Monday, May 27, 2013

Stuffed Green Bell Peppers

I really liked the stuffed acorn squash I'd made in the fall, and thought I'd do a riff on it with bell peppers.  More season appropriate. Instead of chorizo, I used Italian sausage. It was really pretty and turned out really yummy. Too bad Reid worked late the night I made them. I got to eat it while watching some "Mindy Project". Reid got leftovers a few nights later and still thought it was good.

Stuffed Bell Peppers
Ingredients
4 large green bell peppers
1/2 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 medium onion, chopped
1 c. bulgar wheat, cooked
1/4 c. chopped Italian/flat leaf parsley
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Over medium high heat, cook onions and Italian sausage in large skillet until no longer pink.  
2. In a large bowl, combine sausage and onions, bulgar, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper.
3. Cut the tops of each bell pepper off and remove seeds and membrane. 
4. Spoon sausage mixture into each bell pepper. Place in medium pan.  Sprinkle a little cheese over each bell pepper. 
5.  Bake at 350*C until warmed through and cheese melted, about 15-20 ,minutes. 



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Spinach Quiche

Last weekend I had my bachelorette weekend in Vegas and it was so fun. I think the best part was being able to see so many of my girl friends who live all over. My old roommate, Allegra, wrote me a card about some of the good times we had when we lived together and one of the things she mentioned was when I threw together a quiche with our leftovers. I had totally forgotten about that and it was such a sweet memory to remember. Anyway, it made me crave quiche and so I made this for lunch after work today. I don't know if it was because I was so hungry or because of some of the tweaks I made to my recipe, but it came out so pretty and yummy!  Also, if you want to make this quiche extra delicious, make Tartine's homemade pie crust**.  Reid will literally just eat the pie crust, it's so good!  It makes 2 pie crusts, so you can freeze one of them to make quiche another day.

Spinach Quiche

Ingredients:
1 c milk with 2 tsp Greek yogurt mixed in, allow to set at room temp for 15 min*
4 eggs
2 tbs flour
1/2 c light mayonnaise
8 oz shredded Swiss cheese
1 package pre-washed spinach
1/2 chopped small onion
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pie shell**

1) Lightly flour 8" pie pan before placing pie dough in.
2) Sauté onions and spinach in large pan over med-high heat until spinach wilted.
3) Whisk together milk and yogurt, eggs, flour, and mayo in a large bowl.
4) Add remaining ingredients. Pour into pie crust.
5) Bake at 350* F for 45min to 1hr or until golden brown

*this is my shortcut for making creme fresh. The original recipe uses 1c half and half. I like it better this way and I feel less guilty about my calorie intake.

Adapted from Food Network Quick Quiche http://shar.es/ZcSDJ

**Pie crust recipe I use can be found at: http://www.alexandracooks.com/2009/08/17/quiche-perfected-homemade-creme-fraiche-a-little-trip-to-tartine-bouchon-napa/





Friday, May 10, 2013

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce.

We've been trying to have "Meatless Mondays" to cut down on how much meat we usually eat.  Nothing too crazy, just one day a week when we try to eat vegetarian.  It doesn't seem hard, but we're pretty bad at remembering.  My parents did something similar before my dad when totally vegetarian.  I know I won't be able to do that because I am not as amazing and creative of a cook as my mom, but I'll try.  My sister and her husband have been doing this too, so I thought we could give it a try.  One of the recipes I've made several "Meatless Mondays" is this simple tofu with soy sauce recipe.  It's easy to have a block of tofu on hand, and this prep is not too difficult.  Even though I work a little later on Mondays, I can still have dinner ready by 7:00pm when I throw this quick one together.  Plus, I get to use some of the green onions we've got growing in our raised vegetable/herb gardens (thank you, previous tenant).

Another plus of this recipe is that it's tofu at it's best.  Pretty unadulterated.  Just warmed up and covered with a delicious umami-ish sauce.  I got a mortar and pestel for Christmas from Reid's aunt and uncle which is great for making the garlic paste.  Otherwise, I'd probably just throw it in the food processor.





Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce



  • 1 (14-to 18-ounces) package firm tofu (the original recipe uses soft, but Reid and I have trouble with that not falling apart en route to our mouths)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted and crushed with side of a heavy knife (I purchase toasted sesame seeds from the Korean grocery store)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • Directions:

    1. Place tofu block in a medium pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then keep warm, covered, over very low heat.
    2. Meanwhile, mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Stir together with remaining ingredients.
    3. Just before serving, carefully lift tofu from saucepan with a large spatula and drain on paper towels. Gently pat dry, then transfer to a small plate. Spoon some sauce over tofu and serve warm. Serve remaining sauce on the side.  
    4. Enjoy with white rice!



    Recipe adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Warm-Tofu-with-Spicy-Garlic-Sauce-351871#ixzz2SuJs1RoB

    Friday, May 3, 2013

    Smoky Man n' Cheese


    Made this mac n' cheese this week for dinner.  Let me tell you, I have probably tried 80 million recipes for homemade mac n' cheese! Most times, I'm a little disappointed that they don't seem to taste any better than the blue box versions that only take 15 minutes to make.  I've tried all sorts of mac n' cheese recipes that range from baked bread crumb topped, with expensive cheeses, having to make a beschemel, to truffle oil mac n' cheese.  I love a nice creamy, cheesy, mac n' cheese.  And this recipe hit the spot.  And since it's 'smoky' it adds just another layer of tastiness.  I think having the Savory Smoky Hills Cheese Powder helps a lot.  Savory Spice Shop is a little spice shop that we found out about two Christmas' ago.  One of Reid's uncles friends owns one of the shops in downtown Austin.  It's an artisinal spice shop, which is awesome.  Reid got a set of BBQ spice rubs for Christmas once and I still use them every once in a while.  When we checked out the store, I purchased this cheese powder to top popcorn with.  Used it all in a year, and came back for more, which is when I found out about this recipe.  I guess I love those cheese powders when it comes to mac n' cheese!  Maybe that's the key to creaminess...

    Smoky Hills Mac’n Cheese

    Yields: 4 servings

    Ingredients:
    8 oz. elbow pasta
    1/4 tsp. yellow mustard powder
    2 Tbsp. butter

    1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
    slice creamy cheese (Swiss or Laughing Cow)
    1/2 Tbsp. smoked sweet Spanish paprika
    2 Tbsp. shredded Grana Padano
    1 x 8oz can evaporated milk*+ 1 tbs milk**
    3 Tbsp. Savory Spice Shop Smoky Hills Cheese Powder
    2 tsp. flour
    Pinch salt
    Dash pepper

    Notes:
    *You can make your own evaporated milk by heating 16 ounces of 2% milk over low heat. Do not boil, but simmer slowly until it reduces down to about a 1/3 of its original amount.
    **Taste the cheese sauce and add more milk depending on your preference for a creamier sauce

    Directions:
    Cook pasta according to directions on package. In a small bowl, combine mustard powder, paprika, flour and nutmeg. Set aside. In a saucepan over medium/low heat, warm evaporated milk. Once warm, slowly whisk dry mixture into milk to prevent any clumps. Slowly incorporate cheese powders into the saucepan, whisking to prevent lumps. Add butter and chopped cheese and stir until melted. Drain pasta and thoroughly mix into cheese mixture. Heat through and serve.

    Yields: 4 servings
    Recipe modified from Savory Spice Shop: Stephanie Bullen, Savory Franchise Team employee

    Carrot Cupcakes


    We've gotten TONS of wedding gifts recently.  I'm trying not to use any of the gifts until I write Thank You's, just as an incentive to get those done in a timely manner, but some gifts just can't wait.  Like the KitchenAid Stand Mixer from Reid's Mom.  It was so pretty, I had to use it right away.  This is what I whipped up with it.  These made the house smell so good, that Reid ate one before they were cool enough for frosting.  The cream cheese frosting is really great, too!  I cut back on the original recipe's butter a little and didn't even notice.  Reid and I ate about 4 ourselves for dessert, and I brought the rest to work where they were quickly annihilated.


    Carrot Cupcakes

    Ingredients

    • For the cupcakes:
    • 1 cup pecans
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup canola oil
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 cups grated carrots (about 6 medium sized carrots)

    • For the frosting:
    • 8 ounces bar cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • pinch table salt or fine sea salt
    • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

    Directions

    1. To make the cupcakes: Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven, tossing once, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minute

      s. Let cool, then roughly chop.
    2. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg in a large bowl; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil, and egg; fold in the carrots and ½ cup of the pecans. Add the carrot mixture to the flour mixture and mix until just combined and evenly moistened (do not overmix).
    3. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake, rotating once, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    4. To make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth. Refrigerate the frosting until slightly stiffened, 20 to 30 minutes. Frost the cupcakes, dividing the frosting evenly, and top with the remaining ½ cup of pecans.
    Carrot Cupcakes
    Noms! I promise they don't look this red, I was playing with filters
    Recipe adapted from Real Simple April issue 2013

    Thursday, May 2, 2013

    Pad Thai

    We love Pad Thai.  Reid's always telling me we should try making it at home, but I know it's not easy.  My sister has told me how not easy it is to make.  And she was right! It's difficult to keep the noodles from getting mushy, or to balance that perfect median of sweet, spicy, salty, and sour.  I also learned that traditional pad thai is much lighter, drier, and sweeter/sour than the restaurant variety.  Also, these ingredients are hard to come by.  I spent an hour at our Asian grocery store trying to find the tamarind sauce!

    Pad Thai
    Recipe from http://www.thaitable.com/thai/recipe/pad-thai

    2-3 Servings, Prep Time: 40 Minutes, Total Time: 40 Minutes

    1-1/3 cup bean sprouts Optional
    1-1/2 cup Chinese chives Optional
    1 egg
    4 teaspoons fish sauce
    3 cloves minced garlic
    1/2 teaspoon ground dried chili pepper
    ground pepper
    1/2 lime
    2 tablespoons roasted chopped peanuts Optional
    1 tablespoon preserved turnip Optional
    1 minced shallots
    1/2-1/4 lb shrimp Optional
    2 tablespoon sugar
    2 tablespoons tamarind paste
    1/2 package Thai rice noodles
    1/3 cup extra firm tofu
    1/2 lb chicken breast, cut into 1/2" cubes
    2 tablespoon cooking oil

    Prepping
    1. Prepare noodles according to package directions.  This usually involves soaking the noodles in hot water. Getting the noodles just right is the trickiest part of making Pad Thai. Make sure that the noodles are submerged in plenty of water.  By the time you are ready to put ingredients in the pan, the noodles should be flexible but not mushy. Dice tofu and cut into 1 inch long rectangles. When cut, the super firm tofu/pressed tofu should have a mozzarella cheese consistency. You can fry the tofu separately until golden brown and hard, or you can fry with other ingredients below. 
    2. Stir fry chicken in a little oil until browned around all edges
    3. Cut the Chinese chives into 1 inch long pieces. Set aside a few fresh chives for a garnish. Rinse the bean sprouts and save half for serving fresh. Mince shallot and garlic together.

    Cooking
    1. Use a wok. Heat it up on high heat and pour oil in the wok.  Add shallot, preserved turnip, garlic and tofu and stir them until they start to brown.
    2. Drain the noodles and add to the wok. Stir quickly to keep things from sticking. Add tamarind, sugar, fish sauce and chili pepper. Stir. The heat should remain high. If your wok is not hot enough, you will see a lot of juice in the wok at this point. Turn up the heat, if it is the case
    3. Make room for the egg by pushing all noodles to the side of the wok. Crack the egg onto the wok and scramble it until it is almost all cooked. Fold the egg into the noodles. The noodles should soft and chewy. 
    4. When you get the right taste, add chicken and stir. Sprinkle white pepper around. Add bean sprouts and chives. Stir a few more times. The noodles should be soft, dry and very tangled.
    5. Pour onto the serving plate and sprinkle with ground pepper and peanuts. Serve with a wedge of lime on the side, raw Chinese chives and raw bean sprouts on top.
    Reid and I added in about a tbs of hoisin sauce and some Sirachi sauce or garlic chili sauce to get that salty ummami taste we're used to having with restaurant-style pad thai