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Posts Tagged ‘potentially vegetarian’

On June 26th the world welcomed a very special little guy: my nephew!  This is B’s and my first time being an uncle and aunt and, besides being super excited to shower him with love and affection, we wanted to make sure we help out B’s brother and our sister-in-law as much as possible.  As part of our efforts to do so, we decided to make them some food to have to share with guests and for them to eat as they get adjusted to life as new parents.  We ended up making a lot of food (fitting our trend of over-cooking for 2 people).  Here is the menu (I will link the posts I’ve adapted as I post them):

Freezer Meals:

Chicken Stir Fry

  • Recipe forthcoming

Zucchini Bread

  • This was my first time making zucchini bread so I followed the recipe fairly closely (also not 100% sure on the outcome).  I used walnuts but did not use cranberries/raisins.  Also, I probably used over 3 C of grated fresh zucchini.  I grated a zucchini in my food processor and just used whatever was produced.

Banana Nutella Swirl Muffins

  • Two changes: I used 5 bananas and I did not use chopped pecans.  My mother- and father-in-law referred to these as life changing.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

  • B made these and I’m not 100% clear on the recipe.  I think he just winged the recipe using a Asian inspired rub.

Twice Baked Bacon and Cheddar Potatoes

  • This recipe is more of a guideline.  We have made twice baked potatoes before we so kind of eyeballed it as we normally do.  This was the first time we froze these.  We made the mistake of making them all as if we were going to eat them that day/night.  So we did two things wrong: first, we cooked them completely; second, we cooked them with the green onions.  Some of the freezer prep recipes I’ve found since then (when I was trying to find reheat instructions for my brother- and sister-in-law) have recommended not adding the green onions until ready to eat.  I was informed that they were very good as we did them but in the future I will probably try freezing the proper way.

Blanched asparagus

  • Add asparagus to a pot of boiling water.  Cook for approximately 1 minute.  Remove from boiling water and submerge immediately in ice water to stop cooking process.  Remove from ice water and put on cookie sheet or roasting pan to cool completely.  Place in freezer bag and freeze.  To reheat, thaw the asparagus and reheat in pan with oil/butter and desired spices.

To have on hand:

Italian Roast Pork with Broccoli Rabe

  • For the broccoli rabe, submerge in boiling water for approximately 2 minutes (or until soft with a little bit of crunch).  Remove from boiling water and immediately submerge in ice water to stop the cooking process. In a medium size pan, saute 2-3 cloves of garlic with a generous amount of olive oil.  Add blanched broccoli rabe and cook for approximately 5 minutes more over medium heat.  Serve roast pork and broccoli rabe with sharp provolone cheese and/or roasted red peppers on a hoagie sandwich roll.
  • My brother- and sister-in-law also repurposed the pork (since I ended up using an 8 lb shoulder and made 3 Chinese food take out containers worth.  Each container was 8 sandwiches).  They added some BBQ sauce and adobe sauce to use in roasted pork tacos.  We also discussed how the pork could be repurposed into BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.

Chocolate cupcakes with Salted Cannoli Cream Frosting

  • Recipe forthcoming

 

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When we lived in Pittsburgh there was (briefly) an Israeli restaurant in Squirrel Hill that we went to a few times.  While that restaurant no longer exists, I had the chance to try a dish that I had never seen before.  A fried egg in tomato sauce?  Seriously?  Recently, I had a craving for this dish.  I sought to try to make it from scratch at home.  B suggested adding ground beef to try to get a chili type feel to it.  I was pretty happy with the outcome but I would likely reduce the amount of meat or increase the amount of the tomato component I use in the future.  It ended up being a little too meat heavy.

I made this dish about 3-4 weeks ago so my comments about it are…limited.  Hopefully I’ll make it again soon and provide some updates and pictures.  Share your experiences if you get a chance to make it!

Shakshuka [Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce]
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup olive oil
3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped*
1 small yellow onion, chopped
Approx. 1 lb. lean ground beef
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsps ground cumin (I doubled spices because of including beef)
1-2 tbsp paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Add chiles and onions to oil.  Cook until soft and golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add ground beef and brown.
  4. After beef is browned, add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft.
  5. Crush tomatoes with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water
  6. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. Season sauce with salt.
  7. Crack each egg into small bowl to aid in poaching.
  8. Add eggs to sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface.
  9. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes.
  10. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk.
  11. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

* You could also use 3-5 Anaheim chiles instead, 5 would provide a good kick.

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I’ve previously mentioned that the “Jen Special” involves fish, starch, green vegetable.  Over the years, I’ve tried to expand what the “Jen Special” means.  Originally, it meant baked salmon, mashed potatoes, and spinach.  Without fail, I had this dish at least once a week before I moved in with B.  Moving in with him lead us to be a little more creative because someone prefers variety.  This is the latest manifestation of the “Jen Special”.   Enjoy!

Pesto Salmon
4 cups packed basil
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 tbsp pine nuts
3 cloves garlic, fresh (We REALLY like garlic.  If you aren’t a huge fan of garlic, reduce to 2 cloves)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
2- 4 oz. Sockeye (or other Salmon) fillet

Combine basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper together in a food processor until smooth.  Add additional components to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.  Place salmon in dish and spread pesto on top.  Bake salmon for approximately 20 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

Orzo Salad*
1/4 lb. orzo pasta, dried
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
3 tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp feta cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
Salt, pepper, and fresh basil to taste

  1. In a pot, bring heavily salted water to a boil.  When water reaches a rolling boil, add dried orzo.
  2. In a separate saute pan, add olive oil and onions.  Cook onions about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramelized.  Set aside onions.  Add pine nuts to the pan and toast slightly, making sure not to let them burn.
  3. When orzo is cooked, drain and add to pan with pine nuts and onions.  Mix in tomatoes, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar.  Serve warm.

Asparagus with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Glaze

This was just a bunch of asparagus that I blanched.  I added dollops of goat cheese and drizzled store-bought balsamic glaze.

*Note: I messed up the orzo salad by over estimating (by a lot) how much orzo we needed.  I cooked the whole box (1 lb.) It was waaaaay too much and overpowered the other elements of the dish.  We also ate it for the next three days.  This recipe reflects a reduced amount of pasta but I did not reduce the rest of the recipe components

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One of the (many) things B has taught me about food over the years is that broccoli on sandwiches can be delicious.  This lesson was passed on by through B from his grandfather.  His grandfather was a very good cook, even though he used a lot of oil in everything.  He used to send a batch of broccoli rabe out to B (and, in effect, me).  With this, B introduced me to broccoli and provolone sandwiches.

I had never been introduced to broccoli rabe let alone broccoli rabe sandwiches.  I was hooked.  When we stopped getting that shipment we started experimenting with making it ourselves.  One thing we cut back on was the amount of oil (see above comment).  As B started eating meat again after we got engaged, we starting incorporating chicken, roasted long-hot peppers, and other things into these sandwiches.  When B’s parents came to visit we decided to treat them to these sandwiches for lunch on their last day here.  We decided to match them with homemade herb crusted fries with basil and roasted garlic mayo.  This side dish was inspired by the frites at Park Brugge, which are matched with roasted garlic mayo, and at Point Brugge, which include basil mayo, restaurants in the Highland Park and Point Breeze neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, respectively.  I’m not going to post this recipe because it was essentially all the taste.  The basic steps are: cut potatoes, coat with herbs to taste, bake for a while, then sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese and broil for a short while; roast garlic, cut basil, combine mayo, basil, and roasted garlic to taste, add salt to taste.

Chicken and Broccoli Rabe Sandwiches
(Makes 6 sandwiches)

6 sub/hoagie rolls (semi-soft)
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
12-14 Chicken Tenders (1 Quorn naked chi’ken cutlets for the non-meat eater)
1 block/wedge of sharp provolone cheese

(1) In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Add broccoli rabe to boiling water and boil for approximately 3-4 minutes.   Prepare a bowl of ice water and blanch broccoli rabe after removing from boiling water.  Set aside.

(2) Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare chicken tenders by making sure they are very dry and then seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  In a large pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and saute garlic.  Sear chicken tenders approximately 3-4 minutes on each side.  Place chicken tenders in a baking pan sprayed with non-stick spray and finish chicken in oven for approximately 10-15 minutes or until juices run clear (For Quorn, just sear the cutlet).

(3) In a large pan, saute remaining olive oil, garlic, roasted red peppers, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add broccoli rabe and saute for an additional 4-5 minutes.

(4) To serve, add broccoli rabe over chicken on the sub/hoagie roll.  Top with shaved sharp provolone cheese to taste.

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This came about from exposure to the Philly Pretzel Factory, a persistent urge to make it from scratch, and a weekend away with good friends.  B and I decided we wanted to make these pretzel bites to bring to our weekend away in the Poconos for all to snack on.  They were a real hit and were gone within the hour.  I made these two days before we ate them. I stored them in containers and briefly reheated them before serving.  Enjoy!

Soft Pretzels Bites
(Pretzels adapted from Annie’s Eats and Cinnamon Sugar topping from Sophisticated Gourmet)

Ingredients:
For the dough:
1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

For finishing:
Cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Pretzel, Kosher, or Sea Salt

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter

Directions:
To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast.  Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 450° F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot.

Divide the dough to make it easier to work with.  Take pieces of each section of the dough and roll into approximately 1 inch balls.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time, for 30 seconds.  Remove from the water with a slotted skimmer and return to the baking sheet.  Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 12-14 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

If using the cinnamon sugar topping:  Skip the step where you sprinkle lightly with salt.  Combine sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Brush melted butter over pretzels.  Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over pretzels.

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As part of New Year’s Eve and day, B and I have a tradition to eat extremely decadent food to end and start the year on a good note.  For New Year’s Eve day, we made: Parmesan crusted goat cheese ball with basil oil (I didn’t strain the oil like she did in this recipe though); an arugula salad with cherries, gouda, and pralines with a dijon mustard dressing; and lobster ravioli (we used the fake lobster instead of steaming and cleaning them).  It started out as being a dinner I was going to make for B, but given my terrible time management, it ended up mostly a dinner made by B for me.  The goat cheese was great, nice and light and a good way to start the meal.

The arugula salad was also great.  The sweetness of the pralines and cherries with the sharpness of the gouda and dressing was great.  We actually used two types of gouda since I had gone to our local supermarket and B had gone to Whole Foods to get some herbs they didn’t have at the other supermarket.  We used smoked gouda (I got that) and a very aged gouda (B got that).  The aged gouda was different from anything I had ever seen; it was a hard cheese and was very similar to Parmesan. It was, however, absolutely delicious (but I’m a cheese girl).

The ravioli was the biggest endeavor.  We made the dough from scratch and rolled it out.  We tried to use our ravioli attachment but, alas, that was not meant to be.  For some reason we just cannot make ravioli.  They either don’t come out filled enough, get stuck in the machine, or are just off.  One of these days we’ll learn the trick.

For New Years day we planned to eat french onion soup and beer steamed mussels.  I spent most of the day curled in the fetal position on the couch due to the champagne and beer imbibed the night before so B enjoyed the soup day of (I had made it ahead of time) and made the mussels for us (I helped a bit since I had become more human by that point).  I calculated the Weight Watchers Points Plus for the soup; it made seven servings and were 3 PP per serving without the bread and gruyère cheese.

B said that this mussels recipe was the best we had made to this point.  We have previously made a fennel recipe and the standard one with white wine.  This was the first time we did it with beer.  The mussel’s recipe was built off of something online that we had found that I cannot find now (go figure).  It was very simple.  We basically did garlic, onion, chopped tomato, and beer to taste.  We also added some thyme since we had it leftover from the lobster ravioli.  We figured, its mussels, you can’t really go wrong.

All in all, a good end to 2011 and beginning to 2012, which will be very, very eventful for both B and I.

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I’ll start by saying this is 100% not Weight Watchers friendly.  I don’t think I mentioned, but before the holidays I finally achieved lifetime status (yay me!) after hitting my goal back in October (it took so long to hit lifetime because there was a few weeks in October I couldn’t make it to weigh in).  That combined with a medicine that I’m on that is making me lose too much weight (where were you this time last year crazy medicine!) I was/am not highly cognizant of the points values of the food I was ingesting between December 17 and 31st.  But everyone deserves a treat now and then, so I hope that you enjoy if you are following WW.  In terms of the recipe itself, I followed it basically to the letter because I had never, ever made waffles from scratch before.  For the eggnog sauce, I used the low-fat eggnog I had made previously and reduced the amount of butter and sugar that was originally in the recipe.  I made a half serving of the sauce and only used 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp sugar.  The recipe, as written for a half serving, called for 1/4 cup of butter and 1/2 cup sugar.  I’ve adjusted the measurements below from my scale down.  If you’re looking to make a full portion for the source recipe, 1/2 cup of butter should replace 1/4 cup of butter and 1 cup of sugar should replace 1/4 cup of sugar.

Gingerbread Waffles
(Sources: Annie’s Eats and Dine & Dish)
Made 6 Waffles

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
4 large eggs
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup milk
½ cup low-fat sour cream
3 tbsp. molasses

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Whisk to blend.  In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, butter, milk, sour cream and molasses and whisk to blend well.  Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk to combine until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Preheat a waffle iron.  Fill waffle wells and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Cook until crisp and golden.  Serve immediately.

Eggnog Syrup
About 6 Servings

Ingredients
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. eggnog
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Melt butter in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-low heat. Mix in sugar until well combined, then mix in the eggnog and bring heat up to medium-high heat. Whisk continually until mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat

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