A place for me to share my love for all things cooking, wine and Bento.  The research for this blog is going to continually be grueling my friends.... ;)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Two New Healthy Recipes For The Season

Monday's are usually my day off. I either clean bathrooms, cook or organize the house.  Today I'm doing quite a bit of cooking to make up for a few days of us being under the weather, and for the sake of using some great produce I got before we got feeling bad.  Tuesday is the day I get the new Tally Farms produce box, so by today, I like to have used up all of the last one.

Part of today will be just a new twist on the recipe seen in my last post. First however, I want to share a recipe I came up with this time last year when asparagus started showing up on the produce shelves.  I personally like the thin tender asparagus especially when cooked this way because they don't require as much cooking time.  The tomatoes don't get pulverized waiting for their buddies to catch up.
So this is :
2 bunches of thin tender asparagus cut to lengths you prefer. These are about one inch
1 lb Pear or Cherry tomatoes whole
EVOO to taste
Salt to taste
Garlic Powder to taste
Zest of half a lemon
Squeeze juice of half a lemon

Toss it all up till coated and spread in a baking pan.  Place in oven at 350* for about 30 min, more or less depending on your texture preference and the thickness of your veggies.  Just taste along the way and you will find your sweet spot.

Once cooked they should not look too much different.  As you can see, some of my tomatoes have not made it but that's fine.

Let cool and then place in a large mixing bowl.

While that cools, you need to cook your quinoa.  Quinoa is a highly nutrition packed "grain" from South America known for it's low glycemic index and high protein   It's actually the seed of a plant in the Swiss chard and spinach family so I'm told.  It cooks just like rice only quicker and it has to be rinsed to remove a powdery layer that will make it taste bitter if not rinsed.

I prefer to rinse mine in 1/2 cup segments, thus the 1/2 cup measure that remains in my quinoa bucket.  That way, I feel I get it rinsed more thoroughly   Sorry, I took the picture of the sifter after sifting...not such a glorious capture but for your benefit to see what I use.

Another huge flavor enhancer for quinoa is to cook it i n chicken broth.  I usually have some TJ's around but when I don't I always have a wonderful fresh bullion. 
For my pan of veggies, I cooked up 1 and 1/2 cup quinoa with 3 cups of broth.  Like I said, it measures just like rice in solid to liquid ratio.
You don't have to stand right over it if you get it to a good simmer but check it now and then to be sure it does not burn.  The above picture is about half way there.

Once the liquid is mostly absorbed, I turn off the heat and put a lid on the pot.  I walk away for five minutes and come back to a nice fluffy quinoa.

Add that to your bowl of roasted veggies and either do one of things... place in a dish and top with feta..

Some kind of toasted almonds.....

..and drizzle with EVOO before serving it up warm.  OR you can let it cool, then add the feta, and the almonds, toss to mix and fridge for later.  It's quite good at room temp or a little cool.  Drizzle a little EVOO on if you like before enjoying.  Mmmm...I love this dish. I'm having it for lunch as I write!  Look out!  Those lightly roasted tomatoes will burst in your mouth!!

Quinoa with roasted tomatoes and asparagus....DONE.
SO, to wrap up the rest of that:
1 and 1/2 cup quinoa
3 Cups Chicken Broth
Cook till liquid absorbs at a simmer, heat off, cover and let set five min
Feta crumbles to taste
Almond slivers to taste
EVOO ...you got it...good job....TO TASTE!  (Can you tell I'm not very scientific!?)

SO!  On to recipe two for today.  My last post told of a wonderful quiche recipe I found to use up the lovely leeks and broccoli in my Talley Farms produce box lately.  They are in season and everywhere!!  This time I took the quiche mixture and baked them inside slices of honey ham for quick breakfasts, healthy protein snacks, or bento lunches for the kids and Rick.  I sure hope there are a few left for me too. This allows a low carb quiche on the go.

Don't worry, if the egg spills outside of the ham a bit, pretty is not everything.

I also baked a few in flattened out biscuit dough for those who need a little more carb burst.

You should have seen the pan on the biscuit ones though!  As the dough cooks, it pushes the mixture up and since it's not set yet, a bit of it spills over.   Don't over fill them...I kinda did and they made a bit of a mess.  They still came out good though so I'm not sad at all. Cut them out, take a picture (or not) and don't look at the mess till later lol.  
The only variation from the recipe was that this time I used diced turkey ham instead of bacon.  We don't buy bacon a lot and the ham is just as tasty in here.  I also did not add the butter recommended in the quiche recipe and I think it was fine without all that fat.  The cheddar cheese adds enough and I cooked the veggies in EVOO.  So refer to this post for that mixture.  You could easily play around with it and add or take a way many things in your egg base.    

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Broccoli Bacon Leek Quiche

It sounded lovely. It seemed a great use of all the leeks in my produce box from Talley Farms..I did the whole process and almost posted but decided to wait for one important factor. Did it taste good?
Oh, my goodness did it!!!
Here is what you need (I made two at a time so this is a double recipe)
2 pie shells
1 pkg bacon
1-2 cups shredded cheese (I use cheddar)
2 brocolli heads
2-3 leeks
10 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup melted butter (melt ahead of time to let cool a bit)
1 tsp thyme
I keep my bacon partly frozen so I can cut it in nice chunks.

Wash your leeks well in a sink of cold water.
Two pie shells par cooked at 375 for about 20 min.  I put foil and beans in mine but it still bubbled a bit.  I need to get one of those forms.  I'm not good at pie dough on any level.

Chop your leeks, and broccoli (try to cut small and take off all stems but don't throw those away!) Mix butter (cooled a bit), egg, milk, thyme, and S&P.

Cook the bacon till crisp. I like to use a soup pot to keep the grease down.  Plus, you will use some of the drippings too cook your veggies.

Drain on a napkin or towel and set aside.

Pour out most of your bacon fat but save enough to cook greens. 

Cook for about 10 min until tender.  Season with Salt and Pepper while cooking.

Sprinkle bacon in pie pans and top with veggies.

Add shredded cheese.

Wisk up egg mixture and pour over each pie.  I had two very different sized pie pans. 

Bake at 350* for about 25-30 min

Let Cool.  I served with Honey Greek Yogurt and fruit.  It was amazing. I'd add a muffin on the menu too, that would go well. 

EVERYONE wanted more.  Emma is having a second slice.  It was rich and yummy and full of veggies too that had that perfect softness kids go for.

The recipe I used had too much butter and egg mixture.  I had enough left over for another pie. I have changed the amounts in the above recipe but depending on your pie pans you may have too much or too little. I put this in a jar because I can pour it over anything interesting to make another quiche.

This weeks produce box has more leeks and brocolli so I will be making more of these.  Because bacon is fatty and expensive, I will be trying it with finely chopped turkey ham.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pazole Again...I Know...

I've written twice about Pazole (perhaps on other blogs) but guess what!?  I'm going to do it again. For two reasons (1) I cannot tell you how much I love this soup but I'm trying again.  (2) The way I made it this time was beyond perfection in my mind and my husband agreed it was the best.

The funny thing is, it's the simplest method I've used yet!  Isn't that so true of life that simple is better? I usually cook my pork (usually do a picnic roast) in a big stew pot with the chopped onion and let that cook for hours.  With working now, I don't have time to watch a pot anymore.  So, I put the pork (I think I did a boneless pork butt roast this time which was better) in the crockpot, covered it with water and seasoned it with salt, pepper and lots of powdered garlic.

When I got home from work, I pulled the meat out and put it in my dutch oven (I had to put some in a second soup pot there was so much.  I picked out the fat and then poured the broth from the crockpot in ladle by ladle through a strainer to keep the ugly bits out.  I did not add chopped onion or even cilantro to the soup like I usually do.  I just put in some oregano, chili powder, lots of cumin, pepper and salt, more garlic, and my own idea of some smoked paprika.  I add the strained Hominy  (I use the large can) and chop up the meat with a spoon in bite size pieces.  I let that come to a simmer and cook a bit and then turned it off.  I also took one lime and squeezed the juice in.

Traditional Pazole has dried Ancho peppers in it that are re-constituted in warm water, blended and then strained into the soup.  However, since I needed an easier method this time, I did the large can of red enchilada sauce.  I thought it was better.  Easier and better make a great team. If you want more from scratch though, go for it!

I chopped up the toppings of: Cabbage (some Mexican's do lettuce too), sweet white onion, cilantro, radishes, avocado and lime wedges. The lime is squeezed into the bowl before eating.  This additional lime is optional for the one eating.  I also shred cheese for the kids but it does not need it traditionally. I think the amazing difference of this soup is that the veggies are sweet and fresh and crunchy but do get nice and warm the moment they meet the soup.  It reminds me of Pho which is made by the Vietnamese.  The cilantro and onion being fresh made much better flavor per bite.  

I had never kept the basic soup so simple or cooked it on the stove so little.  I had also never had sliced avocado on top.  I served it with soft maza corn tortillas with butter (not warm because it will drip all over, instead keep it room temp and dip in the soup to melt the butter with each bite).  It was so amazing!

Some of my kids don't do anything but cheese.  I let them decide on this dish.  It is of course better with everything in it!

So here is the content list: (sorry, I don't measure. Go by taste. I probably do a teaspoon, or half of one for the seasonings)

1 Pork Roast (Boneless is easier)
1 Large can hominy (when I say large, I mean the Food For Less LARGE one)
Broth from the Pork (remember I just covered mine with water in the crockpot and that was enough for sure)
Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
Cumin Powder
Smoked Paprika
Juice of one Lime (I plunk it in the soup after I squeeze it to get some flavor from the zest)
1 Large Can Enchilada sauce or two 14oz cans

Onion chopped
Cilantro chopped
Sliced Limes
Shredded Cheese (optional)
Crunched Tortilla chips (optional)

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Year Of The Jar...Apparently

(This is a double posting.  I posted it at my other blog and realized perhaps that I should have posted it here. So I did both)

I was so intrigued when I saw this idea popping up on Pinterest (here is my collection of links there) .  It combines healthy, with make ahead, with appetizing.  I spent a bit of time looking up all the possibilities of jar salad combos, fruit and herb infused water, and breakfast to go in a jar.  Trust me, the ideas are amazing and endless.  I've come up with a few of my own I want to implement.  With these and Bento, lunch just got even more healthy and fun.

We are trying to get healthier in our house.  Trying to motivated the kids to move more and eat more good foods.  I'm very thankful I've been working with them since they were young to explore their palate.  They do however have their preferences and since I wanted healthy to be fun I decided to ask them all what their favorite veggies are. I realized I can be glad they have many they like. 

So, today we made our first infused water.  I did one that was all citrus.  It was orange, lemon and lime.  That seemed to be the most popular.  Second enjoyed was the raspberry lime one.  That turns a nice pink to and really holds that raspberry flavor.  The last one was cucumber which I liked but the kids did not really.  I'd like to put some watermelon or honeydew in there next time. The kids have been drinking them all evening and we had them as choices with dinner.  You can technically add a little honey or sugar but I did not mention it because I wanted them to start to gain an appreciation for the simple infused water taste.  I don't have a garden for fresh herbs but there are many combos to use those as well. As you drink these, you keep refilling the water. They can be used for many days.  It's amazing how long those flavors can seep out of the fruits.  Plus, you are getting vitamins from them.

So, our salad for tomorrows first try at this is some of the favorites they mentioned.  Dressing in the bottom (ranch for the kids, blue cheese for Rick, sundried tomato vinaigrette for me), celery and carrots, cucumber, radish (except for Emma), chopped boiled egg, bacon and then the fresh lettuce.  These will keep in the fridge I'm told for up to five days and still taste really fresh.  You do of course want to always keep the leaves on the top and the acids away from anything but tough veggies or cherry/pear tomatoes.

In order to eat this at school, I'm sending them with an empty container but hope to just send paper plates in the future that they can throw away.  The plastic jar lids, found cheap at Wal-Mart are easy for the kids to open and close.  The method I'm suggesting is that they open the jar, put the lettuce on their plate, close the jar, shake up to coat all else with dressing, and then dump that on top of the lettuce bed.  It will be fun to hear their report of how it goes. As Caedmon was going to bed tonight he asked to have some cucumber water in his cup he takes to bed instead of regular water.  As I opened the fridge he said "oh, those salads look good!"  Yep that's what I'm looking for, appreciation and excitement about these changes.  Made me feel encouraged. 

I'm also excited to try out the oatmeal yogurt ones the lady has on her site.  Anything healthy that is ready to go is fabulous.