Archive for April, 2008

Tilapia in for Mahi

April 27, 2008

In my defense…I didn’t have a camera this week. My boyfriend is a photographer…but he was busy. See, I have reasons for not taking pictures. Cripes.

After the gym this past Thursday, I desperately wanted to make something healthy but didn’t know what. Tired of rice, tired of pasta, and neither of them suit my diet that I should be following. My darling friend Jessie, who attends Clemson and knows more about food than Alton Brown, suggested fish. Healthy, low fat, easy peasy to make. All true…but I honestly hate most fish except shellfish. She suggested mahi mahi and explained a super easy way to make it. I do love mahi…so ok.

Unfortunately, Whole Foods failed me for the first time in memory and didn’t have mahi mahi! AH! I asked the fish guy (who you should REALLY make friends with, by the way, they know everything) what I could get that was similar and he said tilapia. Still mild tasting (to the point of blandness). Awesome. I liked this, but I am definitely using Mahi next time, solely because it’s a little heartier and I think it would hold up to the cooking process a little better. This was still really good though.

So here’s what I made up with the very basic guidelines that I collected from Jessie. Loves you, girl.

Baked Garlic Ginger Tilapia with Seasoned Mushrooms

4 small tilapia fillets
1 orange bell pepper
1 medium Vidalia onion
2 tablespoons chopped or grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 orange, segmented
Salt
Pepper

Infused oil:
1/3 c. safflower or canola oil
1/3 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tab grated ginger
1 tab minced garlic
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp lime zest

1) Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2) Start your infused oil. In a shallow saute pan, combine everything and simmer for about 10 minutes. Keep the heat low, you don’t want to burn any of the spices. Burnt garlic = bitter. Yuck.
3) You’re gonna make two packets of fish and veggies. Take two pieces of parchment paper and place them side by side on a cookie sheet. Put two fillets in each packet and divide the veggies, garlic, ginger and orange segments. Make sure you season the fish pretty liberally…did I mention tilapia is like the tofu of fish? It’s b-l-a-n-d without seasoning.
4) Juice the lime and divide over contents of each packet.
5) Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the infused oil over the top of the veggies and fish.
6) Now close up the packets. Bring the two ends together and roll down, then fold the ends. Put them seam side down on the cookie sheet.
7) Bake these suckers for about 25-30 minutes. Just be careful when opening up the packets that you don’t get a steam burn!

Seasoned Mushrooms

7-8 large white mushrooms
salt
pepper
a drizzle of the same infused oil you used on the fish above

Chop into bite sized pieces. Drizzle the pan with infused oil and add the mushrooms, along with a sprinkle of salt to draw the moisture out. Cook until soft and serve with tilapia.

On a side note, the boyfriend admitted that he isn’t crazy about mushrooms, but he ate every single one of them off his plate. Take that, mushroom doubters!

My Chinese is better than takeout

April 23, 2008

There are three reasons that it’s taken me so long to post again.

1) I started seeing someone who loves to go out to eat as much as I do.
2) I therefore haven’t cooked in a while because I’ve been eating restaurant food
3) I decided that buying clothes and shoes was temporarily more important than buying groceries.

I have come to my senses. I love food. And frankly, I’m undoing all my hard work at the gym by eating out.

So last night marked the first evening of “Rosemary and Eric do date night at home,” which hopefully will become a more regular event so that we don’t both turn into textbook obesity cases. Granted, this wasn’t the most low fat dish…I just happened to have most of the stuff on hand. I would also cut out at least half of the oil that went into this next time.

I love the first time you cook for a significant other. Not to be cocky, but I was pretty confident that he would like whatever I made. I’ve literally never had a man tell me “Um…that was not good. Thanks anyway.” I am a firm believer in the theory that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I guess that’s my 50’s housewife peeking out, there. Not to mention the seriously cool 50’s housewife apron that I was wearing, courtesy of my mom. I’m making her open an Etsy store, so stay tuned. Anyway, this was a definite success, so try it out. I promise you’ll never go back to delivery. And the reason there are no pics on this one would be that I was rushed and simply didn’t think of it. I am the worst blogger ever.

Stir Fried Beef and Broccoli (Adapted from Gourmet, Oct. 1990)

For the beef:
2 teaspoons soy sauce (for gluten free, use gluten free tamari)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound boneless sirloin, cut across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices
*I used thinly sliced ribeye that I found at the asian food market, mostly because I knew it would cook really fast. Turned out great!

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce (ditto on the tamari from above for gluten free)
1 tablespoon medium-dry Sherry or Scotch (I left this out, only because I didn’t have any, and it turned out really well)
1/4 cup chicken or beef broth or water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons Oriental sesame oil

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh gingerroot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 pound broccoli, cut into flowerets and the stems peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick sticks
cooked rice as an accompaniment

Prepare the beef: In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, the sugar, and the salt, add the beef, and let it marinate for 20 minutes.
Make the sauce while the beef is marinating: In a small bowl dissolve the cornstarch in the soy sauce and stir in the Sherry, the broth, the sugar, and the sesame oil.
Heat a wok or large heavy skillet over high heat until it is hot, add approximately 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, and heat it until it just begins to smoke. The amount of oil you add after the first batch of meat should really be determined by the amount of fat in the beef. More fat, add less oil. Stir-fry the beef in the oil in batches for 1 minute, or until it is no longer pink, and transfer it as it is cooked with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the wok, heat it until it is hot but not smoking, and in the oil stir-fry the gingerroot, the garlic, and the chili for 30 seconds, or until the mixture is fragrant. Add the broccoli and stir-fry the mixture for 1 minute. Add 1/3 cup water and steam the broccoli, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until it is crisp-tender. Stir the sauce, add it to the wok with the beef and any juices that have accumulated on the plate, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and the beef is heated through. Transfer the mixture to a heated platter and serve it with jasmine rice.

For dessert, I was going to make something interesting and Asian but just ran out of time. I compromised by using a slightly underripe mango as a palatte cleanser. Next time I do this, I’m going to try a more interesting dressing, possibly including coconut milk and lime ZEST, for crying out loud!

Fresh Mango Salad

Peel the mango with a vegetable peeler. Cut around the pit and remove the “cheeks” of the fruit (the two large pieces on either side of the flat oblong pit). The other pieces are called the “fingers” and are on the sharp sides of the pit. Chop the fruit into bite sized pieces and toss with 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon sugar (only to make it a little juicy!) and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Super simple but really good after a rich meat dish.

Hummus and Strawberries

April 9, 2008


Not together. Don’t worry.

In my never ending quest for protein filled healthy snackies, I discovered a can of forgotten chickpeas in my cupboard. Far from being disappointed, I rejoiced in the knowledge that hummus was near!

This is the EASIEST food on the planet to make. Ever! I discovered something tonight that made it even better: plain yogurt. I never have tahini, and I hate the texture when it’s just the chickpeas and oil, so I thought to myself “Self, try adding plain yogurt.” I am SO right to listen to myself when I have good ideas like that. It turned out to be the best hummus I’ve had in ages! You may thank me later. Preferably with shoes, the gift of song, or by paying my rent.

Hummus

1 can chickpeas in water
1/4 c. olive oil
2 heaping tbsp. plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
Drain half of the water off the chickpeas. Combine everything in blender (including the other half of the water) and blend until smooth! Eat on veggies, sandwiches, pita chips….get crazy.



The other thing that I decided to try this evening was Nigella Lawson’s recipe for Strawberry Jam. I bought some strawberries at the store (buy 1 get 1 free, woo!) and they smelled delish. Unfortunately they tasted like absolutely nothing. Sigh. I KNOW they aren’t at the peak of the season or anything, but they looked good. Ah well. The jam is lovely, and I made a substitution that I really really enjoyed πŸ™‚

Strawberry Jam

3-3 1/2 c. chopped strawberries
2 1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice*
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

*I subbed key lime juice because I’m still working on getting rid of the little bag that I bought 2 weeks ago! It turned out REALLY good, next time i might throw in a little zest as well.


Place a small plate in the freezer before you start.

Put all the ingredients into a wide saucepan and sir with a wooden spoon to make sure fruit is coated.

Heat the pan on low and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Boil for 5-8 minutes and start testing for the setting point at 4 mins. Take pan off the heat and put a scant teaspoon onto the frozen saucer. Leave it to cool and then poke at it to see if it’s ready. If the jam wrinkles when you push at it with a finger, it’s ready.

When it’s done, leave the pan to cool for 2o minutes before decanting into a clean jar. (I used a clean and sterilized Classico pasta sauce jar and the size was 100% perfect for the amount that this made!) Put it in the jar and close it up while warm, not hot, and then stick it in the fridge and wait for it to set.

Makes approximately 3 1/2 cups.

Vegetable Soup for the Soul

April 8, 2008

Hello again! Turns out people are reading this here blog o’mine…yay! Even if you ARE already people that I know and love..haha. I guess that just means that I won’t get as much hate mail. Keep it up and pass it on, I love when new people come to visit. πŸ™‚

So, on a random side note to explain all of these veggie-filled things I’m making, I have decided that I really must lose 20 lbs. No, do not tell me I don’t need to. I joined a gym last week and got my body fat analysis/weight/BMI index done. Trust me, I need to lose it. Even my trainer told me that I carry this weight around well and that just by looking at me, she would never have guessed my numbers. So whatever, I’m going to the gym 5 days a week and eating veggies. What I have going for me is that I really like healthy food for the most part, and I try to always buy locally grown organic produce. Because let’s face it, not only is better for you, it makes you feel morally superior to people who buy the other stuff(kidding? I don’t even know anymore).

No pictures AGAIN. I am horrible about taking pictures, I get so caught up in actually cooking. Which is what is supposed to happen, i guess, so I won’t be too hard on myself about it.

I got home from the gym at 7:30 and figured if I didn’t cook something ASAP, I would be forced into canned soup hell, i.e. more sodium than eating straight salt. Yick. So I made a batch of veggie soup out of a bag of produce that I had on hand from my trip to Eastern Market with Heather last weekend. There is a really adorable wrinkly old lady from West Virginia who had the genius idea to bag random vegetables and sell them for $3.00. Its the best deal EVER, you can’t even get that much at the grocery store for $3! I heart Eastern Market.

Veggie Soup

1 small onion
4 stalks of celery
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots
4 new potatoes
a handful of fresh green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
basil
sea salt
pepper
garlic powder
2 boullion cubes
2 c. water
1 can chopped tomatoes in juice (I usually use Cento)

Chop up everything; I think I can skip the directions on that. Saute up the chopped veggies in a little bit of veggie oil. I used safflower oil, only because that’s what I had. Hit em with the salt and herbs to draw out some of the water and help them soften up. When they are somewhere between raw and soft, add the tomatoes, water and boullion cubes (you can, of course, use broth; I just didn’t have any). Let this all simmer over medium low heat for about an hour. Use the intelligence I know you have and test a veggie for done-ness*. If it’s soft, it’s done. Just don’t boil the heck outta this, it’s not necessary. Unless, of course, you enjoy overcooked vegetables resembling mush. Then it is TOTALLY necessary.

Since I’m in diet land, I didn’t eat this with anything at all (POUT) but I would suggest a toasted english muffin or some whole wheat bread for normal people. Enjoy!

*new word!

Lime Ginger Sea Scallops with Asparagus

April 3, 2008

When I was little you could not have PAID me to eat scallops. I used to whine when my mom made them. “I don’t LIKE scallops! They’re gross! They’re mushy! I want spaghetti!” My poor mother. Looking back, she made a lot of gorgeous meals that I wouldn’t eat. Mom…I love you.

In the past 4 or 5 months, I have postively craved sea scallops. Not those tiny ones that are sometimes found swimming in grease over pasta at restaurants. I’m talking the huge wild caught sea scallops that are like the steak of shellfish. MMM. I keep buying them and then making them the same way, just cooked in butter over a skillet. Yummy but boring.

Last night I thought I’d marinate the little yummies in a lime ginger marinade, if only because that’s what I had on hand. This turned out to be the most delicious way I have ever eaten them, and even though I had about 6 or 7 of them, I wish I had had more!

Obviously the following recipe is something that you could increase the quantity of depending on how many scallops you have. I made a small batch because it was just me! Just make enough to coat everything well. Plus, it’s always better to have too much than not enough (that’s my inner-Italian coming out). I feel like this marinade would really be great on any fish, chicken or pork. Go wild.

Sorry about the lack of pictures, my rechargeable batteries are crap and will not hold a charge.

Lime Ginger Sea Scallops with Asparagus

Ingredients:

6-8 large sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry

Marinade:
1 tomatillo, diced
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. fresh lime juice (I used key limes and this came out GREAT, but regular limes will work too!)
Zest of 1 lime
1/4 c. safflower oil (sub. vegetable oil)
2 tbsp. champagne vinegar
2 pinches sea salt
1 tbsp orange juice concentrate
1 jalepeno, (take out the ribs and the seeds) diced
Reserve: 1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine

Combine all marinade ingredients (except for the ginger) in the blender and liquefy. Place scallops into a gallon ziploc bag and pour in marinade and ginger. Seal bag and toss to coat. Let the scallops marinate for 35 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Heat a very small amount of oil over medium heat in a medium sized frying pan with about 1 tsp of butter. Coat the pan and drain off any excess. Add the scallops, making sure they are well spaced and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes on each side. You’ll know they are done when they brown on each side and the marinade begins to carmelize. There will be some excess liquid from the scallops as they cook, which I took out in order to let them brown. It’s delicious as a sauce over the scallops, so if you want you can reserve it for serving. If not, just toss it.

Asparagus

I make this the same way I make all steamed veggies: In the microwave. I hate stove top steamers with a passion, because I was viciously steam burned by one at my friend Cat’s house one time. OW. That thing had it in for me.

Using a veggie peeler, peel the lower part of the stalk just to get the tough stuff off. If that’s too much trouble, you can just snap off the ends.

Cut the stalks in half. Throw them in a microwave friendly dish with a lid. Add a little butter, a little lime or lemon juice (I used lime since I used it on the scallops) and a tiny bit of salt. Microwave for 2 minutes. All done!

Day Two of all Veggies!

April 1, 2008

Ahhhh spring! I’m so happy it’s here. Tulip trees are exploding with pink blossoms, the cherry blossoms in DC are out (although I haven’t been yet because I refuse to deal with the tourists), and pollen is coating my car. It’s good to be alive.

Another fun thing about spring is the farmer’s market! Although many of them are year round in my area, I refuse to go walk around in snow to buy squash and homemade jam. Fine. You caught me. But now it’s nice and I’m going, toting my canvas bags and a wallet full of cash. Last weekend I went to one in Falls Church with my foodie friend Heather. We had a blast! I bought fresh mozzarella, which is better than ANYTHING I have ever had. Period. I also bought basil jam, which I’ll figure out what to do with later, a homemade chocolate whoopie pie, and fresh beets. DROOL.

The original plan was to roast the beets, because they are absolutely like candy that way. SO delish. Plus no peeling…eeee I’m so lazy! But today I found a basic recipe for a beet and carrot salad on Chocolate & Zucchini that looked awesome, so I decided to try it (I mean really, who am I not to trust Clotilde Dusoulier). I am OBSESSED with this salad. Obsessed. Big time. In a way that I haven’t been about a pair of shoes, my guitar or a man in a while! I tweaked it, of course, and turned it into something very different. Another fun thing was that the beets came with the greens, which are delicious boiled quickly and served with butter and salt or a little olive oil. I did this, but my camera ran outta juice! Try it though, it’s very similar to spinach, but I thought it was tastier. And according to my cookbook, beet greens actually have more iron than spinach.

Tell your friends about the blog πŸ˜‰

Grated Beet & Carrot Salad

For Beet & Carrot part:

1 medium sized beet, trimmed and peeled
1 large carrot, peeled
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp champagne vinegar
sprinkle of ground black pepper
sprinkle of seasoned salt

Base/Garnish:

Mixed greens or arugula
chevre

Reduction:
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. raspberry preserves (these can be seedless or not. I used the kind with seeds, they don’t bother me at all)

Combine the vinegar and preserves in a small frying pan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened.

Grate peeled beet and peeled carrot. Combine in large bowl with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Place on bed of mixed greens and top with a small pinch of goat cheese. Drizzle reduction around the edge of the plate.

Bet you didn’t know tofu was capable of this!

April 1, 2008

I have a terrible habit of buying things solely because they are on sale. Then the problem becomes trying to make a meal out of baby carrots, sour cream, random salad dressings and star anise. oy vey.
This time though, something good came out of my obsessive sale paper stalking. I had picked up organic tofu a while back and couldn’t figure out what to make with it until this evening. I had new and delicious fresh mozzarella from the Falls Church Farmer’s market and leftover spaghetti sauce made by my mother last weekend. So I decided to do a tofu version of chicken parmesan.

Marinade

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. tomato paste

Slice block of firm or extra firm tofu into 4 even slices. Whisk all ingredients together and pour over tofu in a gallon Ziploc bag. Allow to marinate in fridge for approximately 30-45 minutes.

To assemble the parm, you’ll need:

Fresh or shredded mozzarella (please oh please, use fresh!)
italian style bread crumbs
Spaghetti sauce, either homemade or canned (please oh please, use homemade!)

Remove the tofu from the marinade, making sure that each piece is drenched. Roll each piece in the italian bread crumbs and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for approximately 10 minutes, just to dry it out and make it crispy.*
Take the slices out of the oven and place them in a single layer in the bottom of a loaf pan (you could also use a pie plate or something else shallow for this, a loaf pan just worked well because of the size and shape of the pieces). Pour some sauce over the tofu, then add a layer of mozzarella. Top with a few more tsp’s of sauce and pop it in the oven at 350 for about 20-25 minutes. You aren’t really “cooking” this, per se…just sort of warming it through. Just make sure that the cheese looks melty and gooey! πŸ™‚

Serve this sucker up with a salad and a good glass of wine!

*You could also fry these gently in a little olive oil, but I’m trying to be good and “diet.” As an Italian woman, this is my idea of diet food. Tofu instead of chicken, and baking instead of frying. I’ll lose that 10 lbs. in a heartbeat if i keep this up! *snort*