Monday, December 28, 2009

fastest fried egg lunch salad

When there's no time, and fried eggs with toast don't seem "lunchy" enough, this is what I make. The salad is done as fast as you can fry an egg

FASTEST FRIED EGG LUNCH SALAD

ingredients

-- 3 cups baby spinach leaves, or other salad greens
-- 2 eggs
-- 1 piece bread
-- 2 t. mustard
-- 2 t. honey
-- salt
-- pepper
-- butter

method

1. Heat fry pan over medium-high heat, add in some butter. When hot, break 2 eggs into pan, salt and pepper eggs.

2. While eggs are frying, put bread in toaster to make toast. Fill a plate with washed baby lettuce leaves, or wash and dry some lettuce and cut it up and fill up your plate with that.

3. Check eggs to see if they are ready to flip. For this salad to work, you need to cook the whites but keep the yolks runny!

4. While the eggs finish, sprinkle the spinach leaves with mustard and honey straight from the squeeze bottles.

5. When the eggs are done to your liking, slide them out of the pan and onto your spinach leaves. Cut up the eggs and mix it all together so that the yolks mix with the mustard and honey to make a dressing.

6. Grab your toast and eat it up!

Monday, August 17, 2009

food for celebration of life reception thoughts

A friend of ours, Susie, passed away about 3 weeks ago. I volunteered to help the family out however I could, and thankfully Tom (Susie's husband) allowed me to organize the food for Susie's Celebration of Life reception. I say thankfully because I am grateful I had the chance to do something for a family I am so fond of during such a sad time. The loss they are going through is tremendous and if it make their lives a little easier for me to help arrange the food, I am so happy to do it. It makes me feel less helpless and I hope the food comforted many who were all feeling Susie's loss.

We were expecting rougly 100 - 150 people, I think a good 150 attended the recepetion. We had prepared:

-- 500 baked goods, including roughly 200 cupcakes, from McCormick family recipes
-- 15 pounds of assorted good cheese
-- 30 bottles wine
-- 8 cans pink lemonade
-- 8 pounds assorted cold salamis and pepperonis
-- 1 veggie tray from costco
-- 1 fruit tray from costco
-- assorted jams, nuts, etc

I had thought that the baked goods and the meat would be hugely excessive but I was wrong, every single cookie went, and most of the cupcakes too. Next time I would do even more cookies/bars and less cupcakes as they are a bit too large for an event like this. I had also thought the meat would be excessive, turns out it was almost all eaten. Susie's son Tim came up to me during the reception and said "thanks for the meat" which made me smile.

What did turn out to be hugely excessive was the cheese and the wine. we only needed half the amount of each. Unfortunately these were also the most expensive items. I had thought people would drink on average one glass of wine each, but many people didn't drink any wine at all. Even I preferred the lemonade to wine. We ran out of lemonade early on and I should have gotten double the lemonade. All the fancy jams I purchased were definitely not needed at all, next time I would leave them out for sure.

One thing I did do right was listen to Sandra, one of Susie's best friends. She told me to order the meat, and she set the number of baked goods correctly. Plus she did so much more, thanks Sandra for being my partner in crime, I couldn't have done it without you.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Best ever Blueberry-honey Jam

I have been experimenting with no-pectin jam for years, but last year I really took the plunge and tried making a jam with no pectin and no processed sugar, using only honey as a sweetener.

It was a bit nerve-wracking waiting to see if it would set up, but when all was said and done the jam was the best I'd ever made. The complexity of the honey sweetness really adds a special flavor to a simple blueberry and elevates it to something really really good. I give out jars as housewarming gifts and such, and many many people tell me how good it is, which makes me want to make and give more. Anyway, here is the recipe.

Best ever Blueberry-Honey Jam
(makes about 8 cups of jam)

4 lbs. (roughly 11 cups) fresh blueberries (I think you could also use pretty much any other kind of berry for this recipe, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, etc but I have only tried blueberry)
2 1/2 cups honey (if you have a choice a lighter flavored honey like fireweed is better than a cloying clover honey, but if you don't have a choice any honey will do)
1 Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1. Wash and pick through blueberries, taking out any that are rotten, moldy, or greenish and underripe. All of the berries should be firm and ripe. This is a very important step because one moldy berry can ruin a whole jar of jam.

2. Mix berries with honey, let sit 2 hours (I don't know why this step is there, I usually don't have the patience for this and just let it sit 30 minutes)

3. Put honey-berry mixture and lemon juice in pot. Boil on medium heat for 30 minutes, scraping sides of pot and stirring bottom as you go. The berries will burst and the jam will get thicker as you go. You can taste the mixture at this point, if you want sweeter jam just add more honey. Once the jam "sheets" of the back of a spoon (whatever that means) or seems to set up when you fling dots of it on a refrigerated plate, it is done.

4. While the jam is boiling, get a separate large pot of boiling water going on another burner and sterilize 8 cups worth of canning jars, lids, and rings by boiling them in the water for 10 minutes.

5. Ladle jam into sterilized jars, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space. Put the top and ring on the jars and close, tight but not too tight.

6. Place closed jars in pot of boiling water until covered and boil for 10 minutes. This is called a "hot water bath" and my mom swears by this step although my aunt says she never does it with her jam. I play it safe and do it because I give away this jam and I don't want to poison anyone.

7. When done, place on counter, each jar should ding, making an airtight seal. Place any jar that doesn't seal in the fridge and eat that jam right away. A sealed jar should be good for at least 1 year in your cupboard, up to several years.

8. Months or years down the road, if you take a formerly sealed jar of jam out of the cupboard and find it to have lost its seal (you can tell by pushing on the top if you hear that clicking sound it is not sealed) DO NOT EAT THIS JAM -- it could have botullism or mold or other bad things in there, just throw it away. Only eat sealed jam from the cupboard.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Carbo overload

I haven't been cooking much lately, and have relied on other people's food, mostly in-laws and restaurants, and I have found the food I have been eating extremely heavy on the carbs (and drinking beer doesn't help any, either):

A few meals I have eaten lately:

-- Indian rice with potato curry on top (a bit of mint in the curry): 90% starch
-- Burrito with rice and meat filling: 80% starch
-- Naan wrap with potato and meat filling: 80% starch

In my own cooking and preferred eating, I usually try to eat not more than 50% of any meal as carbs (usually measured very unscientifically by volume), this can be difficult with vegetarian cooking but I try to eat salads before a carb-heavy main dish and load dishes like mac and cheese with lots of vegetables, and eat fruit for dessert. I will have to double up on my veg routine when I get back to cooking in a few weeks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Better Roasted Gobi Manchurian recipe

Okay, so I have been trying different Gobi Manchurian recipes for the perfect sauce for my Roasted Gobi Manchurian, finally I found a really good one (adapted from http://www.hookedonheat.com/2006/03/09/fusion-cooking-at-its-best/ ) that I had to share:

Ingredients:

-- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
-- 2 teaspoons oil
-- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
-- 6 drops spicy sauce
-- salt, pepper

-- 2 teaspoons oil
-- 2 Tablespoons garlic, minced
-- 2 Tablespoons ginger, minced
-- 1 bunch spring onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

-- 2 Tablespoons ketchup
-- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
-- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
-- 1 teaspoon rooster sauce (or other spicy sauce)

-- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
-- 1/2 cup water

-- 1 Tablespoon minced cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put cauliflower florets on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sesame seeds, spicy sauce, salt, and pepper. Put in oven, turning every 15 minutes until tender and beginning to brown, about 40 minutes.

2. Heat frying pan to medium-high heat. Add oil, then ginger, garlic, and 3/4 of spring onions (reserve a little for garnish). Fry for a minute until fragrant and then add in the ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, and spicy sauce. Let that bubble a bit. Mix the cornstarch and water together, then add the mixture to your pan, boil for about a minute, it should thicken up a bit into a sauce.

3. Add the roasted cauliflower to the sauce, stir to coat everything completely. Turn out onto your serving dish, add the minced cilantro and reserved spring onions for garnish and serve.

So good!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Buckwheat Enhanced Bread for Bread Machine

I make this bread a lot. The original website that had this recipe no longer exists, so I am posting it here (with minor changes) for safe keeping.

Makes a 1.5 pound loaf in a home bread machine.

Bread flour -- 1 and 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon
Whole wheat flour -- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon
Buckwheat flour -- 1/3 cup
Water -- 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons
Dry yeast -- 1 teaspoon
Salt -- 1/2 teaspoon
Molasses -- 1 tablespoon
Dry skim milk powder -- 1 tablespoon
Butter -- 1 tablespoon

Add ingredients to your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer of the machine. Bake on basic/regular bread cycle.

Recipe developed and tested at the Grain Research Laboratory.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another good and easy strawberry salad

OK so I had a good salad today, this is what it included:

-- lots of baby spinach
-- sliced strawberries
-- thinly sliced onions
-- goat cheese
-- balsamic vinaigrette

This was very good, next time I would add in nuts, and make the balsamic a bit sweeter by adding some jam to it or something.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Very good low fat pancakes

Usually I prefer savory breakfasts like eggs and bacon. But once a year or so I will wake up with a hankering for pancakes. Or, more accurately: a hankering for maple syrup. Sweet, delicious maple syrup. I could eat it by the spoonfull over the sink, but this morning I felt like breakfast would be probably a better idea. Pancakes it would be!

So I was looking for a pancake recipe that would be the perfect vehicle for maple syrup. Something not sweet, without any add-ins, but fluffy so it can soak up lots of syrup. I came across this recipe and tweaked it a bit to make it low-fat (because who needs extra fat in a maple syrup vehicle?) and it came out perfect. The extra step of whipping the egg white makes the pancakes extra-fluffy.

They were exactly what I was looking for (apologize for the quick iphone photo, I thought it would be better than none):

Photobucket

Anyway, here's the recipe, with my modifications:

Homemade Pancakes
(3-4 servings)

  • 2 Eggs (separated)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce (or oil, if you're crazy like that)
  • 1 cup milk (plus some for consistency)
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
-- Beat egg whites until stiff - set aside.

-- Beat egg yolks, add sugar and salt, beat in.

-- Add baking powder, beat until just mixed in well.

-- Add flour, milk, and oil. Beat until smooth(not too much otherwise the baking powder won't react correctly)

-- Add egg whites to batter and FOLD gently. Let batter sit for 15-30 minutes prior to cooking.



BONUS FEATURE: HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT PANCAKE

-- Heat up the pan to medium.

-- If your pan is nonstick, just brush the surface with a little oil, if your pan is regular, coat the bottom with oil.

-- When your pan is hot, decide how big you want your pancakes to be. I like small 2-inch pancakes, so I just use a tablespoon to spoon out the batter. But if you like bigger pancakes, get a 1/4 cup measure out, or maybe a 1/3 cup measure. This is so you can dump all the batter for one pancake on the pan in one go.

-- When you're ready to go, get a big heaping spoon of batter, and dollop it into the pan. Try to dollop it in the center and let the pancake spread out naturally, you will get the nicest edges this way. Remember: once it's down, it's down. DO NOT mess with the edges, etc, afterwards because you will have an ugly pancake. If two pancakes are touching, don't separate them at this point, just follow the next step.

-- Now, the hardest part: don't touch the pan, and let the pancakes cook undisturbed. DO NOT lift the pancake with a spatula to check how brown it is, you will just let all the air out of it. You will know the pancakes are done when the bubbles come up, burst, and the holes stay open, and when the edges look dry. At this point the pancake will be mostly cooked through, even though the top still looks wet.

-- When you are ready to flip, flip the pancake in one smooth motion. Again, if you mis-flip, just leave the pancake, once the batter hits the pan that is where it lives. Messing with it will just make it look worse. Here is where you might want to adjust your stove temperature, if your pancake is too brown or not brown enough. What you are looking for is a nice brown pancake that is cooked most of the way through. I find I have to adjust my stove temperature constantly throughout my pancake making, usually somewhere between 3.5 - 5 (med-low to med)

-- The second side shouldn't take nearly as long, since you should be mostly just browning the top at this point. You can usually see the edge where it is browning, take it out when it is brown enough.

When it is done, top with whatever toppings you prefer, brown sugar, butter, maple syrup, ice cream, or whatever you like! Enjoy!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The problem with diets

A friend of mine in Vermont recently won a free 6-week bootcamp, and I have been following her amazing progress (http://lisasmooserjourney.blogspot.com/)and cheering her on. In the process I have discovered her trainer Ben (http://theformerfatkid.com/) who is also inspirational, being formerly a "fat kid" who changed his life to become a fitness trainer.

While I think the intense daily workouts and strict diet plan is good for reducing and making a big change in my friend's life, I worry what will happen after these six weeks are over, because I believe that to sustain the weight loss over the long term, the changes have to be long-term as well. And I don't think this current boot camp plan is sustainable over the long term. Working out an hour a day with a trainer, who has the money for that? And carefully pre-planning every single meal? This is the problem with many diets, they are just not sustainable. While this is good for my friend right now as she wants to get down to a more healthy weight, she will need a new plan for the long-term to sustain her new lower weight.

To sustain weight over the long term, we must make small changes that we can truly keep on doing forever. These things will be different for each person, maybe someone could commit to only eat one plate of food every meal, not going for seconds. Someone else might decide they want to eat at least 50 percent of every plate full of vegetables. I personally commit to run one biggish race every year, and then train for that race, and that gets me more active than I otherwise would have been. Someone else might challenge themselves to buy one new vegetable each week, look it up on the internet to find a recipe, and cook it up to try and increase their vegetable intake. These small but sustainable changes will make a big difference in the long run, and they will make the difference between sustaining a weight loss or just going back to your old way of life, which would also give you your old body back.

Small but sustainable wins the game!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

roasted Cauliflower and asparagus sandwiches

I made this tonight (minus the egg because I wasn't that hungry) but it was SOOO good, would be even better with an egg on top! http://dishingupdelights.blogspot.com/2009/03/open-faced-cauliflower-and-asparagus.html

Just the cauliflower/shallot puree is a great find! But I find the cauliflower takes more like 45 minutes to roast at 400 degrees. So delicious!

Also, for some reason, my ear is ringing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A healthier Gobi Manchurian

Gobi Manchurian is a product of "Indian Chinese" cuisine. This is neither Indian nor Chinese, but a cuisine that has evolved over the many years Chinese people have had restaurants in India, similar to how Chinese restaurants in North America have items such as fortune cookies that you won't see in Chinese restaurants in China. Any city with a sizeable Indian population will have Indian Chinese restaurants. To me, the cuisine is totally unique and usually very delicious.

One of my favorite dishes is called "Gobi Manchurian." It's cauliflower florets breaded and deep fried and topped with a delicious piquant ginger/garlic/onion topping. You can order it dry with a minimal sauce, which is usually eaten as an appetizer or "wet" with a gravy that is usually eaten with rice as part of the main meal.

I love this dish but I like to eat healthy at home and deep frying just doesn't make the cut. So I tried a roasting technique I learned from another recipe, and put a gobi manchurian sauce on it. This is what I ended up with:

Roasted Gobi Manchurian

1 head cauliflower
2 tsp olive oil
salt
pepper

2 tsp Oil
4 tsp ginger, minced
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red chili flakes (or more, to taste)
1 small bunch spring onions (about 5) sliced thinly on the diagonal
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 450 F. Cut cauliflower into florets. Toss cauliflower with 2 tsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook in oven for 45 minutes, turning once or twice during this time period, or until browned and fork tender.

When cauliflower is almost done, heat 2 tsp oil in a medium-hot frying pan. Add ginger, garlic and crushed red chilli and fry for a minute, or until slightly soft. Add the salt and spring onions, stir fry for just another 60 seconds or so.

Add 2 tsp. cornstarch to 1/2 cup water and dissolve well with a fork or whisk. Add to the onion mixture and stir continuously till it boils. Boil till the sauce becomes thick and transparent, not more than a few minutes. Add in roasted cauliflower, stir to coat, and serve.

-------------------------

The cauliflower was great, Mahesh especially loved it. For me, it was very good but the sauce wasn't as strong/piquant as I remembered from the restaurant. Maybe it needs some vinegar? Not sure. I doubled the ginger and garlic in the recipe I am recording here for next time, and I will compare this with other Gobi Manchurian sauces to find out how to make this closer to the restaurant version, this sauce would be nice to try.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Apple Cheddar salad

I just whipped up this salad for lunch, it was great and I don't want to forget the recipe!

for one salad:
-- 2-3 cups spring mix
-- 2 T. thinly sliced onions
-- 1/2 med. apple, thinly sliced
-- 1 square inch sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

dressing
-- 2 t. blueberry jam
-- 2 t. apple cider vinegar
-- 2 t. olive oil
-- salt and pepper

-- put all dressing ingredients into a small tupperware container, shake vigorously, open up, taste, adjust ingredients/seasonings to taste

-- put spring mix on a plate, top with the onions, apples, and cheese. Pour dressing over. Eat!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Spicy Cornmeal Muffins take 2

I think this one is the winner. A mix of Indian spices, slightly sour creamy yogurt, vegetables, and smokiness makes this a very delicious muffin.

2 tsp oil
1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
salt and pepper
1 1/2 tsp. sambar powder (or any indian masala spice mix)

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal -- it is not a good idea to substitute polenta for this (I found that out the hard way)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp canned chipotles and sauce
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp minced cilantro
1 cup lowfat yogurt (or buttermilk)
1 large egg
1 tbsp butter, melted

-- Preheat oven to 350 Farenheit
-- spray oil or butter on 12 muffin tins, set aside
-- Saute cabbage, onion, and peppers with sambar powder in oil in a frying pan until cooked through. Add salt and pepper.
-- Measure out dry ingredients into bowl
-- Measure out wet ingredients into a smaller bowl, mix up so the egg is well incorporated
-- Add veggies and wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix up. Spoon into muffin tins. I got 12 muffins with this recipe. Bake for 35 minutes in the oven, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

----

The taste of these was good, but the texture was a bit too wet. Maybe because of the additional vegetables. Next time I would try less wet ingredients, maybe only 3/4 cup yogurt?

Delicious cauliflower

Made a roasted cauliflower with "lebanesesque" sauce last night. It was so good! From this recipe.

I want to try this same roasted cauliflower with a gobi manchurian sauce next time, I am looking for a sauce without ketchup, not finding very many but maybe this one will be good.

another one to remember:
http://food.sulekha.com/cuisine/chinese/gobi-manchurian.htm