Archive for the 'Main Courses' Category

Make your own vegetable pasta!

As many know, I am on a wheat free diet for medical reasons so often I find myself having to come up with substitutes for my dishes. Im Italian so I love pasta dishes, but Ive never really liked the taste and texture of pasta…its too bland and gummy. Enter veggie pasta. Veggie pastas are when you use a vegetable to simulate the pasta in your dish. Its far more healthy than the carb rich noodles and I find it much more tasty. The easiest to prepare and most popular is spaghetti squash. The large gourd is cheap and all you have to do is cut it in half, boil it and then scoop out the meat with a fork and it will fall out like noodles.

Cool huh? I use this all the time when I need spaghetti noodles and frankly I like it more than regular spaghetti. Its got a more firm texture and a flavorful nutty taste. Im a big fan of just tossing the noodles with some olive oil and garlic then sprinkling with some fresh Parmesan cheese.

One of my recent discoveries has been the use of zucchini as noodles. All you have to do is take a zucchini and cut the ends off and peel the skin. Then using a potato peeler slice long even strips of the zucchini. About 2 average sized zucchinis makes enough for one serving.

Heres my 12seconds video of how to make the noodles

Cooking Lesson 1: How to make zucchini noodles in 12 seconds! on 12seconds.tv

Once you have a big pile of zucchini noodles you can either quickly boil them our lightly saute them in oil. Be careful not to cook them too long or they will become soft and mushy. All you need to do is get them nice and hot, any longer than that and they will loose their noodle-like texture. I really like using them in a chili and soy stir fry but you can use them in any recipe that calls for flat noodles. So enjoy the healthy and delicious taste of veggie noodles!

<3 seanalyn

Feast like the President!

I hope you checked out Katies post about Inaguration Day recipes and drinks for an awesome way to ring in our bright shinny new president. If youre still looking for more ways to celebrate the day, why not eat what Obama and 200 guests ate at the Inauguration Luncheon today? I dug up the menu and recipes for their fabulous feast and thought I would share them with you all!

The Inaugural Luncheon began in 1897 when the Senate Committee on Arrangements gave President McKinley and several guests a luncheon, although the current form of the Inaugural Luncheon did not begin until 1953. The food typically reflects the home states of the new President and Vice President.

The first course was a Seafood Stew filled with Maine Lobster and scallops. It was paired with a Buckhorn Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc.

The second course was A Brace of American Birds (pheasant and duck) served with Sour Cherry Chutney and Molasses Sweet Potatoes. It was paired with a Goldeneye 2005 Pinot Noir.

The third and final course was a classic Apple Cinnamon Sponge Cake with Sweet Cream Clace and it was paired with Korbel Natural’s “Special Inaugural Cuvee” (a California Champagne).

The recipes for all the courses are available as a download from senate.gov, click this link to download the pdf.

Happy Obama Feast!

Simple honey ginger glaze and Mahi Mahi love

Friday when I was coming home from work I decided to pop into the nearby Safeway and see if they happened to have and fish on sale. To my surprise they had some nice looking Mahi Mahi for a mere $5.99 a pound. Mahi Mahi is one of my favorite fishes because it has a light taste and a firm texture, its one of those fishes that you dont have to try and hide the fishy flavor of. In fact a little salt pepper and lemon then lightly fried is all it takes. I first fell in love with it when I visited my godfather in Puerto Vallarta which has an abundance of Mahi Mahi off its shores.  I remember going to a little cafe in a small fishing village just outside of the city and ordering up a delicious fillet of Mahi Mahi that was just lightly seasoned with butter, lemon and salt and pepper then sauted. They served it with a pile of white rice, black beans and fresh tomato slices. That meal still ranks in my mind as one of the best meals of my life. Im convinced Mahi Mahi is Spanish for ‘true love’ (note- Mahi Mahi is totally not Spanish for ‘true love’ it is actually Hawaiian for ‘strong strong’)

Anyways I digress too much hehe. So I picked up two fillets of Mahi Mahi from Safeway…a bit skeptical because they were previously frozen and thawed…but for 5.49 for 2 fillets I couldnt pass up giving them a shot.

When I got home I decided to marinade them just in case their flavor wasnt the best (with fresh Mahi Mahi I wouldve just done some lemon and salt/pepper like I mentioned before). I made a simple Honey Ginger marinade and the came out fabulous! They tasted amazing! Firm but full of flavor! I will definitely have to go back and pick up some more.

Honey Ginger Glaze Mahi-Mahi

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 table spoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 table spoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1 to 2 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • salt and pepper

This is a simple recipe that can be altered more or less because its basically equal parts of the main ingredients.  My recipe was a good amount for 2 fillets and I had plenty of sauce left over to drizzle on some Cilantro Pepper Rice (recipe to follow). Mix all the liquid ingredients together in a bowl (if you dont have sesame oil, just replace that with olive oil and you’ll be fine.  I just like the flavor of sesame oil).  Grate the ginger and mince the garlic.  Add to taste! Depending on the garlic and ginger individually and you own tastes, you might want more or less.  Season the fish with salt and pepper then place it in a dish and cover with the marinade.  Put it in the fridge for at lest 20 minutes.  Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and put a little oil in.  Saute each side of the fish until its cooked (about 5 minutes on each side).  Transfer the fish to a plate.  Reduce the heat in the pan to medium and pour the remaining marinade in.  Heat until it is warm and has thickened slightly.  Top the fish with extra marinade and serve! This marinade would be delicious on just about any fish, especially a white fish, salmon or tuna.  You could also try it out on chicken!

Bonus Recipe!

Along with the Mahi Mahi I made a delicious Cilantro and Red Pepper Rice.  Its super easy to make and spices up plain white rice a bit.

Cilantro and Red Pepper Rice

Ingredients

  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Red Pepper
  • Salt and Pepper

Cook your rice as normal (I like to use a rice cooker so use one if you have one).  When about half of the water has evaporated dice up a decent pile of cilantro and parsley.  You dont want too much, but enough to cover the top of the pot with a thin layer.  Throw in the parsley and cilantro then toss and bit of salt and pepper to taste, continue to cook the rice.  Just before the rice is done (when you think theres about 5-8 minutes left) finely dice about half a red pepper and throw that onto the top of the pot.  You want to do it near the end so you dont overcook the pepper…just enough to steam it.  Once the rice is done stir it all up and serve! Its delicious, quick and easy! You could also add lemon or lime zest while you cook for even more pep.

Cooking on my DS?!

No, Im not talking about Cooking Mama (although I do love that game) Im talking about cookbooks for the DS. When I was in Japan one of the things I envied in the game shops was the sheer number of cookbooks for DS. Walking down the aisles of the many electronic shops in Akihabara here were dozens and dozens of them, sadly my total lack of reading any Japanese prevented me from picking any of them up. However when I was out shopping this weekend I saw Personal Trainer: Cooking available for the DS and quickly snatched it up.

I LOVE THIS PROGRAM! There just wanted to get that out of the way before I go any further. This is seriously such an amazing program and incredible for the $19 sticker price (by the way, I’m saying program because this isn’t a game so much as a computer application). Personal Trainer: Cooking features over 240 recipes from all over the world all with step by step instructions to help you create spectacular meals.

The best part of this program is the attention to little details that they put into it. If you are making Spinach Namul and don’t know how to blanch spinach, in the middle of the recipe it will give you the option to click on a mini guide to perfectly blanching spinach. There are even videos for some preparation tips, like how to clean a trout or perfectly dice garlic. Another nice touch is the kitchen timer that will pop up in the middle of you cooking steps and it will be automatically preset with the time needed for that recipe. You can also adjust the number of servings to be either 1, 2, 4 or 6 and it will automatically adjust the recipe accordingly.

Example of cooking video….look REAL people! Not cartoons!!

However, the greatest feature of all would have to be the voice control option that lets you repeat a step, go back or move on to the next without ever touching your DS (trust me chicken grease and a touch screen don’t mix). My biggest gripe with cook books is having to constantly dry my hands so I can look up the next step. With Personal Trainer: Cooking I can just say the word and it reads off the steps too me along with photos to illustrate the task.

The step menu allows you to pick up where you left off or skip ahead.

Searching on this program is also far better than any cook book because aside from searching by region or ingredient you can get really specific. To decide Monday night’s dinner I looked up by ingredient and calorie count (after eating heavy foods over the holiday I wanted something light). We have a ton of cucumber so I put that in and the result was a Chinese dish called Bang Bang Chicken which features a spicy sesame sauce and cucumber slices. It was delicious! Tonight I decided I want to cook some gorgeous salmon steaks that we have in the fridge, so I found a nice French recipe for Salmon with Green Sauce and a side of ratatouille to accompany it.

When you are looking at a recipe it displays the ingredients and allows you to check off ones that you are missing and it creates a shopping list to take with you to the store! But, lets say you’re at the store and you don’t know what parsley looks like, well it has photos of all the ingredients to help you along. Or what if you get to the store and they are out of an ingredient? Many ingredients have substitution suggestions like using unsweetened peanut butter if you can’t find sesame paste. Another nice feature is you can set the program to exclude certain ingredients. So if you are like my friend Becky and unfortunately unable to eat onions, with a click of a button you can make sure no onion recipes ever grace your DS.


You can use the map to look around the world to find your next meal! All the meals display a picture along with calories, time needed to cook and a short description.

The only thing that Personal Trainer: Cooking doesn’t have that I would like is a meal planner where you could schedule out the recipes you want to cook for certain days. If it had this feature, it would be the most perfect program ever! I am able to somewhat simulate this by adding a note to the recipes I want to use saying “Thursday night dinner” and I can then filter the recipes by notes. Its not the best solution but it works.


Another nice section is the Homemade Ingredients which teaches you how to make basic stuff like pizza dough or Béchamel sauce.

Overall, what I like most about Personal Trainer: Cooking is that they didn’t half-ass the game. They couldve easily shat out a bunch of recipes that you just tap through, but they didn’t go that route. All the little details and perks are what make this one step above your average print cookbook. They really thought about everything that someone would want or need in the kitchen. Hopefully this will inspire more cooking programs for the DS and PSP, I would also love to see celebrity sponsored editions (ahem Alton Brown’s Cooking for DS please!). Apparently a program called Whats Cooking? With Jamie Oliver did come out recently so I am now on the hunt for a copy of that (although I’ve heard that one isn’t quite as good). Honestly I would buy just about any other DS cookbook as long as its even half as good as Personal Trainer: Cooking. If I were to score this program I would undoubtedly give it an A!

The sad tale of the turbaconucken that never was :(

As many of you know I was excited…no ecstatic about the plan to bacon wrap and deep fry a turducken this year for Thanksgiving. However my dreams were crushed by certain wussy boys who were afraid of the awesomeness that would be the turbaconducken. We had it all worked out…we would make the turducken then deep fry it until it was almost done then pull it out and wrap it in bacon and pop it in the oven for the rest of the way. It was perfect…there was no way it could go wrong! But at the last minute some of the guys decided it wouldnt work or something (I think they were just afraid of its awesomeness). Dreams = crushed.

Although not all was lost, due to the high number of people attending our Thanksgiving we decided one mega bird wasnt enough so we got a backup turkey. Needless to say, I claimed it as my own and announced that I would bacon wrap and roast it myself.

The plan was simple. Prepare the bird as normal: rub with oil and salt and pepper…. stuff with an onion, garlic and celery… place more onions, garlic, and celery in the pan…pop in the oven and roast. I basted it every 45 minutes to keep it moist and right before it was done I draped it with 2 lbs of delicious bacon. I also stuffed some bacon inside the bird and then cut up some pears and tossed them in the pan to roast along with some dried rose petals. After about 20 minutes the bird was done (a few pieces of bacon werent cooked all the way so I removed them, wrapped em in foil and tossed em back in the oven to finish up before draping them back on the bird).

I took the juice and made a gravy as you usually do, only I blended up the roasted pears and mixed that in (I also tossed in a few extra pieces of bacon to the gravy just to reinforce the bacon flavors).

The bird was carved and served…to my surprise the meat was very bacony tasting! I thought that the bacon would just infuse the skin but some how it permeated the deeper layers of the turkey giving it all a delicious bacony flavor. The pear gravy was a perfect accent adding the sweetness that the salty bacon needed (you know, for that yin/yang balance shit). I highly recommend trying a bacon wrapped turkey for anyone looking to pep up their bird this holiday season. Next time I want to try a maple syrup glaze instead of the pear, really I think just about any sweet topping would match perfectly.

All in all the bacon wrapped turkey was a total and complete success.

Oh and I guess the turducken wasnt too bad either….but it would’ve been better with bacon.


This turducken would look a lot happier if it wasnt naked…it needs a nice bacon suit.

Obligatory Thanksgiving leftovers post

So tomorrow is the big day….the day where we feast on the flesh of a thousand turkeys (or tofurkeys if you so choose). Inevitably there are going to be leftovers, but theres only so many turkey sandwiches and turkey casseroles you can eat before you just can’t take it anymore. Heres a few recipes that take your turkey leftovers one step beyond.

Turkey Curry

Anyone who knows me knows I love curry. This recipe is a quick easy way to reuse your turkey, but totally changing the flavor so no one feels like theyre just having a repeat of Thanksgiving.

Turkey and Broccoli Quiche

The day after Thanksgiving everyone goes into that inevitable food coma…personally I dont feel like eating until midday at least. Why not recycle some of that Turkey into a delicious brunch dish?

Mashed Potato Croquettes

Why should turkey have all the fun? My mom always used to make too much mashed potatoes so we would have a plethora of those left over every year. I’ve always loved croquettes, so just take your potatoes add some spices (I’d throw in some green onions too) and bread and fry the suckers. You could also add salmon or more cheese to create different types of croquettes. These would go great with your turkey curry!

Stuffing Frittata

Stuffing, yet another side dish that usually doesnt get changed too much when it comes to leftovers. But simply by adding some eggs and cheese, you can create a whole new dish. Also perfect for a post turkey coma brunch.

Mashed Potato Pancakes

One of my favorite things to do is stroll over to the local Irish pub and order up a plate of boxty and trout. Boxty is basically just Irish potato pancakes (they are similar to this recipe only a bit of flour and baking soda is added) so you could easily substitute these Mashed Potato Pancakes in. Top them with some smoked trout or salmon and cream and you have an utterly delicious meal.

Leftover Tofurkey Stroganoff

Ah my dear veggie friends…don’t think I forgot about you! Even you can get some mileage out of your tofurkey leftovers! Just mix up the leftover veggie gravy with some garlic,sour cream and mushrooms then pour it all over rice or noodles for instant deliciousness.

Tofurkey Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

Now this recipe sounds so delicious Im almost jealous that Im not cooking a tofurkey! Pesto, pumpkin seeds and lemon get blended together to create a totally new tofurkey experience. My mouth is watering!

So there you have it, just a few easy and delicious alternatives to reusing your Thanksgiving leftovers. I’ll try and pop in and write another blog before the weekend but no promises since the bacon wrapped turducken is sure to induce a mighty turkey coma. However I will document all our delicious Thanksgiving recipes and share them with you later! Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Turbaconducken….all that is good in this world

Just moments ago my friend Rob sent me proof that there is a God and he is made of pure bacon and love.
Behold…..

Turbaconducken

It is the perfect harmony of turkey, duck and chicken all harmoniously wrapped in bacon and baked to perfection. Corey James of Bacon Today describes every juice detail for creating this culinary masterpiece.

I am currently trying to convince all my friends that this is really the only option for thanksgiving dinner.

Only we want to step it up a notch and deep fry it! My arteries and heart are swelling just thinking about it.

Tapas Week pt 1

So I wrote this last week but incorrectly published it….so here is my original tapas blog from last Monday! Better late than never!

I cant even type the word tapas without salivating so last night when Cesar and I had to cancel our tapas dinner my tummy was devastated. However, it did give me the opportunity to try some tapas recipes of my own. For those that are wondering “WTF are tapas?!” they are traditionally a Spanish style of food which is comprised of many small plates from which the dinner chooses a few to make their whole meal. In the US and UK they have evolved into their own style of cuisine not necessarily Spanish in style. I love tapas especially for eating with friends because everyone shares their food and you are focused more on enjoying each other and the experience as opposed to your own plate of food. Also Im a sucker for appetizer snacky type food ;)

So last night I made some tapas of my own! Eggplant, Mushroom and Roasted Red Pepper Empanadas, Garlic Roasted Mushrooms, and a Sardline Lemon Salad. All were quite excellent if I do say so myself and since Im going to two parties this weekend Im making some more…so as I try more recipes I’ll post em up! Today I’ll start off with the Empanadas and Roasted Mushrooms.

The Garlic Roasted Mushrooms are the easiest so I’ll start off with those.

Garlic Roasted Mushrooms
Ingredients

Assorted mushrooms (button, oyster, shitake)

Garlic

Olive Oil

Rosemary

Salt and pepper

Water

Preheat the oven to 450. Gently wipe the mushrooms clean (dont wash them! wipe them with a towel!) and place them in a baking pan. Drizzle them with olive oil and fresh minced garlic. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. You could also add other spices like oregano, thyme, or basil! Make sure the mushrooms are evenly coated and pop them into the oven. Cook until they are brown (about 20 to 25 minutes). Remove from the oven and add a little water to the pan to soften the dried brown garlic bits and stir (it creates a nice little sauce). Serve immediately!

Eggplant, Mushroom and Roasted Red Pepper Empanadas

Ingredients

2 cups Cornmeal

2 cups Water

1 cup diced eggplant

1 cup diced red peppers

1 cup diced mushrooms (oyster or button)

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 cup onions

1/2 cup goat cheese

garlic

salt and pepper

cumin

In a bowl mix 2 cups cornmeal with some salt…slowly add warm water and mix with your hands until it is elasticy and sticky. you want it to be firm and pliable but not liquid like pancake batter. cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

Cover the red peppers in a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt…roast in a 450 degree oven until they are soft.

For the filling, use a saute pan to heat some vegetable oil and saute the onions, garlic, eggplant and mushrooms until the eggplant is soft. Add the red peppers and spices and give it a few quick tosses. Remove from heat and mix in the goat cheese and cilantro.

Take a ball of the dough and place it on a piece of plastic wrap and place another piece on top. Using a rolling pin or cup roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness. Using a 5 inch cookie cutter or a cup make circles (going thru the top layer of plastic wrap). Pull of the plastic wrap and remove the excess dough from around the circles. spoon about a tablespoon of filling on each one filling only the lower half, use the plastic wrap to help fold over the top of each empanada. pinch it with your fingers to seal it shut.

Once you have your empanadas made, heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a pot or fryer. Drop and few in at a time and cook until golden brown then flip. Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel.

I served mine with a tequila lemon hot sauce…basically take any red chili hot sauce, add some tequila and lemon juice and ketchup then mix until its a nice consistency.

Hope you enjoy! I’ll post up a few more recipes to enjoy tomorrow!

Tapas Week pt 2

As promised heres a few other tapas recipes sure to make for a delicious meal or party!

Spicy Crispy Fried Oysters

Ingredients

  • 24 Oysters
  • 2 cups cornmeal flour
  • 1 cup either spelt or white flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cumin
  • chili pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • canola or vegetable oil.
  • aioli (recipe to follow)
  • green onions

Pop the oysters out of their shell and give both them and the shell a quick rinse.  Keep only the bottom half of the shell.  If you have never shucked oysters, its very easy, <a href=”http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/oysters.htm”>heres a step by step guide</a> that explains it better than I could.

In a bowl mix the two flours together.  Add all the different seasonings until it reaches a spice you like.  I prefer very spicy so I add lots of garlic, chili and cumin.

In a pan heat about 2-3 inches of oil. Thoroughly roll each oyster in the flour mixture until they are completely coated.  Drop a few at a time in the oil and cook a golden brown, flip and do the same with the other side.  Allow oil to drain on a  paper towel. Place the cooked oysters each on an oyster half and top with aioli and chopped green onion.

Lemon Aioli

To make an aioli basically whisk some mayonnaise with some lemon juice, lemon pepper and just a but of mustard.  You want it to be slightly more liquidy than the mayonaise is.  I like adding either crushed garlic or some capers, but you can experiment and add different spices to see what you like!

Sun-dried Tomato and Shrimp Ceviche

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes drained from oil or dry and re-hydrated in water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 10 roasted garlic
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 lb of medium to small sized cooked shrimp
  • 1 cup diced sweet white onion
  • 1 cup diced cabbage
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 limes
  • cilantro
  • salt and pepper

To make the roasted garlic drizzle whole garlic cloves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place them in a 450 degree oven and cook until they are soft and golden.  In a blender add the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar and sugar.  blend until all the tomatoes are thoroughly chopped up and liquid, add salt and pepper to taste.  Finely dice onions and cabbage and chop the cilantro.  If you like spicy add some finely diced jalepenos!  In a bow  mix the sun-dried tomato mixture and add the shrimp, cabbage, onions and juice of the oranges, lemons, and limes.  Mix it all together thoroughly and add the cilantro.

Serve with chips or use it on mini sope shells as a great appetizer! I recently served this at a ladies night and it was quite well recieved.  Its nice because its a pretty easy ceviche to make and with the precooked shrimp you dont have to worry about raw fish or anything ;)

Pumpkin Hamburger

I’ve seen a lot of interesting ways to carve a pumpkin, but this one truly takes the cake…er hamburger?

Submitted to Family Crafts on on About.com by Sherry Balogh is this cute twist on pumpkin carving. Everything about it is innovative and spot on, especially the use of pumpkin seeds as the sesame seeds on the “bun”. This is really getting me inspired for my own pumpkin carving adventure this weekend!

Sadly, this cute pumpkin hamburger is not edible….but it makes me think of trying to make an edible pumpkin hamburger myself! Anyone who knows me knows that I love pumpkin and finding new ways to cook pumpkin. Especially now since my boyfriend who loves pumpkin announced that he is turned off from most pumpkin products (like the pumpkin cookies and pumpkin pastas you find in stores) because they just arent done well.

Honestly, I don’t blame him for thinking this since he has a high status of pumpkin products due to his mother’s AMAZING pumpkin pie. Well I love a challenge so my new goal is to find the best and most delicious way to cook pumpkin. I think I’ll start it off with trying a way to make a pumpkin hamburger….Im torn between wanting to make some sort of pumpkin patty to replace the meat or grilling up some pumpkin as a topping. I’ll report back when my experimenting is done ;)

In the mean time feel free to share your favorite pumpkin recipes AND your carved pumpkins! I need inspiration!


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