Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A (Non)Vegetarian Rant and Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

There is no telling how much mayo I consumed yesterday. Speaking of mayo, Case and I went to Vegfest last weekend. It was packed (of course) and I just happened to walk by a stand of veganaise. Let me tell you, that stuff is amazing! It didn't taste exactly like mayo but it had a really nice creamy savoriness to it. I have to say I am super impressed that it specifies non-GMO Soy protein which I happen to think it very important. GMO - I mean, I'm sure you know what it means but the words just say it all. Genetically. Modified. Organism. Isn't that just another way of saying that you fucked with nature on a molecular level? I wholeheartedly believe that plants and animals were not meant to be messed with this way. But ultimately I am ignorant in such things and probably a hypocrite too. The chicken in this dish, even if it is "Free Range" and "Organic," the farmers can still treat their animals like crap and the birds probably still spend their lives confined in some way.

I do appreciate where vegetarians come from, but I don't think that they tell you the whole story. According to the "Go vegetarian!" pamphlet I got from PETA there is no naturally occurring B12 save in meat, so going vegan means you have to take a pill or eat fortified cereals or soy milk. Er...doesn't that sound a little unnatural? Clearly we are meant to have B12 but the only way to have it is through artificial means? Though, if it saves an animals life I suppose it is worth it? Also in the pamphlet is this completely ridiculous statement: "One egg contains a staggering 185 mg of artery-clogging cholesterol." I'd like to point out that humans naturally make cholesterol and it is in fact essential to living. Yes, essential. The daily recommended intake is 300 mg of which an egg is lower. (I'd also like to take a moment to point out a 2001 study by the Kansas State University that found egg cholesterol is more difficult to absorb). I mean how biased is that?! Artery Clogging. It's like saying Iron is Cirrhosis-inducing (and it is, if you overload). Clearly everything is bad if you have too much of it.

And lastly being vegetarian does not mean you are healthy. A lot of the faux-meats out there are filled with preservatives, firming agents, artificial flavorings (and what the hell does that mean??) and super nasty additives. Morning Star Bacon has Caramel Coloring which has been found to be carcinogenic. Oh, and of course the pamphlet pushes the 'If you are vegetarian you will lose weight' bit. And there is probably some truth to that...but you can have a twinkie and be a vegetarian. I don't think eating meat makes you fat.

Chicken Wraps

1 chicken breast
1/4 thinly sliced onion
1 tsp. dried thyme
handful of halved cherry tomatoes
freshly ground salt & pepper
sliced green onions for garnish

Boil chicken breast until done. Shred. Add chicken, mayo, tomatoes, onion and thyme in bowl and mix. (I forgot to add some Dijon Mustard but it would have been great in here!) Add salt and pepper. Line wrap with hummus and cover with spinach. Add chicken on top and that's I can't. And than you wrap it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rum Muffins with a Yuzu Rum Beverage

The second batch was much sloppier as I had been steadily drinking...

...but they turned out just fine

While purchasing wedding gifts from Williams-Sonoma I came across Yuzu Juice. I kept reading it about how it was the new cool thing and I kind of turned my nose up at it.  I'm not one for trendy things - okay maybe I secretly love them but trends are just that - trends. They don't last forever for a reason. They don't stand that test of time. But really. Yuzu. Isn't that just so much fun to say? I couldn't help myself, I had to get it. And so it sat in my fridge for a few weeks - waiting to be exploited. And so when I purchased a handle of Sailor Jerry's (The awesomest Rum ever) I combined it with Yuzu on the rocks. Seriously, it tasted like vanilla. It was amazing. Come to think of it I should have added Yuzu to the cupcakes.
Onto the muffins! This recipe is pretty famed at work. I brought them to a St. Patrick's Day party - it took less than 10 minutes for a dozen people to eat 48 muffins. Casey was pretty stoked about them and there is already a request to make these again. Of course this will require another handle - since we have drunk most of it. Alas I highly highly recommend making these guys. It's actually a recipe made for a bundt pan and making them in a bundt pan makes it way easier to let the sauce soak in but muffins are so much more fun to share!

Rum Muffins

18 oz. yellow cake mix
3 1/2 oz. box vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. rum
1/2 c. canola oil

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Roast chopped walnuts until fragrant and darker in color. Combine first 6 ingredients, pour into cupcake pan and top with chopped walnuts.


1/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water

Boil 5 minutes, remove from heat and add rum. Pour over muffins while they are still warm so the sauce soaks in. Oh, and the sauce here is key, DO NOT make these muffins without it. Seriously. The muffins, as mentioned above are more difficult to soak than a one-pan cake. With the mini muffins I took them out of their pans (which I had to anyway since I needed the pan to make more muffins) while they were still hot (ouch) put them in a glass 9x5 dish and poured the sauce over them. Whatever landed on the bottom got soaked up real nice. The big muffins are easier - I could pour the sauce over them and it would sink to the bottom.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lentil Tomato Soup

I am not much for soups, but I have to say this one pot cooking is working for me. Truly, it is the garnish that makes a dish. It takes all the intense flavors and ingredients - you know the ones that have been cooking in that big pot, every spoonful tastes the same - and it adds that panache. Green onions are great for doing this. They are fresh, easy to clean and chop. They look good over anything, making it look a little extra fancy. Fresh basil and cilantro are always excellent too. Seriously - don't leave them out!

Lentil Tomato Soup

1 Anaheim pepper
1 Poblano pepper
1 medium sweet onion
2 Tb. Ghee

1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp turmeric 

1 c. lentils - mixed colors
4ish c. water
1/2 can broth
1/2 c. crushed tomatoes

Olive Oil/Sriracha/Butter for sauce topping
Green Onion/Cilantro Garnish

Melt Ghee, Butter or EVOO. Add onion and peppers. Soften/Carmelize. Add spices. Add Lentils, mix, add water and bring to boil - lower heat and simmer until lentils are almost cooked. Blend 1/4 - 1/2 mixture for desired thickness of soup. Add broth and crushed tomatoes. Cook until lentils are done. Serve and top with green onion and cilantro. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Minestrone with homemade Turkey Meatballs

Satisfying, filling but light. The Turkey Meatballs were a plus! In the magazine it calls for 5. cups broth and 2 cups water. I did not need nearly so much and my soup still turned out pretty brothy.

Taken from Bon Appetite

3/4 c. ground turkey (6oz.)
1/2 c. breadcrumbs
2 heaping tablespoons parmesan, plus extra for garnish
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tb. fresh chives (didn't have any)
1 Large egg

2 Tb. EVOO
1 leek, sliced
1 Qt. broth, plus extra water as needed
3/4 c. ditalini
1 1/2 c. carrot rounds
1 c. packed baby spinach
basil and green onions for garnish (don't leave this truly makes this dish.

Mix first six ingredients, form into small meatballs. In pan, heat olive oil, cook meatballs until browned, thought still raw on the inside, about 3 minutes. Transfer to plate, set aside. Add leek to pot, cook for 3 minutes, add broth, bring to boil. Add pasta and carrots, cook for 8 minutes or until pasta is almost cooked. Add meatballs and cook until they are done, about 3 minutes. Add spinach, cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Top with green onions, basil and parmesan.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Turkey Bean Burgers

Turkey Burger Goodness! I carmelized some onions in bacon fat and white wine. Than mixed it in in ground turkey and half a can of mixed beans. I also added a little BBQ, cajun seasoning, and dried parsley. It makes for a flavorful, moist patty. And can top it with whatever you want. I slather my buns with mayo and hummus and drizzle ketchup over the whole awesomeness.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pork Chops, Creamed Leeks and Rice Pasta

I love cooking with booze. Not only do I get to eat it, I get to drink it too! This particular recipe called for Calvados, something I have been meaning to try for quite some time and I found the perfect recipe for it. The drink I made to go along with this dish was Calvados + Maple Syrup + Lemon Juice. It was good...but a little too strong for me. Oddly enough I had gone to Cupcake Royale that morning for my Red Velvet Cupcake fix (no, that's not unusual) and instead of getting my Capuchino I purchased a freshly squeezed Lemonade instead. So I added it to the Calvados beverage and yum, yum, yum! It was perfect. So perfect. Not to be a complete snob but I think it helped that the Lemonade was of good quality. I will be cooking with Calvados in the future. It kinda reminded me of super fortified white wine. The apple notes and all. But it's really an AOC apple brandy. Way better than what I thought it was - an apple liquor. I was even looking in that section for it. Since it has these tantalizing hints of sweetness I think it will go great in a dessert as well.

As for the rice pasta in this dish, Case and I fans! Rice pasta, while it may sound a little weird, has a buttery taste. No kidding! It's got great texture and flavor (unlike whole grain pasta which I find are entirely too gritty and mushy all at the same time) and it's gluten free. While Case and I are not gluten intolerant I think we appreciate cutting out the gluten every once in awhile. Also, if you can find rice-quinoa pasta that is also amazing!

If you have the time, the recipe calls for a brining which I totally skipped. Follow the link.

Pork with Apples and Creamed Leek Rice Pasta
Adapted from Bon Appetite 
Serves 2

2 Pork Chops
1 Apple
Rice Pasta
2 good sized Leeks
1/4 c. Calvados
1/4 c. broth
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. heavy cream
butter/olive oil/bacon fat

Start the water boiling. While you are waiting, clean, halve and chop your leeks. Soften your leeks in bacon fat. (I like them to get pretty soft.) When they are as soft as you like, add the cream (up to a 1/4 c. you don't have to use it all) and some of the broth. Is the water boiling?? Great, add the pasta, cook, drain and add it to the leeks.

Cook the apples in butter for 3 minutes, add the sugar, cook, add the calvados and the rest of the broth. Set aside. In the same pan add your pork chops, cook, and at the end add the apples to reheat them. Serve the pork chops in top of a bed of the pasta.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Spanish Cassoulet

Yes! A recipe with that perfect blend of flavors. French of origin with a spanish twist and sauteed in bacon fat. What more could I want?? This was very very loosely adapted from Bon Appetite's Chorizo and Gigante Bean Cassoulet, but I used a lot of stuff I had lying around my fridge.

Spanish Cassoulet

1 leek
1 small yellow onion
2 spicy sausages (Andouille would have been awesome but we had a spicy chicken sausage on hand)
2 can Lima Beans
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tb. Tomato Paste
1 1/2 tsp. Paprika
1 can diced tomatoes
7 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
Bacon fat

Crumb Topping

Panko Bread crumbs
dried herbs
lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Soften leeks and onion in olive oil and bacon fat. Add sausage, cook (My sausage was pre-cooked). Add anchovies and garlic, cook. Add tomato, tomato paste, paprika, diced tomatoes, beans, thyme and bay leaves. Transfer to oven proof dish. Mix ingredients for crumb topping. For the dried herbs I used parsley, thyme and powdered sage. Cover dish with bread crumbs. Bake until crumbs are a golden brown.