October 02, 2009

Pear and Rhubarb Sauce

Living alone can be challenging when it comes to cooking- what do you do with all the leftovers? I like to make meals that freeze well, so I can make a bunch and stick some in the freezer for the days I don't feel like cooking.

While it's not the greatest picture, what you see above is a jar of pear and rhubarb sauce ready to head into the freezer. With a consistency like apple sauce, this can be eaten alone or as a topping for oatmeal, etc. I created this recipe out of necessity because I had a bag of pears I was afraid would go bad before I could eat them all, and fresh picked rhubarb that needed to get used as well. Voilà!

-16 ripe anjou pears, peeled, cored and chopped
-12 medium stalks rhubarb, chopped
-2 cups water
-1/4 cup lemon juice
-1/4 cup agave nectar*

1. In a large pot, combine all ingredients. Slowly bring to a simmer.
2. Stirring occasionally, cook until pears become soft and rhubarb begins to fall apart, about 10 minutes.
3. For a chunky sauce, use a potato masher to break apart pear pieces. For a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender to purée the pears and rhubarb.

*You may want to use more agave nectar for a sweeter sauce. I like the tang of the rhubarb to stand out!

October 01, 2009

Rachel's Stuffed Mushrooms

To celebrate World Vegetarian Day today, I made these stuffed mushrooms for dinner. Yum!

-6 medium portabella mushroom caps, whole
-4 medium portabella mushroom caps, chopped
-small yellow onion, minced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
-2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
-2 T. olive oil
-1 tsp. coarse salt
-1 T. balsamic vinegar
-1 T. parsley flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Using 1 T. olive oil, coat a baking sheet with oil. Place six whole mushroom caps upside down one the baking sheet, spacing evenly.
3. In a large saucepan, heat remaining 1 T. olive oil on medium heat and add garlic and onion. Stir and sauté garlic and onions until soft.
4. Once the garlic and onions are soft, add the walnuts, spinach, chopped mushroom, salt, vinegar, and parsley flakes. Continue to cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until spinach has wilted down, about 3-5 minutes.
5. Spoon the filling evenly into the mushroom caps, pressing down lightly.
6. Place the filled mushrooms into the preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes.

June 14, 2009

Lemon Herb Barley Salad

This barley salad is very simple, but tastes fresh and vibrant. It's a good side dish for hot summer days, as it's served cold. This recipe makes a lot, so you may want to half the amounts.

You can use any kind of barley, but I used hulled barley because it has a bit more chew than pearled barley, and it's a little healthier too. I cooked my barley in a rice cooker, after soaking it for an hour, with the ratio of one cup barley to two cups water.

-6 cups cooked barley (approx. two cups dried hulled barley)
-1/3 cup sorrel, finely chopped
-1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
-4 T. olive oil
-1/2 t. salt
-juice from 1 lemon

1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Chill for an hour to allow flavors to marry.
3. Serve chilled.

I used sorrel in this recipe, because I have some growing in the garden, but if you can't find any you can leave it out. Since sorrel has a lemony flavor, you may want to add more lemon juice to make up for the loss.

Here is a picture of the pot of sorrel I have growing. Not only does it taste good, but I think it's pretty too!

Black Bean and Corn Salad

While I was out to dinner a week or so ago, I had a wonderful corn and bean salad that I knew I was going to have to try and reproduce at home. This is my approximation of the recipe, which I think came pretty close to the original!

-3 1/2 cups cooked black beans (approx. 2 drained cans)
-1 can corn, drained
-1 roasted red pepper, finely diced
-1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
-zest from 1 lime
-juice from 2 limes
-1/8 to 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-1/2 t. salt

1. In a large bowl, combine the black beans, corn and roasted red pepper. Mix well.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the red onion, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, oil, and salt until well combined.
3. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and stir to coat evenly.
4. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours to allow the beans to absorb the dressing. Serve chilled or room temperature.

April 02, 2009

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Salad

This salad was inspired by a dish my mom and I saw in the salad bar of a grocery store. It looked good, so I noted the ingredients and decided to try to make it at home. The only catch? I didn't try the salad, I just looked at it. So, my version might not taste anything like the one I saw! Slightly sweet and tangy, this salad is healthy and easy to prepare.


-2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lb), cooked, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
-3 cups cooked quinoa (I used 1 cup uncooked quinoa with 2 cups water in my rice cooker)
-1/2 cup almonds, chopped
-3 oz. fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
-1/8 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
-1/8 cup sesame oil
-2 T. soy sauce/tamari
-2 T. agave syrup
-1 t. powdered ginger
-1/2 oz. chives, chopped
-zest and juice from 1/2 orange

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, soy sauce, agave syrup, ginger, chives, zest and orange juice to create the dressing.
2. In a large mixing bowl, fold together the sweet potato, quinoa, almonds and spinach. While stirring, drizzle the dressing over top. Taste the salad and add the dressing to your taste.
3. Refrigerate the salad for about an hour before serving. This salad tastes good cold, or at room temperature.

March 20, 2009

Rachel's Thai Soup

I created this soup today when I realized there was a bunch of broccoli in the crisper that I had completely forgotten about. This soup may not be authentic, but it is inspired by Thai flavors.

-2 T. vegetable oil
-1 med. onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-5 cups vegetable broth
-14 oz. coconut milk
-1 or 2 jalapeño
-1 large head of broccoli, cut into tiny florets
-2 roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips
-2 carrots, julienned
-4 oz. pad thai noodles, broken in half
-15 oz. cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
-juice from one lime
-2 T. chopped cilantro
-4 T. peanut butter

1. In a large soup pot, cook the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat until softened.
2. Once the onions are soft, add the remaining vegetables and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
3. Add the broth and coconut milk to the vegetables, and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the broccoli is fully cooked. Stir in the noodles and beans, cover the pot, and remove from heat.
4. Allow the soup to sit, covered, for 10 minutes, or until the noodles are soft.
5. When the noodles are done, stir in the cilantro and peanut butter, until well combined. Enjoy!

March 03, 2009

Onigiri (Omusubi)

A few weeks ago, my friend Christine and I went to an awesome little restaurant where we ate triangular rice "sandwiches." Basically, they were rice, stuffed with a filling, wrapped in nori. I was instantly in love. These are a great alternative to normal bread sandwiches. Healthy, portable little pockets of goodness!

I went out and bought a mold to make these little wonders, and started to play around with recipes. You can shape the rice in your hands, but it's a bit trickier. Here is my version of onigiri, but you can use any filling that sounds good to you.

-2 cups of cooked, sticky brown rice
-1/4 t. salt
-1 t. rice vinegar
-1/2 t. sesame oil
-1/2 t. agave nectar
-teriyaki flavored baked tofu (I used the Trader Joe's brand)
-sheets of nori

1. Put the rice in a mixing bowl. Add the salt, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and agave nectar, and mix gently.
2. Place a sheet of nori on a plate. Place the mold on the middle of the nori, scoop some of the rice into the mold and press it flat, so it fills about 1/3 of the mold. Cut the baked tofu into thin strips, and place over the pressed rice in the mold. Scoop more rice over the tofu, and press down. Leaving the press on the rice, pull the mold off the rice, leaving a perfect triangle. (If shaping the rice with your hands, wet your hands well before shaping. The rice will stick to you if you don't!)
3. Fold the nori over the rice, pressing gently so that the nori sticks to the rice. If there is extra nori that won't stick, just wet your hands and press the nori together.

To store, wrap the onigiri tightly in plastic wrap, so that the rice doesn't dry out.

Don't be shy to try other fillings, or to be creative with the rice seasonings. Maybe some cumin in the rice, and black beans for the filling, or use fresh vegetables for a healthy filling.

February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras!

I wanted to make something special for Mardi Gras, so I tried the jambalaya recipe in Veganomicon. If you don't already own this book, BUY IT. Seriously, even if you aren't a vegan, it has a lot of very yummy recipes. The jambalaya turned out just wonderfully, with the rice cooked perfectly. Although it was a pretty low fat option for Fat Tuesday!

Homemade Tortillas

I wanted to try to make some corn tortillas at home, and found a recipe in a Pueblo Indian cookbook I forgot I had. The recipe was very simple, but I thought it was a little flavorless. So, I tweaked it a little bit until they tasted just right.

-2 cups fine cornmeal (masa de harina)
-juice from 1 lime
-warm water
-1 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. chile powder

1. Pour the lime juice into a liquid measuring cup. Add warm water until the water and lime juice equal 1 1/2 cups.
2. Put the cornmeal into a mixing bowl. Add the salt and chile powder, and mix well. Pour in the water/juice mixture into the bowl, and mix well, until the dough clings to itself, and not the bowl.
3. Heat a dry cast iron griddle or skillet over medium high heat.
4. While the griddle heats up, form the first tortilla. This was my method, which worked really well:
Take a large (gallon size) ziploc bag, and cut along the sides, leaving the bottom seam intact. Form the tortilla dough into 1 3/4 in diameter ball. Place the dough ball into the middle of one side of the ziploc sheet. Fold the other side of the bag over the dough ball, so it's sandwiched between two pieces of plastic. Take a large, heavy skillet and press down on the tortilla dough ball. You can then easily peel the plastic from one side of the tortilla, and then the other.
5. Cook the tortilla on the hot griddle, turning frequently until flecked with brown.

February 15, 2009

Tortilla Soup

I love tortilla soup, so I decided to try and make a pot. I found a few recipes online, but none of them were exactly what I was looking for. So, I decided to try and create my own recipe. And here it is:

-2 T. vegetable oil
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 medium onions, chopped
-2 cans corn, drained
-28 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
-2 roasted red peppers
-1 medium zucchini, chopped
-2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
-zest and juice from one lime
-1 T. cumin
-2 t. paprika
-4 cups water
-salt and pepper
-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1. Heat the oil in a large pot and sauté the garlic, onion, and corn until the onion is soft, stirring frequently.
2. Add the tomatoes and juice, zucchini, roasted red peppers, jalapeño, lime juice and zest, spices, and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a rolling simmer. Simmer until the zucchini is soft.
3. In small batches, blend the soup in a blender until smooth, but small pieces of vegetable are still visible. Return the soup to the pot, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add beans and stir, reheating the soup if needed.
4. Serve with tortilla strips, and you could also include slices of avocado, cheese, or fresh cilantro.

To make your own tortilla strips, cut corn tortillas into narrow strips. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a heavy skillet on high, and add the tortilla strips. Stir frequently until the tortilla strips are curled and crispy.