Monday, January 30, 2012

Veggie Challenge #4: Spaghetti Squash

Here is the recipe for the spaghetti squash: Puncture the spaghetti squash with a knife in 3-4 places. Place it on a baking sheet and cook for 1 hour in an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Allow it to cool so you can handle it comfortably. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Run a fork over the flesh to separate it into spaghetti-like strands and scoop them out of the shells.

I was really surprised by how simple this was and by the way that this turned out. Also surprising is the many different ways it can be prepared: roasted, boiled, baked and microwaved. Click here to see the many ways it can be used in recipes. I've done a bit of online searching and apparently, spaghetti squash can be used as an alternative to pasta. Mix it with sauce or use it in the place of pasta in soups and salads.

I like it plain out of the shell. And, it's the sort of thing I can make ahead on Sundays and use in a variety of meals throughout the week.

Veggie Challenge #3: Eggplant

I tried to make eggplant. I wanted it to be good. It was so bad that it's still in my fridge a week later. I'm not sure what I was planning to do with it. Yummy recipes for baked eggplant welcome.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Veggie Challenge #2: Swiss Chard

Next veggie: Swiss Chard. I didn't know what this was when I picked up a singular bunch, but I think I have a new favorite leafy green. These come in bunches that are approximately a pound per bunch. You'll need:

  • 2 pounds of Swiss Chard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp of white cooking wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start with the greens, you'll rinse them, cut out the ribbing and cut into 2" pieces, (sort of like you're making bite sized pieces for a salad).

Heat up the oil. Add the garlic and red peppers until the garlic is slightly browned.

Add in the chard and the cooking wine. Cook until the leaves wilt and the wine evaporates. When this happens, add salt and pepper for taste.

This yields about 4 servings. As a main dish, the greens looked a bit sad and lonely on the plate, (maybe because I just made one bunch - yielding only two servings). I had this for dinner tonight and I really liked the flavor. I can't describe it - but I'll definitely be making this again. For lunch tomorrow, I've added in a serving of whole grain rotini - which rounds out the dish.

So, I've still got the following left on my shortlist:
  • leeks
  • eggplant
  • bok choi
  • chinese broccoli
  • spaghetti squash, and acorn squash
The challenge continues, recipe ideas are welcome.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Veggie Challenge #1: Basic Black Beans

Ok. I pulled this recipe off the back of the bag of dry black beans (by Goya) and it seemed pretty easy. I doubled it because I knew that I was giving half of it away to my mom. First thing you'll want to do is soak your beans (1lb) overnight.

The next day, they will have expanded a bit and then you'll rinse them and place them in a pot with about 4 cups of water to soak again - don't drain them.

Then, get your veggies ready: (1 c. onions, 1/2 c. green peppers, 4 garlic cloves). I did this with the VeggiChop - if you don't have one of these things, get it - it's awesome. Look how fantastic my veggies look all chopped up with no effort.

Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil (this, I did not double for the recipe) in a frying pan and sauté these vegetables until they are tender... it will mildly resemble recaito...minus the culantro. Add in two teaspoons of oregano, 2 packets of Sazon without Annato, 4tbsp of white cooking wine and some pepper. (The recipe calls for salt, but the Sazon has a significant amount of sodium in it, so chose not to add it in... plus, you can always add salt in later to suit your taste).
Stir the beans and the mixture together in the saucepan; Boil it and then let it cook until the beans are tender. This takes about an hour to reduce and cook.

Eventually it will look something like this:

And then, finally... like this:

This turned out very well. And, because there are so many flavors, I'd consider making this in the crockpot just to deepen the flavors. Traditionally, this is served over white rice, but this could just as easily be served with couscous, in a burrito, or with plantain. So, you've got plenty of options. My mom really liked this, but she likes her food spicy, so she ate it with a smidgen of chili oil. Tada!
For my WW pals, this yields about eight servings and is 6 points on the points plus plan. It is however, 7 points when you follow the recipe exactly. (Remember, I did not double the olive oil). Also, I've posted the recipe to community recipes, so you can pull it into your tracker if you use eTools!

The Veggie Challenge

Happy New Year! I'm back on the blogging grid again. So, one of the things that I'm trying to do is figure out how to get more veggies in. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals prepped by both my sister-in-law(s?) incorporated many new vegetables that I've never tried, but really liked. So, that was my inspiration. I've got in my kitchen right now:
  • an acorn squash,
  • a bunch of leeks,
  • a baby bok choi,
  • a spaghetti squash,
  • a bunch of swiss chard,
  • a bag of dry black beans, and
  • an eggplant
The challenge for myself is to figure out a new way to cook each one of these vegetables and make it something I'll enjoy cooking. The best part about this challenge is that all of these ingredients are going to get gnarly if I don't cook/eat them, so the added pressure of not burning up my cash is great. I'm interested in seeing where this goes. First up... black beans.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

So, so simple soup.

Making soup takes a lot of planning, but last week a friend served me this updated take on tomato soup - a soup that isn't terribly exciting to me. And, ever since I've been challenged to find quick, easy and healthy recipes... I've been on the look out. Putting this together requires two ingredients:
  • Trader Joe's Creamy Tomato Soup
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
First, make sure you shake the carton to balance out the soup consistency. Pour a cup of soup into and add a smidge of parmesan cheese. Depending on how much you like cheese, I guess you can add more or less. I like to add enough to create some kind of texture.
Mix it up. Pop it in the microwave for a minute and a half. Not too long or else the cheese gets stringy (and if you're a texture person, it's like "bleh..."). And, voila!

A lovely soup that goes well with some fruit.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Real Time

I'm so disappointed in this blog because I don't have any real time to cook. As much as I would like to, it just ain't happening. My friend, Nick, cooked dinner for me last night - as in, prepared a meal. I was so impressed by his ability to ask me weeks prior what I would be interested in eating and then have it materialize into a meal. I think I said something like... I'll eat chicken, pasta - nothing raw- and because it's Fall, maybe something with pumpkin.

This is what he came up with: Chicken Piccata with capers, beets with goat cheese, and mashed butternut squash infused with baked apples & pears. Carrot cake for dessert. *Seriously?* Yes. Seriously.

I bemoaned my inability to really cook anything - forget plan a menu. As we spoke, however, he encouraged me by giving me perspective on my ability to combine easy foods (and Trader Joe's prepared foods). I'm a modern cook. Quick, easy and healthy... this is what I'm working towards. So, in the future... I'll be sharing the quick meal components that are working for me. I've lost the battery charger for my camera... so until that appears... sadly, I'll have no photos.