Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spinach Salad

This is one of my favorite salads. Because it is made with spinach and not lettuce it actually saves pretty well and can be eaten the next day. Yum!

One bag spinach
One navel orange
One avocado

Salad Dressing
2 Tbs rice (or white wine) vinegar
1 Tbs veggie oil
1 tsp sesame oil (or more, if you like)
2 tsp grated ginger
3 or 4 chopped scallions

Whisk salad dressing ingredients together. Add salt to taste.

Chop orange and avocado in big chunks. Add to spinach. Pour dressing over salad. Toss well and serve. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Easy Beef Stroganoff

I haven't actually made this yet, but it looks awesome and easy and this used to be one of my favorite dishes - I have no good reason why I stopped making it years ago. Recipe from here.

6 Tbsp butter
1 pound of top sirloin or tenderloin, cut thin into 1-inch wide by 2 1/2-inch long strips
1/3 cup chopped shallots (can substitute onions)
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of dry tarragon or 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh tarragon
1 cup of sour cream at room temperature

Melt 3 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Increase the heat to high/med-high and add the strips of beef. You want to cook the beef quickly, browning on each side, so the temp needs to be high enough to brown the beef, but not so high as to burn the butter. You may need to work in batches. While cooking the beef, sprinkle with some salt and pepper. When both sides are browned, remove the beef to a bowl and set aside.

In the same pan, reduce the heat to medium and add the shallots. Cook the shallots for a minute or two, allowing them to soak up any meat drippings. Remove the shallots to the same bowl as the meat and set aside.

In the same pan, melt another 3 Tbsp of butter. Increase heat to medium high and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes. While cooking, sprinkle the nutmeg and the tarragon on the mushrooms.

Reduce the heat to low and add the sour cream to the mushrooms. You may want to add a tablespoon or two of water to thin the sauce (or not). Mix in the sour cream thoroughly. Do not let it come to a simmer or boil or the sour cream will curdle. Stir in the beef and shallots. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately over egg noodles, fettucine, potatoes, or rice. (Potatoes, rice, and wheat-free pasta are wheat-free options.)

Serves 4.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pierogi Lazy-Man Style

It's cold and rainy outside.  I had a hankering for lots and lots of starch.  Where can you get both of these in mass quantities?  Potatoes and pasta.  To make everything even less healthy toss in some butter, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream.  Now you are talking.

How to make ghetto pierogi:

Half a pound of dried lasagna noodles
2-3 lbs of red potatoes, washed and quartered with the skin left on.
Sour Cream
1 stick of butter
1-2 White Onions, cut into rings
1.5 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded

How To:
Put the taters in a pot with enough cold salted water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and let 'em rip for about 10-15 minutes, or at least until you can easily poke 'em with a fork.

While the potatoes are cooking, boil some water and cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions.  Drain and cool off to the side or under cold water.

Pre-heat oven to 350˚

In a large sauce-pan over Med/Med-low heat melt the entire stick of butter, then add the onions and saute until they are limp (can't hold their shape).

Once the potatoes are done, drain them and then MASH!  I use a big old spoon, you could use an immersion blender or food processor, however you want to do it.  Add all of the shredded cheddar cheese, a half-cup of sour cream or some milk.  Add some pepper and salt.  Taste.  Does it taste good? Yeah, awesome, keep on going.  If not, what does it need?  Bacon? Sure, why not.  Throw some chopped bacon in or chives, it's your mashed potatoes.

Time to make the monstrosity.  Put a little bit of the butter and onion mix on the bottom of a greased pan, so that it will be non-stick.  Add a layer of lasagna noodles (probably 3).  Dump some mashed potatoes on top, spread around with gigantic wooden spoon.  layer some more onions and butter.  Repeat!  The top layer should be lasagna noodles covered by more butter and onions.  You could also spread some more cheese on top if you want or bread crumbs, but I like to keep it simple with onion and butter.

Bake for 30 minutes!

Let cool a bit, then cut big slices and serve with pan-fried kielbasa, saurkraut and mustard.

MMMMMM, starchy cold-weather food.

I also like to take the ghetto-pierogi and fry in more butter after it has been cooked to make it extra crispy, but that is just me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fried Sage Leaves

As a garnish, I fried fresh sage leaves in a little bit of olive oil in a skillet. I wouldn't fry them longer then 30 seconds, as they might burn. But, getting them to a slightly crunchy texture is key. be sure to have some paper towels ready to blot out the excess oil.

These literally melt in your mouth and can be used to garnish so many dishes!

Sage and garlic infused chicken legs

When I'm at the meat counter and I'm thinking chicken, 9 times out of 10 I go for skinless-boneless chicken breast. Always a good choice, but then I wonder if I'm making assumptions about its superiority. Why is it that we so often ignore thighs and legs? And skin? Fatty, yes - but, it's not the worst thing we could be eating, right? I do my part to ignore fast food and fries, so I'm sure a litttttttle skin is alright sometimes.

And I'm so glad I did for this dish! One really great thing about buying chicken with skin on is that you can totally stuff things under the layer of skin, thus enhancing the flavor of your meat. For this dish, we used a cast iron skillet and rubbed a nice lemon olive oil all over the chicken legs and under the skin. Then we chopped a few (or 5) cloves of garlic and about 10 fresh sage leaves. We stuffed all of this under the skin, added sea salt and let it sit for a few minutes.

Before putting it in the over (350 for 15 minutes), we browned the skin in the cast iron skillet over high heat for about 5 minutes.

Buying good chicken def makes a difference, but having that layer of skin to capture all of the flavors of the garlic and sage proved to be the main factor that made this dish so memorable and delicious!

Chard/Beet/Mushroom Ragout

This is a relatively simple ragout of winter vegetables that goes well as a side for the polenta. We bought a bunch of chard that had different shades (orange, red, yellow, white) of stalk, which served as an inspiration to add the beets in. One thing to remember is to separate the stalks from the leaves on the chard - they take more time to cook and need to get started much sooner.

Basic guide:

-Before you get started - you need to roast the beets beforehand. To do this, just peel, chop, toss in some oil and throw in the oven (400 degrees worked ok) for about 35 minutes.
-Saute the stalks (chopped) with garlic and onion in olive oil for 5-7 minutes
-Add brown button (or any variety) of mushrooms to the mix
-Add a glug of red wine (which you should be drinking with this anyways)
-Once these are well on their way to being done, add in the leaves and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Serve as a side and enjoy!

Cream Cheese Polenta

Last night I think we managed to make the 'best meal ever.' I feel like if I was stuck on an island, this is the meal I'd want to eat everyday. I'm going to post the dish recipes individually, so you can pick and choose, if you want.

First is cream cheese polenta. I was looking around for a good polenta recipe a few months ago and came across this one. I didn't have parmesan cheese or any money to buy some, so I was inclined to try it with cream cheese instead and really don't think I'll ever go back! As you might imagine, cream cheese just compliments the creamy texture of polenta in such an amazing way.

Here are the ingredients:

1 cup corn meal
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 tsp dried sage
s & p

Boil the water and add salt. Once it is ready, slowly wisk in the cornmeal a little bit at a time. Don't dump it all in at once or you'll never be able to wisk out the clumps. Once it's all incorporated, change to a wodden spoon and add in the butter. Cook like this (stirring frequently) for about 15 minutes. Next, stir in the cream cheese, sage and salt/pepper. Taste and add seasoning, then devour!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pesto Quinoa

[Via Jessica, who is unable to post this due to a temporary restraining order filed against her by the Internet]
I found this recipe on 101cookbooks.com. I didn't have half of the ingredients that it called for so I made some adjustments and it ended up tasting delicious! I think the key is that pesto is delicious and when you spread every protein packed grain(?) of quinoa with it, is it bound to be tasty. Feel free to add or subtract ingredients as you see fit. I have been eating it for lunch this week and it is fairly healthy, tasty, and filling. Also, I think the roasted tomatoes are key. I have recently discovered that tomatoes are not the yucky, weird vegetable I always thought. When roasted, they really spruce up any salad, pasta sauce, or grain dish.


Quinoa (make about two cups cooked)
¼ onion
¼ cube tofu (chopped into small, half-inch cubes)
Three plum tomatoes (quartered)
Frozen peas (about half a bag)
A few big spoonfuls of pesto
Grated parmesan cheese
Brown sugar
Olive oil
Sea salt

Mix together a hearty splash of olive oil, one spoonful brown sugar, and a bit of salt. Coat tomatoes with mixture, and place in oven at 350 degree, skin side down. Roast until collapsed and juicy (about 40 minutes).

Heat olive oil in pan and toast tofu until golden brown. Set aside.

Sautee onion in olive oil. Add quinoa and peas. Cook until sizzling. Add tofu. Turn off heat and add pesto. Stir until quinoa is thoroughly coated. Add tomatoes and finish it off with lightly grated parmesan cheese!