Veggie Green Curry

Green Curry

The Ingredients – 

Green curry paste:

  • 1 Jalapeño pepper
  • 1/4 cup shallot
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. shrimp paste (we made our own following a basic recipe)
  • 1 loose cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper (this was omitted)
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice

Curry:

  • 1 large zucchini, sliced into thin, short strips
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into thin, short strips
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. grated lime zest
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 handful fresh Thai basil leaves, de-veined
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil or other cooking oil

What I learned – 

You can grow Thai basil in Maryland very easily, and it smells of a hint of licorice! This plant is in the mint family, which I just love. Now this is interesting…leaves always grow in pairs, 90 degrees to the previous pair. It really is a gorgeous plant to accent your garden.

The experience – 

First – Place  all green curry paste ingredients in food processor until well chopped and blended together.

Second – Warm a large non-stick pan or wok over medium-high heat. Coat with oil and add the green curry paste.

Third – Stir fry very briefly, then add can of coconut milk, zucchini, pepper, and eggplant. Reduce to medium or medium-low heat to attain a simmer for about 5 minutes.

Fourth – Add lime zest and stir well. Simmer until veggies are of a desirable texture.

Fifth – Serve with jasmine rice.

The music – 

Oh gosh…I took so long to blog about this meal that I forget what I was listening to! BUT, I do remember sharing this awesome cooking experience with my stellar boyfriend Mike, and sharing the dish with several friends around a bonfire.

How I feel about this recipe –

Thai might very well be my favorite type of food, especially green curry. I can’t quite re-create it perfectly, but it sure is fun trying. I remember ordering the seeds for this Thai basil back in April off e-bay, and Mike texting me photos of them when they arrived in the mail while I was still away at grad school. How exciting!!! Yes, we grew the Thai basil for this recipe ourselves! Even more exciting was when we had HUGE plants of Thai basil in our garden! This plans has beautiful leaves with deep purple accents and deep purple flowers (if you allow it to reach flower – oops!).

This meal tasted so fresh! I would have preferred a more soupy consistency, and next time I will use two cans of coconut milk instead of one. Coconut has a surprising amount of fat, so be careful if you are watching the calories. There is low fat coconut milk available and I am sure using one can regular and one low fat would be a great alternative. Although the recipe list may seem daunting, I bet you already have a bunch of these ingredients in your cupboard. Additionally, the food processor does most of the work – it’s really worth a try if you enjoy Thai cuisine.

Garden Arugula Pesto

pesto

The Ingredients – 

  • 2 cups compacted de-stemmed arugula
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 small garlic clove peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

What I learned – 

Walnuts are a great alternative to pine nuts, which are traditionally used in pesto recipes. Walnut shells are found inside an inedible green husk. The shell contains antioxidants which prevent the edible meat of the walnut from becoming rancid. Here is a photo of what a walnut looks like when found on a walnut tree, courtesy of Wikipedia:

walnut

Pesto originates from Genoa in northern Italy. The word pesto is derived from the word pestâ which means to pound or crush, as in with a mortar and pestle. Basil, which is the most commonly used green in pesto is thought to have originated from India.

The experience – 

First – Roast the six un-peeled garlic cloves in a pan on medium-high heat until the peels become slightly brown. Set aside and peel once cooled.

Second – Roast the walnuts in the same manner.

Third – Combine arugula, salt, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, raw, and roasted garlic in a food processor. Pulse until consistency of paste.

Fourth – Place paste into a bowl or container. Mix in Parmesan cheese. 

Fifth – Serve over pasta, on roasted potatoes or tomatoes, or on pizza.

The music – 

Ingrid Michaelson radio on Pandora

How I feel about this recipe –

This pesto recipe is quick and easy to make, and I found that I prefer the taste of the walnuts and arugula over traditional basil and pine nut pesto. In my opinion it is important to use a higher quality Parmesan cheese in any pesto recipe.

Roasting the garlic cuts back on the garlic intensity while still getting a rich garlic flavor. For those of you that do not enjoy a strong garlic flavor I recommend using half or even a third of garlic that the recipe calls for. Also be sure the olive oil you are using is extra virgin which is less acidic than regular olive oil.

The arugula in our garden is overflowing right now (as seen in the first photo above); this is a terrific way to prevent the arugula from going to waste. I will for sure be making several batches to freeze and use throughout the year!

Miso Soup

miso soup

The Ingredients – 

  • 4 cups water
  • 1.5 – 2 tsp. dashi granules
  • 2 Tbsp. miso paste
  • 1/2 of a tofu block, cut lengthwise
  • 3 green onions
  • Vegetable oil

What I learned – 

Dashi granules are made of some type of fish extract (mine were Iriko dashi, which has sardine in it). Niboshi dashi stock is made by pinching off the heads and entrails of small dried sardines to prevent bitterness, and soaking the rest in water. I am assuming this is how my dashi was made.

Miso paste is made  by fermenting rice, barley, and/or soybeans with salt and a fungus called kojikin. I tasted a little bit out of the container and it tasted like straight up soy sauce. The type I used was white miso, or Shiromiso. Miso contains beneficial microorganisms such as Tetragenococcus halophilus which can be killed by overcooking. Many only add miso right before the soup is removed from the heat to preserve the microorganisms. Plain rice with miso soup is a common breakfast food in Japan. (Now I have an excuse to eat leftover miso soup in the morning!)

Some people believe miso soup helps treat radiation sickness, as it was given to victims of both Chernobyl and the atomic bombings of Hiroshoma and Nagasaki.

The experience – 

First – Place water and dashi granules in pot and bring to a boil.

Second – Take a block of tofu and cut in half lengthwise; fry in vegetable oil making sure the oil comes up about halfway.

Third – Reduce heat to a simmer and whisk in miso paste.

Fourth – Slice the stalk of the green onion into small pieces; add to soup.

Fifth – Cut half of the tofu block into desired size pieces; add to soup.

The music – 

No music today! Instead I had company in the kitchen and chatted with my girlfriend, the very soon to be Dr. Potts!

How I feel about this recipe –

This soup is absolutely delicious and so simple to make. It is worlds better than the store bought dehydrated miso soup that you add water to. I would like to try adding seaweed next time as well to try something new! This will most definitely become a staple cold rainy day recipe. Miso soup normally doesn’t call for the tofu to be fried, but I prefer the taste and texture of fried tofu to uncooked tofu.

Stuffed Cabbage

photo (3)

The Ingredients – 

  • 1 cabbage head
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 lb ground turkey (or beef if you prefer)
  • 5 oz. saffron rice
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste

What I learned – 

Saffron is a spice derived from a flower in the iris family, and was first cultivated in Greece. It remains one of the most expensive spices by weight today. Typically, saffron is used in Indian, Persian, European, Arab, and Turkish cuisines. This beautiful spice is also thought to have anticarcinogenic , anti-mutagenic, immunomodulating, and antioxidant like properties. Super spice!

The experience – 

First – Peel off 8-10 cabbage leaves and place in a boiling pot of water. Reduce to simmer and cover.

Second – Cook rice according to package instructions.

Third – Thinly dice a small yellow onion or 3/4 of a medium onion and saute in a splash of olive oil.

Fourth – Once onion begins to become translucent, add ground meat and tomato paste and cook through.

Fifth – Once rice is cooked, add to meat and onion mixture and mix in well.

Sixth – Remove cabbage leaves from water with tongs, place in colander and splash with cool water. Drain well.

Seventh – Lay out cabbage leaf on plate, spoon meat and rice mixture onto leaf, then roll to wrap.

Eighth – Place each stuffed cabbage leaf into a 8 X 8 baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. Pour remainder of tomato sauce on top after dish is full.

Ninth – Cover with tin foil. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

The music – 

Today’s pop hits on Pandora. I know, I know…. but I have a guilty pleasure of listening to terrible, but catchy music on occasion, especially when no one is around and I can sing along terribly to terrible music.

How I feel about this recipe –

This recipe brings back memories of college when I first started to experiment with cooking (and gosh was I bad at it). I don’t recall where I found the original recipe, but I can say that I changed it quite a bit to make it my own. I’m  considering changing it a little more and adding some cheese, but I have to think a bit on what kind I would like to try. Any suggestions would be welcome! This meal is super easy, and also super easy to make healthy. I used 93% lean turkey to keep the saturated fat content down. I’m glad this recipe came up in conversation recently which sparked my interest in making it again!

Crab Salad

crab

The Ingredients – 

  • 10 oz.  bowtie pasta
  • 1 package crab meat or imitation
  • 1/2 package frozen peas, thawed
  • 2-3 stalks celery, sliced thin
  • 1/8 red onion, sliced thin
  • 3.5 oz. sliced black olives
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

What I learned –

Imitation crab meat (I’m a student on a budget…) is made primarily of Alaska Pollock, a fish in the Cod family, and Cutlassfish. Cutlassfish have an reduced or absent pelvic or caudal fins which gives them an eel-like appearance. They also have fang-like teeth. Eek, creepy! These fish are found all over the world, unlike the Alaska Pollock which is found primarily in North Pacific and Eastern Bering Sea. The Alaska Pollock has been said to be the largest remaining source of palatable fish in the world, which makes me feel less guilty about eating a fish I previously knew nothing about!

The experience – 

First – Cook bowtie pasta, then toss to coat with olive oil in large bowl.

Second – Add crab meat, peas, celery, onion, and black olives and toss.

Third – Add desired amount of salt and pepper.

The music – 

No music today! I had a very hectic day full of music while running errands and cleaning my house; I enjoyed the peace and quiet while I put together this quick little meal, with my dog Callahan waiting patiently at my feet for a treat to drop off the cutting board onto the floor.

How I feel about this recipe –

I remember the last time I had this meal. I was a very little girl, about 6 years old and I went to work with my Dad that day. My mom packed this for my lunch, and I still remember eating it out of a Rubbermaid Tupperware with a blue lid. I started eating my lunch and one of the receptionists named Kitty told me I was very lucky that my mom packed me such a delicious lunch. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this is a really good lunch, even Kitty knows it.” and I felt special that my mom would send me to “work” with such a great lunch.

I love this meal because it is healthy and very easy and quick to make. It is also just a refreshing, light meal that makes little to no kitchen mess if you are really in a hurry. I’m glad I remembered this meal and had my mom send me the recipe; this will definitely be a go-to meal for me in the future when my schedule gets a bit more hectic.

Goat Cheese, Ricotta & Beet Pizza

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The Ingredients –

  • 1 can of beets (fresh sauteed beets would be even better!)
  • 1/4 red onion
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Your favorite pizza dough recipe, I used:
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. quick rise yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Water (approx 1 3/4 cups)

What I learned – 

Beets are BEAUTIFUL! Why I have never cooked with them before, I am not sure. The ancient Romans considered beets an important health food and an aphrodisiac. Ooh la la. Betalain pigments give beets their deep, rich color and the smaller the beet the sweeter it tastes. But be careful, eating too many beets can give you beeturia! (That’s beet colored urine.) In the mid-18th century there was a “rise of the sugar beet”, when Silesia the king of Prussia discovered that sugar could be extracted from these sugar beets, or rather commissioned others to discover this.

The experience –

First – Make your favorite homemade pizza dough and bake it on a pizza stone that is pre-heated and then sprinkled with corn meal. Alternatively, you can use Naan.

Second – Thinly slice beets and 1/4 red onion. Toss together with a splash of olive oil.

Third – Spread a healthy amount of ricotta and goat cheese mixture onto baked pizza dough or Naan.

Fourth – Decorate with beet, red onion, olive oil mixture.

Fifth – Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for ten minutes. Sprinkle with red wine vinegar.

The music –

The Lumineers – Self titled album. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this album. Thank you to my good friend Jen for introducing me to them.

“Classy girls…don’t kiss in bars you fooool…” -The Lumineers

How I feel about this recipe – 

I found this recipe in Runner’s World magazine in a side column and followed it with the exception of fresh beets which were unavailable. The recipe also calls for sprinkling the top with the leaves from the fresh beets, which I imagine looks very pretty. This was absolutely delicious! If you like goat cheese then you will love melted goat cheese on your pizza! I really like experimenting with pizza; it is a very versatile meal and is easy to make healthy. The red wine vinegar gave that extra bite and really made this pizza just all out terrific.

As a side note, for the dough I made it to a sticky yet manageable consistency with mostly white flour and topped it off with some whole wheat when I ran out of white. I allowed it to rise for about 1 hour, punched it down, then baked on a pre-warmed pizza stone sprinkled with corn meal. Don’t sprinkle the stone with corn meal until after it is warmed, otherwise the corn meal will burn.

Buttery Acorn Squash

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The Ingredients –

  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. butter

What I learned – 

The first time I made this several years ago, I didn’t put any water in the pan and the squash dried up. I add just a bit of water to keep moisture in now and it works perfect. Acorn squash lasts forever…which I can attest to, allowing them sit on my counter for weeks before I cook them because they are just that pretty. Apparently they are very easy to grow. Hmm, challenge accepted! Acorn squash is rich in fiber and potassium, with smaller amounts of vitamins B and C, magnesium, and manganese.

The experience –

First – Cut acorn squash in half, splitting the stem. De-seed the acorn squash, but save the seeds to salt, bake, and eat later!

Second – Place a few centimeters of water in a baking dish. I used a glass bread loaf pan. Place two halves of acorn squash cut side down in water.

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Third – Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.

Fourth – Scoop yummy goodness out of the two halves and place in a small mixing bowl.

Fifth – While using electric mixer on low, add butter and brown sugar. I used a handheld potato masher first to work in the butter and sugar, then use an electric mixer.

The music –

No music today! As this recipe is mostly made up of baking time to soften the squash I read The Last Lecture and listened to the pattering of rain.

How I feel about this recipe – 

I’m proud of this recipe, as simple as it is because I made it up myself! I started experimenting with acorn squash several years ago, when I wanted a wholesome winter veggie. This is a terrific as a side or for a warm treat as long as you go easy on the butter and sugar. I love the color of the squash, both the rind while it sits on my counter for a few days before I bake it and the deep yellow of the squash after it is baked.

Garlic Shrimp with White Beans and Tomatoes

SAMSUNG

The Ingredients –

  • 1 lb. peeled shrimp
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 14.5 oz. petite-diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 30 oz. white beans, drained (I used 15 oz)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

What I learned – 

This recipe called for pimenton. Pimenton? Ay, what’s that? Wikipedia to the rescue. In Spain, paprika is known as pimenton. Paprika is made from crushed, dried bell pepper varieties, red peppers, or a mixture. It is mostly associated with Hungary. Capsicum peppers used for paprika are unusually rich in vitamin C (good, maybe it can help me kick this head cold!). 

The experience –

First – De-shell the shrimp, then toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and smoked paprika.

Second – Add shrimp to a large skillet on medium heat – I used my dutch oven. Sauté for 1-2 minutes – I sautéed for about 4 minutes. Add half the garlic for the last minute. Spoon shrimp into separate bowl.

Third – Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil to skillet – I used 1 Tbsp. Add pepper flakes, bay leaf, and remaining garlic. Cook until garlic is golden, a few seconds.

Fourth – Add tomatoes, cook till most of liquid evaporates. Add tomato paste and mix through.

Fifth – Add beans and chicken broth; simmer till it is a thick stew, approximately 5-10 minutes. Stir in shrimp and parsley. Cook till heated through.

The music –

The Head and the Heart – self titled album

How I feel about this recipe – 

I found this recipe in Runner’s World Magazine last night from the cookbook The Athlete’s Palate. I’ve made quite a few recipes from this book…I really ought to just buy it already. How do I feel about this recipe? I went back for seconds! It was a delicious warm meal on a rainy Mississippi day. I absolutely loved the smoked paprika taste! I’m always excited for an excuse to buy a spice I’ve never tried before.

I used great northern beans, and half the amount recommended which I was thankful for because I’m not a big fan of the texture.  The shells came off the beans after being cooked and I kept thinking, hm, is this shrimp shell?  I’m not sure why that happened other than simmering it longer than suggested which caused them to peel. I’m super thankful I decided to read my magazine in bed last night so that I found this delish recipe just in time for a rainy day!

Eggplant Parmesan

SAMSUNG

The Ingredients –

  • One sizeable eggplant
  • Bread crumbs (Italian seasoned preferable)
  • 1 egg
  • Milk
  • Sauce
  • Mozarella – Treat yourself to the good kind : )

What I learned – 

This is pretty interesting! The plant from which eggplant fruits is a Nightshade family plant. I know from my veterinary education that Nightshade contains an atropine like substance. This results in clinical signs such as dilated pupils, central nervous system depression, confusion, behavioral change, etc. Sure glad the eggplant itself doesn’t cause this! The eggplant fruit is classified as a berry and its seeds contain nicotinic alkaloids (as it is a close relative to tobacco) which leads to their bitter taste.

The experience –

First – Cut eggplant into approximately 1 cm thick slices. Whisk one egg and a splash of milk in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, cover bottom with breadcrumbs.

Second – Coat both sides of eggplant slices with egg/milk mixture, allowing excess mixture to drip off. Move to breadcrumb bowl to coat.

Third – Pour olive oil into large frying pan and heat over medium high heat. Pour enough olive oil so it comes up approximately 1/4 of the eggplant slices. You’ll have to estimate this and add more as necessary because you don’t want to place the eggplant in the pan until the oil is heated. Cook until both sides are a pretty golden color.

Fourth – Coat bottom of baking dish with sauce, place eggplant slices on top, then cover with sauce and grated mozarella. Continue until all eggplant slices are layered.

Fifth – Cover with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so the cheese does not stick to the foil. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes. Uncover. Bake an additional 15 minutes uncovered or until desired bubbliness of cheese is achieved.

The music –

Pandora’s Feist Radio, and the whipping wind outside

How I feel about this recipe – 

This is my number one favorite vegetarian meal. It is a recipe I have changed quite a bit from when I first started making it. My mother often made this meal when I was a little girl, although she made it a little differently than I do now. I often have cravings for this meal, and for good reason! The quality of ingredients really shows through with this recipe. I generally choose a better quality sauce and mozarella (no Kraft cheese or store brand sauce), as well as a brand name bread crumb. I’ve made this with my own homemade sauce before, and wow was that good! This meal is so satisfying to me that I usually make it about once a month, even in the summer when I would prefer not to cook; that’s how much I love it. I hope you decide to give it a try, and if you do I would love to know how it goes!

Veggie Chili

SAMSUNG

The ingredients – 

  • Cooking spray (I used olive oil)
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 green onion (omitted)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 30 oz. hot chili beans in sauce
  • 28 oz. diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (omitted)
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. hot pepper sauce (omitted)
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano

What I learned –

Chili can be delicious without meat! This recipe is proof! I actually started cooking ground beef to add, and it didn’t quite smell right so I threw it out and went with the pure veggie recipe.

The experience –

First – Add desired amount of olive oil to large pot over medium heat. Add zucchini and carrot, green onion, and garlic; cook for 2 min. Be sure to dice the zucchini and carrot fine enough; I used my food processor.

Second – Add undrained chili beans, undrained tomatoes, ketchup, cocoa powder, chili powder, cumin, hot pepper sauce, and oregano. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 45 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Third – Add grated cheese and enjoy!

The music – 

Mumford and Sons – Babel

How I feel about this recipe –

This is my go-to recipe for vegetarian chili. I‘ve made it numerous times, and it seems to get better every time. I was given this recipe by a friend’s husband who is a chef in the Coast Guard. She has been a vegetarian for years and he makes this for her when he is home visiting. Just like any chili recipe, it always tastes best the days following when you actually make it. I made a huge batch of this to freeze in anticipation of a busy upcoming week in clinics so that I can have a hearty homemade meal when I need one most. Today, I enjoyed this meal after a 6 mile run in 50 degree weather with 30 mph wind. It was just what my body needed. (Both the run AND the healthy chili). I grated Vermont’s Cabot sharp cheddar and mixed it in – divine.