Monday, October 31, 2011

Wings Stop Inspired Wings and Seasoned Fries



The football season brings the cravings for tons of junk food.  Honey will start wanting wings and nachos and chili fries.  So I decided to go for a little greasy happiness and make a Wing Stop inspired Sunday football dinner and for less than half the price. Both, Honey and Bebe loved the wings, and I am so excited to have found the seasoning for the fries because I absolutely love them.
When making wings, it's less of a hassle to oven bake then buying a ton of oil and frying them; I never know what to do with the dirty oil afterward and the flavor is still so good.  When buying wings, buy the full wings, cut at the joints, and stick the wing tips back in the freezer (makes chicken stock later).
Even though I made the chicken and the fries, it was more cost effective to buy the cheese sauce and saved a little time.  The carrots and celery were already in the fridge and so was the ranch dressing.
Have fun and enjoy!

HOT WINGS AND HONEY MUSTARD WINGS
serving: about 20 wings

3 lbs wings cut up drumettes and flats
1/2 cup hot sauce like Red Dot
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/3 cup honey
2-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons butter

Set oven at 400degrees F. Lay chicken flat on baking sheets. Bake until crispy and flipping mid-way through. About 45 minutes.
Melt butter in microwave. In one bowl, add hot sauce, 2 tablespoons butter, and cayenne pepper if desired. Mix well and add half of the wings while hot. Mix well to coat all wings..
In a second bowl add butter, honey, and mustard (as much for desired taste). Mix well and add half of the wings while hot. Mix well to coat all wings.

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"WING STOP" STYLE FRIES
serving: 4-6

4 medium potatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 seasoning - Tony Cachere's or Mrs. Dash
1/2 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt

Set oven to 400degrees F.
Cut potatoes into fries. In a bowl, add oil to potatoes and toss until all fries are coated.
Spread fries onto baking sheet and put into oven for about 45 minutes and turning fries halfway through.  Fries should be golden.
In a small bowl pour seasoning, sugars and salt. Mix well.
Once fries are crispy, sprinkle seasoning mix.

Fries seasoning adapted from All Recipes - Food Buzz

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Corn Pancakes and Sauteed Spinach



There are times when I have an idea for dinner, but for one reason or another the night for that dinner, it just doesn't work out. Either, I don't have all the ingredients or the idea is no longer appetizing. This particular night, I had something vegetarian planned, but Honey wanted meat and I had pork chops in the freezer.
I had the genius idea to make a breakfast style dinner; not necessarily breakfast for dinner, but breakfast inspired. Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Corn Pancakes and Sauteed Spinach. Sounds like a lot, but it really took 30 minutes.
I am going to label this as vegetarian because I ate this for lunch the next day without the pork chop and it was divine. It's also when I realized that the familiar taste of the corn pancakes was the same taste as Salvadoran Tamales de Maiz.
Tell me this wasn't genius!

PAN-FRIED PORK CHOPS
servings: 4

1 cup all-purpose flour
4 pork chops
salt & pepper
vegetable oil

Turn skillet on medium. Put a tablespoon of oil and let heat.
Poor flour onto flat plate. Prepare pork chops by salting and peppering and lightly coating chops with flour.
Set chops into skillet without over crowding and depending on the size of skillet it's 2 or 4 chops at a time. Flip chops once they no longer stick to the pan and they are nicely caramelized, about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of chops.

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CORN PANCAKES
servings: 10 pancakes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 can corn, drained
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 cup milk

In a food processor add corn and pulse 5 times for a light chop.
In a large bowl add egg and whisk until frothy. Add remaining ingredients including the corn and stir until well mixed.
Set a greased skillet or griddle on medium high heat. Once hot pour 1/4 to 1/2 of the batter to form a pancake. Once the pancake begins bubbling flip pancake. Let cook until pancake has puffed up and browned on the bottom side.
Make remaining cakes.

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SAUTEED SPINACH

10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
salt & pepper

Heat pan and add oil and onions. Once onions are translucent add spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let spinach cook for 10 minutes until hot.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Squash and Sweet Potato Soup


There is something about soup that is so comforting. Maybe the fact that we have no family around and the weather is so different makes me want to make soup more often. Any kind of soup is so comforting.
The inspiration for this soup came from a Rachael Ray recipe and the fact that the squash was on sale. It's the best soup I've made this season, and I plan to make it with other veggies throughout the fall and winter.

SQUASH AND SWEET POTATO SOUP

1/2 butternut squash, cubed
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
1 small onion, halved then quartered
1 celery stalk, large chop
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups water (replace vegetable or chicken broth for water and bullion cube)
1/2 bullion cube
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt & pepper

Set oven to 400 degrees F. On a baking sheet place squash, potatoes, onions, and celery. Coat vegetables with oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake until soft and roasted, about 40 minutes.
In a large pot add water and bullion cube to water. Let water boil.
Add roasted vegetables in 2-3 batches with some of the water to blender. Blend until smooth and add to pot.
Once all has been added, add milk and spices. If needed, add water for desired consistency. Let simmer for 15 minutes.

Very loosely adapted from Roasted Root Vegetable Soup by Rachael Ray

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Home Chili with Beans


So, the difference in weather is completely different here than what it is at home. Today the high in Houston (home) is 86°, and here the temperature is not expected to get past 56° and there'll be flurries on Thursday.  With this weather we consider winter, I've already begun making warm, homey, yummy foods. Beginning with my chili.
Chili is one of those foods that can be made so many different ways. I've made 5 bean chili, veggie chili, and of course good ol' Texas chili (with and without beans). When I make chili it's usually with any protein or veggie in the freezer or pantry and spices are added until it tastes "right".
The best thing about chili is that it's good the first day but even better the second or third day. Also, the accompaniments are forever changing; we serve with white or brown rice, corn bread, tortillas or tortilla chips, and even skillet potatoes. For toppings we usually have hot sauce, sharp cheddar cheese or sour cream, and I love cilantro.
Let me know what you like with your chili and I'll try it next time.



Home Chili with Beans
servings: 6

1 pound beef (preferably 85/15)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans chopped tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar or molasses
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups red beans, cooked

In a large pot cook meat over medium high heat until brown.
Add onions and garlic. Once translucent add tomatoes and spices.
Bring to a boil. Cover pot and turn heat down to medium-low. Let simmer for at least an hour. Cook longer for spices to continue melding.
Add beans 15 minutes before turning heat off.

This recipe can be made in a slow cooker by first cooking meat, then adding all ingredients to the cooker. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours

Monday, October 24, 2011

Food frenzy in NYC


I'm back and with a vengeance. I went on a short trip, and I truly fooled myself into thinking that I would still post recipes on Wednesday and Friday. I apologize to you for not posting, but I had a wonderful time.
The upside to living in New York, is that New York City is only a 5 hour drive away. Honey went on a business trip, so I filled up my gas tank and took a three day trip with the little one and my dog. This is my second time down there, and both times I've been able to stay with my best friend and Bebe's Godmother. And fortunately she's been able to take the time to show us around.
We got to her house during lunch on Wednesday, so we were hungry. We ordered in since it was rainy and had some really good Thai takeout. Thai Time was really good considering my friend had never eaten there before. I had the yellow curry which was supposed to be a little spicy, but it was not spicy at all. It came with a delicious miso soup. My friend had Pad Thai, and it was so also really good, but not spicy either. One lunch plate could have been enough for the both of us if we had ordered a side of spring rolls; the plates are fairly large. For dinner we had a really good chicken at home that my friend's uncle, a chef, prepared for us.
The next day we were out by 10, and went to Target. I've never been to a 2 story Target, but it's still the same with maybe a larger grocery area than normal. So you can totally buy food in Brooklyn without having to spend too much on eating out.  For lunch we had my favorite, pizza. We went down a couple of blocks to Not Ray's Pizzaria. The pizza there is a little thicker than your normal NYC pizza, which I really like. We also had some garlic knots that were so so good. The guy was nice enough to give me 6 instead of the 4 that comes with each order. I will totally go there again.
On this day we went to the Brooklyn Bridge Park to get some of Bebe's energy out, and past by Jacques Torres Chocolates, which I had already made it a point to go. A tour bus had just stopped there when we arrived, so it was full. That little store had sweets from top to bottom. We sat down with our coffee and cookies.  It was wonderful. I was looking at getting some chocolates and had a sample of there hot chocolate. It was so creamy and chocolaty, I had to take some home. The chocolate chip cookie can be requested warmed, and it was so gooey and good that Bebe didn't want to let go of it even as he fell asleep in his stroller. That place is great!






We still continued on, and my friend's uncle took us to Coney Island. During this time of year nothing is open, but it was cool to see where the annual Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place at Nathan's. We were so tired by this time, we went home and ate stir-fry for dinner.


Our last day, Friday, was eventful. I wanted to see the Good Morning America teams, so we left early. On our way, we saw Coldpaly playing at the Today show, stayed for 2 songs and continued on.  When we got to GMA, they were about to start there last segment with Emeril Lagasse (you can barely see my head in min 54:50) making holiday pies. That was so cool, to see the people you see every morning in person. Josh is cute, but even cuter face to face; Robin is so tall and everyone else looks just as amazing. After the adrenaline wore of we realized that it was chilly, so where else did we go but Starbucks. The one by the GMA studio was so full, so we went down the street. I hadn't had a coffee from Starbucks in at least a year, but it was so good. It reminded me of college. I would go to Starbucks every Tuesday and Thursday before my accounting class.


We went back to Brooklyn to visit the Prospect Park Zoo and surrounding landmarks. We went home for a nap and spent our last evening at Chavela's Mexican Restaurant. It was great. We ordered guacamole served with tostadas or flour tortillas as an appetizer, which was so good. That night they had a really good Happy Hour; $2 tacos and $2 sangrias and beer. I had the Papas con Chorizo, Bistec, Chicken Mole, and Verduras (leftover from Bebe) tacos. They were all very good. We requested some salsa for some heat, and they had an awesome chipotle salsa that was so good and burned my mouth a little. The Sangria was so fruity and tasty and would have definitely had another if I wasn't so full from the tacos.


Over all we had a great time, and some great food.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Arroz con Leche


Today is Honey and my three year anniversary.  It's been a roller-coaster, and we could not be happier.  We've learned so much, and I can't imagine what more is to come.
Of all the foods I've made, there is one dessert that Honey continuously ask for, and because I like to see him happy, I oblige.  Arroz con Leche is his favorite dessert.
My recipe is a little different, but so creamy and full of flavor.  You can taste the spice of the cinnamon and vanilla which make it the perfect comfort food.  Even though this can be served cold or at room temperature it's best hot.  I added a little Kahlua to mine, and it adds the perfect punch to an after dinner dessert.  With or without a little spike, enjoy!

ARROZ CON LECHE
servings: 8

2 cups white long grain rice
6 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
coffee liqueur

On medium high heat let a large pot with 4 cups of water, cinnamon stick and vanilla come to a boil.
Add rice and salt. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Add both milks. Stir rice occasionally to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom. Gradually add the remaining water. Let simmer until rice is tender for 45 minutes to an hour.
If desired, add the sugar and stir.
Add an oz of the coffee liqueur to each cup (for adults only please)

TIP #1: Adjust temperature to prevent boil-over and to prevent a skin from forming.
TIP #2: Taste before adding sugar because it may be sweet enough with the sweetened condensed milk.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Keep the Groceries Low

Do you over spend on groceries, eating out, or both? Feel that the belt needs to tighten up b/c the money isn’t coming in as it used to? Or the dollar doesn’t stretch as far as it used to?
It’s not your imagination, grocery shopping is more expensive now days than it has been within the last few years. The economy and fewer crops contribute to this and it doesn’t help that salary raises are harder to come by now days.
So here is my contribution to help you lower your grocery bill: 
  • Make a menu- Having an idea of what you’ll be eating the next week or two makes it easier to have a list ready for grocery shopping. Take into account breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. Also, leave out any day you may be eating out. Don't buy more than you eat.
  • Have multiple uses- If you are buying an item you don’t use often, find another recipe that will use that ingredient. Ex. 1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil is used in stir-fry, so what do you do with the rest? Make hummus with a can of chickpeas instead of buying an entire jar of tahini.
  • Look at the sale paper or use coupons- Veggies, fruits and meats go on sale all the time. Substitute a sale item for something that you would have bought for full price. Last week, I was going to buy sweet potatoes for a soup, and found that the butternut squash was cheaper and still worked well. Coupons only work well if you buy items you already plan on getting.
  • Buy in bulk- It’s cheaper per pound. Buying a whole chicken at 85 cents a pound is cheaper than buying chicken breasts at $2.50 per pound.  Buying a family pack of meat can be anywhere from 20 cents to a dollar per pound less than a small pack, and you just have to split it and store in the freezer.
  • Buy items in season- Some things are double or triple the price if it’s out of season.  It gives variety to the menu also. I tried kale for the first time this week for 98 cents a bunch, and it was so good.
  • Make one meatless dinner a week- Beans are a great, filling protein substitute and cost less per serving. Also, eggs make a great Spanish Tortilla.
  • Do not stray from your grocery list or go shopping on an empty stomach- Both will cause that grocery bill to go up quick. You can stand to wait until the next week for that item and find a substitute in the pantry; 90 percent of the time there’s something.
  • Do not buy more than you’ll eat just because it’s on sale- It goes along the lines of rule #2. Sometimes things may sound like a good buy and it ends up in the trash or sitting in the back of the pantry for 10 years. 
  • Frozen is less than fresh- Frozen veggies have the same and have read that sometimes more nutritional value. For a dollar I get 6 servings of frozen green beans, when a pound of fresh green beans costs $1.69 and you still have to cut the ends.
  • All in all, time is money- Weight the benefits of dried and cooked; 1pound of dry beans is a dollar, but you have to soak overnight and cook for an hour or 2. A can of beans is $1.20, but its heat up and eat within 15 minutes. Same with rice.
Our household went from two salaries to one, and I went from spending $400 in monthly groceries to $250. Using 1, 2 or all 10 of these tips will guaranty savings. Just try it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

A few weeks ago we went to Family Farm Day in Canisteo, NY. Bebe was able to pet some farm animal and his favorate had to be the calf; we could not get him away.  I was able to milk a cow, which was a little odd, but so fun.  We also went through a corn maze, which was fun b/c it was small and Bebe actually got us through it.  Finally, on the way back to the car, Bebé was able to pick out a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.


So now we had a pumpkin, and what to do with it.  I figured it wouldn't last until Halloween, so I put it to good use.  I cut it up, de-seeded it, roasted* it, and turned it into pumpkin purée.  I was able to get 4 different uses out of it, most of them sweet though.  I saved the seeds, washed them, and roasted them.  It was a small pumpkin, but had tons of seeds.  Half are being eaten by Honey and the other half are being used as one of the many ingredients for my Thanksgiving Turkey.
For my first recipe, I decided to wing it and make a pumpkin bread. It turned out really good, and not too sweet. Perfect to go along with a butternut squash soup. Although I included measurements that give good taste; in our house, there is no such thing as too much spice. So, I say try the batter to see if it's to your liking.


SPICED PUMPKIN BREAD

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon clove
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

Set oven to 350°F. Prepare cake pan by spraying with vegetable oil spray and flour.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and spices.  Add the eggs, puree and vegetable oil. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until it comes together. Batter should be loose, but thicker than pancake batter. Add water if needed.
Add batter into baking pan and bake for 35-45 minutes.


*To roast pumpkin set oven at  400°F. Bake pumpkin for 45-60 minutes, until fork tender.
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FROSTING

1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
milk

In a small bowl combine powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Add 1 teaspoon of milk one at a time until frosting forms. Drizzle onto bread.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Salvadoran Enchiladas



I'm sure everyone knows what a Mexican Tostada is.  A flat, crispy tortilla with meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes on top.  Well, I have something similar, but better.  It's the Salvadoran Enchilada.  It's a really thick tortilla (not fried) stacked with refried beans, a pork mixture, hard boiled egg, cheese/sour cream and curtido. This totally reminds me of home.
Honey is amazed at how many recipes I come up with from my childhood that sound interesting and end up tasting great.  He really liked this one, hard boiled egg and all, and he also added some hot sauce for a bit of bite.  I also think about all the recipes I get to pass down to Bebé that have been passed over to me.  This is one of the easiest ones b/c it's impossible to burn anything.Let me know you y'all think.

ENCHILADAS
serving: about 12 enchiladas

12 Thick tortillas (recipe below)
4 pork chops
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
2 carrots, peeled and cut in half
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 eggs
2 cups or 1 can refried beans
Curtido
1 cup Salvadoran hard cheese or Grana Podana, grated or
sour cream

In a large pot, add pork chops and cover with water. Once water is boiling, add potatoes and carrots, salt and pepper. Cook for additional 10 -15 minutes. Fork should go into potatoes without breaking and meat will be cooked all the way through. Take meat and veggies out. Let sit for 10 minutes and once it's easier to handle cut meat and veggies into small cubes. Put in bowl, add salt & pepper to taste, and olive oil. Toss.
Add eggs to boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from water, cool in cold water, and remove shell. Slice long ways and set to the side.
Toast the tortillas in toaster so they aren't flimsy.
Begin assembly. Put tortilla on plate. Smooth out a tablespoon of refried beans onto the tortilla. Add 1-2 tablespoons of meat mixture. Add 2 slices of egg on top, add the grated cheese or sour cream. Curtido can be added on top or can be put on the side.




THICK TORTILLAS
serving: 12 tortillas

3 cups Maseca
2 cups warm water

In a bowl add warm water slowly to Maseca while mixing. The dough should be smooth and not at all dry. Test by grabing a small amount, rolling into a ball and flatten in hands. The dough should not cracks. If the dough sticks to your hand add Maseca a tablespoon at a time; if the dough is too dry add more warm water a little at a time.
Roll into large 2-3 inch balls.
Place dough ball between 2 pieces of wax paper and flatten with a pan. Tortilla should be about 1/4 inch thick. With damp hands, take tortilla off wax paper and place onto hot skillet or flat iron. Let cook for 7 minutes on each side.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cabbage 2 Ways - Curtido and Sautéed



I grew up having Curtido in the fridge, and every once in a while we had Salvadoran-style stuffed cabbage.   When I make curtido, I am reminded of the times that my sister would fill half her plate with Curtido because she liked it so much.
Curtido is a pickled cabbage, similar to sauerkraut, and it's good on everything.  It is traditionally served with Pupusas, Yucca con Chicharrón, or Salvadoran Enchiladas. I eat it over hot dogs and plain rice.
Recently, I discovered that my husband likes cabbage, but definitely not the way I would ever eat it.  Although I have no idea how to prepare what he likes, I've tried it and know I don't like it.
Because I like finding something that will satisfy all of us, I decided to buy one cabbage and prepared it 2 ways. I have to say, my Sautéed Cabbage was actually pretty good, Honey liked it so much, he did not leave me any for the next day's lunch, and let's face it, bacon makes everything taste better.
Let me know which you like best.

CURTIDO

1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
hot water
2 carrots, shredded
1 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon oregano, preferably Mexican Oregano
1 teaspoon salt
pepper

Shred cabbage and let soak in hot water for 15 minutes. Strain cabbage.
In a bowl add cabbage, carrots, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix and let sit on counter.
Best if prepared at least 6 hours before serving.

SAUTÉED CABBAGE
serving: 4

2 slices bacon cut in small strips
1/2 medium onion
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeno, de-seeded and sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon marjoram

1/2 head of cabbage sliced
salt and pepper

In a skillet on medium-high heat add the bacon and let the fat render. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeño, stir. Once onions become transparent add the sage and marjoram.
Add vegetable oil if needed, and add cabbage. Add salt and pepper as desired. Stir until cabbage has wilted, about 10-15 minutes.

TIP: To make vegetarian, leave bacon out and add vegetable oil first.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Falafels, Baba Ganoush, Tzatziki



I love Mediterranean food and honestly, who wouldn't.  So, making Hummus and Pita Bread got me a little carried away.  I had everything to make Falafels and I only needed to get the egg plant for Baba Ganoush, so why not. Egg plant is pretty cheap during this time of year anyway.
Honey was skeptical since he insists that he's not huge on egg plant, and yet, he ate my Egg Plant Parmigiana I made 2 months ago, and he liked this too.  I will say that Baba Ganoush tastes better the next day or even up to 5 days after.
I almost forgot; I also made Tzatziki to go with the Falafels, and even though I went a little to far with the garlic, it was awesome!
This would be an awesome spread for a small party; especially, if there are vegetarians. Tell me this doesn't sound and look good?!?!

FALAFELS
servings: 4

1 cup dried chickpeas or 16 oz. can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans.
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons flour
Salt
Pepper
Oil for frying

Place dried chickpeas in a bowl, covering with cold water. Allow to soak overnight. Omit this step if using canned beans. Drain chickpeas, and place in pan with fresh water, and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then let simmer on low for about an hour. Drain and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
In a food processor combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in medium bowl. Add flour. You want the result to be a thick paste.
Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a ping pong ball. Slightly flatten.
Fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (5-7 minutes).

TIP:  Test fry one ball, and if it begins to fall apart, add more floor to mixture.

Adapted from About.com - How to Make Falafels

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TZATZIKI SAUCE

2 cup plain yogurt (whole milk or low fat)
1 cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth or paper towel-lined sieve and set it over a bowl. Grate the cucumber and toss it with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt; place it in another sieve, and set it over another bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain.
Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt. Mix in the sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Adapted from Foodnetwork.com - Tzatziki Recipe: Ina Garten
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BABA GANOUSH
servings: 8

3 medium-sized eggplants
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/8 teaspoon chile powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
a half bunch picked flat-leaf parsley or cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, until they’re completely soft; you should be able to easily poke a paring knife into them and meet no resistance.  Remove from oven and let cool.
Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp. Puree the pulp in a blender or food processor with the other ingredients until smooth.
Taste, and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hummus


I love hummus as a snack or for a meal, it's so yummy, creamy, and most importantly, healthy. I go crazy with the garlic since this is the perfect dish to put as much as you want and no one cares.
The greatest thing for me was finding a recipe for hummus that doesn't have tahini, which can be expensive if this is the only dish you know of that has it. Since I like cooking Chinese food, I always have sesame oil in the fridge, which is what is used in this recipe instead of the tahini. I also recently saw a recipe with peanut butter, so I'm planning on trying that some time soon.
Another way to save money is buying dry chick peas and soaking the night before you plan on using them and boiling for an hr and a half. It's about a dollar for an entire bag, and no need to boil like regular beans if you don't want to as long as you soak. You don't get the extra sodium either as you would with canned chick peas

HUMMUS
serving: 6 to 8

2 cups prepared chickpeas, drained
⅓ to ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½  tablespoon dry parsley or 1 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ teaspoon dark Asian sesame oil
½ to 1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup water
 black pepper 
salt
Paprika, for garnish

In a food processor add chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, sesame oil, parsley, cumin, and water. Pulse until combined. Turn processor on, and slowly add oil until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Scrape the hummus onto a plate. Sprinkle the paprika over the top.

Adapted from Hummus Dip Recipe - Dave Lieberman

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pita Bread


Pita bread is an awesome alternative to regular loaf bread. Instead of a regular ol' ham and cheese sandwich, I will stuff the ham and cheese in the pita and some how, it's transformed.  It also makes me feel healthier and gets me to eat better; so, I will automatically add lettuce and tomatoes to the ham and cheese.  When I make pita bread, I also get in the mood for Mediterranean food and will make hummus for a really healthy snack.  Here is the easiest recipe for pita I have found, and some tips to assure you get that nice pocket.

PITA BREAD
serving: 12

package of yeast, or quick rising yeast
1 ½ cup warm water
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon molasses or dark brown sugar
1 cup lukewarm water

Dissolve yeast into warm water (110°F). Add molasses or brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.
Add salt and all-purpose flour to yeast. Stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula. With kneeding attachment on mixer slowly add whole wheat flour until smooth and no longer sticky, about 10-15 minutes.
Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated.
Allow to sit in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500°F and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to also preheat your baking sheet.
Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.
Bake each circle for 5 minutes until the bread puffs up.
Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking.
Take spatula and gently push down puff. Immediately place in storage bags.
 

TIPS:
For added fiber, add flax seed before adding the whole wheat flour.
Roll out over corn meal if possible to prevent too much flour sticking.
Do not roll dough out too thin.
Let flattened dough rest for a couple of minutes before putting in the oven
Open the oven as little as possible to let bread puff up.