Sunday, January 29, 2012

Vegetarian Posole (Hominy Stew)

I think it is time to talk about Scot's sense of humor.  For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of witnessing it first hand, I thought I would give you a taste of some of his jokes, specifically relating to food:

1.  Tastes chocolate frosting, "Ganache that's good."

2.  Whenever I make couscous, "I need to get to school early tomorrow, couscous I have to print something before class."  In general, replaces "because" with "couscous" for about a week.

3.  Any dish with thyme, some reference to time, usually, "How much thyme does this take?"

4.  "Avocado"="Have a cow doe"

And while I was making this soup, I had the empty can of hominy sitting in the sink and there was a small piece of hominy sitting next to it on the countertop.  And he made some joke about the piece of hominy relating it to the phrase..."Peace and Harmony".  It was such a bad joke, that neither of us can even remember what it was.  

Every once and while, he comes up with something that is enough of a stretch that it is actually really funny to me.  But usually, it is so bad that I am just glad no one has to witness it and force a courtesy laugh.  

Speaking of Scot, he declared this soup a 10 after the first bite.  I feel obligated to tell you that sometimes I think Scot is an emotional rater of food.  And he ate this after coming off a "curling win high".  Not that I disagree with his rating, this is a delicious soup.  What makes it special is the smoked paprika and ancho chile powder, spices that really can't be replaced.  The smoked paprika, especially, gives the soup a smokey flavor and makes it taste like bacon.  It is also full of veggies like hominy, black beans, and butternut squash.  I actually left out the butternut squash (not by choice) but I have no doubt that its presence would make this soup EVEN better.

Vegetarian Posole (Hominy Stew)
from Sandy Gluck, cohost of “Everyday Food” via The Radio Blog

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks butternut or other winter squash
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
11/4 teaspoons ancho chile powder
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cans (15 ounces each) hominy, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup canned plum tomatoes in puree
Coarse salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into wedges
1 lime, cut into wedges

In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-low. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is tender, about 7 minutes.

Add the squash, bell pepper, jalapeno, chile powder, oregano, and paprika and stir to combine. Add the hominy, black beans, broth, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Season with salt.

Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have blended, about 25 minutes minimum, but the longer the better. Top with cilantro and avocado and serve with lime wedges.

(Servings: 4-6, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 45 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  10/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort: 2/5

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stroganoff Meatballs

Listen.  I grew up eating Beef Stroganoff.  

(BTW, everyone on the East Coast starts important conversations with the command, "Listen".  Not only is it scary, it also causes me to not listen.  Because I am struggling inside with the fact that they told me to listen, implying that they were under the assumption that I wasn't actually intending to listen in the first place.  This all causes a lot of anxiety inside my Midwest soul and makes me doubt all things about my existence.)

For those of you who did not grow up eating Beef Stroganoff, it is basically mushrooms and beef cooked in a beef gravy made with sour cream.  Usually served over egg noodles.  This meatball recipe tastes exactly like the classic Beef Stroganoff dish, but I have to say I like it in meatball form better!

To make a long story short, my sister, Jen, told me I had to get this meatball recipe from my Aunt Linda.  See, Jen is a vegetarian and does not eat meatballs anymore.  So, she likes to live vicariously through me.  We were talking once and she was like, "do you remember those meatballs Aunt Linda used to make at all the parties at her house?  You HAVE to make them."  My Aunt Linda is a wonderful cook (and entertainer) and I always enjoyed anything she made.  I got the recipe from her in the summer, so it has taken me a while to get around to making them.  And man, they are SO good.  

This is also my first time baking the meatballs before letting them simmer in the sauce.  And I was pleasantly surprised by how incredibly tender they were.  It was no different from frying them in some oil.  And much easier.  Thanks so much Aunt Linda for a great recipe!

Stroganoff Meatballs
adapted from Aunt Linda and Uncle Dick

for the meatballs:
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (85/15)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup milk
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp salt
dash pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
bread crumbs, as needed

for the sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
1 8-ounce package of cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
a couple of handfuls of more exciting mushrooms, cleaned and chopped (I used shiitake)
salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup of red wine
2 cups of chicken stock
a few spoonfuls of sour cream
4 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Make meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine all ingredients for the meatballs except for the bread crumbs. Once mixed together, add in a handful or two of bread crumbs in order to form the meatballs easily. You want to add as little of the bread crumbs as possible.

Form meat mixture into approximately 24 meatballs. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

While meatballs are baking, make the sauce. In a large, deep skillet, melt together 1 tbsp of olive oil with 3 tbsp of butter. Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add 1 more tbsp of butter and the flour. Cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan. Cook and reduce down for another couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for another 5-10 minutes.

After 15 minutes in the oven, remove the meatballs and when the sauce is ready, submerge the meatballs in the sauce. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes, but the longer the better. Add sour cream and keep warm on the stove or transfer to a crockpot until ready to serve. Serve over buttered egg noodles, on their own as an appetizer, with bread, mashed potatoes, or a baked potato. Top with green onions.

(Servings: 6-12, Prep time: 15 min., Cook time: 1 hr., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Monday, January 16, 2012


A year or two ago, our stepmom, Gigi, made a Puerto Rican feast for me and my family.  I know how hard it is to cook for people.  It is intimidating.  You instantly doubt everything about how you do things.  Not to mention, what if so and so doesn't like blah blah blah?  Let's just all admit that cooking for people instantly causes anxiety.

Which is why...when someone makes me dinner, I am honored for life.  I don't care if it has enough salt.  I don't care if it is burnt.  Or undercooked.  Or overcooked.  It pulls at my heart.  It touches my soul.  I file it in my brain as most favorite things about life.

In honor of Gigi, I wanted to make these empanadas.  Puerto Ricans often call them "pastelillos" (and that is what Gigi and her family call them).  This recipe is not necessarily Puerto Rican, but the meat filling seems pretty classic enough.  

Also, these are baked, not fried.  Of course, they would be amazing fried.  And you are welcome to do it.  Trust me, I was tempted.  But, I gave it a shot and baked them, and the were DELICIOUS.  You know me and my full fat loving self...and these didn't miss a beat.  So good. 

I served these with some Puerto Rican beans and guac.  I originally planned to make rice and beans, which is what Gigi served them with.  But my last minute decision was just to go with beans and guac since we aren't needing carbs at the moment.  I used this recipe for the beans and it was an excellent accompaniment.  Scot ventured off to the Latin market and bought these Goya products for these beans.  I should have just made my own sofrito, but the jar did make it easy!

slightly adapted from Saveur May/June 1999 #35 via use real butter

for the dough:
1 cup water
3/4 cup butter
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
pinch paprika

for the filling:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
1/2 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 lb ground beef
1 small russet potato, peeled, finely diced, and boiled
8 green Spanish olives, pitted and chopped
3 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and chopped

For the dough: Heat water and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter has melted. Mix flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center and sprinkle a pinch of paprika in the well. Pour a little of the warm liquid in and stir with fingertips to make a wet paste. Pour in remaining liquid and work the flour into the dough with your hand until you get a wet, oily dough.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I put it in the freezer for 1-1.5 hours and it worked just fine).

For the filling: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onions, bell peppers, paprika, red pepper flakes, white pepper, and cumin, and cook until onions are soft. Add beef, season to taste with salt, and cook until beef is browned. Place filling in a large bowl and when cooled, add potatoes, olives, scallions, and egg. Mix.

Preheat oven to 400F. Tear off pieces of dough to roll about 12 golf-sized balls.  Using a rolling pin, roll out dough balls on lightly floured surface into 5″ circles.  Place 3 tbsp of filling in the center of each dough circle (I used three heaping large spoonfuls and it was the perfect amount to use all the filling). Fold over and press edges firmly to seal. Rope pinch the edges tightly. Place empanadas on cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 15-25 minutes.

(Servings: 12, Prep time: 2.5-4 hrs., Cook time: 25 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  4/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5
After a fearless battle with cancer, Gigi has moved on to bigger and better things.  Her positive spirit never faulted and I feel lucky to have been even a small part of her life.  Everyone in our family will miss her so much.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rice Pilaf

This is a rice pilaf recipe that I have been making for some time.  It is one of those sides that goes with just about anything.  It has wonderful flavor from the butter and from the chicken stock.  I like to add lots of black pepper.  There are many different variations of rice pilaf, but I particularly like adding the bits and pieces of spaghetti.  I am sure I would like some veggies thrown in, but the simplicity of this version is wonderful.

And I can't go on without at least mentioning Rice-a-roni.  I may have had an obsession with Rice-a-roni when I was a teenager.  Obsessed enough for my bestie to buy me 16 boxes of Rice-a-roni for my 16 birthday.  And this recipe is pretty much what is on the box except no seasoning packet.  We can all benefit from removing seasoning packets from our lives.  Can we all agree that serving "rice pilaf" is much more impressive than serving "rice-a-roni"?

One note on the liquid/rice ratio, it might vary a bit depending on what kind of rice you use (like if you use a regular short or long-grain rice rather than jasmine).  It also might depend on where you live.  In CO, I always had to use a lot more liquid.  It is pretty hard to screw this up, though.  You can always add more liquid if the rice and noodles have absorbed all the liquid  but aren't full cooked.  It is not very sensitive at all.  Jasmine rice is very nice in this, though, since it isn't nearly as sticky as the regular long grain.  And  I just prefer the chew quality.

This is, of course, not to be overshadowed by the lobster tail and dish of butter sitting along side it.  Apparently, we were in the midst of "lobster season" the past several months and no one told me.  Sort of rude.  I didn't move out East to miss lobster season.

If you are wondering, I used this method for cooking the lobster tail.  It was magical.  

Rice Pilaf
adapted from Rachael Ray

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 heaping cup of broken spaghetti bits (about 1 inch pieces)
1 1/2 cup jasmine rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth or water
Salt and lots of black pepper

In a medium saucepan melt butter over moderate heat. Add thin spaghetti bits and rice and brown for 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth or water, salt and pepper, and bring liquid to a full boil. Cover pot and reduce heat to simmer and cook rice 18 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

(Servings: 4-6, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  1/5
Dishwashing Effort:  1/5

Monday, January 9, 2012

Endive, Pear, and Roquefort Salad

Ina Garten was born and raised in my new county.  And she still lives quite close.  I also just got her cookbook, Barefoot in Paris, for Christmas.  So, I have been cooking a lot of Barefoot Contessa-esque meals.  I am into it.

I love salads.  I eat them as main dishes.  I add them to dinner when it needs that little bit of rounding out.  I bring them for lunch.  I order them at restaurants.

But, I feel like I have made just about every combination possible.  And anytime I see an idea that is even slightly different from something I already make, I just have to try it.  This salad recipe has two aspects I wanted to try:

1.  Belgian endive - what is that like?

2.  Egg yolk in the dressing.  I have been meaning to try such a thing in a non-Caesar dressing.

The fruit, nut, blue cheese combo is already one of my favorites.  I have recently been enjoying the very creamy, soft blue cheese.  It is usually labeled as some sort of Italian blue cheese, or the best kind I have tried, blue cheese made from goat's milk (obviously).  In other words, I didn't use Roquefort for this salad, but you can choose your favorite blue cheese.

For #1, the Belgian endive was a nice change.  It is not bitter at all, as I had expected it to be.  Probably slightly more bitter than something like Romaine, but I would say that I was more surprised by how clean and almost watery it tasted.  Juicy.

For #2, we all knew that would be delicious.  It is how you would make a Caesar dressing, but the flavors are much more subtle.  I did use a Champagne vinegar, which is really nice.  The yolk gives the dressing such body and makes it very creamy.  It is delicious.  And I am not responsible if you use dirty eggs.  

Endive, Pear, and Roquefort Salad
by Ina Garten, from Barefoot in Paris

4 to 6 heads of Belgian endive
1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
*1 egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons good olive oil
2 ripe Bartlett pears, halved, cored, and sliced
1/4 pound good Roquefort cheese
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves

Trim off the core end of each head of endive and slice it in half lengthwise. Cut out the cores, separate the leaves, and place 1 1/2 to 2 heads of endive on each plate.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, egg yolk, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Toss the pears with some vinaigrette and place on the endive. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the endive leaves to moisten them. Crumble the Roquefort onto the endive. Sprinkle with walnuts and serve at room temperature.

*RAW EGG WARNING: Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other foodborne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  1/5
Dishwashing Effort:  1/5

Friday, January 6, 2012

Eggs and Toast with Goat Cheese

Are you fascinated by birth order stuff?  I am!  Partially because I am second born out of four and it is well known that middle children are most perfect.  Ya know, they aren't spoiled with attention like the first born.  They aren't spoiled by being the baby of the family their whole life.  

There is no doubt in my mind that my oldest brother just read that while shaking his head.

All kidding aside, I am relatively obsessed with birth order.  It is only a matter of a few interactions with new people that I not only try to predict where they fall in their family, but I also verify this prediction by asking.  I am actually not even very good at predicting.  BUT, when I do find out, I always do one of those "ahhhhh, makes sense".  

Which brings me to my little baby sister cannot spread cream cheese on a bagel.  She is 19.  There are a lot of difficult parts about growing up, moving out of the house, becoming an adult.  But spreading cream cheese on a bagel just isn't one of them.  

So in honor of my last born sibling and some of the simple talents she never developed because people always spread the cream cheese on her bagel for is my next kitchen tip.

2012 foodforscot Kitchen Tip:  Have trouble spreading cream cheese on your freshly toasted bagel?  The number one thing to focus on:  confidence.  You can't start to spread and question your cream cheese placement.  Once the cheese hits the toasty surface, it cannot be changed.  Just go with it.  The process needs to take under 20 second per half or you might as well just eat the spread separately.  If you aren't ready for this speed racing spreading, your best bet is to let your bagel cool down for a few minutes.  But that will leave you with sub par results.  At this point you need to weigh whether you want inconsistent, non-uniform cream cheese on your bagel OR a luke warm product.  The choice is yours.

And finally, to continue with my series, Food from Me to You, here is one of my favorite, easiest dinners.  Because of my state of the art IHOP training back in the day, I know how to make eggs the way I like them.  And eggs with runny yolks (I consider them over easy, but everyone defines that differently) and toast is THE best dinner.  I love eggs so much, but sometimes have a hard time eating them early in the morning.  For some reason, they aren't as good when they are the first thing I eat.  But mostly, I am so lazy in the morning that I have a hard time getting out of my granola slump.  I am also so hungry in the morning.  I barely make it from my bed to the kitchen without massive amounts of whining.  Regardless, I always eat eggs for dinner.  If I have some sort of weird/incomplete meal to eat,  I just put an egg on it.  Normally, I eat the over easy egg with goat cheese crumbled over the top and toast.  Sometimes I add some veggies, if I have some.  Normally I make this when I don't have much, so it is never the same.  In the photos here I have added smoked salmon, tomatoes, goat cheese and some potatoes.  

Eggs and Toast with Goat Cheese


(Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Scot (taste):  8/10
Shanon (taste):  8/10
Effort:  1/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Salmon with Sautéed Kale and Cranberries

Here is another random meal I made right after Thanksgiving (Food from Me to You...what an awful name for a series).  I often make a piece of fish and we eat it over some veggie medley like this.  I don't even want to talk about the fact that I put goat cheese on this.  But I do because I actually think it is a vital component.  Anytime I eat something sweet, I need to like kick it in the face with something either creamy or super savory and salty.  And the bitter greens and tart/sweet cranberries paired with silky salmon and goat cheese from heaven is crazy good.  

In general, when I am in a hurry and just want to whip something up, I almost always turn to 1-3 of these ingredients:

1.  Kale
2.  Goat Cheese
3.  Fish

Eating a piece of well cooked salmon is always a highlight of my weekly meals.  All these photos are so ugly, but life really does go on.  

2012 foodforscot Kitchen Tip:  Learn to cook fish properly by practicing.  Cook fish once a month until you make one night and declare it the best fish you have ever ate.  Succulence.   

Salmon with Sautéed Kale and Cranberries

2 salmon fillets (skin on or off, I like the crispy skin)
olive oil
salt and pepper
Herb butter (or butter + some fresh or dry herbs)
1 bunch of kale, clear, dried and roughly chopped
A large handful of cranberries
Goat cheese, crumbled

Put olive oil in small non-stick sauté pan and preheat over medium/medium-high heat. Season salmon with salt and pepper on both sides. Sear each side until crisp (if the skin is on, I do skin side first). While on second side, add herb butter and baste the salmon fillets while they finish cooking. You can easily see when fish is done by just keep an eye on the side view. When there is no dark pink (or very little dark pink) left, just stop.

In a separate skillet, add some more oil and put over medium/medium-high heat. Add kale and wilt down for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Add cranberries and cook until they have burst and are cooked down, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve each salmon fillet over the cranberry kale mixture. Top with crumbled goat cheese.

(Servings: 2, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Scot (taste):  8/10
Shanon (taste):  8/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ham, Australian Cheddar, Fig and Grilled Zucchini Quesadilla

Next up in the series, Food from Me to You...a new quesadilla recipe.  Quesadillas like this are my go to "I am too busy to cook" meal.  Even though I avoid excessive use of deli meat, I do eat it randomly.  And I always give it a quick sear on the skillet before putting it in my concoctions, tastes about 80 times better that way.  This quesadilla is a combination of ham, australian cheddar (super creamy), a fig spread and grilled zucchini.  I definitely put either some goat cheese or some cream cheese in these, as well, because clearly, I am incapable of not adding soft cheese to every single thing I put on the plate.  

Also, I love acid.  And anytime I make a quesadilla or grilled sandwich or make some sort of a grilled cake (like these), I always eat it with aggressively dressed greens.  Some baby spinach, spring mix, arugula, etc.  I usually eat about half a bag of baby spinach (so like 2.5 ounces) with one quesadilla.  So normally it is a lot more greenage than what is in the photo.  I think I was just running low.  

The purpose of sharing this recipe isn't so you go out and buy all these rather strange ingredients and put them together (although, go for it, this was extremely well liked by Scot), it is instead to share with you one of my regulars.  BTW, fig spread is Scot's Betty Boop lately.  Or his new "sweet potato".  If you have never had it, it is basically the filling in a Fig Newton, but classier.  

PS:  In case you didn't notice, I gave foodforscot a Facebook page for Christmas.  And I added FB liking capabilities all up in here.  I am hoping this allows for better communication.  The commenting via the blog is sort of 1991, so I hope adding the ability to comment on FB makes things a little easier.  Also, YOU can upload pics and comments on the FB page anytime and send me hate mail there.  

2012 foodforscot Kitchen Tip:  Don't buy salad dressing.  I promise you, you will never regret it.  All you need is to stock your pantry and fridge with ingredients (which basically never go bad) that allow you to whip up whatever dressing you want.  I eat some sort of vinaigrette or dressing at least 3 times a week and I make it each time (or use up the leftovers right away).  So what ingredients are need to whip up a dressing?

-Vinegars (I always have balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, rice vinegar...but Champagne, Sherry, and other flavored vinegars are fun to throw into the mix)
-Oil (almost always olive oil, but for Asian and Mexican, you want a light oil like Veggie)
-Salt and pepper
-Dijon mustard
-Honey (or other sweeteners like Maple syrup, agave, jelly or jams, etc.)

Those ingredients alone can do wonders.  However, there are probably lots of other ingredients and condiments hanging around that can give you even more options including:  Worcestershire sauce, Soy sauce, other mustards, Sriracha, fresh or dry herbs, weird Asian oils/Fish sauce/etc., lemons, limes, ketchup, relish, and many more.

Are you thinking...what about the creamy dressings?  Well, all you need is fat:  mayo, sour cream, yogurt, milk, etc.  

I always have all of these ingredients.  And I hate bottled salad dressing.  Even before the "eat whole foods, don't eat processed foods" movement, I hated bottled salad dressing.  I think it is because once you start making vinaigrettes, you won't turn back.  

Should I take a bow?  Geeez.  Sorry about that multi-paragraph kitchen tip.  I think you get the idea.  

Ham, Australian Cheddar, Fig and Grilled Zucchini Quesadilla

Australian Cheddar
Goat cheese, probably
Zucchini, sliced and grilled
Fig spread
Spinach flour tortillas
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Make a quesadilla and serve with a salad greens tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette.

(Servings: any, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 10 min., Difficulty: Impossible)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  1/5
Dishwashing Effort:  1/5

Monday, January 2, 2012

Kale, Tomato and Goat Cheese Twice Baked Potato

Day 164 in this new city and I still don't remember how to get from my house to the grocery store.  Unfortunately, that is not a joke.  Being an idiot is a constant struggle.

I am doing a new thing here on foodforscot.  It probably won't change your life.  But if it does, it might make be feel a little better about being navigationally challenged.  

I have been stocking up recipe after recipe (aka photo after photo) of all these meals I have made over the past 5-6 crazy months of my life.  I haven't posted them because many of them are "ideas" rather than recipes.  And I am lazy!  They are just things I whip up when I don't want to recipe test and just want to cook and eat without figuring out how much of this and how much of that and how long for this, etc.  So...stay tuned for weird, random, maybe overly obvious meals, recipes and ideas.  I don't know how long this will last, but I hope for it to be frequent and fun.  Which is why I will call this series:

Food Ideas for You from Me 

First up in this series are these twice baked potatoes.  You may know/remember my thing with baked potatoes.  But can I just re-iterate that a good baked potato can seriously make you feel like all is right in the world.  It has to be the most under-rated potato side.  Even I, the number one fan of the baked potato, sometimes discriminate.  I usually stuff them with steamed broccoli, cheese and/or bacon, but this kale, tomato and goat cheese version is amazing.  Make sure you respect the preparation of the baked potato.  The key to a good baked potato is to really scrub the potato skin so that it is super clean.  Because when it is oiled and sprinkled with salt and pepper before baking, it makes the most delicious crispy skin to enjoy.  If you make a good baked potato or twice baked potato, you will scarf down the entire things (including the skin).  

PS:  I have been pretty good about updating the recipe index, sometimes it is 1-6 recipes behind.  I updated the weeknight meals tab with a few things last night.  I still have a few more things to add, but will continue to update.  The restaurants tab is in need of some updating.  Fortunately and unfortunately, I have a LOT of new places to add.  

2012 foodforscot Kitchen Tip:  Keep a lot of kitchen towels around.  I probably have 30+.  Use them frequently.  Replace them frequently.  Use them to wipe down your cutting board, to dry produce, to wipe off your hands as you cook, to wipe off your knife, to wipe down your pan, etc.  I feel like for the longest time I skimped on my dish towel use (afraid of laundry maybe...?), but now I use one or two a day and it makes my time in the kitchen flow so much better.  Also, have a variety of types.  I like those thin white ones, thick towel-y ones, big ones, those hatch patter ones, etc.  All good for different things.  

Kale, Tomato and Goat Cheese Twice Baked Potato

3 baking potatoes
olive oil
2 ounces of goat cheese
3 tablespoons of butter
3 ounces of Monterey jack, shredded
1 bunch of kale, rinsed, dried, stems removed and chopped
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash potatoes under water and scrub the skin clean. Takes about 2 minutes per potato. Completely dry the potatoes with a kitchen towel. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Place potatoes on baking sheet and pierce each potato several times with a fork. Liberally coat potatoes with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in oven until fork tender. Usually takes about an hour for a medium sized potato.

While potatoes are baking, heat up some olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped kale and cook for about 15 minutes until kale is cooked down and wilted. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Remove potatoes from oven and let cool slightly (or enough so that you can work with them…if you have hands of steel, start right away). It helps to cut them in half length-wise and let them sit for a few minutes to cool down. After the potatoes are sliced in half length-wise, scoop out the insides leaves about 1/4 inch of flesh and skin so that potatoes don’t fall apart. Mash together the potato insides, goat cheese, butter, some of the Monterey jack cheese (leave enough to top off the potato halves), and salt and pepper, to taste. After mixture is somewhat homogeneous, add the cooked kale and cherry tomatoes and fold to combine. Fill each of the six potato halves with the mixture and top with remaining Monterey jack cheese. Place back on baking sheet and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly golden brown.

(Servings: 3-6, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 1.5 hrs., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)

This dish is so 2011.  That joke never gets old.  And Scot has already used it at least three times.

I have emerged from hiding.  While I was in hiding, I found lots of shareable recipes.  This just happens to be one of them.  Remember back when I confessed my love for Indian food?  That Chicken Tikka Masala was so delicious, but lacked two things I love about most Indian food...that is, being healthy and vegetarian.  Chana Masala is just the solution.  

This dish is very comforting and warm.  Warm as in hot.  Be careful with the cayenne.  The recipe calls for 1/2 tsp, which is quite a lot.  I would recommend starting with about 1/8 tsp if you aren't a spicy head.  I used the full 1/2 tsp and water was required while eating.  But in a wonderful way.

PS:  Did everyone eat black eyed peas to bring in the New Year?  I did.  And boy am I feeling lucky and ready to tackle 2012.  (I haven't showered in 3 days)

PPS:  I promise to post more.  My schedy has worked itself out and now I am like...totally going to post everyday.  


Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh, hot green chili pepper, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (this is potentially quite spicy, you might want to use less)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon amchoor powder (see note)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cups tomatoes, chopped small or 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small
2/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon (juiced) (or a whole lemon if not using the amchoor powder)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, cumin seeds, amchoor (if using it), paprika and garam masala. Cook onion mixture with spiced for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.

Eat up or put a lid on it and reheat it when needed. Curries such as this reheat very well, later or or in the days that follow, should it last that long.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5