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Here’s a flavorful vegetarian-friendly chili by Chef Ian Russo, courtesy of my friends over at Meatless Monday. Click here for the recipe.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 90 minutes Serves: 4*

  • 1 medium Spanish onion, diced
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans
  • 1 15-ounce can navy beans
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans
  • 7 ounces Goya Recaito (a pre-cooked Spanish spice)

Directions:
Saute onion and peppers in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic, chili powder, paprika and crushed red pepper and cook for another minute.

Add sautèed ingredients to a large stockpot. Add cold water and beans. Simmer slowly for 1 1/2hours, then add the recaito. Cook for about 3 more minutes. Adjust the seasoning to your personal taste.

Note: for thicker chili, cook an extra 10-20 minutes, or puree 4 ounces of chili in a blender or food processor, and add back to the chili.

Ian’s Quick Tip – To make spicier chili, add Tabasco sauce: Add 1 tsp to make chili spicy Add 2 tsp to make chili extra spicy Add 3 tsp to make chili red hot spicy.

*The Eclectic Connoisseur’s Notes:
1.  I followed the recipe to the letter, and found it to yield significantly more than 4 servings.
2.  At first taste, this chili didn’t have enough heat for my husband and I. However, the next day…YOWZA! So, before you go crazy adding Tabasco, give it a day to let the flavors come alive.

Have a great week!

So, what do you do when a friend brings you a couple pounds of fresh Gulf shrimp? Of course frying them was the first thing that came to mind, but then I remembered a recipe from this month’s issue of Cooking Light – Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto.

This is one of those easy-peasy  recipes that is full of flavor. Be sure to visit Cooking Light for the recipe by clicking here. I’ll be back later in the week with more tasty treats to share. Have a great Sunday, everyone!

What makes Meatless Monday seem not so, well, meatless? Pizza, of course!

I used the same pizza dough and sauce recipe I made last time, a generous helping of Henrietta’s goat cheese, and lots of veggies.

I used a combination of yellow squash, zucchini, red and orange bell pepper, garlic, and 1/2 a poblano pepper. A light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and a little sea salt is all these babies needed. Well, that and a little heat. A quick roast in the oven is all they need, just enough to remove some moisture. After all, no one wants a runny pizza.

Once your veggies are roasted, press out your dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Next, spread sauce on the crust, dollop with goat cheese (I do this quite liberally), then top off with the veggies. Place your pie in a preheated 450°oven for about fifteen minutes, until the crust is just starting to brown.

The food world is all a buzz about fiddleheads this spring. Up until a year ago, I’d never heard of such a thing. Turns out, fiddleheads are actually unfurled ostrich fern fronds (say that 3 times fast!).

Unfortunately, fiddleheads are not harvested here on the Gulf Coast. The best I could do was buying some from Fresh Market which made their way to me from Portland, Oregon. Eek!

On to what you’re here for, the recipe! I made this dish partly because of my desire to try fiddleheads, but I also needed to use up some leftover veggies (i.e. clean out the fridge).

Pasta & Fiddlehead Sauté

Ingredients:

  • Egg noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pat of butter
  • Fiddleheads
  • Baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • Leeks, chopped
  • Fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Coarsely ground black pepper (to taste)

First, put on a pot of water for the pasta. Then, begin by thoroughly cleaning your fiddleheads (it will take several good rinses). Next, boil the fiddleheads in a pot of salted water for 3 minutes. While the fiddleheads are boiling, melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic and leeks, sautéing just until slightly tender. Add mushrooms and fresh thyme. Drain the fiddleheads and add to skillet. Once the mushrooms begin to soften and brown, add salt and pepper to taste. Add drained pasta to skillet. You may need to add a splash or two of pasta water to loosen things up a bit. Top with cheese and a little more fresh thyme. Serve immediately.

There was a lot of variation in the flavor of these fiddleheads. Some were sharp like arugula with an extra burst of wildness. Others were bland, adding more texture to this dish than taste. Perhaps the poor little dears suffered motion sickness during their cross-country trek.

I came across a fabulous site while on my fern fact-finding mission, Wild Harvest. This is the go-to resource for info on wild things…and where the wild things are. Sorry, I just had to go there. For more fun with fiddleheads (don’t you just love that word?), check this out.

Now, I’m longing to plan a “gathering” vacation for next spring where I could forage for fiddleheads, ramps, and morels to my heart’s contents. Of course, I’ll need a new basket and a scarlet cape to properly traipse through the woods. It would be very Little Red Riding Hood-esque. 😉

It’s time for another Meatless Monday! This week I made Cooking Light’s Chili-Glazed Tofu over Asparagus and Rice. Wow, this dish has an abundance of flavor! Between the ginger, soy sauce, and hot chili sauce, my tastebuds were a tingling.

I only made two changes to the recipe. I couldn’t find a jar of minced ginger, but I found a bottle of ginger paste which served to open up my sinuses as soon as I removed the lid. Whew! I couldn’t find any boil-in-bag long grain rice, so I opted for brown rice instead.

Chili-Glazed Tofu over Asparagus and Rice

Allison Fishman, Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2004
Yield: 3 servings (serving size: 3 tofu pieces and 1 1/3 cups rice mixture)
Note: Cooking the rice and asparagus in the same pot of boiling water saves a little time.

Ingredients

  • 4  cups water
  • 1  (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag long-grain rice
  • 2 1/4  cups  chopped asparagus (about 1 pound)
  • 1  tablespoon  peanut oil
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  rice vinegar
  • 2  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  teaspoon  bottled minced ginger
  • 1  teaspoon  hot chili sauce with garlic (such as KA·ME)
  • 1  pound  extrafirm tofu, drained and cut lengthwise into 9 pieces
  • 1  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 3/4  cup  preshredded carrot
  • 1  teaspoon  dark sesame oil

Preparation

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Add bag of rice, submerging bag completely in water. Boil 10 minutes. Carefully remove bag from pan, leaving boiling water in pan. Add asparagus to pan; cook 1 minute. Drain.

While rice cooks, heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and chili sauce in a small bowl. Sprinkle tofu with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add tofu to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Add soy sauce mixture; cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Combine rice, asparagus, 1/2 teaspoon salt, carrot, and sesame oil. Serve tofu over rice.

Nutritional Information

Calories:   296 (26% from fat)
Fat:   8.4g (sat 1.1g,mono 2.8g,poly 2.3g)
Protein:   15.7g
Carbohydrate:   41g
Fiber:   4.9g
Cholesterol:   0.0mg
Iron:   3.7mg
Sodium:   913mg
Calcium:   126mg

Join me tomorrow when I return to the dark side (of nutrition, that is) with a double post of baked treats!

Finally, a new Meatless Monday post! This week I made lasagna with asparagus, leeks, and mushrooms as featured in this month’s issue of Bon Appetit magazine (the recipe is also available online here).

The recipe specifically calls for either 4 ounces of morel mushrooms or 5 ounces of shiitake mushrooms. You may also use dried, reconstituted morels. Has anyone priced dried morels recently? At my local Fresh Market, they’re priced at $19.99 for 1 ounce – you’ve got to be kidding me! Needless to say, I opted not to use morels since I couldn’t find any fresh and the dogs would starve if I purchased the dried ones. I opted to use the readily available and much more affordable baby bellas.

I made one other adjustment to the recipe by using the Parmesan Reggiano I had on hand instead of the regular Parmesan the recipe called for. The mushroom substitution was acceptable, the cheese substitution, however, was not. I didn’t get the golden, stringy crust I was looking for. No matter, this was one tasty dish. One that I will certainly make again – with the recommended cheese!

 

Lasagna with Asparagus, Leeks, and Morels

Bon Appetit Magazine – April 2010
MAKES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, divided
  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 pound thick asparagus spears, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces fresh morel mushrooms, rinsed, coarsely chopped, or 5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 9-ounce package no-cook lasagna noodles (12 noodles)
  • 1 1/4 cups (about) finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
INGREDIENT TIP
If fresh morel mushrooms are unavailable, pour 2 cups boiling water over 1 ounce of dried morel mushrooms and let stand until the mushrooms are soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the mushrooms and squeeze dry before chopping.

PREPARATION

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; cook until wilted, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet. Add asparagus, mushrooms, and thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; sauté until asparagus is crisp-tender, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add to bowl with leeks and toss to distribute evenly. Add broth, cream, and bay leaf to same skillet and boil over high heat until slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle flour over and whisk to blend. Boil until sauce thickens, about 1 minute, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in nutmeg; discard bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD
Vegetables and sauce can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat four 2-cup shallow oval or round baking dishes with nonstick spray. Break off corners of noodles to fit flatly into dishes. Spoon 1/4 cup sauce into each dish. Place 1 noodle atop sauce. Scatter 1/4 cup vegetable mixture over, spreading in even layer. Drizzle 2 tablespoons sauce over. Sprinkle rounded tablespoonful cheese over each. Repeat layering 2 more times with noodles, vegetables, sauce, and cheese. Drizzle remaining sauce over lasagnas.
Cover each dish tightly with foil. Place on rimmed baking sheet and bake until noodles are tender, about 40 minutes.

Uncover and bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese begins to brown, about 6 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before serving.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

One serving contains the following:
Calories (kcal) 806.4
%Calories from Fat 56.6
Fat (g) 50.7
Saturated Fat (g) 29.8
Cholesterol (mg) 167.7
Carbohydrates (g) 58.7
Dietary Fiber (g) 4.7
Total Sugars (g) 6.5
Net Carbs (g) 54.0
Protein (g) 30.7

fried chicken & collard greens

My husband grew up on traditional Southern food – fried pork chops, blackeyed peas, mashed potatoes & gravy…you get the idea. Well, he’s been craving some good ole’ Southern homecookin’ for a while now. I bought myself some time by distracting him with French pastries, but he would not be put off any longer.

So, here’s the deal – I was born in the heart of Dixie, but Southern fare has never been my specialty. Seriously, I didn’t voluntarily eat greens until a few years ago. Yikes! Plus, my mother-in-law is the queen of all things fried. Double yikes!! I knew his expectations would be high. Who could I turn to for help? I know…my new Deen brothers cookbook and my girl Sunny Anderson.

I scanned the contents of my refrigerator and decided to improvise. I had everything I need to make Sunny’s Vegetarian “Southern-style” Collard Greens, but I had to deviate from the Deen brothers’ fried chicken recipe by making fried chicken “fingers”.

Granny’s Fried Chicken

Adapted from Take It Easy by Jamie & Bobby Dean

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil

Directions

Heat oil in 12″ pan until 350 degrees. While oil is heating, cut chicken breast into large “fingers”. Salt and pepper chicken. Whisk eggs and add hot sauce. Thoroughly coat chicken in egg mixture then dredge in flour. Shake off excess batter and slowly add chicken to the frying pan. Cook on both sides until batter is golden and juices run clear (about 12-14 minutes).

Vegetarian “Southern-style” Collard Greens

Recipe courtesy Sunny Anderson

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound collard greens, chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil and butter. Saute the onions until slightly softened, about 2 minutes, then add the red pepper flakes and garlic, cook another minute. Add collard greens and cook another minute. Add the vegetable stock, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until greens are tender, about 40 minutes. Add tomatoes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Success! Kevin was very happy with this meal which means I’ll be keeping these two recipes at the ready.

My Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart is not quite ready, but soon…very soon. If you simply cannot wait, then take a look at my fellow Tuesdays With Dorie bakers to see their tempting creations.

Indian dosas

September’s Daring Cooks’ challenge was selected by Debyi of The Healthy Vegan Kitchen.

dosa pancakes

As soon as I read the challenge requirements the ol’ excitement meter took a nosedive. Requirements: “Must be free of animal products, this will be a challenge for you “regular” cooks out there, but its worth it. So that means, no cows milk, butter, meat, poultry, fish, chicken/beef broth, etc. This dish is also 99% oil free, using only what you need to keep the dosas from sticking (I used a quick spritz of cooking spray on the first dosa only), which isn’t too bad with a nonstick pan. You can use a different filling/sauce if you like, but it must be free of animal products.”

curried garbanzo filling

Mmm…sounds tasty, right? Maybe to some, but I was skeptical. I thought I’d have a hard time convincing my husband to try this if he knew it was vegan, but he was more open-minded about this dish than I was, much to my chagrin. I’m lucky to have a husband who is such a daring eater. 😉

coconut curry sauce

Well, this dish surprised me…in a good way! By no means am I ready to switch to a vegan diet, but I may try to incorporate vegan dishes into our diet a couple times a month. I made the dosa pancakes with spelt flour and soy milk with a curried garbanzo filling and topped them with coconut curry sauce. Visit Debyi’s place for the recipes (click here). This is a great way to get yourself out of a recipe rut.

I’ll be back tomorrow to share my black and white arborrio rice pudding. Yeah for comfort food!

chicken bryan

Ever since I bought Henrietta’s goat cheese at the farmers’ market last weekend, I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate it into at least one meal a day. I’ve put it on top of salads, in an omelet with sauteed spinach and tomatoes, on a fork,  on my finger, whatever is handy. I really should have shared with someone, but we’re way past that point now.

My husband absolutely adores the Chicken Bryan at Carrabba’s so I decided to look for the recipe online. Success! Here is the original Carrabba’s Chicken Bryan recipe. I love the contrast between the saltiness of the sundried tomatoes, the freshness of the basil, and the creaminess of the goat cheese.

And what would go better with pasta and Chicken Bryan than one of Kevin’s favorite vegetables – brussel sprouts. Not any brussel sprouts, mind you. Only shredded brussel sprouts with pecans and prosciutto would do. The texture alone makes this recipe a keeper not to mention the flavor. The crunchiness of the toasted pecans is fantastic and who doesn’t love prosciutto? Even if you’re not a brussel sprout fan, I urge you to give this recipe a try.

Be sure to visit me tomorrow for my latest Tuesdays With Dorie adventure. It’s gonna be delish!

artichokes-0011

Consider this recipe for grilled baby artichokes part 1 of my contribution to Blogging for Babies. The inspiration for this dish came from the very tasty grilled artichokes we had at Bricktops while on vacation in Naples, FL [read about it here] and is named after my precious nephew.

Ingredients

  • 6 baby artichokes
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste

Directions

To prepare the artichokes: slice tops off crosswise, trim stems, snip tips of leaves as needed. I love kitchen shears for this step!

Boil artichokes in lemon-water until bottoms pierce easily. The acid in the lemon juice will prevent the artichokes from becoming discolored.

Drain artichokes and let cool. Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise. Since we’re using baby artichokes, you probably won’t have a choke to remove. However, if you have a more mature artichoke with a fuzzy center, you will need to scrape it out.

Mix balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic in a large plastic bag. Place artichokes in the bag and coat all sides of the artichokes. Let marinate at least one hour.

Drain artichokes. Season both sides with salt and pepper then place cut side down on a grill (I use a gas grill on medium heat). Grill until lightly browned on the cut side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn artichokes over and drizzle some of the remaining marinade over the artichokes. Grill until petal tips are lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes more. Best served hot.

 

artichokes-002

Be sure to visit me again for part 2 in my Blogging for Babies series. It’ll be a sweet surprise – I promise!

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." ~Voltaire

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