Monday, March 25, 2013

Asian-Style Fried Rice and Beans

{Meatless Monday}

I am so glad I tried this recipe.  Years ago I would never have even looked at it twice...but that was back before I liked pineapple.  I was 26 before I tried my first fresh pineapple and discovered that I LOVED it!  Since then, I have been able to enjoy it in a few forms, though I still cannot abide pineapple in my jello salads.  Yuck.

But since this one was sliced pineapple and it was seared I thought I would end up liking it.

It actually calls for fresh or canned.  I think it would be AMAZING with fresh, but I think I will only bother with fresh if I happen to find pineapple on a great sale.  The canned slices worked really well.  The recipe said that canned would not sear as well as the fresh, so I sprinkled a tiny bit of brown sugar in the pan to help it carmelize a little better.

This was actually a BIG hit with the family.  Everyone ate their dinner with NO COMPLAINTS!  (That does not happen very often at our dinner table! : )  And three of the four children that were at the table asked for seconds...especially the pineapple.  It is definitely a keeper!!

Here's what you'll need...

1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced OR 8 oz. can pineapple slices
1 T. vegetable oil
2-3 medium carrots, thinly bias-sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cups cooked brown rice (I used 1+ cup brown rice and 1+ cup barley)
1 15 oz garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 T. soy sauce
1/3 cup snipped fresh cilantro
1 lime, halved

Heat 2 tsp oil (and a little sprinkled brown sugar if you want) in the pan.  Get the pan nice and hot before adding the fruit.  It should sizzle when it hits the pan.  Brown each side for about 2 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

I just cut mine up with the spatula once it was seared.

Pour the other 1 tsp. oil into the hot skillet.  Add carrots; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until just tender.  Add garlic and ginger; cook 30 seconds.  (Forgot to take picture.... ; )

Stir in brown rice, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and peas.  Add soy sauce.  Cook and stir about 4 minutes until heated through.  Stir in cilantro.  Return pineapple to pan.

To serve, squeeze lime juice over all.  Top with additional cilantro leaves, if desired.  (I forgot to buy cilantro, so you won't see any in my pictures!)

This was probably the most delicious fried rice recipe we have ever had.  I LOVED the sweetness of the pineapple and I also appreciate that the recipe calls for regular ingredients.  And it is FAST.  You could cook up the rice early in the day--or just use leftover--and it could 
be on the table in 15 minutes flat!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mushroom Barley Salad

{Meatless Monday}

This one comes from the most recent Martha Stewart Living Magazine.  Since they discontinued Everyday Food (boohoo!), they are filling the rest of my subscription with their main magazine.  I think this stood out to me since my hubby and I both LOVE mushrooms and also because he has recently decided that he likes barley (as opposed to brown rice, which he hates.)

The recipe is SUPER easy to throw together...especially if you cook the barley beforehand.  Barley, like brown rice, takes about 45 minutes to it definitely needs a little planning ahead!

Here's what you'll need...
I will give you what the recipe actually calls for, but I substituted nearly everything ; ), so I will also tell you what I used.

Olive oil
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. mixed mushrooms     I used white and crimini
1 shallot, minced                        I used a regular yellow onion
3 T sherry vinegar                 I used 1/2 balsamic (or red-wine) vinegar and 1/2 rice vinegar 
1/2 cup creme fraiche               I used fat-free sour cream
3 T chopped fresh chives         I used dried chives
3 teaspoons fresh thyme           I used dried thyme--I wish I had used way 1/2 tsp?  
2 small heads Bibb lettuce        I used Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked barley
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts        I used toasted sliced almonds--loved them!
1/2 cup fresh parsley

You will need to cook about 1/2 cup of barley to get 1 1/2 cups cooked.  I have always used Pearl Barley and I buy mine in bulk at Winco.  It is just as cheap as white rice.  Just follow the directions on y our bag from the store.  It is easy!  Just plan ahead so it can cook for 45 minutes.

Heat 1-2 T olive oil in a large skillet.  Cook the mushrooms with 1/2 to 1 tsp salt, stirring occasionally, until deeply golden.  Transfer to a bowl.  

 Cook onion in a small amount of oil until softened.  Add 2 T vinegar and simmer until reduced by half.  Remove from heat and whisk in creme fraiche (or sour cream) and remaining 1 T vinegar.  Whisk in 3 T more olive oil.  Add chives and thyme and season with salt and pepper.  (I personally like thyme, but think that its "woodsy" flavor can quickly overwhelm a dish, so next time I will use it sparingly!)  

This is what my "dressing" ended up looking like....

Combine lettuce, barley, mushrooms, nuts, and parsley.  Add dressing from pan.  Toss to coat then  season with salt and pepper to taste.

I like to sprinkle on just a little Parmesan cheese for the finishing touch.  I like the little extra flavor it adds to the dish.

I have made this again and we really love it.  The second time I used red-wine vinegar instead of the balsamic and just a tiny sprinkle of thyme and it was perfect!

So if you have never cooked with barley, you should give it a try.  And as long as you like mushrooms, this recipe is a great place to start!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

These were delicious!  I am a BIG lover of sweet potatoes in any form...but especially fried!  So I was excited when I saw this baked recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens magazines that might allow me to enjoy a favorite a little more often without paying for it around the middle!

Here's what you'll need....

Olive oil
1 lb. sweet potatoes or carrots (I have yet to try the carrot version...but I think I'd love it!)
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T. water
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil
Ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce...we made some Cajun Mayonnaise.

Preheat oven to 400.  Brush pan with olive oil.  Peel potatoes and cut into narrow wedges.  Toss with 2 tsp oil.  Place the veggies on the pan and roast 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Let cool for 10-15 minutes. 

While they cool, mix together four and salt in a shallow pie pan or dish.  In a second dish, combine eggs and water.  In a third dish, combine bread crumbs and parmesan.  Dip veggies, a few at a time, in the flour, then egg, then bread crumb mixtures.  Arrange in a single layer on an oiled cookie sheet and roast for 15 minutes until brown and crispy.  Serve warm with the dipping sauce of your choice!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Roasted Carrot Soup

{Meatless Monday}

Roasted Carrot Soup... 
    this is currently my FAVORITE soup.  This last time I made it, I cooked up at least 
3 pounds of carrots and still did not have enough leftovers for my liking!!

It is also super easy!  And oh so healthy! 

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart.  I found it one night (it was probably the 12th or 13th of the month...our payday is the 15th! ; )  when we had almost nothing in the fridge.  And I mean NOTHING!

But what I did have was a big bag of carrots in my vegetable drawer.  I just went to Google and typed in Roasted Carrots (because that is of course my favorite way to eat carrots!) and this was one of the first links.  We made it that night, and I have been hooked ever since!

Here's what you'll need...

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 pound carrots,  peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 small Belgian endive, quartered lengthwise (I have always left this out)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock, plus more for thinning
  • 1/3 cup half and half or milk (I usually use Fat-Free Half and Half)
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger, or to taste
  • Creme fraiche or sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 450.
Cut your onion into wedges and your carrots into nice medium thick sticks.  Put on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Stir around and spread in single layer.  Don't overcrowd the cookie sheet.

Roast until edges of vegetables are deep brown, about 30 minutes.

Transfer vegetables to a pot and add bay leaf. (I like to pour a little broth onto the cookie sheet to get off all the yumminess from the roasting and then pour that into your pot!)   Pour in enough broth to just cover the vegetables. Bring to simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until vegetables are very soft.  

Remove bay leaf and then puree the mixture (I have to do this in 2 or 3 batches in my blender).  We like ours to be completely chunks at all.  Return to pot and warm up again.  At this point, the recipe tells you to stir in the ginger. 

But when I make it, I actually leave it completely unadulterated when I serve it.  Then I put out all of the following spices:


They are ALL delicious in their own way!  I let each person decide what spices they would like.  And my favorite part is that I can choose to have 3 small bowls and give them all a slightly different flavor.  

This soup has such a smooth and rich flavor!  You really need to try it.  Trust me! It is an all-time favorite now and the best thing is....carrots are cheap!!