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

A bunch of fresh kale leaves ripped off the stems. If you have a pile that could completely cover your laptop, you’re good to go.

3/4 cup milk

Salt/Pepper to taste

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup sour cream

Butter, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the cubed potatoes and chopped cauliflower into a large pot of water. Add a bit of salt for good measure then turn on the heat until the water starts to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, such that the pot simmers for 20 minutes. Set the timer.

When the potatoes and cauliflower have ten minutes to go (see, the timer was an excellent idea, wasn’t it?) it is time to start “the rest.”

In a large sauce pan, saute the leeks in olive oil for about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir.

Before the garlic has a chance to burn, add the kale leaves. Stir a bit to coat with the oil. They will wilt quickly, not to worry, in about 3 minutes.

Now add the milk, salt and pepper; turn up the heat just enough to bring the milk to a simmer.

Hey, don’t forget the potatoes and cauliflower – it’s time to drain them using a colander (once the timer is buzzing, of course.)  Put them back in the pot and mash them up a bit with a potato masher, fork or large rock. Just kidding. Don’t use a rock. (The lawyers made me say that. Be adventurous. But we take no responsibility.)

Spoon the mashed up potato / cauliflower glop into the sauce pan of milky kale. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Add the Parmesan cheese and sour cream. Stir some more.

Here we go

Carefully put the whole thing into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Top with a few pats of butter and bake for 30 minutes or until the top starts to brown.

Get your plate ready.

Once the timer dings, use oven mitts to get the potato kale casserole out of the oven. Let it sit for ten minutes, then serve.

Hah! Did you fall for that one? Don’t let it sit. Dig in – now!

Veggie Sub with Creamy Sriracha Sauce

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Veggie Sub with Creamy Sriracha Sauce

Veggie Sub with Creamy Sriracha Sauce

This veggie sub sandwich is a nice, light and tasty lunch item, suitable on its own as a summer snack while you relax on the veranda or, in colder weather a warm companion to a hearty soup. To give the sandwich its first layer of flavor, I sauteed the  vegetables with a bit of olive oil, adding in some cracked black pepper and a spoonful of minced garlic to create a culinary scrum. And for those who know me, going the extra step to spice things up should be of no surprise, hence creamy Sriracha Sauce.

This recipe made 4 sandwiches, and we have enough veggies left for a different meal tomorrow!

Ingredients:

Start with the bread. Bake your own if you choose, but to save time we went to the store and picked up Bolillo rolls (think a 6-inch long, Mexican version of classic French Bread.) Cut them horizontally to create the platform for the veggies to rest upon.

2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded and sliced

1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced

2 medium zucchini, sliced into planks

* Chop the bell peppers into very small strips; cut the zucchini into small, thin planks. My zucchini planks were about 1 inch by 2 inch rectangles so as to fit nicely on the bread base.

(optional: sliced yellow squash, cremini mushrooms, or any other vegetable suitable for the saute pan)

4 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of minced garlic

cracked black pepper to taste

Put everything into a large pan and saute until the vegetables are soft and pliable.

 

Creamy Sriracha Sauce (based on an original recipe from the talented New York City chef, Serena Palumbo)

In a separate bowl, mix together the following:

1 cup sour cream

2 Tablespoons Sriracha Sauce

1 teaspoon lemon juice

 

Putting it all together:

This is the easy part. Layer from the bottom: bread, sauce, zucchini, bell peppers, sauce, bread.

This veggie sub is a healthy treat with a little bit of everything. It has a nice crunch from the crust of the bread, set off by the soft texture inside the roll. And the sauteed vegetables have a savory flavor perfectly complementing the creamy yet spicy bite of the Sriracha sauce. Just grab some napkins and a cold glass of milk and you are ready to enjoy!

I’m hungry again just typing the description!

Buen Provecho, amigos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mashed Potato Pizza

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Mashed Potato Pizza

There are many recipes for mashed potato pizza, most of them involving spreading the mashed potatoes all over the crust, in place of the usual red sauce. To me, that is taking the carbs just a bit too far. As it is, my Adkins diet went sailing through the window with this one!

But this pizza has cheese AND bacon. Need I say more? (wink, wink, nudge, nudge!)

Give it a go and see what you think.

Ingredients

Pizza crust, thin – I used a pre-baked one. You can make your own if you wish. Just bake it first.

Cheddar cheese, shredded – 8 oz. or more. I always go for “more.”

Mozzarella cheese, shredded – 4 oz

Red onion, finely chopped – 1/4 cup

Cooked Bacon, rough chopped – 3 slices

Garlic, minced – a pinch, maybe two

Mashed Potatoes – enough for 8 – 10 melon ball sized globs (glob is a technical term, sorry)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place your pre-baked pizza crust on a pizza pan.

Sprinkle enough cheddar cheese on top of the crust, covering the entire surface. Try to save some cheese, you will need it later. If you use all of it – get more cheese!

Add the mozzarella cheese next, followed by the red onions, making sure everything is evenly distributed.

Carefully place the chopped bacon on top. You will be tempted to eat some. DON’T DO IT. Okay, maybe just one piece. But not two.

Okay, maybe two. But definitely not three.

Add a pinch of minced garlic, just for good measure.

Now the fun part-

Take a melon baller (a very, very small ice cream scoop) and scoop out 8 – 10 little mashed potato “meatballs” and place them on the pizza. Spread them around so that every slice will get at least one.

Cover with the remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes. This will heat everything up and make the crust extra crispy.

When done, take out of the oven and carefully (remember, it’s hot!) slice into 6 – 8 slices.

Pairs well with any good table wine, as well as Dr Pepper on ice.  A&W Root Beer is a good option, as well.

Mashed Potato Pizza

 

 

 

 

Home Remedy 101

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By now you have been inundated with news about flu.  Asian flu, swine flu, one flu over the cuckoo’s nest; if it’s a noun, it’s probably a flu.  Well, in the interest of vindicating the poor pig, I bring you the pork stew. It also has enough tasty accoutrement that it actually may help build the immune system*, thusly vanquishing those nasty flu germs.  Or… the garlic will keep people away from you, and by default reduce the chance you might encounter said germies.

The stew is cooking for now, so I can’t say if it’s a winner or not, but the house smells good. Take that for what it’s worth….

In a slow cooker, put in…

3 big Russet potatoes, washed and cut into bigger than bite sized chunks

4 carrots, peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks

6 pearl onions, no skin thank you very much

6 cloves of garlic, pressed.

1 Tablespoon of whole peppercorns

1 1/2 c. Chicken broth

Pork tenderloin, whatever size suits you, cut into big chunks

Basil, sprinkled on the pork

Slow cooked overnight.  Serve with pop tarts for breakfast.

Okay, the last part was a stretch, but you COULD have pop tarts for breakfast while you watch the stew cook.

Hello, taste buds! Run, germs, run!

* The author of this post is not a medical doctor, not qualified in any way, shape or form to dispense advice on how to build the immune system.  It’s a crap shoot, people. Too much garlic will, however, make people think twice about hanging around you.

Sometimes it pays to live with vegetarians

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Today was a busy day.  Drove a lot, worked a lot, drove some more.  Got the oil changed in the buggy, probably because I drove so much. Now here it is, 13 hours later and the personal chef has yet to arrive.  What to do, what to do?

Well, it’s starting to get cooler outside.  Swine flu is running amok across the land. There is only one solution:

Amy’s Black Bean Soup “Plus.”

If you go to your local grocer, you will hopefully find Amy’s brand vegetarian foods.  Tasty, a little heat in some of them, and probably good for you; I have yet to find one I didn’t enjoy eating.  And this coming from a meat and potato guy.

When you find the black bean soup, you “could” just heat and eat. Or…you could make it “Plus.”  This is where I start having fun.

Try this…it’ll warm your insides.

1 can Amy’s black bean soup

1 tsp minced garlic (can this EVER be bad?)

Tostitos restaurant style chips

1/2 cup of shredded Colby Jack cheese

Salsa to taste (you can pick your own brand, but I have my opinions…)

Directions:

Heat the soup in a sauce pan.  Add the garlic.

Fill a big soup bowl with chips.  Cover with shredded cheese.

Pour the soup on top of the chips.  Top with more cheese if you want.

A good spoonful or two of salsa on top and you got yourself some tasty vittles.

Don’t wait, start chowing down before the chips get too soggy.  Once that happens, keep eating anyway!

Better than chicken soup, I tell you  =8>)=

Enjoy!