Wednesday, May 28, 2008

|fried banana tacos|

A little while ago, I posted about how much I love my husband - especially for his ability to invent amazing foods like these easy sopapillas. Tonight, I took them a step further, creating the amazing fried banana taco. Here's the scoop...

FRIED BANANA TACO:

  1. Slice 1 large banana into sections that are about 1/2 an inch in diameter and 2-3 inches long. Place them in a skillet that you've sprayed with a little non-stick spray.
  2. Cook them over medium heat, turning occasionally. When they are a little brown on all three sides and start to get gushy, remove them from the skillet and set aside.
  3. Re-spray the skillet. Throw in a tortilla. Spray the upside of it and sprinkle on some cinnamon-Splenda mix. Watch it bubble a bit and turn once the bottom gets some brown spots.
  4. Turn the tortilla, spray it and put more cinnamon-Splenda on. Once the other side is browning, you're almost done. Turn off the heat.
  5. Create a fold in the tortilla, like you're making a quesadilla. Loan the bananas on one half, then top with about a teaspoon of honey. Fold the tortilla over. Plate and eat like a taco.
This is amazing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

|lest you think i'm a food snob|

Most of the stuff I post about on here is pretty unusual or fancy-schmancy stuff (or at least it's not Doritos and beer - not that there's anything wrong with Doritos and beer..mmmm). But in case you think that I never cook with any "normal' ingredients, I'd like to share one of my favorite soup recipes. If you grew up eating vats of Rotel and Velveeta dip, you'll love this stuff.

I don't remember where I got the recipe...I think it was a Weight Watchers message board many moons ago.

CHEESY ROTEL SOUP:
Open two bags of frozen mixed vegetables (32 oz. total - any variety). Microwave them according to package directions (usually by adding about a cup of water and then 5-6 minutes).

Meanwhile, boil 1 1/2 cups of water and add a boullion cube to it (I use veggie, you could also use chicken). Also, dice up in big chunks 8 ounces of light Velveeta.

Combine the veggie broth, Velveeta, veggies (drained), and one can of Rotel (undrained). Heat through until all the cheese is melted and the whole thing is bubbly.

This makes 6 servings of a cup each. Tons of veggies. Very comfort-food worthy. 2 points each serving on WW.

Enjoy!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

|who needs recipes, anyway?|

Just got back from a week-long trip and haven't been to the store yet, so there isn't much in the house. Sometimes I make up my best stuff when that's the case because you have to get creative, right? My best no-recipe cooking usually involves some kind of grain or eggs as a base, so I went with pasta today. Measured out some whole wheat penne and threw salt and garlic into the water. About halfway through the boiling, I added in a half-cup of frozen, shelled edamame. After it finished cooking, I drained it, then tossed it with a teaspoon of olive oil, a handful of fresh cilantro (which is currently threatening to take over the front yard), a tablespoon of tomato paste (I buy it in cans and then keep it in reused jars in the fridge). It wasn't quite right yet, so I added a dash of cayenne powder.

Perfect.

Friday, May 16, 2008

|csa week #2|

Week two report for our CSA....

  • big, beautiful mild radishes - greens still attached
  • turnip greens
  • watercress
  • fresh baby spinach
  • ASPARAGUS!!! tiny and lovely
  • Bell jar full of canned tomato sauce from last year's tomatoes....I can't decide if I want to put it on pasta or just drink it straight out of the jar - hmmm
Tonight we're having pancakes for brinner...with our fresh maple syrup from last week. Quite a bit of it has already been used on my morning oatmeal, though. :-)

For lunch today I'm having my re-created version of the edamame salad I blogged about last weekend with a big fresh salad....salad greens from the CSA, spinach, gorgonzola, almonds, a couple mandarin orange slices, radishes, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious.

By the way - if you don't know how to make salad dressing, it's really super easy. Start with something simple like this - it makes enough for 1 big salad:
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon or spicy brown mustard (or whatever kind of mustard you like, really)
  • salt and pepper
  • your favorite herbs/spices...today I used turmeric and cayenne powder - anything works really, or nothing at all still gives you a good flavor
Whisk together and enjoy! This way you don't get any nasty ingredients you can't pronounce (unless your mustard has them, of course) and you get a dose of good-for-you olive oil.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

|ode to edamame|

Sometimes, when I'm eating edamame, I pause and think, "How did I live before edamame was everywhere?" It's pretty much one of nature's perfect foods...low in calories and fat, very high in fiber and protein. You can squeeze it out of its little pods and it's more fun than a Pez dispenser. You can buy it already shelled and sprinkle it into almost anything.

This morning, I went to the local Farmers' Market and it was all abuzz...the first arts fair of the summer, too. Afterwards, I was craving "real food" without having to cook it so I stopped by one of the downtown grocery stores that has an amazing salad bar and prepared foods section. I made a tasty salad with fresh spinach, dried cranberries, Annie's Green Goddess dressing (which really deserves a whole post of its own), Gorgonzola, and marinated tofu. Then I picked up a little plastic container of their freshly prepared edamame salad. It is SO delicious. I brought the container home so I can look at the ingredients and try to recreate it. It says: edamame, wild rice, water, red peppers, scallions, chili paste, lemon juice, sesame oil, tamari, rice vinegar. Looks like I'll need to pick up some chili paste at the store later today.

Thank you, God, for creating edamame.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

|i love eggs|

One of my favorite things about cooking is you're never quite sure where it will take you. Take today, for example. I came home for lunch fully expecting to grab a little cilantro out front and saute it up with some chopped peppers, onion, garlic - throw in an egg - scramble - put on a tortilla with cheddar cheese. Eggs are one of my all-time favorite things to eat for lunch because, regardless of what I have on hand, I can always find a way to make something in a skillet with eggs. Add on a carb and I'm all set.

But when I opened the refrigerator a half-hour ago, I discovered the peppers were all gone. I guess my husband really listened to me when I told him, "Hey, eat these peppers this week!" I have to check in with him when he gets home to figure out just exactly how he ate all those peppers yesterday.

I could have been alarmed, but then I remembered all the goodies I got from the CSA yesterday! Before long, I had fresh spring garlic sauteeing in the pan - added in some of those oyster mushrooms and watercress - took a quick trip to the front porch to get some sage and rosemary - and I was in business. It was all looking so good that I decided to forgo the carbs altogether (a huge compliment, coming from me) in favor of having two eggs in this omelet. Once it was all cooked up, I still needed cheese. Normally, I dislike ricotta - but since my only options were ricotta, reduced-fat cheddar cheese shreds in a bag, and a cannister of fake parmesan flakes, it was a no-brainer. I slathered on some ricotta, folded the whole thing in half and sat down by my window. It was one of those meals that requires you to do nothing else but eat - and thank God for the beauty of food. No TV on. No magazine out. Just me and my eggs.

I'm so glad he finished off those peppers yesterday.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

|csa week #1 - i actually squealed with joy|

So...today was the first pick-up day for our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). This is our first year doing it and we are so excited. In case you're not familiar with the concept, a CSA is basically a group of people who pay a local farmer (or farmers) up front before the season begins to get an entire season's worth of produce and other farm goodies. We paid $325 for a 1/4 share (enough for 1 person). We've heard horror stories from other people about getting WAY TOO MUCH FOOD - so, despite my never-ending appetite for produce - my husband convinced me taht smaller was better for this first year. The season should last about 6 months, so when you break it down weekly it's less than $15 a week. Fantastic value - plus you're supporting local agriculture.

I have been counting down the days and today was finally the first pick up. I was wondering what we would get because it's been very cold here lately. I am happy to report that our little happy basket had the following:

  • Baggie of watercress
  • Baggie of spring greens
  • Whole brown paper lunchbag full of OYSTER MUSHROOMS (they are gorgeous!)
  • A bunch of fresh spring garlic with the stemmy parts about 3 feet long (not kidding)
  • 1 full CUP of fresh maple syrup
Plus, our CSA people included a cute little handwritten sheet with info about where everything came from and RECIPES! I can't believe it. This is the greatest thing EVER!

The event was fully topped off by the fact that our friends that we picked it up from (we share pick-up duties) had purchased me a box of Morningstar Farms Veggie Dogs - the little bite-sized kind. Just to say thanks for teaching a Bible study we did together. Does life GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS?!?

(i apologize for the massive amount of capitalization in this post...i am just seriously psyched right now)

P.S. I am now going to eat some more fattoush and watch Idol. Life is good.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

|why you need an herb garden|

Last weekend, we went out to the local greenhouse and bought the goods for a little herb garden in our front yard. We bought starters of basil (two kinds), parsley, mint, cilantro, and rosemary and put them down in large pots. It's been a little chilly all week, so we've dutifully been brining them in and out of the garage. My car is wondering why it's been relegated to the driveway - but I'm happy to report it's all totally worth it.

Tonight, we kicked off herb season with a bang. My husband went out and harvested (can you say harvested when it's just pots on your front porch? that seems a bit pretentious) about 1 cup of parsley and 1/4 cup of mint.

I chopped up all of the following and threw it together in a giant bowl:

  • Romaine lettuce - about 8 leaves cut into long strips
  • 2 tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1/2 red onion - diced small
  • Parsley and mint

For the dressing, we did about 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup lemon juice with some salt and garlic powder.

Toss it all together with some ground sumac (a couple tablespoons), some ground pepper, and crumbled up pita chips and you have Fattoush - one of my all time favorite salads. It's Lebanese. Thank God for Lebanese food (see also: tabbouleh and labneh). I think the real deal is supposed to use scallions, but I prefer red onion.

  • We didn't have pita chips on hand, so we baked up some tortillas with sumac on them.
  • What is sumac, you ask? It's apparently a berry that they dry in the sun and then grind up.
  • I can't even imagine how amazing this will taste in the summer when all these veggies are at the height of their goodness.


We went to the Derby Festival this weekend and I ate WAY too much junk food, so this salad made my body body happy. I'm off to drink my weight in V8 now.