January 26, 2011

.quesadilla crazy.

If you're one of those awesome people who are doing the whole New Year's resolution thing to get in shape and eat right, this isn't the post for you.

Or if you're lactose intolerant.

Just throwing that out there.

Okay, so my mother-in-law got me an awesome cookbook for Christmas, The Betty Crocker Cookbook, Bridal Edition. And it is SO great. I was flipping through it a few days ago and saw a recipe that just looked like complete crazy deliciousness, corn and crab quesadillas. So I put it on the list for dinner this week. I, of course, did my own little rendition of it, but kept the staple ingredients the same.

These little guys were off the chain. There was a nice, sweet crunch from the corn, a zing of flavor from the pimientos, and the cream cheese. Oh lord. I have never made a quesadilla with cream cheese but, wow, it melded with the other ingredients beautifully. The only let down was that I really didn't taste much of the crab. I used faux crab though and I think next time I will try real crab and see if the flavor comes out a little bit more.  Next time I will also use fat free cream cheese cause, dang do I feel guilty now.

The mixture
Corn and Crab Quesadilla makes 3 quesadillas
1/2 a package (4oz) cream cheese
1/2 a can (6-7 oz) whole kernel corn
1 jar (2 oz) diced pimientos, drained
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup of chopped crab meat or imitation crab meat
3 tortillas, I used La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Olive Oil Multi Grain Soft Wraps (SO GOOD)
Butter spray, or real butter

Start heating a pan on the stove over medium heat, spray with butter spray. It will work better if you have a griddle pan.

Then mix all the ingredients together, except the tortillas. I found it helped to heat the cream cheese up in the microwave for 30 seconds, it made it very pliable. Then place 1/3 of the mixture onto each tortilla, spread along half of the tortilla and then flip the other half over it. Place the quesadillas on the griddle pan (as many as will fit) and cook until the tortilla is browned, about 3-4 minutes, then flip and do the same to the other side. Remove from the heat, slice. Serve with sour cream, or any other condiment of your choosing. Enjoy!


January 24, 2011

.tofu, say what.

Dinner tonight is one of my favorite meals to prepare, crispy tofu with broccoli, raisins and peanuts in a peanut sauce. It also involves many of my the man's favorite things. Then I add tofu. I know some people are scared of tofu, but you shouldn't be. It's an incredibly versatile product, and creates a super delicious meal.

You could really add all sorts of things to this recipe but I like to keep it simple. I also like to keep the sauce as simple as possible, and don't have a true recipe for it. It's a homemade peanut sauce made with 3 ingredients. Peanut butter, soy sauce, and citrus. Tonight I used the juice of one orange, because the lonely little guy was almost going over to the dark side and I needed to use him. I generally use roughly 1/4 cup of smooth peanut butter, maybe 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and a few tablespoons of citrus. You can use any citrus you want, orange juice from a carton, lemon or lime juice, etc. The measurements will change depending on your own taste. I also sometimes add 1-2 tablespoons of water if I want the sauce a little runnier. Depending on the peanut butter you use, you may also want to add a little bit of salt. I take the 3 ingredients and simply stir them up together in a bowl. At first, you will think "there is no way in hell the peanut butter and the liquids are going to come together, Sara you're crazy." Then you will start to think "Way gross, it looks like the peanut butter is curdling." Keep stirring though! After a few minutes of rigorous stirring it will all come together and be nice and creamy. At this point, taste it and see if anything else needs to be added. Put this aside until the end.

While making the peanut sauce your tofu should be between two towels, with something heavy on top to try to get some of the moisture out. After about 10 minutes it will be ready to slice. You can slice it however you want but I like thin, bite-sized pieces. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet, then when it's hot put the tofu in a single layer. Mine usually takes about 5 minutes to brown. Flip the tofu and cook the other side. When both sides are crispy and golden brown remove from the pan and place on a paper towel covered plate. Put your broccoli directly into the hot pan, with about 2 tablespoons of water. Sprinkle generously with raisins and peanuts. Let the broccoli cook for a few minutes (you can also steam it ahead of time, I just like to only use one pan) then add the cooked tofu back to the pan and pour the peanut sauce over everything. Mix until combined and you're ready to go!

This is a quick, easy, week night meal that is actually completely vegan. Even my steak and potatoes man liked it.


January 18, 2011

.daring cooks challenge: january.

 Better late than never, right? So, yes, I am a bit late on the challenge this month. I have been having some events that have kept me out of the kitchen quite a bit. Or at least from making anything interesting. I suppose I could show you all my fruit and PB&J sandwiches that I eat. I'll put it on the consideration list.

Leek Confit
Our January 2011 challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts, and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a tradition recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.
Deer Sausage, mmm
Y'all totally know I didn't use those recipes though, right? I'm pretty predictable when you get right down to it. I decided to go with a vegetarian version of the confit and Cassoulet because I really just couldn't see myself cooking anything in 4 cups of duck fat. Sorry. But I couldn't. I'm sure this dish, if done the proper French way, would be absolutely delicious, and if I ever see it in a restaurant I may order it, but I personally don't like to cook like that in my own kitchen.

So, I opted for a leek confit recipe by Molly Wizenberg (who runs Orangette, by the way) that can be found at bonappetit.com. Then I used a vegetarian Cassoulet recipe by Melissa Roberts that can be found at Epicurious. And because the Man and I do love meat, I added some recently caught and processed jalapeno and cheddar deer sausage. Add a quick cornbread mix and this was really one hell of a meal. And a Sam Adams for the Man.

Cooking this meal was fairly straight forward, although it did take a bit of time. It took roughly an hour and half from start to finish. I think if I make it again I will just use onions instead of leeks. Also, while I was cooking it, the smell of garlic was quite overpowering. I was worried that I had added a bit too much. I did what any good wife would do- I made the Man taste it first. Bwahaha. He actually claimed it was a little bit bland. Since we were adding the spicy and flavorful deer sausage though I left it like that and the two combined exceptionally. I would say if you're not adding any sausage (vegan or real) to liven up the flavors you would probably want to add some extra seasoning. I also read on the super secret Daring Cooks forum that some people used chicken stock to simmer the cassoulet and I think that would add a good kick of extra flavors as well.

I feel like this really does the trick as a great cold-weather recipe and can be adapted for many different tastes.


January 10, 2011

.squash this.

I have really just discovered the incredible that is squash. I'm not sure what I did before this past fall without squash. I remember having it on rare occasions as a kid but I've never cooked with it myself until the last few months. And I am so glad I started trying it out! As is the man.

So tonight I made a delicious roasted acorn squash for an easy, tasty side dish. I love recipes that only call for a few, simple ingredients. Most squash can go well with spicy or sweet flavors but with acorn squash all I've tried so far is sweet, a small dusting of brown sugar. I would love to hear about the other spices you use for acorn squash though!

Roasted Acorn Squash serves 2
1 acorn squash
1 tablespoon butter
2 unpacked, spoon fulls of brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds. Place half a tablespoon of butter into each half of the squash. Sprinkle one spoon full of brown sugar into each well. These spoon fulls should not be packed. If I had to estimate an actual measurement per each half I would say roughly a packed teaspoon. Place the squash in a casserole dish and cook for 45-50 minutes. Use a spoon to "baste" the squash with the butter and brown sugar mixture every 15 minutes. You just want to make sure a little bit of butter and brown sugar gets onto the edges of the squash.

What's really great about this as well is that when you take it out and start to shred it with a fork the butter and brown sugar will seep deeper into the squash, giving every bite a sweet flavor. Yum!


January 7, 2011

.goodness, gracious.

Where have I been!? I apologize again folks. I haven't been feeling to good for the last little bit and there hasn't been much cooking going on. Lots of cereal, sandwiches and raw fruits and veggies.

I do want to share something I made shortly before the New Year though. After all the holiday eating, drinking and overall sugar consumption I decided it was important to get some good veggies in once we got back home to Georgia. Plus it gave me a chance to use a super awesome, new kitchen gadget I got.

A steamer basket!

I used it to steam cauliflower and make mashed cauliflower. Mmmm. It was cauliflowerlicious.

There's not really a set recipe that I used for this, just a mish-mash of multiple recipes I looked up. The only thing I would do different next time is steam the cauliflower a little longer, it didn't quite get to the creamy stage. I served the mashed cauliflower with some ham and corn. Delish.

Mashed Cauliflower serves 4
1 head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon butter
1/4-1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper for taste

Wash and chop the cauliflower into small florets. Place them in the steamer over boiling water and cover with a lid. Steam for at least 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is super tender.

Place in a mixing bowl with butter, milk, salt and pepper and blend until creamed. Add more butter or milk if desired.


January 1, 2011

.happy new year.

Whew! Hello! Fear not Dear Readers (all 5 of you), I have not abandoned le blog. It has just been an incredibly hectic 2 weeks. We drove to Virginia. We drove to Texas. We.... sat around and watched movies. Yeah, I know.

I do have something in the queue for you but, alas, the camera battery died and I haven't charged it yet to upload the pictures. I set the man on that task. It should hopefully get done quicker that way rather than waiting for me to do it.

In the meantime I wish everyone a  very happy New Year! I hope 2011 is as good as 2010 was cause man, that is the year to beat. I'd love to hear what your resolutions are! I have a few but one is to take better photographs for the blog. If anyone happens to have a spare light box laying around and wants to sent it to me that would be awesome. Ha.