Saturday, June 30, 2012

One-Pan Dinners: Couscous!

You know what? I frikkin' LOVE couscous.  Boil water, stir in, cover and remove from heat.  Come back in five minutes.  Genius, I tell you!

Anyway, tonight's dinner was a delicious throw-together: crumbled Italian pork sausage with onions and zucchini, veggie stock and the couscous.  It took all of fifteen minutes to put together, from the start.

One-Pan Couscous
1-2 T olive oil
1 link (about 1/3 lb) Italian pork sausage, crumbled
1/2 a sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 large or 2 small zucchini, chopped
2-3/4 c. vegetable stock
1-1/2 c. French couscous (the tiny kind)

Heat pan, add oil, saute onion.  Add sausage and brown; add chopped zucchini and cook until desired tenderness.  Add stock, bring to a full rolling boil.  Stir in couscous, remove from heat and cover for 5 min.  Fluff with a fork and dig in!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Clean-out-the-cabinets Vegetarian Night

Feeling dirt-ass poor tonight, so it was "how do I use what I've got and make a whole meal?"

There were red lentils in the cupboard, and a little rice left in the canister, a couple cloves of garlic, some onion, and about a third of the kale from the CSA this week.  Veggie stock I made last night.  That was dinner, and in this combination:

Rice-Cooker Rice and Lentils
  • Equal parts brown rice and red lentils*
  • Twice that amount of veggie stock* or water
  • Two cloves of garlic, crushed or minced or whatever
  • A pat of butter or a dribble of oil
  • Salt
Throw all that in a rice cooker.   Turn it on cook and let it go until it clicks off.

Cut thin slices off the onion so that they form rings.  Saute these briefly in a skillet, in either oil or butter.  Once they're clear/browned/caramelized, remove from pan and set aside.

Top lentil mixture with onions and eat up!

Skillet Greens
  • 1-2 T butter or oil
  • 1 clove garlic (or the remains from pressed garlic, which I used
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • fresh greens (kale, chard, collards, mustard, spinach, or whatever)
  • lemon juice or vinegar of your choice
Rince greens in cold water.  Heat the skillet (I used the same one I'd just cooked the onions in) and tear up the greens, still slightly wet, into the pan.  (For tender greens like spinach and chard, the stems can be chopped and added before the leaves.  For kale, the stems went into the veggie bag.) Cover and let steam slightly, adding the 1/2 of water if they start to sear.  Cover again and let steam until greens are tender (about 5-6 minutes for kale) and add butter/oil and garlic.

Saute just a bit, then remove from heat before they greens get scorched.  Sprinkle with lemon/vinegar and salt, if desired.

*Lentils:  Any kind of lentils will work.  Red lentils turn this into a stew/casserole, depending on how much liquid is left.  They fall apart, seriously.  Brown lentils retain a slightly crunchy beaniness if not cooked a bit beforehand, so if you want them soft, they'll have to go in at least partially pre-cooked.  Haven't done this with green or black lentils.

*Vegetable Stock: I save all my veggie scraps in the freezer in a much-reused gallon-sized plastic bag, until the bag gets full.  Then I dump the contents into a stock pot, cover with water, salt lightly, and boil the stuffing out of it.  When all the veggie scraps are looking like all the life is out of them, I remove the solids, run the liquid through a strainer-inside-a-funnel into a jar, and there you have it.  (By the way, my "funnel" is the cut off top of a gallon milk jug.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicken Wings in Three Styles

I seem to be in an improvisational mood these days.

Chicken Wings in Three Styles

Marinate chicken wings in any of the following marinades: the longer, the better.

1: Buffalo Wings
  • Buffalo wing sauce (I use Frank's Red Hot)
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, as desired
2: Balsamic Wings
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, as desired
3: Sweet Smoky Wings
  • Olive oil
  • Ketchup
  • Sweet spicy mustard
  • Garlic powder
  • Oregano
  • a few drops of Liquid Smoke
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Salt and pepper, as desired
Bake wings at 350 degrees F (175 C), turning once to brown evenly, if necessary.  I bake mine on a roasting pan, so that the juices drip down and the skin gets crispy.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beef and mushroom cabbage wraps

These wraps are made with beef from a friend's farm. We get our meat and eggs directly from an awesome young woman farmer, and I love it that we can support her in building her business. If you don't want to use beef, you could probably sub pretty much any ground meat you like. I think I may try doing them with pork sometime soon.

I'd originally intended to do lettuce wraps, but I couldn't find lettuce that would work well for wrapping, so I ended up using savoy cabbage. I find it actually works pretty well and tastes great, although it's maybe not as flexible as lettuce, so it's a little more prone to cracking and allowing drips. But if you're eating wraps with your fingers, you should be the sort of person who's okay with drips, right?

Yes, I ate three of them. Actually, I didn't. I ate five.

Once again, I sort of made this up as I went along.

extra-virgin coconut oil
one medium onion, diced
six cloves of garlic, smashed
fresh ginger, about 1.5" piece, minced
one pound of ground beef
gluten-free tamari
sesame oil
mushrooms, chopped coarsely, maybe 3/4 cup or so
savoy cabbage

Onions and garlic are the default start to about 95% of my cooking.

In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions, cook until translucent, then add garlic and ginger--be careful not to burn them. Next, add the beef to the pan and brown it. Throw in the mushrooms, a good splash of tamari, and a glug of sesame oil. Cook for a few minutes until mushrooms are soft and it seems done enough.

While filling is cooking, tear off some cabbage leaves and put them on a plate. Chop up some cilantro.

Fill leaves with meat and mushroom mixture, then top with a swirl of sriracha (yes, it's not paleo, and no, I don't care) and a sprinkle of cilantro.

To eat, fold cabbage around filling with your hands. Expect that it will drip a little. That's okay, you can eat those bits with a spoon or do what I do if nobody's looking and lick your plate.

Nom nom nom.

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

So we had a TON of veggies to use, some from this week's CSA, and some from the previous (two weeks ago), and I just wanted to do something... different.

So: The potatoes from the last CSA went on to boil, and the rest of the veggies got diced and sauteed, and I threw in seasonings. Into a pan, cover with potatoes (mashed with butter and chunks of cheese thrown in) and it's PIE.

  • 2 T or so olive oil (or butter, whatever) 
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery 
  • 2 carrots, chopped 
  • 1/2 a bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup fava or lima beans 
  • 1 zucchini, chunked or chopped 
  • 1 t dried thyme 
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce (or to taste) 
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 T sweet-spicy mustard 
  • 1/4 t garlic powder OR 1 clove garlic, chopped/minced 
  • 4-5 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2" chunks (about 1 lb.) 
  • salt, pepper, and any other seasonings to taste 
  • 2 T butter 3 oz aged cheese, cubed (we had aged gouda on hand, but anything would work)  


Start potatoes to boil in a 3-qt. saucepan with enough water to cover. Salt as desired (I use a teaspoon or two). Let come to a rolling boil, then cook until fork-tender. Remove from heat; set aside.

Heat olive oil/butter in a skillet, adding onion, celery, bell pepper, carrots and fava beans. Saute until onion is clear; add zucchini. Toss lightly with Worcestershire, balsamic, garlic and thyme until coated, letting simmer briefly. Remove from heat and mix in mustard.

Lightly grease a 2-qt. baking dish, and layer bottom of pan with vegetable mixture. Mash potatoes with a little butter, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper as desired. Fold in cheese; cover vegetable layer with potatoes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C); bake 15-20 minutes until vegetable mixture is bubbly and potatoes are lightly browned. You may put a few small bits of butter on top of the potatoes halfway through if you're feeling as luxurious as I was tonight. Let stand a bit maybe, or just dig in.


It's pretty tasty. Good mix of flavors - savory without being either spicy or bland.

I love summer.

It's already hot here and I don't love to cook anyway. So here's my quick, early dinner:

2 eggs, lightly scrambled and cooked in olive oil
Leftover diced tomato
A small handful of arugula (which I recently found out is what they call rocket in the UK), drizzled with lemon-flavored fish oil, sea salt, and ground black pepper
Some canned black beans, rinsed
A small avocado

I had some unsweetened chilled ice tea with it, too. Yum!

By the way, this sort of meal could easily be made vegetarian by drizzling the arugula with olive oil instead of fish oil, or even just lemon juice. I ate it with the egg and it was a really interesting mix of flavors.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Ganache

I had a party for my birthday last night, and I wanted a chocolate bundt cake with ganache topping. I don't like sweet frosting, but rich chocolate is one of my favorite things. So I decided to make my own cake. I made the actual cake from a box mix, and I turned to the Internet for tips on how to make the ganache.

I heated 1 c. of cream on low heat until it was just starting to boil, stirring often to keep the skin off. Then I whisked in 1 bag of Ghiradelli 60% cacao chocolate chips. I took it off the heat for a few minutes, and then poured it over my cake.

If you want the ganache to set, you'd put it in the fridge overnight. I chose to let the ganache remain a bit gooey. The ratio of chocolate to cream was right, although I'd halve the recipe next time, as it made more ganache than I really needed to cover one cake.

It turned out really well. My friends loved it, and it tasted exactly as I'd imagined. The ganache kept the cake itself moist, and gave it a rich, dark chocolate flavor. Because it's so rich, it's completely satisfying after only one piece. Ganache is easier to make than I imagined, so I will definitely be making it again in the future.

It also went well with my after-dinner cup of Earl Grey Creme.