Archive for the 'dinner' Category

23
Nov
10

Everyday is Thanksgiving at our House

We don’t need a once a year holiday to feel grateful or to eat a big dinner.  Katie and I exchange gratitude lists every day and have since the beginning of our relationship of over 3 years.  I often talk about what I’m grateful for at work and my co-workers share in this as well.  It just feels good to talk about the good stuff in life rather than dwell on the crappy side of things.

As far as food goes, I make dinner every night and it pretty much always looks like this.

Dinner is served!

I don’t always have a centerpiece decoration on the table,  but I like it.  There is, however, always a tablecloth and place mats.  I’m just funny that way (Ok, I’m funny in a lot of ways!).  Dinner at our place always has a green salad of some sort, a grain, some sort of vegetarian protein and at least two vegetables.  We’ve cut way back on bread, pasta and cheese, so we tend to eat semi vegan meals.

Tonight I made a quinoa pilaf with toasted pecans and dried cranberries, roasted butternut squash, from our garden, paired with Fuji apple and Field Roast Applewood Smoked Sausage (it’s vegan, of course), steamed broccoli and kale and mesclan salad (also from the garden).

 It was delicious!

A full plate of food, we get full, yet never feel stuffed eating like this

Yummy quinoa pilaf. don't worry, I'll give you the recipe.

QUINOA PILAF

serves 2

1/2 cup quinoa
3/4 cup mushroom broth
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
olive oil, salt and pepper

In a small pan, bring broth to a boil.  Stir in quinoa, cover and lower heat to simmer.   Steam for 19 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat a small amount of oil and saute onion until a bit browned.  Add nuts and cranberries.   Stir and heat through until nuts impart a wonderful fragrance.  Stir into cooked quinoa and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Butternut squash, Fuji apple and Applewood smoked Vegan sausage tossed in olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper, place in baking pan, cover with foil and bake for 35 -40 minutes at 350 degrees.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.  Katie and I will probably do our usual routine:  stay in our jammies, make homemade pizza, watch movies, play pool and eat pumpkin pie!

06
Jul
10

Boy, did we have fun!

I decided to try my hand at making a little movie presentation of our Fourth of July gathering.  We had some of our very special friends over to help celebrate the holiday with us.  As always, there was more than enough food.

We played darts, cowboy golf, badminton and of course, pool!  I spent a lot of time in what Katie calls my “natural habitat,” the kitchen, cranking out the goodies.  I even made a new barbeque sauce using rhubarb!  Thank goodness I had my grasshopper, Emily, there to help me.

We had hummus, pita bread, guacamole, bagel chips, grilled corn on the cob, grilled veggie skewers bathed with that rhubarb sauce,  kale and carrot salad, wheatberry salad and quinoa salad.  There were no lack of sweets.  I made peanut butter cookies, oatmeal triple chip cookies and lemon coconut pixies.  Emily baked a raspberry buttermilk cake which was the perfect foil for my homemade strawberry frozen yogurt.  Robert brought a perfect watermelon, beautiful fresh raspberries, red and gold, and blueberries.

I only wish I had taken more pictures.  Especially of us all shooting firecrackers and bottle rockets off!

Enjoy the film presentation.  (Ignore the date on the title page – this really was filmed on the 4th of July)

24
May
10

The healthy eating will continue

It happens everyday

I can’t believe it’s May.  It’s difficult to believe that May is almost over.  Portland weather is always entertaining.  One minute the sun is shining, then it turns dark as dusk and the sky opens up and torrential rain is upon us.  Then it turns to icy hail. All at once, it comes to a screeching halt and there is that ol’ sun again.  I love Portland. 

Our garden continues to thrive because of, and in spite of, this weather pattern.  And it saves us an awful lot on our water bill.  I have high hopes that our garden will not only save us money by growing in our yard and not having to make constant trips to the market, but will keep us eating happy and healthy meals. 

We’ve been going strong on this healthy eating path.  We started making healthier choices in December, while Katie was recovering from a surgery.  She threatened to start making her own meals because she needed vegetables.  Well, any of you that read this and know me, know that I wasn’t havin’ any of it.  The kitchen is “ours” but I’m pretty territorial when it comes to food and the production of it.  Plus, I couldn’t have her getting slim and healthy and leaving me struggling along, huffing and puffing and being chubby in her skinny shadow.  No effin’ way! 

So I jumped right on that healthy merry-go-round and I have no intention of falling off.  We are slimming down naturally, without effort, and it feels and tastes so delicious.  I’ve lost 8 pounds since January!  No Weight Watchers, no meetings, no starving.  Common sense and a culinary knack are what I have going for me.  And it’s working. 

So, enough of my rambling.  I want to show you something easy and tasty.  Oh, and it’s healthy, too.  Here’s a picture of a typical dinner at Chez Tolbert: 

It may look like a lot of food, but it is so low in fat and calories

Green salad (lettuce from our garden), wheat berries with cannellini beans and Field Roast Smoked Applewood Veggie Sausage, and Zucchini Ribbon “Pasta” topped with Savory Mushroom Sauce.  Yum. 

I always dug in my heels when it came to eating zucchini.  I never liked it.  At least rarely did I like it.  It’s a texture thing.  People always  over cook it, in my humble opinion.  I discovered it’s not bad when you use thin strips of it as a pasta alternative. 

so simple, so quick

The first time I tried this method, I used my electric slicer.  It’s like the ones the deli’s use, only a lot smaller.  But for the sake of the blog, I decided to use a vegetable peeler this time.  It worked great!  I figured not everyone has a home slicer, but a vegetable peeler, even non cooks have those. 

Really, anyone can make this

See how simple that is? 

Looks kinda like pappardelle, yeah?

I used 2 zucchini for this meal.  Rule of thumb: use 1 zucchini per person. 

So, that’s it.  No cooking.  Set the zucchini ribbons aside and make the sauce. 

Let the sauce making begin!

Thinly slice 1 leek, mince 1 shallot and 2 cloves of garlic.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a hot  pan and gently saute until softened. 

Mmmm...smells so good

Next, add some sliced mushrooms.  I used creminis, because we like ‘em. 

Looking good

You can use whatever mushrooms you prefer.  A combination is always good. 

Once again, I wish computer screens had scratch and sniff!

Continue sauteing until the mushrooms soften.  Add seasonings to taste:  salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil. 

Oh, mamma, these are smelling so good right now

Once the mushrooms have softened and browned a bit, move everything to the sides of the pan, making a circular opening in the center of the pan.  Add a bit more olive oil, about 1/2 tablespoon and then sprinkle in some flour, a couple of tablespoons. 

Does anyone else see a cartoon bear face in there?

Cook the flour for a minute or two, till it starts to brown slightly. 

Stir and brown flour

  I like to add some hot sauce at this point.  It’s optional. 

Squirt in some hot sauce of choice - this is Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

Now I add some vegetable stock.  You can use home-made or store-bought stock.  I make it every week, so I always have it on hand. 

Add some stock and you have sauce

Add stock about 1/2 cup at a time.  I like to use a ladle for this step. Just add and cook until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. 

This looks, smells and tastes just right

Place zucchini ribbons in a large serving bowl or platter.  Top with hot sauce.  Finely chop some fresh Italian Parsley and sprinkle on top, for a pretty presentation. 

Dinner is served

Then toss gently to combine.  The heat of the sauce with cause the “noodles” to soften, but not get mushy.  It’s fast and easy and best of all, tastes great. 

Damn, that's a healthy looking dinner!

17
Mar
10

Enchilada casserole tutorial

 A few weeks ago we had  a party at our place  and I made a vegetarian “chicken” enchilada casserole.  Everyone loved it!  Some people were very confused, saying “I thought you guys were vegetarian; there’s chicken in here!”  Well, yeah, but no.  There wasn’t any dead yard bird in there, just good ol’ Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips.  I’ve posted a picture of the box a few posts back.  I like using those things.  They are so handy when it comes to doing recipe reduxes involving chicken.  Trying to make mostly vegetable heavy meals now days, I like to indulge in some processed stuff once in a while.  Moderation in everything, right?

The night before last I decided to make the casserole for dinner.  Since it was such a hit at the party, I thought I should share it with my blog audience this time.  So here goes:

The first layer

This is made like a lasagna, in layers.  The first layer I spooned in some green enchilada sauce (yes, from a can!), two corn tortillas (or what ever fits in your dish), sprinkle a little grated cheese (I used pepper jack and cheddar), chopped onion, sliced olives, chopped jalapeno, and chopped Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips (I sauted these first in a little olive oil, added garlic powder, cumin, salt and chili powder to taste).

Layer two more corn tortillas

Ladle more green enchilada sauce on top

Add a little grated cheese

Add the chickenless strip chunks, sliced olives, chopped jalapeno, chopped onions

Load the top up with cheese

And bake it until it looks like this!  Preheat your oven while you are building your casserole to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until it is browned and bubbling.  The other night when this was baking I made Spicy Quinoa instead of rice and refried black beans.  I’ve shown you in past posts how I make refried beans so I’m not going to get into that this time.  I am, however, going to show you  a little step by step action with the quinoa.

Before you heat the pan, have a measuring cup with the liquid ready.  I have a 1 cup plastic measuring cup that has all of the cool markings on it.  I put 1 – 2 tablespoons of chili paste or salsa into the cup and add water or stock up to the 3/4 cup  marking.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a small sauce pan.  Heat over medium high heat, saute a couple tablespoons chopped onions, add some salt, cumin and chili powder to taste and 1/2 cup quinoa.  Stir often until quinoa starts to brown a little.

  Add your liquid and reduce heat to low and cover pan with lid.  Cook until all of the liquid has evaported, about 19 minutes.  Fluff with fork when done.

And this is what it looks like when it is done!  My lighting is a little strange here, so don’t freak if you make this and it isn’t this color, okay?

Add a  green salad and you’ve got yourself a nice balanced meal.  This is better than any Mexican restaurant and a lot lower in fat.  The whole thing takes less than an hour from start to finish.  And, yeah, we really eat meals like this almost every day.  Just ask Katie!

29
Sep
09

Fried Green Tomato Tart

Well, what do you do with so many green tomatoes?  I’ve really been having fun making different meals with my garden bounty.  I took my chili relleno tart and turned it into something quite different.  This tart can be served at any time during the day, breakfast, lunch or dinner.  The first time I made it was for our Saturday night dinner.  I served it with steamed broccoli drizzled with fresh squeezed lemon.  Sunday morning I teamed the left over tart with fried potatoes and fresh fruit.  Monday rolled around and the was one solo piece left.  It made a great light, quick lunch.

FRIED GREEN TOMATO TART 

CRUST

¾ cup flour

½ cup corn meal

½ tsp salt

½ cup chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 TBSP ice water 

FILLING

2 green tomatoes

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

1 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese

1 cup Asiago or parmesan cheese

2 eggs

½ cup heavy cream (whipping cream)

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp cracked pepper

3 tbsp soyrizo (optional) 

Place flour, corn meal, butter, and salt in food processor.  Pulse until mixture resemble course meal.  Add water and mix until mixture forms moist clumps.  Gather dough into a ball; flatten into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about an hour.  Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 375

Butter or spray non stick aerosol a 9” tart pan.  Roll cornmeal crust out on a floured surface.  Place crust in pan.  Place tart pan on a heavy sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, until crust turns slightly golden brown.  Set aside and prepare filling.

Slice green tomatoes and prepare as in recipe for Fried Green Tomato Gratin.  Drain on paper towels.

Mix grated cheeses.  Spread 1/3 of the cheese in the bottom of the baked crust.  Layer the tomatoes.  Sprinkle optional soyrizo.  Top with the remaining cheese.  Using a food processor or blender, blend the eggs, heavy cream, salt and pepper.  Pour over the tart.  Bake until golden , about 25 minutes.  Can be served hot or room temperature.  

 

Take a peek inside

Take a peek inside

Seriously, you should try this recipe.  Here, take an even closer look.

Are you hungry yet?

Are you hungry yet?

05
Sep
09

Simple, Tasty Tostadas

These tostadas are better than any I have had in a Mexican restaurant!
These tostadas are better than any I have had in a Mexican restaurant!

They might not be super pretty, but the tostadas I made for dinner the other night were mighty tasty!  Under that lettuce is a crisp, baked corn tortilla, slathered with spicy, soyrizo refried pinto and black beans, spicy Mexican style rice, and shredded jalapeno jack cheese.  Yes, you could say we like things spicy at our house.

Mexican Style Rice

1/2 cup rice (I like Basmati, you can use whatever you like)

1/4 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

2 tbsp chili paste

water

Heat oil over medium high heat.  Saute onions until they are soft and beginning to brown.  Stir in cumin and chili powder.  Stir in rice covering it with oil and spices, about 1 minute (careful not to let it scorch!)  Put chili paste in measuring cup and add water to make it 3/4 of a cup.  Pour over rice and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to simmer and cover with lid.  Simmer for 19 minutes.  Remove from heat and leave lid on until you are ready to assemble tostadas.

Refried Pinto and Black Beans

1 15 oz can pinto beans

1 cup cooked black beans

1/2 large onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

2 tbsp cumin

salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in saute pan.  Saute onion until soft and golden.  Add pinto beans with juice from can.  Add black beans.  Stir and sprinkle with cumin.

Pinto, black beans, onion and cumin
Pinto, black beans, onion and cumin

Using a potato masher, mash into a smooth paste.

Mash, mash, mash
Mash, mash, mash
Smooth, refried beans - yummy!
Smooth, refried beans – yummy!

I always add some water during this process, as it tends to dry out pretty quickly.  Just add as needed.  When the beans are at this point, I put my garlic into a garlic press and add to the pan.  It’s a good point to add your salt and pepper now, too.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  It’s great like this but even better if you add soy chorizo right about now.

Lookin good!
Lookin’ good!

While you are cooking the rice and beans, you should have your corn tortillas baking and crisping in the oven.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover sheet pan with foil (to facilitate clean up) and place tortillas on pan.  Spray both side with non stick spray.  Place in oven and just keep an eye on them, turning once during bake time.  Remove from oven once they are crispy and browned a little.

Crispy and browned and ready to be slathered with beans
Crispy and browned and ready to be slathered with beans

Chop Romaine lettuce.  Dress with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp vinegar of choice.  I like Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar.

Assemble tostadas.  Place crisped tortilla on a plate.  Slather with a generous amount of refried beans.   Top with an equal amount of rice.  Sprinkle with grated cheese.  Sprinkle some chopped onion.  Top with dressed lettuce.  I added chopped tomato, sliced olives, chopped cucumber, chopped avocado, a dollop of light sour cream and jarred jalapenos to our tostadas.  You can use whatever is in your kitchen and imagination.  Enjoy and ole!

Dinner is ready!

Dinner is ready!

14
Aug
09

Grilled Corn Salad

Vibrant color and smoky, spicy grilled flavor abound in the Grilled Corn Salad

Vibrant color and smoky, spicy grilled flavor abound in the Grilled Corn Salad

I am not a big fan of the summer heat, but this salad I made up the other day sure made it a bit more tolerable.  Cool and crunchy, spicy, smoky and sweet it was the perfect accompaniment to some wheat meat “chicken” fillets marinated in Spiced Plum Sauce and served over Basmati rice.  You can use any veggies you like, but this combo was certainly a hit.  It tastes like summer!

 

Grilled Corn Salad

4 ears of corn

1 bunch asparagus

½ medium pineapple

4 ¼” thick slices Halloumi cheese*

1 cup cooked black beans

½ medium red bell pepper, chopped

½ small red onion, chopped

1 large jalapeno 

Shuck and clean corn.  Peel and slice pineapple into 4 thick slices (leave the core, you will remove than after grilling).  Clean asparagus and remove tough ends.

Grilled pineapple and jalapeno

Grilled pineapple and jalapeno

 

Grill pineapple slices and jalapeno until the pineapple has nice grill marks and the pepper is charred.  Remove from grill and set aside.  Grill corn and cheese.  Cheese will be done grilling before the corn.  Turn cheese and brown the other side. Remove from grill and set aside.  Keep turning the corn to get it roasted on all sides.  Remove and set aside.  Grill asparagus until slightly charred.  Remove and set aside.

Grilling the corn and Halloumi Cheese

Grilling the corn and Halloumi Cheese

 

Cut pineapple slices in quarters and remove the core.  Cut pineapple, asparagus and cheese into bite size pieces and place in salad bowl.  Add chopped red bell pepper and red onion.  Add black beans.  Toss.

Remove corn from cob.  I like to place the corn in a large bowl, stand it on end and holding the top, slice half way down.  Go all the way around the cob then turn upside down and repeat until all of the corn kernels have been removed.  This prevents the kernels from spilling all over your counter top and it catches the sticky corn milk.

Add corn to salad bowl and toss.

 You are probably wondering why I had you grill that jalapeno, right?  It’s for the dressing.

Roasted Jalapeno Dressing

1 large jalapeno, roasted

2 medium tomatoes (from the garden or organic are the best flavor)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of one lemon and one lime

Salt to taste

 

Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Pour over salad, toss and marinate in refrigerator for about an hour.

* Halloumi cheese is an imported goat and sheep milks cheese made in Cyprus, Greece.  It is sold in most upscale markets but you can also order it online.  To learn more about Halloumi cheese go to halloumicheese.com.

03
Aug
09

Smoky, Spicy BBQ Sauce

Veggie skewers topped by wheat meat skewers coated with Smoky, Spicy Barbecue Sauce.  Grab some napkins!!!

Veggie skewers topped by wheat meat skewers coated with Smoky, Spicy Barbecue Sauce. Grab some napkins!!!

 

This post is for Emily.  She and Chuck were over for dinner one evening and we had a great time barbecuing and hanging out in our wonderful outdoor living area.  Emily shares my love of cooking and baking and all things food in general.  We both like to bestow gifts of our homemade treats on each other.  She came that evening baring homemade jam and I gifted her with a jar of some homemade barbecue sauce.  Both she and Chuck confided that they really didn’t care much for barbecue sauce, but they sang a totally different tune once they tasted this stuff.  She has been asking me for the recipe evr since.  So, dear Emily, here is that long promised recipe.  I wish I could claim it was my very own creation, but it is not.  I believe in giving credit where credit is due.  I discovered this gem of a recipe in a book from my library entitled “Prairie Home Cooking” by Judith M. Fertig.

Smoky, Spicy, Barbecue Sauce

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3/4 cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup molasses, sorghum, or corn syrup (I use molasses)

12 ounces tomato paste

1/4 brown mustard

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne (I use 1 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon bottled hot sauce(I use a lot more, I just keep shaking that bottle)

3 – 4 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Puree the onion, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, and molasses in a food processor or blender.  Put the tomato paste in a large non-reactive saucepan over medium-low heat.  Pour the onion puree into the tomato paste and stir to blend.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the rest of the seasonings, and simmer the sauce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and ladle the sauce into a sieve placed over a bowl.  Press the sauce through the sieve with the back of a spoon.  Transfer to a lidded jar.  Refrigerated, the sauce will keep indefinitely.  Reheat before using.

FYI: I do not do that sieve routine.  I like the sauce a bit thick, so I just remove from heat and ladle into glass jars.  I don’t reheat it either; I just use it cold.  It gets hot while you are slathering it on whatever you are cooking.

The veggie skewers in the picture were not marinated in the BBQ sauce.  I did make a marinade for those as well; my own concoction.

2 – 3 tbsp olive oil

1 – 2 tbsp sambel oelek (yes, I use this a lot!)

1 tbsp balsalmic vinegar

3 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tbsp roasted garlic rice vinegar

a splash of tamari

salt & pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to blend.  Place cut up veggies in a shallow dish and pour marinade over.  Toss to coat.  Cover and let marinate for at least one hour.

So, enjoy making and using this sauce, Emily.  I strongly encourage the rest of you readers to give this one a try as well.  It is really tasty and much better than any BBQ sauce you buy bottled from the supermarket.  And you it all year round.  It’s great as a dipping sauce, on french fries, veggie burgers, add a little to your homemade salad dressing, etc.  Have fun and enjoy your food!




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