Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Seasoning

I haven't talked too much about the failures but there have been several throughout this journey.  Some were failures in my eyes only and some were failures in Sergio's eyes and some just were awful for both of us.  Those recipes that are not successful will never again be attempted. I won't even try to make it my own because they literally have left a bad taste in our mouths. 
   
Some of the key elements to the failure involved a lack of knowledge on my part regarding seasoning a technique.  For instance, if a recipe only calls for some oregano and vegizest, I now am aware that there will be a substantial lack of flavor in that meal.  If there is no garlic or onion in the recipe I need to stop and examine the recipe as a whole because do I honesty want to eat a recipe that intentionally omits garlic? I don't, but that's what my taste buds call for, a big mouthful of flavor.

In my mind I can look back and a recall the old solution in those instances...SALT!  If it was pasta lacking flavor I must have forgot to SALT the water, or the stock must be low-sodium and needs to be SALTED.  Now I am trying my best to use more spices to help enhance the flavor of food.  I now use garlic powder and onion powder, basil, thyme, oregano and crushed red pepper in almost every dish.  Seasoning can also come in a liquid form; such as carrot juice, balsamic vinaigrette, vegetable stock, chicken stock, almond milk, coconut milk, pomegranate juice or even the juice from a can of tomatoes. 

On the technique end of things I have learned to ignore all instructions that mention "sautéing" and "with water" in the same sentence.  I've learned now that if one is going to omit oil from the sautéing it is better do it on a hot, dry pan rather than in water.  When you use water, you are steaming and it creates a much different texture and flavor base.  Another technique that really helps extract flavor when you are going without salt, is roasting.  I don't like to have the oven on too much now that we are living in Texas, but roasting vegetables also creates a great flavor to mushrooms, peppers, onions, garlic  nuts and seeds.  I'm still learning so I'm sure I'll be sharing more tips as I progress.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Roasted Veggie Pizza

We loved this next recipe so much we had it two nights in a row!  Sergio and I both agree that cauliflower wins over broccoli, so even though the recipe I found called for broccoli as the main vegetable we went for cauliflower.  Also, the recipe calls for pita bread to serve as the "pizza" dough base but I couldn't find any so I used a flour tortilla.  The last thing I had to replace was the vegan cheese which I also could not find.  So since I was going to be eating cheese I figured might as well live large and buy some really high quality mozzarella cheese.  So this is what I did.

Toppings:
1/2 a head of cauliflower, chopped
2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion (any color/type), chopped
Cheese of your choice
1 tblspn Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Onion powder
1 tsp Garlic powder


For Pizza Sauce:
1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes
1 tblspn olive oil
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 of an onion (keep the "stem" in tact so you can pull it out later)
1 tblspn Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Onion powder
1 tsp Garlic powder
Crushed red pepper - to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 and put all your chopped up vegetable onto a baking sheet.  Sprinkle them with the spices and leave them in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Mean while work on the pizza sauce.
Add the olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and onion and let them simmer for a few minutes.  Once you can smell the garlic add the spices and then add the tomatoes.  Gently smash the tomatoes with a fork and let the sauce simmer for at least 15 minutes.  If you only have one backing sheet pour your vegetables into a bowl and lay the flour tortillas or pita bread onto the sheet.  Otherwise have a second baking sheet on standby.  Spoon some sauce onto the pita bread or tortillas, layer on your cheese and then heap on te vegetable.  Place the pizza back into the oven for about 5 minutes or just until the cheese melts.

Try adding veggies that can take the heat, including cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, or herbs.

Enjoy!



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Vegetable Bean Burrito

I followed this recipe exactly and it was amazing, we had my homemade salsa to use, but I don't think that was what made it so good.  The recipe calls for a cashew sauce that was so delicious and it really help to bind all the ingredients together.  Also, the cauliflower and broccoli were truly the most surprisingly delicious part of this recipe as well.  This recipe has an enormous amount of prep time because of all the vegetable that need chopping but it was so incredible I would make it again without any hesitation.



1 head broccoli florets, chopped
1/2 head cauliflower florets, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons Dr. Fuhrman's MatoZest or other no-salt seasoning blend, adjusted to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup unsweetened soy, hemp or almond milk
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans or 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added or low- sodium pinto beans, drained
6 (100% whole grain) tortillas or large romaine lettuce leaves
no-salt-added or low sodium salsa

Place 2 tablespoons water, the broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, bell pepper, zucchini, onion, garlic, VegiZest, basil, oregano, and parsley in a large covered pot. Sauté for 15 minutes or until tender, adding more water if needed. In the meantime, place nuts and milk in a food processor or high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Add the cashew mixture and beans to the vegetables and mix thoroughly. Spread the mixture on the tortillas and roll up to form burritos. Serve with salsa.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chard Curry over Pasta

I think I may be getting my groove back.  I have come to realize that in order to achieve really flavorful vegan dished you have to incorporate tons of spices and a large combination of g-bomb's (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms and berries) to every dish.  This is isn't my phrase, it is again from the book and life-diet system by Dr. Joel Furhman called Eat to Live.

I had purchased some rainbow chard because there wasn't any kale but then my ADD caused me to forget what I was going to do with it and I ended up remembering it a few days later.  The list of ingredients and spices used is long, really long, but it turned out really good and worth all the effort.

1 Tblspn Oilve oil
3 Garlic cloves - chopped
2 Tlbpsn Fresh Ginger - chopped
2 Shallots - chopped
1 Tsp Garlic powder
1 Tsp Onion powder
2 Tblspn Nutritional Yeast
1 Tsp No-Salt seasoning
1 Tsp Dried Basil
2 Tblspn Dijon Mustard
1 Tsp Curry powder

1/4 c Cilantro - chopped
2 Carrots - chopped
2 c Mushrooms
1 bunch Rainbow Chard, Kale or Swiss Chard - chopped
1 small can tomato sauce
1 c vegetable broth
1 c carrot juice
1 lime

Optional:
Tilapia filets
Paprika
Pepper


In a large pot heat the olive oil and then add the chopped garlic, shallots and ginger along with all the spices.  Sautee those for a few a minutes and then  add the remaining ingredients, stir and put a lid on it for about 15 minutes and then 5 minutes without the lid on to allow some thickening of the sauce.  Meanwhile, boil salted water and cook your pasta to taste (I used whole wheat penne pasta).  Serve your curry over the pasta.  If you want to add the tilapia I suggest using some of the chard broth in a small pan and then adding your seasoned tilapia, cook for 4 minutes on each side and top your chard curry with it.



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Black Bean Brownie

They can't all be winners right?  Well, this recipe had a thumbs down from Sergio but I can stop eating them.  He sas they taste like a power bar, I feel like I am getting to eat a rich chocolate brownie.  I absolutely loathed the black beans at Dave and Buster's when I worked there, I would always modify and get something else as a side.  This recipe has taught me they are indeed edible.  But since Sergio and I are completely split on this one, you'll have to be the judge.



1/2 cup Cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can black beans
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups pitted dates
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup walnuts (optional)


Place first 6 ingredients in a food processor. Start the food processor, then add the dates one at a time until finished. Add the flour until evenly blended. Shut off the food processer and stir in the nuts. Spread into a 13 x 9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Tastes best chilled in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Smoothie

This should be called Blueberry Banana Smoothie, but I'm not the one who wrote it.  Anyhow, after a terrific ETL meal Sergio asks me, "what's for dessert?".  I had a plan though and came prepared, with this super quick smoothie.  Yes, it has Spinach in it but you can't even taste it (which I think is too bad).  Make sure and use frozen blueberries or you won't get the right smoothie consistency and in our experience smoothies taste better when enjoyed through a straw.



5 ounces organic baby spinach
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 banana
2 tablespoons raw pecans
1 tablespoon Dr. Fuhrman's cocoa powder or other natural cocoa powder, NOT Dutch processed (purchased at health food store)
2 cups frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds


First liquefy spinach in soy milk and pomegranate juice. Then add all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Shrimp and Veggie Tostadas



Another total success!  My scale is based on whether Sergio eats it all and how many times he mentioned how delicious it was.  Well, apparently this recipe is a keeper. Enjoy!


1 bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 cup, packed chopped kale
2 cups cooked black or red beans or low sodium or no-salt-added canned beans
1 small tomato diced
1 small can low sodium or no-salt tomato sauce
1 cup shredded carrots
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon ground corriander
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
6 tostadas
1/2 avocado
1 cup chopped cilantro
3 cups of julienned/chopped romaine lettuce
1 pound shrimp (optional)
1 1/2 cups salsa (made my own, recipe follows):
6 small tomatillos (husked, cleaned and roasted on a dry skillet)
1 large tomato (roasted on a dry skillet)
2 jalapeños (roasted on a dry skillet, deveined and seeded)
Blend the tomato and jalapeños first to ensure the jalapeños get completed emulsified   Then add the tomatillos and blend until they are pureed, add water as need to get things moving.
Instructions:
Saute the bell pepper, onion, garlic, kale, and tomato in a small amount of water (1-2 tlbspns) for about 7 minutes in a large pot oer medium high heat.  Then add that mixture to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth and then return to the pot.  Add the beans, carrots, salsa, tomato sauce and spices.  Let this simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture has reduced and thickened.  
(Optional shrimp addition) While the mixture is simmering take about a cup of the mixture and add it to a small pan on medium heat, once its starts to simmer add your shrimp and cook for about 5-6 minutes or until pink.  Remove from hit and set aside, once the veggie mixture is ready to serve top you tostada with desired amount of shrimp.  Or you can use cooked shrimp and repeat the method above except you with just be reheating the shrimp.
To serve: place some romaine on a tostada, then spoon some of the vegetable sauce onto your tosada and garnish with cilantro, avocado and salsa.




Friday, October 12, 2012

Stop buying salad dressing NOW!


While staying at the home of our wonderful Conroe hosts, during the escrow of our first home, I took with me more than a new friendship.  I learned to see food in a completely different way.  I can now feel my body telling me what is and isn't nutritious.  It is so easy to turn away from sweets and processed snacks too.  I also have come to realize something that I took for granted was the amount of oil in almost all salad dressings.  Take a look at the ones in your fridge and you'll see that they either start with some type of oil or have sugar/sweetener as one of the top ingredients followed by a bunch of ingredients that require a dictionary to understand.

When we first arrived I was surprised to see our host mixing up some really odd ingredients and then pouring them over her salad.  I later learned that she regularly made her own dressings.  She made two while we stayed there and they were both amazing with ingredients you just wouldn't expect, such as fruits and nuts.  I haven't tried those specific ones from our stay with our hosts myself but I did try the recipe below.  Sergio and I had a salad on one of the days we were still moving into the house but all we had available was some Zesty Italian dressing.  That dressing compared to this one is like night and day, big time!  There really is no comparison.  Once you have made your own dressing and replaced the oil with natural fats like those found in nuts and replaced the acid from a sodium ridden vinegar with that of lemon juice and mustard you get a delicious healthful dressing that is rich and creamy.  I very much look forward to salads and making more salad dressings.

1 1/3 cups water
1 cup raw pistachio nuts
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
4 teaspoons Dr. Fuhrman's VegiZest
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 dates, pitted*

Blend all ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Add water as needed to achieve desired consistency.

* I didn't have dates so I used about 1/4 cup of raisins instead.

Enjoy!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Eat to Live

Eat to Live is the name of a book I read by Dr. Joel Furhman.  He describes, explains and back-ups his intense and strict method of helping people achieve disease free living.  By using his way of thinking when preparing meals you can reverse hert-disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and reach your ideal weight.  I haven't been doing his strict 6 week version of plan but I have been following his regular plan for the last week.  I didn't weigh myself before starting but I cannot believe how easily it is to turn away processed foods and opt for a salad, fruit, nuts or berries.   It was tough the first 3 days, i craved bread, so I made a whole wheat bread sandwich stuffed to the brim with tomatoes, bell peppers, romaine lettuce and shredded carrots.

Essentially the ideal is to change your point of view on the food pyramid that we learned as children.  The basis of the Furhman pyramid is structured by nutrition content of food.  So, since "animal foods" contain hardly any nutritional value, you can still eat it but you need to give your body the appropriate amount of nutrient rich greens and fruits for it to keep you body healthy.  I don't think I can explain what he does in an entire book in this blog post but I hope that you will at least give a chance to see what your body feels like after a few weeks.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I have no more desire to eat beef or chicken or dairy products.  It's as though they are not food.  I feel like if I ate a piece of beef it would give me nothing; might as well eat the plastic it came wrapped in!  Better yet, this is not a diet it is a new way of looking at food, and after only a week my brain and body are craving the things that it truly needs.  Can you believe it?  I think it is awesome.  You won't feel deprived, trust me, even Sergio is digging it now too!

So, I have to tell you about the initial days.  It wasn't that easy, like I mentioned before I did have cravings.  Another "side-effect" was that I felt like i was on  cleanse (if you know what I mean).  My body was truly reacting to the fact that I eating more green, which get absorbed much quicker and therefore pass through quicker.  TMI?  Maybe and maybe not.  You can ask my poor dear husband, that I was bitching and moaning while we were at the hotel about stomach aches and cramps and irregularity   But ask him if I've complained since then.  Anyhow, the book is now at the top of the Amazon.com book list, how can that be if isn't working for people.  I don't think I've ever wanted to urge something onto others so much before in my life.  I guess it's selfish because I hope that the people I love and care for will take this and at least try it so that I can enjoy them for a lot longer.

Anyhow, if you try it let me know how it goes for you.  Check out the book first and then dive in to treating your body right without even trying.

Steph

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pork Slow Cooker Recipe

Slow Cooked Pork Stew with Tomatillos, Mushrooms and Potatoes

This recipe has been tested by me, it's a delicious recipe with great flavors.  I tried it about 5 years ago for the first time and since then have made it again switching up the proteins from pork to chicken.   Take it easy and cook overnight to prevent heating up your house this summer.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chicken Parmesan (Hold the Parmesan)

   We (Sergio and I) definitely learned to love our goat cheese after our trip to Italy, especially the parmesano romano and the pecorino.  However tempting it may be to have a constant stock of each at home they are imported and expensive items.  Most recipes call for pre-grated parmesan which is just as stinky and salty but sort of sad in comparison.   In Italy these cheeses are eaten thinly sliced with a piece of toast and a dollop of hot and sweet red pepper jam, yum!  So, since I didn't have any of this wonderful cheese on hand so I omitted the recipe's namesake and still ended up with something tasty  enough to talk about.

Ingredients:

1 Large boneless chicken breast
1 Cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 Egg lightly beaten
2 Tlbspn Olive Oil
Dry pasta of your choice  I used Linguine
Boiling salted water

Pasta Sauce:
1 Large 28oz can of peeled plum tomatoes
1 Small 8 oz can of tomato sauce
2 Peeled garlic cloves
1 Tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 Tsp Red pepper flakes

   Thanks to many episodes of "Good Eats" I've come to understand the importance of not cooking on a cold pan and also letting your proteins rest outside of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes after it's been defrosted.  Taking this into account start by boiling a large pot of salted water.  Then cut the  chicken breast into 4 inch long pieces.  Once the chicken is cut heat up a heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil and the garlic cloves, once you start to smell the garlic add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, red pepper flakes and italian seasoning.  Discard the garlic cloves and then smash the plum tomatoes carefully in order to extract their juices.

   Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat (do not add any oil or water to the pan).  Dip the chicken in the egg and then cover with the breadcrumbs, shake off the excess crumbs and add to the non-stick pan, repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.  Remembering here some more "Good Eats" tips do not overcrowd the pan add only 4 to 5 pieces at a time.  Each piece should only cook for 4 minutes on each side, then place the pieces into the simmering tomato sauce.  Depending on the type of pasta you are using drop the pasta in the boiling water and remember to stir occasionally so it doesn't stick to itself.

   Remove the chicken from the sauce after about 4 minutes each and set aside.  Finally, when the pasta is al dente add it to the pasta sauce with a quarter cup of the pasta water and let the sauce and pasta simmer for another few minutes.  I like to serve with plenty of sauce over the chicken.  I guarantee moist chicken an flavorful sauce with perfectly cooked pasta in under 30 minutes.  Enjoy!