Monday, January 24, 2011

Meatless Mondays - Veggie StirFry

       Did you know that the average American eats 200 lbs of meat a year? Did you know that going meatless one day per week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity?  Did you know it can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save natural resources like fresh water and fossil fuel?  Did you know it can also save time in the kitchen?
       I am by no means a non-meat eater, in fact when I eat a meal and realize it is {Shudder} Vegan, I must eat some type of animal to make up for it.  However, sometimes, I just need a lighter meal & as I'm sure you know by know I love veggies! So I've decided to join the Meatless Monday Movement. You can learn more about Meatless Mondays here.
      For our First Meatless Monday I decided to revamp an old favorite: StirFry.  I love stirfry! It's quick, it's healthy, and it's a kitchen sink recipe - add what you've got & it will still be tasty. 
The Deets
Whatever You've got!
5 Large Mushrooms
1 Large Carrot
1 Stalk Broccoli 
1 Zucchini
1 Cup Snow Peas
1 TBS Oil (Olive or Canola)
1 tsp Sesame Seed Oil
1 Package Flat Rice Noodles (I used 5mm)
Soy Sauce
Tempura Sauce
Garlic Salt
Other great add-ins
Bok Choy
Bean Sprouts
Nappa Cabbage
If it's a veggie it's in!
The How To
In a large pan place rice noodles in warm water over low heat (cook until soft usually about 15 minutes)
Chop Veggies to desired size - I mix up the sizes & cuts to keep it fun
In a Large Skillet heat Oil on High
Add Mushrooms, sprinkle with Garlic Salt and Sear mushrooms to desired texture
(Note the order depends on your desired crunch factor - I like my mushrooms & Zucchini cooked well & my other veggies crunchy, hence the order)
Next Add Zucchini & Broccoli
Sprinkle with Tempura Sauce
Add Carrots & Snow Peas
Once veggies are seared, sauteed or cooked to your version of perfection add the noodles
Sprinkle with Soy and Tempura Sauce to Taste
Mix and cook on Med-High for 5 minutes
Plate, Pray & Enjoy!
Happy Meatless Monday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dirty Rice with Sausage

If you're anything like me 1/2 way through the day you start wondering what you are going to make for dinner. Then your mind runs through what you've got in the fridge in an attempt to avoid the market on the way home.  Then you end up making one of a handful of quick & easy recipes that you & your family are pretty tired of.

This is a great easy recipe to mix up your midweek routine.   Dirty Rice uses staples you likely already have around & if not these ingredients are easy to add to your staple list since they have a long shelf life. Another great thing about this recipe is it's kind of a "kitchen sink" recipe, add what you have, leave out what you don't.  Here's my take on Dirty Rice:

The Deets
2 Cups Rice (I use long grain brown rice)
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Shallot
1/2 Bell Pepper
2 Jalapeno Peppers
10 Mushrooms
1 Can diced tomatoes + a handful of chopped fresh tomatoes
1 large Sausage (I prefer turkey, or better yet, elk if I can get it)
1 TBS Olive Oil
Bring chicken broth to boil & add rice
Cook Rice to package directions (using the broth instead of water)
Chop Vegetables to desired size
Heat Oil to pan
Add Shallot & Mushrooms
Once cooked through remove 
Cook Sausage in same pan
Once Sausage is cooked 90% add peppers, mushrooms & shallots 
Next add Diced & Fresh Tomatoes 
Stir occasionally until hot
Add Rice and mix throughly 
Simple, Quick & a Delicious Break from the Usual Menu

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Ace of Cakes I am Not...Adventures in Rainbow Cake

This Week I decided to try my hand at cake decorating.  Now, I think I'm pretty good at making things taste good, but Martha Stewart I am not  & my buddy Chef Duff not a chance - I can make it tasty, but pretty not so much. So of course for my first attempt of making a pretty cake I had to go all out. 
I started with this rainbow cake recipe from Martha Stewart (note do NOT try the frosting recipe it is awful! I ended up scraping it off the cake & tossing it).  I substituted Almond Extract for Vanilla in the cake, but other than that followed Martha's lead on the cake.  I used about 1 1/2 cups of batter for each layer & used 8 inch pans instead of 9 inch ones. The pans headed to the oven.
For the Frosting I used my mother-in-law's amazing frosting, since Martha led me astray.  
The Best Frosting Ever
1 Cup Butter
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
4 Cups Sifted Confectioner's Sugar (Must be Sifted!)
2 TBS Milk

After layering it was time for a trim & crumb coating
Next it was time to try my hand at Fondant; not only had I never made the stuff, I'd never even used it before. My sister gave me the following recipe which she says is the best she's ever tried, it's found on My sister makes some pretty darn cute cakes, so I figured she'd know a good one. Amazingly the fondant actually tastes good! Again I subbed Almond for Vanilla, but other than that I didn't deviate. It was actually edible in comparison to most fondants I've tasted. 
Here are my colors after what felt like hours of kneading and gallons of coloring. {Notes 1. You must use Gel Coloring, liquid will not work. 2. it's really hard to get "true" colors & it takes a lot of time & color}
Finally it was time for the assembly, I have to admit I was a bit intimidated & had to text a good friend who makes beautiful cakes for some tips. {Thanks Heather!} After getting some tips I got to work. Once I got started it was pretty fun & by that time I was so tired I wasn't so hard on myself for the cracks and gaps...
 Jen's 30th Birthday Rainbow Brite Cake!
 I know it's far from perfect, but I have to say for a first attempt I was pretty happy with the results. 
Besides, how can you not smile when you see this? It was so fun to see Jen's little girl's face when she cut into the cake & there was another rainbow! 

I give the Rainbow Cake Recipe 5 stars. The Fondant 4 Stars (it still cracked a lot as you can see in the photos, but that's likely user error).  And my Mother-in-Law's frosting 5 Stars!  If you've got a lovely girl in your life whose 3 or 30 she'll love this cake.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Bounty of the Food Co-Op

Recently I joined a Food Co-Op.  The premise is simple - for $50 a month, you receive 2 mystery baskets of produce, each weighing in around 25 lbs!
Week One arrived the Tuesday before Thanksgiving & Oh my was I ever shocked when I saw the bounty! The contents went something like this: apples, asparagus, bananas, carrots, celery, green beans, kiwis, limes, napa cabbage, onions, oranges, potatoes, pomegranate, pineapple, pears, romaine lettuce, spinach, sweet potatoes...

Week Two I was a little more prepared when I received this:
20+ pounds of apples (3 kinds), bananas, bell peppers, carrots, clementines, cucumbers, grapes, kiwi, leaks, limes, jalapenos, mushrooms, mandrin oranges, oranges, potatoes (2 kinds), pears, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini & fresh herbs

Week Three contained 3 kinds of apples (including my favorite HoneyCrisp), Avocados, Bananas, Broccoli, Carrots, Clementines, Cucumbers, Celery, Green Onions, Garlic, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Lemons, Mandrin Oranges, Oranges, 3 kinds of Potatoes, Asian Pears, Romaine Lettuce, Sprouts,  Sweet Potatoes, Onions, Tomatoes & Fresh Herbs

Getting my share is like getting a present - I never know what I'm going to get & I get to pick it up from my friend Jen - Double Bonus.

All this extra produce has not only saved me time running all over town to find good produce, but it has also caused us to break out the juicer on a more regular basis.
This week we've had Apple, Carrot, Kiwi, Pear, Grape, Celery Juice.
 Apple, Carrot, Lemon, Orange, Kiwi Juice
And Apple, Carrot, Pear, Lemon, Orange, Juice

We Love having Fresh Produce Year Round!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy, Healthy New Year! Grapefruit Avocado Salad

I Love Salad. I do Not Love Salad Dressing.
I know that other than my 3 year old niece most people would disagree; they either dislike salad or drown it in dressing.  So, to appease the masses, I present my latest salad creation:
Grapefruit Avocado Salad
The Deets 
Spinach or Romaine Roughly Chopped (I do 1 cup per person)
1/2 Ruby Red Grapefruit
1/2 Avocado
1/2 Cucumber
10 Raw Almonds (roughly chopped)
1 TBS Grapefruit Juice
1/2 TBS Lemon Juice
1 TBS Soy Sauce

Salad Construction
Cut up Grapefruit, Avocado & Cucumber (I cut into quarters)
Place cut Grapefruit, Avocado & Cucumber in Bowl
Add Grapefruit Juice (I set aside the end & squeeze it in), Lemon Juice & Soy Sauce
Let sit for 10-15 minutes
Add Greens & Mix
Top with Almonds