Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

This one is for you Gerald!
I made these peppers a while ago but every time I go to write a post about them I draw a blank. I just cannot think of a single anecdote or story to relay- I never really ate them growing up and until recently they were never on my menu rotation. But the time has come to share them even if I have nothing to say about them other than that they are just a filling, hearty, healthy and delicious dish. Enjoy!

3 red peppers
3 green peppers
1 large onion, diced
3 Tbl oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 Tbl cumin
2 cans tomato sauce, divided
salt and pepper
1 12oz (340gram)package Smart Ground or any other soy crumble or the equivalent amount of chopped mushrooms
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the tops off of the peppers, dice them and set them aside. Make a thin slice on the bottoms so they stand up in the pan and place them in a pan. In a saute pan heat the oil and saute the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and pepper tops until they are translucent seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the Smart Ground and cook for about 5 minutes. Add one can of tomato sauce and the cumin, mix and let it cook another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the cooked brown rice and one cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Stuff the peppers with the mixture. If there is extra mixture you can just pour it around the peppers to bake along side them. Take the remaining can of tomato sauce and mix it with 1 tsp of cumin, salt, pepper and granulated garlic and pour over the peppers. Top with the rest of the shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Huli Huli Chicken Wings

Yes, this is a bizarre sounding chicken but there are no hoops involved. Don't ask me what it means but it is a Hawaiian chicken that is broiled til the skin is crispy and crunchy and all the sugars in the marinade caramelize. The minute I heard of this chicken I was gathering the ingredients to put it together because it has all the good stuff that I love in a marinade- soy, ginger, garlic and lots of other yumminess like pineapple and brown sugar. Instead of using chicken pieces for my Huli Huli experience I used chicken drumettes which are the part of the chicken wings that look like a mini chicken leg. As I was making these I actually pondered for way too long why they are called drumettes  and then when I finally realized that 1) I was thinking about this way too much because I don't actually care that much and 2) I could just google it instead of wasting brain power on such stupidity it dawned on me that it's because they are the itty bitty equivalent of the drum stick. DUH! So that is that in case you were ever wondering yourself. Bottom line, make them and try not to start any fires in your broiler like I did in the process. Enjoy!

2 lbs wings
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup pureed fresh pineapple (alternatively, you can use canned)
2 Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl ketchup
1 Tbl rice vinegar
2 Tbl grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix the soy sauce, pineapple, sugar, ketchup, vinegar and garlic in a bowl. I used a hand blender to then puree it more so the texture wasn't as chunky but you don't have to. Season the marinade with salt and pepper and place the wings in to marinate for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Lay the wings in one layer on a sheet pan and cook for about 15  minutes until the wings are almost cooked through. Transfer the wings to the broiler and broil the wings on each side for about a minute- make sure they don't burn!- until they are crispy and golden. Serve them and dip them into the sauce that remains on the sheet pan - deeeelish!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


That is what many of you may be asking yourselves right now. No, auto-correct did not get to my blog and no, I have not recently imbibed. Letcho is simply a delicious dish of stewed peppers and tomatoes that my grandmother excelled at making and that I grew up with that I think is Hungarian in origin. My Grandmother has told me it was made to get rid of tomatoes and peppers that were going bad but there was no evidence of poor quality vegetables in the letcho when we got to it. My grandmother would parcel out containers to all her children every time she made it and we would literally fight at the fridge to get to it.  Then after we got our illicit spoonfuls we would hide it in the fridge in a safe place so we could have some more later but inevitably someone else searched and got to it first.
And all it is is basically peppers and tomatoes.
It's amazing how good a grandmother's love can make a dish.
Now, everything my grandmother made had tons of sugar in it. And I mean EVERYTHING. Hamburgers with sugar- you got it. Peas with sugar- yup. Chulent with sugar- oh yeah! There is literally nothing she did not put sugar in so her letcho was also on the sweet side. But many of my friends grew up with letcho that had no sugar so make it as you like with or without though I think it benefits from a little sugar to enhance the sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers. I also used to think letcho was a rice dish because I would always find little grains of rice in the dish but it really is primarily a vegetable dish with just a tiny bit of rice to thicken up the sauce. It makes a great side dish and goes great served over plain brown rice which is how I like to serve it. So find your secret refrigerator hiding space and Enjoy!

2 large onions, sliced
4 Tbl oil
1 large red pepper, sliced
2 green peppers, sliced (even if you don't like green peppers they are essential for letcho flavor)
1 orange pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
7 tomatoes (plum or on the vine, sliced gently-don't lose too much of the juice)
4 Tbl sugar
1/8 cup of rice
salt and pepper

In a large pan saute the onions in the oil for 2 minutes add all the peppers and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until the peppers start to wilt. Add all the tomatoes, mix, re- season with salt and pepper and cover for about 5 minutes to let the tomatoes start to release their juices. Add the sugar cover and let stew while mixing occasionally for about 25 minutes. There should be a nice amount of liquid in the pot. Add the rice, stir, check for seasoning and cook another 10 minutes covered until the rice is cooked.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

Now this is a muffin! Any one bowl recipe becomes my friend and especially one that is so good. Frozen raspberries are the key here because they are soft and have already let off some of their juice and that juice will just permeate the whole muffin and make it taste like raspberry heaven. However, if you have fresh raspberries that are soft and runny already but not moldy they would work well here too.  And what can I say about the combo of white chocolate and raspberry? It's not a combination I've had many times before but it's a combo I will be using a lot more now! Serve these for brunch and they will be a real crowd pleaser or to break your next fast and I promise you they will disappear! Enjoy!

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks or chips
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (frozen works better in this recipe)

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl mix the flour, sugars, baking powder and salt. Add the milk eggs and oil and mix. Fold in the chocolate chips and raspberries and fill greased muffin tins with the batter until almost full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup

This soup was a big fat hit! I don't usually like to have soup in the summer but for some reason no matter how hot it is, soup is a must for break -fast. Something about sweating out the calories I did not eat all day is ironically appealing. And what better vegetable to use for a summer soup than tomatoes? Walking into the supermarkets the first smell that hits you is the smell of fresh tomatoes of every kind and at the peak of ripeness there is nothing like eating a juicy tomato- it's as sweet and refreshing as any fruit.  To accentuate the sweetness of the tomatoes I decided to go with a roasted tomato soup and the roasting really added a great depth of flavor to the soup and a little smokiness. Served with some grilled cheese for dipping this soup was out of this world! Enjoy!

4 lbs tomatoes ( a little less then 2 kilo or about 12-14 tomatoes)( I used a combo of on the vine and plum), quartered
1 large onion, quartered
7 cloves garlic, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and chunked
2 stalks celery, chunked
olive oil
1 bay leaf
5 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp good quality dried oregano
1 tsp good quality dried basil
1 Tbl sugar
1 Tbl tomato paste
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450. On a sheet pan place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Toss with enough olive oil so that everything is coated and season WELL with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes and then mix the vegetables, pressing down on the tomatoes a little to release their juices. Roast another 15 minutes. Place all the vegetables and all the juice from the pan into a pot and add the bay leaf, vegetable stock, herbs, sugar and tomato paste. Season well with salt and pepper and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for about 25 minute until the veggies are all tender.  Remove bay leaf and Puree with an immersion blender and add the cream. Let the soup simmer for 5 minutes with the cream and serve!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Grilled Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

After all the heavy dairy 9 days eating I was in desperate need of some light meat filled fare and this salad fit the bill perfectly. I make taco salad quite often with the salsa and mayo dressing and don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan but I wanted something a little different this time around so I went with a totally different flavored dressing and lots of yummy chicken. I marinated the chicken breast in lots of strong spices- smoked paprika, cumin, garlic to give it great flavor and then grilled it for smokiness and it was delicious atop this salad. The creamy lime dressing was the perfect cooling agent for the spicy chicken not to mention it was a welcome change from the usual dressing. I am usually not a fan of cilantro because of its aggressive shampoo taste but sometimes it just hits the spot. This dressing I think really needs the cilantro for more authentic Mexican flavor and the lime with the cilantro is just a great combo. Of course you can't have a taco salad with out some taco chips so get your crunch on and crumble some taco chips on top. Enjoy!

For the grilled chicken:
3 chicken breasts
salt, smoked paprika, granulated garlic, cumin

Sprinkle the chicken breasts on both sides with the seasonings and grill until ready.

For the Salad:
2 heads Romaine lettuce
1 red onion diced
2 avocados, diced
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 can black beans, drained
1 can of sweet corn, drained
1 bag taco chips, crumbled
Toss all the ingredients together, add dressing and chicken and serve with taco chips on top.

For the dressing:
1 cup mayo
Juice and zest of one lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
 1 tsp cumin
3 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together and let dressing sit in the refrigerated for at least half an hour for the flavors to really come together.

                                                          Dayummmm that looks good!