Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stuffed Peppers

This recipe was born out of a craving for enchiladas without the soggy tortillas.  So, I substituted pasilla peppers for the tortillas.  It came out similar to a baked chile relleno without the cheese overload.  Here's what you'll need:

 First step, wash the pasilla peppers (you can use anahiem peppers if you would like, but not the smaller peppers.
Cut the peppers in half and remove the white vein in the middle along with the seeds. Rinse the inside to get all the seeds out.  Then place the cut halves in a baking pan.  I ended up only using two pasillas and chopped the third to be added to the filling.  I also lined my baking pan with tin foil for easier clean up.

Now the filling!  First I sauted some of the pasilla I diced.

While that is sauting, I cut the pork carnitas that my Fiance made earlier.  He took a small pork shoulder and put in the crockpot with chicken stock and let it cook all day.  I didn't use all of the pork and saved some for the next days dinner (carnitas tacos with avocado and pico de gallo!).
I know there is onion in the ingredient picture, but I ended up not using it.  It looked great from the outside, but inside was...well, gross.  So, I nixed it.  Throw the carnitas into the pan with the pasilla peppers.  Mix and add a little cumin and chili powder.

I cooked about 1 cup of rice following the directions on the back of the bag and added it to the pork mixture.  Beware with cooking rice!  I didn't watch it as well as I should and some of the rice stuck to the bottom of the pot.  It was not fun to get off. 

Mix the rice and pork mixture together.

Add the kidney beans and mix.

Stuff the peppers with the pork mixture.

Add the enchilada sauce over the top of the mixture and bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

Remove the peppers and add a bit of a cheese on top before returning to the oven and baking for another 10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Asparagus Soup

I had awesome pictures of this recipe.  They were absolutely fabulous.  Then the iPad I had the pictures stored on, crashed.  I lost everything: videos, photos, documents.  It was a sad day.  But the soup was amazing and that's why I am still posting the recipe.

Asparagus (and potato) Soup

1 lb. fresh asparagus
2 medium russet potatoes
1 small yellow onion
4 cups Vegetable stock  (Unsalted is best)
2 cloves garlic
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Blender, 4 qt pot, heat resistant bowl,  wooden spatula or something to stir with, knife, cutting board

Step 1:  Dice the onion into somewhat even small pieces.  Then saute on medium heat in 2 tbsp of olive oil until soft and translucent   I like olive, it's good for the heart and I like the taste of it.  But, another oil can be used in place of it.  Use what you have.  

Step 2: Wash the asparagus and pat them dry.  Snap the stalks of the asparagus, removing the bottom part of the stalk.  When you grasp each end of the stalk and bend it, it should break at the toughest part.  Or you can cut the ends of the asparagus, being sure to remove any of the white parts.  Throw the ends away in recycle or a compost bin if you have one.  Cut the asparagus stalks into 1/2 inch pieces.  Toss them in with the sauteing onions.  Let them cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often so the onions don't burn.

Step 3:  Smash the garlic with the flat end of the knife to remove the paper covering.  Mince the garlic and put on top of the asparagus, letting it cook for thirty seconds before adding the vegetable stock.  I prefer to use unsalted stock so I have better control of the salt content in what I make.  Stir everything together and bring the stock to a boil.

Step 4:  Wash the potatoes and peel them.  The peels are great for compost.  Cut the potatoes into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces.  When the stock is boiling, add the potatoes.  Let the potatoes cook until soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Step 5:  When the potatoes are done, move the pot off the heat and let the soup cool a bit before blending.  Ladle about a cup of the soup into the blender.  Puree until smooth and place in the bowl.  Repeat with the rest of the soup.  If you have a full-size blender, this process will go quickly.  I had a Magic Bullet.  It took a little longer than normal.  After everything in blended, pour the soup back into the pot and heat over medium heat.

Step 6:  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tortilla Soup

Soup is an easy and healthy way to prepare lunches in advance for the week.  I actually saw a show on Food Network (Pioneer Woman, actually.  At least it wasn't Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee, ugh!) that made a similar version of this recipe.  It uses a lot of canned tomatoes, which I prefer to avoid canned things, however canned tomatoes and canned beans are the few things I'll use regularly.  They make life so much easier and if you choose the right brand, contain low sodium.  They also save so much time!  I didn't use canned beans in this recipe.  I bought dried beans and re-hydrated them over night.  They were a lot of work...cheaper, but a lot of work.

So,  here's what you'll need:
I forgot to add a few ingredients to the picture.  I also had two ears of corn, tortillas for tortilla strips, yellow pepper, and an onion.  Forgetful me!!

The first step is to heat the oven to 375 for the chicken.  Trim the chicken of any fat or tendons that are on it.  Then create a spice mixture of chili powder (2 tsp), cumin (1 tsp), a pinch of salt, few grinds of black pepper and garlic powder (1/2 tsp).  Rub the spice mix on the chicken and drizzle about 2 tbsp of olive oil on to the chicken.  Massage it all together and place on a tin foil line baking sheet.  I like use tin foil for the easy clean-up.

 Put the chicken in the oven and then pull out the corn.  You have two options with the corn.  You can, yes, wrap it in foil or throw it in uncovered.  Either way is fine.  I wrapped the corn because I didn't want charred bits in my soup.  Cook the chicken and the corn for about 30 minutes.

Dice the chicken into small pieces.
Remove the corn from the cob.  Snap off the bottoms of the corn so there is a somewhat flat surface.  Stand the corn on it's end and slide the knife from the top of the corn down to the cutting board.  Be careful of fingers.  You'll end up with this:

Next, dice the onion, jalapenos and yellow bell pepper.  Saute them together in a 1 tbsp or less of olive oil.

Dice the carrots into small pieces and toss in to the pot after the onions are translucent.

 After the carrots have cooked for a few minutes, add the chicken stock (I love Kitchen Basics unsalted stock!), can of diced tomatoes, and can of stewed tomatoes.  Also add a bit of chili powder (1 tbsp) and cumin (1 tsp).
Bring to a boil and then add the chicken, kidney beans, and the corn.
Bring back to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Let it simmer for an hour.  While it cooks, cut the tortillas into 1 inch narrow strips.  I used 5 small taco size tortillas.  Bake the strips at 375 for 5 minutes.  If they aren't crunchy, bake a little longer, but be careful!  They burn quickly.  After the soup has simmered for an hour, serve and enjoy or let it cool and divide into single serve tupperware containers.
Not the best picture, but you get the idea.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Idyllwild Mexican Slaw

Some friends and I went to a cabin for a weekend in March.  We had a gorgeous view of the valley below…and the neighbor’s obviously vacant weekend home.  And squirrels.  The squirrels were demanding little jerks.  Other guests at the cabin had feed them.  They stopped being cute when they realized we weren't going to feed them.  Good thing they couldn't open doors.

The food at the cabin was simple: burgers and hot dogs.  There was a pizza one night, but that night is a little fuzzy.   So, to make it healthy, I made a healthier version of coleslaw with a Mexican twist.

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 package of shredded cabbage
2 tomatoes
1 bunch of green onions
Olive Oil
Hot Sauce
Salt and pepper

Utensils:  1 large bowl, 1 small bowl, a knife, a fork, a spoon

Simple, easy, and no mayonnaise.

First put the cabbage in a large bowl.

Wash and cut the ends off the bunch of green onions.  

Dice those things up!

And into the bowl with the cabbage.

Next, we have the tomatoes.   I like roma tomatoes.  They're meatier than vine-ripened tomatoes and have less seeds.  I couldn't find any non-mushy Roma tomatoes in Idyllwild, so I used cherry tomatoes instead.  Which means, this recipe won't be seedless.    

And of course, dice!

 Seeds an all in the bowl.

Now pull out the spoon from the list earlier and mix it up.  Not the prettiest mix, but it gets the job done.

 Now the dressing.  A normal Southern coleslaw uses copious amounts of mayonnaise and sugar.  Always sugar.  Personally, I like my salads acidic, but to each their own.  First, crush the garlic to remove the skins and then mince as fine as possible.  A garlic press works well too.  I used three cloves of garlic; use as much or as little as you like.

 Toss it into the small bowl.
Squeeze one lime into the bowl, add 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  I added a dash of hot sauce for a little heat.  Sometimes, I'll add jalapenos to the mix too.  It just depends on how hot I want it.  Whisk the ingredients together so it looks like this:
Pour the dressing over the cabbage mix and toss so the dressing is evenly coated.
And enjoy with fish tacos, on burgers, or just as is!

The Pitch

When I first learned about the  20% project, I was completely clueless on what to do.  There were so many possibilities racing through my head.  I had taught myself embroidery last year through watching YouTube clips and it was a fun experience.  However, I remember growing up with nightly or almost nightly family dinners.  They weren't the most healthy of dinners generally either high in salt and processed foods.  I have broken away from that now, but I want to go further.

I love to cook.  My cooking style follows the Southern style-fried, gravies, carbs, carbs, carbs.  I want to learn to cook differently.  I want to shift my focus to healthier cooking, incorporating more fish, vegetables, good fats, less diary, and whole grains into my cooking.  This is my 20% project.  I am going to document my journey through cooking healthy foods and teaching others how to cook healthy foods through photo blogging.  I hope that through this process I can both improve my lifestyle and health.