Category Archives: Food Speak

Quinoa Bite Me!

Yesterday I had leftover BBQ chicken from the previous nights din din, so I decided to whip up some quinoa BBQ chicken salad.  Nom nom nom.   Well today, I had leftover quinoa.  People ask me all the time, how do I get my kids to eat veggies.  Simple, I trick them or a shrink down foods into mini bites so they can pick them up and gobble away.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE advocate for farm fresh and having my kids taste veggies (and fruits) in their purest forms, but let’s get real.  My kids are 3 and a half and 2 and a half, you plop a plain piece of zucchini in front of them, they are not touching it.  Well, except my daughter Maryn because she will eat anything (as long as her brother and sister are not around to tell her it tastes like poop) and she doesn’t care what it is.

So, leftover quinoa, kids who need some veggies, lunch right around the corner….QUINOA ZUCCHINI APPLE BITES!!!   I did make one batch sans apple, but the apple made them even more yummy.  These took about 5 minutes to throw together and 25 minutes to bake.  The best part, no oil or butter so these are super healthy and I promise you, your kids will LOVE them.  If you don’t have my specific ingredients on hand (and you will not unless you are in Traverse City, MI and shop at Bay Bread and get dried apple slices from Nature’s Treats), don’t worry.  Use what you have or get creative and put your own spin on these.

 

Quinoa Zucchini Apple Bites

3/4 cup cooked quinoa (note that I cooked my quinoa the day before in some simple chicken stock)

2 medium to large zucchini, skin on, grated

1/2 vidalia onion, grated

1/2 cup dried cinnamon apple slices, crushed in big (not fine) pieces

3/4 cup asiago cheese breadcrumbs (I made these myself using a leftover asiago cheese baguette that I had on hand.  Note also that my breadcrumbs were more rustic aka coarser than a traditional fine ground breadcrumb.  So maybe try using some garlic cheese croutons pulsed in the food processor for a few seconds)

2 large eggs

1/2 fresh grated parmesan (cheddar would be awesome too)

Few healthy shakes of some granulated garlic, sea salt (to taste), and hot shot (red/black pepper mix, also to taste), and a smidge of celery salt.

 

1.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2.  Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix mix mix

3.  Using a small spoon, spoon into a mini muffin pan.  If using a traditional non stick pan, spray with a little Pam (or a spray equivalent).  I used a non stick silicone mini muffin pan so I didn’t even spray it and they pop right out after a few minutes of cooling.

4.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes

5.  Mow down and thank me later

 

I got about 36 mini bites out of this recipe.   They will not last, they are SO good. Now go, cook, eat, be happy.  : )

 

 

 

Could It Be…SEITAN

It’s Friday, it’s Lent, but who says you have to eat fish again?  I always like to try to sneak in new foods without my family knowing.  2 weeks ago, I made a meatless veal parm if you will.   I found this seitan roast a while back that I really liked and thought, I could totally turn this into a meal my family would love.   They did.  My husband, the total meat and potatoes, lettuce is for rabbits guy, really loved it.  So there you have it.  There is a decent meat substitute out there even for the pickiest of palates.   I have tried numerous brands of seitan, but none have come close to Mama Mo.  This is a local MI company which is even better.   Check their site, see if they are in your area.  http://mamamofoods.com/mama_mo_home.html

Anyway, I seem to gravitate towards their seitan roast.  It’s meaty without being meaty and it’s seasoned fairly well.  Really, you could heat it up and eat it on its own, but where’s the fun in that?   Plus, those who follow my blog should realize that I always jazz stuff up.  I’m using the roast again in this recipe because it holds up well and it resembles a burger and tonight I’m making patty melts! 

This product is vegan, so technically you could make a vegan patty melt, but let’s not completely scare the crap out of my husband and kids by taking away their dairy cheese too.  One step at a time. 

There’s not much to this recipe really.   Slice the roast, grill in a pan, throw on some caramelized onions, some cheese of choice, russian dressing (aka 1000 island dressing), rye bread…done.   Simple right?  The only recipe I really need to tell you how to make is my version of russian dressing, which is equally simple to make.  

Russian Dressing

1/4 cup Mayo

2 heaping TBSPN Chili Sauce

2 heaping TBSPN Sweet Pickle Relish

1 TSPN Ketchup

Throw all ingredients into a bowl, mix, chill in the fridge, done.   If you want it with a little more heat, stir in a scant amount of horseradish.  

I like to jazz up my caramelized onions on patty melts as well.  So right when they are starting to caramelize, I add in a splash of Zip Sauce (also a MI thing), a splash of sherry, and a splash of Worcestershire.  Makes all the difference in the world.  Totally not necessary, but why not go the extra step?  Try it, you’ll love it.

How you build your patty melt is up to you.  You can make it thick as can be or a more traditional thin sandwich.  You can cook it in a panini press, throw it in a pan and simply toast up like you would a grilled cheese, or you can heat the insides, so to speak, in the pan, toast the bread separate, and then assemble.  It’s all up to you.   The kitchen is your oyster!  My bad metaphors slay me.  LOL  ; ) 

I’ll post pics later when it’s closer to dinner.   It’s 3 pm and I’m caramelizing my onions as I type.  They smell amazing. 

Edit to add pic. 

 

Scotch Scotch Scotch…I LOVE Scotch…Eggs That Is

Scotch eggs are one of those things that you see off in a little corner of a pub menu and think to yourself, there is no way in hell I’m ordering eggs from a bar.  Then about 4 or 5 drinks in when you flip back open the menu because you’re getting drunk hungry, you think to yourself, fried eggs encased in meat….HELL YES!

For those who don’t know what a scotch egg is, I’m here to help.  Scotch eggs are hard boiled eggs, rolled in sausage (and really, you can get creative, ground turkey or ground chicken mixed with maybe a little bacon paste would be awesome too), rolled in breadcrumbs, and then deep fried.  It’s one of those things that I would generally never order out because I always think to myself, I could make that 10 times better at home.  Plus, for the most part, I like to eat healthy.  Once in a while it’s good to splurge though.  However, I decided to make a healthier version and my recipe is baked in the oven.   I’m still using sausage, but again, feel free to use turkey sausage or whatever you want to experiment with.  Some of the greatest dishes in the world were created out of kitchen accidents.  So get to creating those fabulous accidents.  ; )   In the meantime, make my scotch eggs first.  You will not be disappointed.

Scotch Eggs

6 hard boiled eggs

1 pound of bulk sausage, depending on the size of your eggs, you may need maybe 1/2 pound more sausage (feel free to kick it up, add some maple syrup, some fresh garlic, maybe a little hot sauce, etc.)

Breadcrumbs of choice to dredge eggs/sausage in  (I made homemade breadcrumbs using equal parts of panko, finely crushed Wheat Thin Cinnamon Kick Stix’s, and leftover homemade banana bread…yep, that’s right, I made breadcrumbs out of banana bread.  The sweetness of it goes great with the salty sausage)

Cooking Spray (I like buttered flavored Pam)

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1.  You can hard boil your eggs early in the morning and throw them in the fridge until later or you can even do this step the night before if you want to eat them for breakfast or brunch.   I personally like to use my eggs the same day I make them, it’s just a personal preference.  Ok, it’s because I am a bit neurotic when it comes to eating day old eggs.  LOL  You will be fine if you prep them the day before.  The trick to having the perfect hard boiled egg is using fresh eggs and not over cooking them.  I bring my eggs up to a hard boil, shut the heat off, and continue cooking for about 20 minutes or so.  Perfect   BUT this all depends on how many eggs you boil at once, size of eggs, etc.

2.  Flatten your sausage into a circle and place the egg in the middle.  Cover with the sausage making sure you see no egg.  You don’t want the layer of sausage too thin, otherwise it will crack open during the baking process.

3.  Roll in the breadcrumbs mixture until covered.   If you feel you want a thicker layer of breadcrumbs (I like a thin layer), dip your sausage balls (stop laughing) into an egg wash (aka a beaten egg or use an egg white) first and then roll into the breadcrumbs.

4.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, place the eggs on the cookie sheet, and spray the eggs with some cooking spray.  Bake for about 20-30 minutes until the sausage is cooked all the way through.

Serve hot, warm, or some people even like them cold (no thanks).  Feel free to eat as is or make some honey mustard dipping sauce.  I make mine very simply, with a really good dijon mustard and a local star thistle honey from Champion Hill Farm in Beulah MI.  Star thistle honey tastes far different from clover honey and I only keep star thistle in my house.  Love it and love that it’s local.  You could also stir in some apricot jam to the honey mustard and that would be equally awesome to eat.

I will edit later to add the pictures when I bake them.  It’s only 10:30 am right now and I just finished peeling my eggs.

Behold…the scotch egg!

Hold On To Your Mother Effin Chips!

A friend of mine pointed me to a contest for guacamole.   Why not.  I love coming up with recipes.  Well, I take that back.  I like cooking off the cuff, but paying attention to actual measurements, etc., meh, not so much.  However, on rare occasions such as this, I bust out my attention and write things down.  This recipe was super simple and you can eat it as is with some simple chips or you can serve it over some grilled fish, shrimp, chicken, and have yourself an awesome meal.

I love my sweet and savory together.  I make a tomatoless fruit salsa that I put on my fish tacos and when trying to think of different ways to reinvent the classic guacamole, fruit was the natural place to go for me.  Sweet, savory, spicy…it’s a triple threat for sure.   If you close your eyes, you can imagine yourself whisked away to a tropical island.  Ok, maybe you’ll have to add a mojito or two to do that, but hey, that would go fantastic with the guacamole too.  So grab your tortilla chips or chips of choice and hold on!  This recipe is a winner and sure to please.

Tropical Fruit Guacamole

2 ripe avocados from Mexico, pitted, peeled, and chopped

2 Dole tropical fruit cups, drained (the 4 oz cups….and the best thing about using fruit cups is the fruit is always ripe and it’s already chopped for you)

1/4 large red onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 TBSPN lime juice

2-3 TBSPN cumin

1-2 TBSPN adobo seasoning (I used Frontier Organic)

1/4 TSPN cayenne pepper

4 oz roasted, peeled, diced mild green chilis

Sea salt to taste

Mix everything together in a medium sized bowl.  If you like your guacamole on the smoother side, take the back of a fork and mash the avocado a bit.   Let chill out for about 5 minutes for the flavors to come together and serve with your favorite chip of choice.   I ate some as is and later on tonight I’m going to grill up some shrimp that I will marinate in a mango balsamic, some garlic, cumin, and lemon juice and have myself a good old meal.  Some Benadryl too (I’m allergic to shellfish, but I eat it anyway….one of these days it will probably kill me, but it’s SHELLFISH!  Mmmmm mmmmm good!), but it’s worth it.

Sweet, savory, spicy....TRIPLE THREAT!

Here Piggy Piggy…

Here piggy piggy and jump into my frying pan!  My husband said that I needed to at least throw one food blog in here.  I agree (Shhhh….don’t tell him I said he was right.  His head will explode and then I will have to clean up the mess).   Looking through all my recipes, I cannot believe that I have yet to blog my milanese recipe.  It’s super simple and my kids LOVE it.  It’s also one of those dishes that makes guests think you have been slaving away in the kitchen.  Plus milanese just sounds fancy.  Honestly it’s just a simple pork cutlet with a nice tomato onion relish that I make to go on top.

I also chose to blog a pork recipe (and you can make this with chicken, veal, cube steak, or even a firm fish) because I have pig on the brain.  On Christmas Eve we went to the indoor farmers market and I saw a sign from one of the vendors, Olds Farm (check out their FB page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Olds-Farm/192073567486983) and they were selling half hogs.  Yes please!  I have been  having dreams of fresh bacon and homemade chicharrones ever since, but in the meantime, I use my boneless pork chops from the butcher and make one of my favs.   The husband is bringing home some fresh pasta to go with.  Double yum.  Give this recipe a try as it will not disappoint.

Pork Milanese With Tomato Onion Relish

4-6 boneless pork chops, pounded paper thin

Egg wash (that’s fancy speak for beaten eggs)

Italian breadcrumbs

Granulated garlic

Fresh cracked black pepper

Sea salt

Lemons

Oil for frying

1.  Make a dredge station of the egg wash (amount of eggs you need depends on how big the pork chops are, I usually need 3 eggs for the amount of pork I use) and Italian Breadcrumbs.  I season my beaten eggs with a little granulated garlic, black pepper, and sea salt.  I have also been known to throw in a little bit of grated parmesan cheese depending on my mood.  Not tonight though.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil to place the pork on after dredging.

2.  Pound your pork paper thin or feel free to filet the boneless chops into very thin pieces.  If your butcher is nice and you ask nice, they can pound it for you.  However, who wouldn’t want to pound a good piece of meat?  It’s a good way to take your aggression out without bothering a soul.  Plus it will give you fabulous arm muscles!  Beat your own meat.  Ok, I’m done   : P

3.  Preheat your frying pan to about medium-high heat with some oil.  I like olive oil, but feel free to use vegetable oil.  You are not looking to deep fry this, but rather a nice light saute.  So don’t go dumping the entire bottle of oil in the pan.

4.  Season the pork with a little granulated garlic and black pepper.  Dip in the seasoned beaten egg wash and then into the Italian breadcrumbs.  Lather, rinse, repeat until all the pork is coated.

5.  Saute until golden brown on both sides.  This will cook very fast since the pork is thin (about 3-5 minutes on each side depending on how thin you made it).  Hit each piece with a splash of fresh squeezed lemon juice when out of the pan.

6.  Serve with the tomato onion relish (recipe to follow below) on top and some fresh pasta tossed in a little butter (or olive oil) and garlic on the side.   You can also toss in some sautéed zucchini to the pasta as well, when in season (or any other veggie of your choice).

Tomato Onion Relish

1, 14.5 oz can of petite diced tomatoes with sweet onions (I like Red Gold, but use what you like.   If you want to use fresh tomatoes and onions, do that instead.)

1-2 cloves of minced garlic

1/3-1/2 cup (give or take) of a really good balsamic vinegar  (I will be using a mixture of two tonight, Villa Monodori dark cherry and an espresso bean balsamic)

Little bit of sea salt to taste

1.  In a small sauce pan over medium heat, dump the can of tomatoes with onions, the minced garlic, and balsamic(s).  Cook until the mixture begins to come to a light boil and then turn down the heat to low.

2.  Cook the mixture until the juices reduce by at least half, stirring occasionally.

3.   Throw in a little bit of sea salt to taste (this is meant to be sweet not salty, the salt with bring out the sweetness when adding in just a smidge so go easy on the salt or leave out all together).  If you like a little bit of heat, feel free to throw in a little bit of crushed red pepper flake as well.  I like to have this relish at room temp when serving it over the pork, but you can have it hot or even cold, it’s up to you.

How simple was that!   Now eat up.  I will edit later to add the pics of the finished dish.  It’s only 3:51 pm and I have yet to make it.  :  )   I am going to start the relish in about 30 minutes.

Edit to add pic:

Open Sesame!

I think sesame noodles is one of those dishes you will either love or hate.   Years ago you couldn’t get me to touch the stuff as the thought of a creamy peanut butter sauce on my pasta just didn’t do it for me.  But then it happened…PREGNANCY CRAVINGS!  The rest is history.  I now love sesame noodles.

This was my first attempt in making them at home.  I happened to have some fresh buffalo wing fettucine noodles from my favorite local pasta guy, Spaghetti Jim and thought to myself, this could work in a cold pasta dish.  Plus the extra added spices in the pasta paired perfectly with the creamy goodness that is the dressing.  If you are not local to TC and cannot get your hands on some of my ingredients, no worries, just sub out for what you have in your neck of the woods.  Or take a drive up to mine because it is worth it.

Sesame Noodles

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup Naturally Nutty cinnamon cashew butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

2-3 TBPSN maple syrup

1 TBSPN clover honey

1 clove of garlic

1/4 cup sesame oil

2-3 TBSPN rice wine vinegar

Little bit of warm water to help thin out (eyeball it, probably a couple TBSPN)

Crushed red pepper flake to taste

1 TBSPN cilantro

12 oz Spaghetti Jim’s buffalo wing pasta  (if you don’t have this pasta on hand, use a rice noodle or something along those lines and then add a dash of hot sauce to the dressing instead)

1 bunch of scallions (aka green onions), chopped

12 oz sprouted tofu, cut into bite size pieces (optional)

 

Cook the pasta according to package directions (I used fresh pasta so it only takes a few minutes).  Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.  Place in a large bowl and set aside while you make the dressing.

In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients (except the tofu, noodles, and scallions, duh  lol) until smooth.  You can thin it out accordingly, but you can’t make it thicker so be careful on the amount of water you add.  The consistency when done will be somewhat thick.  Toss the dressing with the pasta, tofu, and scallions.

This dish is best served immediately.

Enjoy   : )

 

 

 

When The Farmers Market Hands You A Bounty…

I love summer time in Traverse City, MI, but I love it even more for having the farmers market downtown.  Last week I went to John Cross, a fantastic old school fish market in Charlevoix, and stocked up on shellfish.  Now, I’m allergic to shellfish, but I will die for a good lobster tail, oh yes I would!  Anyway, I was bound and determined to get the rest of my ingredients at the farmers market for a chowder.  And really, you CAN call this a chowdah because it’s that good.  The market did not let me down.   With the exception of the celery all veggies came from the farmers market.

Now, I love sneaking in veggies in my soups, but I didn’t want to bastardize the chowder either, so I kept it simple.   But please, no hate mail from those who are chowder purists.  LOL   I wasn’t even going to blog this, but Jim is insistent that I post my “recipe”.   Some of the stuff I measured, most of it, I didn’t.  Cooking (unless you are baking because that’s a different story) should be about breaking the rules and throwing in a bit of this and that.  Feel free to put your own unique spins on my chowder recipe and then tell me about it.

Seafood Chowder

3 quarts chicken stock

1 pint heavy cream (I stayed local and used Shetlers)

1 pint of half and half

8 oz clam juice

1/2 cup sherry (if you can’t drink it, don’t cook with it)

1 bunch of celery, chopped

2 bunches of sweet onions, chopped (equivalent of 1 large vidalia)

1 bunch of small carrots, peeled and chopped

1 pint of a mixture of baby zucchini/squash, diced  (Olds Farm)

8 large cloves of garlic, chopped

8 redskin potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 pint of a mixture of baby redskin/fingerling/baby yukon gold potatoes, diced  (yes I realize I have potatoes listed twice, but some are to be pureed and some are to be left whole)

8 ears of corn, stripped from the cob

1 pound of scallops, cut into large bite sized pieces

1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into large bite sized pieces

1 and a half pounds of jumbo lump crab

1 pound of crawfish tail meat

4 TBSPN granulated garlic

2 TBSPN Old Bay

1 TBSPN ground mustard

1 TSPN celery salt

1 TSPN nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

6 TBSPN Butter

*please note that if you want a thick chowder you will need to make a roux and then adjust the seasoning accordingly*

Place 4 TBSPN butter in a large stock pot and saute the celery, onions, carrots, zucchini/squash, 8 peeled redskins, and the garlic.  Let this cook for about 5-7 minutes until the onions become translucent.

Add in the chicken stock, the clam juice, and the sherry.  Stir and cover with a lid.  Cook over a low heat until the veggies are EXTREMELY tender.  At this point, you are going to puree the soup.  You can use an immersion blender or a regular blender.  If you are using a regular blender, do it in small batches so that it doesn’t explode.   I used my immersion blender and pureed the soup until everything was well incorporated.

To the pureed soup, add in the corn, the remaining potatoes, the seasonings, the heavy cream, and the half and half.   Stir, cover with the lid, and continue to cook on low.

In a large saute pan with the two remaining TBSPN of butter, saute the scallops, shrimp, and crawfish tail meat.  You will only need to cook for a few minutes as you just want a nice golden brown color to the outside of the shellfish.  You will continue cooking it in the soup.  Once par cooked, add to the soup.

Once you have added in the shrimp, scallops, and crawfish meat, you can add in the crabmeat to the soup pot as well.   Continue cooking on low, covered, until the potatoes are fork tender.

Serve with your favorite oyster crackers and NEVER EVER buy chowder in a can again.  : )