Archive | April, 2010

Basically Cook-Free Brown Rice

18 Apr

I like brown rice.  It’s good for you but for me, sometimes when I cook it, it doesn’t come out right.
Thankfully, today you can get it already cooked and ready to go!  There are two that I like because they are good for cooking for one, Birds Eye Steam Fresh and Minutes Brown Rice in a Cup.

Another thing I found at the grocery is skewered ready to cook shrimp.  Remove off the skewer and marinate, cook, fry.

Below is a quick and simple brown rice and shrimp dish!  Enjoy!

1 Bag of Birds Eye Steam Fresh Brown Rice
1/3 Cup of Slivered Almonds
1/2 Cup of Orange Juice
1/3 Cup of Pineapple Juice
1 Tablespoon of Butter
2 Cloves of Garlic, Chopped and Divided
Salt and Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10 Shrimp, Peeled, Vein Removed

I ate an entire container of pineapple and had leftover juice so I added Orange Juice to it with salt and pepper and half the garlic in it.  The pineapple had a cover so cover it up and shake it up!  I am sure that the longer you marinate it the more the juice will flavor the shrimp so it’s up to you how long you keep it before you cook it, but don’t keep it for too long or it’ll go bad.  Put the rice in the microwave and cook according to the directions.  There are stovetop directions for those of you who don’t have a microwave.

In a frying pan saute garlic, olive oil and butter.  Pour some of the pineapple/orange juice into the pan.  It’s ok if more garlic is on the pan.   Add almonds.  Continue to let heat and add shrimp.  When shrimp is cooked all the way through add brown rice.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm.

C’est si Yum!!

Brown Tomatoes? That’s a tomato of a different color!

18 Apr

You know I am not a big tomato person.  I don’t like the seeds.  I like Roma tomatoes because they don’t have a lot of seeds.  I like grape tomatoes because they are sweet.  Still, I don’t like seeds.  So I was in the grocery yesterday and there was a tomato of a different color, brown.  I looked it up online and apparently they are actually “black” tomatoes.  So on the one hand, there are seeds, but I picked them out.  On the other, the flavor profile is so good!

I made a caprese salad with them.  I live alone so I used one brown or black tomato and some mozzarella cheese.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Feel free to add salt and pepper but I didn’t think they needed it.

If you find them try them!  C’est si yum!

Taboo’s Lasagna

14 Apr

I am fortunate to have a “melting pot” of family from all over the world.  In an effort to make me not turn out like one of those weirdo only children, my parents hosted exchange students from countries including, Russia, Germany, South Korea, Ireland, Guadeloupe and Thailand.  Not all of them cooked but the next couple of blogs are recipes that have been adapted from recipes that they brought into our home, as well as some family recipes from my own family.  My Mom is Irish and Polish and my Dad is Scottish and English.  Enjoy!

Taboo came from Ethiopia.  She was one of the first exchange students to live with us while we were in Virginia.  The dish she made and is still referred to in our home is, lasagna.  Why is the lasagna so special?  There is a bechemel type sauce included in every delicious layer of pasta.

What you’ll need:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb Ground Turkey (if you prefer Ground Beef or even Ground Chicken that’s fine too)
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
Optional – 1 Cup of Mushrooms
2 Jars of Your Favorite Tomato Sauce, I like to use a regular marina so that you can add to it yourself
1 Can of Tomatoes, If you have two fresh tomatoes that is fine too

1 Package of Lasagna Pasta
For Sauce:
1 Garlic Clove, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbs of Flour (I’d keep it hand just in case)
2 Tbs of Butter
Salt and Pepper
3 Cups of Milk (any % and also keep on hand)
1/3 Cup of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/3 Cup of Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 Tsp of Red Pepper Flakes
1 Pinch of Nutmeg, My mom has a neat nutmeg grinder that is also handy

Boil water.  Season with salt before adding the pasta. Go ahead and preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a frying pan, melt butter in the olive oil, add garlic.  Do not let the garlic burn.  It can easily go from toasty and mild to bitter and gross.  Add mushrooms.  When mushrooms are tender but not flimsy add tomatoes.  Remove the ingredients from the pan and transfer into a pot.  Keep on low heat and add tomato sauce.  Cook meat in the pan.  If you only have one size pan, I would say get thee to the store and buy another pan.  One size does not fit all.  Add meat and cook until done.  Drain out any excess oil.  Don’t know where to put the oil?  Rinse out your tomato sauce jar and put the oil in there.  In another pot make a roux with the olive oil, butter, garlic and flour.  Add salt and pepper.  Watch the color of the roux, you don’t want it to get too dark.  Add milk and whisk.  Keep the milk on hand in case you want it thinner or thicker.  Add cheese, pepper flakes and nutmeg.   Start with your bake-safe dish and drizzle a little bit of olive oil and red sauce.  Add pasta, red sauce and white sauce.  You want to end with the red sauce and top with extra cheese.  Bake for 10 – 15 until the top is bubbly.   
C’est si Yum!

Cupcake To Go!

8 Apr

I have mentioned before I am not a baker.  I can follow directions though and love Funfetti cupcakes.  I tried the egg white version of the recipe on the box and let me tell you, the batter was light and fluffy!

I saved one and used a Cup-a-Cake.  This might seem like a silly thing to use but it really kept the cupcake fresh!

Quick Green Bean Dish

8 Apr

I love Trader Joe’s frozen green beans.  I keep them on hand whenever possible.  Your local grocery store probably offers a generic frozen green bean.  All you need for this is –

1 Bag of Frozen Green Beans
2 Shallots, sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Cup of Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon of Butter
1/3 Cup of Almonds, Sliced and Toasted*
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Cook the frozen green beans in the microwave.  If you are anti-microwave, cook them on the stovetop.  Once they are cooked put them in a colander and run cold water over them.  In a saute pan heat two swirls around the pan of extra virgin olive oil, butter, garlic and shallots.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss with green beans on medium/low heat.  Serve warm!

Toasted Almonds

So easy.  I like sliced.  If you use slivered be sure to watch it on the heat because the thinner the pieces, the quicker they burn.  Heat extra virgin olive oil with garlic in a pan and add almonds.  Saute and season with salt and pepper.  Toss over medium heat until brown.  I have a tendency to make more than needed since I “test” them as they cook…

Enjoy!  Simple C’est si Yum!

Ham Improvisation

6 Apr
I don’t enjoy the deli-style ham that is sliced thin in the store.  I do enjoy home cooked spiral ham.  This year for Easter, I made my first spiral ham.  It’s pretty much one of the easiest things you can make and it looks super impressive when it comes out.
What you need is:
1 – Spiral Ham from the store – if it comes with a glaze packet perfect, if not that’s ok too.
1 Cup of Pineapple Tidbits – canned or frozen
3 to 4 Cups of Orange Juice
1/3 Cup of Brown Sugar
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 Tablespoons of Brown Grain Mustard
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I did not measure this amount.  I did two swirls out of my bottle so I guesstimate that it is 2 Tablespoons.
Preheat your oven to 325 or whatever your ham directions say.  I drizzle a bit with extra virgin olive oil.  Put ham in the oven and set timer.  It should say about an hour.
Bring out the blender!!  I actually used a blending tool similar to the magic bullet. I had frozen pineapple but if it isn’t frozen, you might not need as much orange juice.  Blend until smooth.
In a sauce pan, combine the ham glaze that comes with your ham, pineapple/orange juice puree, mustard and brown sugar.  Bring to a boil and let reduce.  This takes about 20 – 30 minutes.  Keep warm but watch it because you don’t want it to burn.  When the ham has been in for about 45 minutes take out and pour/brush the sauce over the ham.  Put back in the oven for the remaining 15 minutes.
Serve warm!  Enjoy!

Don’t Bake? Me Neither…

2 Apr

I am not a baker.  One of the things I love about cooking is that I can add a dash of something here or a couple of heavy pours of Sherry there…If you add a dash of something to a baking recipe, you might end up with a fresh-baked brick or a deflated souffle.  Simple, elegant and delicious and if it happens to partially come out of a box that is NOT a bad thing.

So here is one of my Mama’s recipes that I’m adjusting just a bit.

What you need…

2 Packs of Dark Chocolate instant pudding (I do not recommend the cooking kind because I have never liked the idea of cooking pudding)
1 Chocolate Cake from a Box (Any brand will do), use less fat milk if you want well less fat
1 Container of Non-Fat Whipped Topping
1/2 Cup of Toasted Hazelnuts (optional)
Sliced Strawberries for garnish or Raspberries OR  3 Ferraro Rocher
1 Trifle Dish

Cook chocolate cake according to the directions.  I cannot help if you cannot cook a cake out of a box.  Let cool and slice into bite-size pieces.  Make pudding also according to directions.  If you use hazelnuts, lay on a sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 15 until they are just brown.  Do not burn.  Nuts are expensive.  It is worth it to watch them so they do not burn.  It is like burning money.

Start with the cake.  Put a layer of cake on the bottom of the trifle dish.  Then pudding, just enough to cover the cake.  Then the whipped topping.  Sprinkle some hazelnuts on top of the whipped topping.  This is an optional step.  You can also use chocolate chips or broken up pieces of heath bar candy or you can do nothing.  Put more cake on top of the whipped topping and continue to layer.  It is important to end with whipped topping.  For decorating, put three Ferraro Rocher in the middle of the whipped topping or sliced strawberries around the top.

You can also do this with different cake and pudding.

Easy and impressive!  C’est si YUM.