Monday, August 30, 2010

Fried Green heart attacks, Fiber out the wahzoo, and a Chilly treat!

It's been a busy day in my kitchen thats for sure. I woke up today with the intentions of getting my closet back in order, because my bar broke over a week ago, but instead I started cooking. Next up...
closet repair!!

Anyway, I started soaking some white beans yesterday (because if you want to do it the "right"way, you need to soak your beans for 24 hours. Or so I've been told.) You can also just boil them on super high for a number of hours, but this way, soaking them actually works out better in my opinion because just dump them in a pot with 6-8 cups of water and forget about them until the next day. Then while you are doing other things, throw some ham seasoning or whatever you prefer into the pot, and let them boil for about an hour. Easy peezy, or beanzy.

What do I intend to do with these beans you might ask? Well!! Let me just tell you! I intend to stock myself full of fiber. It's important! I try to eat a lot of things with fiber. For example,broccoli, which you can prepare numerous ways. Celery, not everyones favorite, but still, chock full - o - fiba! My favorite is what my great grandmother used to call "ants on a log", which is just celery, peanut butter, and some raisins. It's a great snack for kids (and adults) and really healthy. Those are just two of my favorites for the fiber category, but yesterday I decided I wanted MORE! So... White beans and brown rice with andouille sausage! yum.

So, I boiled my beans today, while I was making Blackberry, Peach, and Basil popsicles! Which by the way, when you are boiling is the most delicious thing you will ever smell. In your life. I promise. And while I waited for the beans to boil some more... I made Fried Green Tomatoes aka a healthy heart attack. Well, heart attacks aren't so healthy, and neither are Fried Green Tomatoes, but they sure are good.

Now it's picture time!!

This is what the fruit looks like when you first start to boil it.

This is what it looks like after about ten minutes of boiling and let me tell you, it smells so good. Like, I would love for my house to smell like this all the time, can I have a candle, laundry detergent, and air freshener with this scent kind of good.

All this was is a carton of blackberries, one peach chopped, about a tablespoon of basil chopped, 1/3 cup of oj, 1 cup of water, a dash of salt (because a pinch is tooooo much) sugar to taste, if you want it a bit sweeter, add more sugar. Boil it until the berries are a reddish color and you can see that the juices are starting to flow. Then throw it all in a blender, puree until smooth, strain and put into a popsicle mold. I haven't gotten to eat one yet, as they are still freezing, but the liquid tasted good. I'll have pictures later of them frozen in all of their healthy glory. I think this is a great snack, for kids or adults, and much healthier than the stuff you can get at the store.


The tomatoes really should be completely green, these have a little bit of pink to them, but it's okay. At my grocery here in Memphis, they have packaged fried green tomato batter, but you can go here for a really good recipe. Since this was my first time, I just went with the package because I've not really ever fried anything aside from dough for navajo tacos.

It's easy enough however, if not a little messy and it hurts when the oil pops back at you. Also the box suggests veggie oil, but I use olive oil for just about everything, simply because as far as oils go, its better for you.

And success.

I like to put a little bit of ranch on mine, just adds a nice flavor. Remember though, don't eat too many. They are a fried food, and too many fried things, (eh heeee hmmm Micah eating fried candy bars at the Fair, and talking about fried krispy donut something or anothers) aren't that great for you. But at least these are tomatoes.

Finally, for the end of my kitchen adventures today....

This is probably how you eat red/white beans and rice (the photo above). I however, learned to cook from my stepmom who is from Louisiana. And for whatever reason, this is how I grew up eating red/white beans and rice....

Yeah, ketchup on red/white beans and rice is the best thing ever. You get spicy and tangy all at once. Don't doubt it before you try it. Maybe its a Louisiana thing, maybe it's a southern thing. I don't know too many other people outside of my family that do eat it this way, other than Tom Lee, one of my old teachers, and I'm not sure why I know that. We were just eating Gus's Chicken one day and I asked him how he liked his red beans and rice. His answer, "With ketchup."

You should try it. Even if it is just on a forkful. Now, as you can see, I made white beans and rice. Because I wanted some more fiber. These are Great Northern White beans, and on the package it says "High in Fiber". Here's an important note, if you don't get a lot of fiber in your diet, eating white beans and rice is A.) a great way to get more fiber in your diet and B.) also a way to KNOW that you don't get enough fiber. You might want to find a good magazine or book to spend some quality time with.

For tomorrow's adventures, Asparagus. What am I going to do with it, I don't know. What am I going to make to go with it? I don't know that either. I guess you'll just have to wait to find out.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Not quite Artichoked...

Preparing an artichoke is harder than it might seem. Or what I even remember it to be. But still not an impossible task.

This is definitely one of those recipes that I would make again....with a little tweaking.

The rice was good, the artichoke a bit bland. The recipe that I was following suggested using lemon to keep the edges and insides of the artichoke from oxidizing the way that apples and potatoes do. And that works, but when you are hoping that a lemon basil water mixture is going to be enough to give the artichoke a bit of flavor on its own, well, you should keep on hoping. I think all it needed was a bit of salt and pepper, and maybe a few other spices or maybe even a bouillon cube to kick the broth that it simmers in up a notch. The artichoke came out beautifully, and cooked beautifully for sure, but it was lacking in the flavor department, and I am disappointed about that. That just means next time, I'll just make it that much better, and hopefully I've got cleaning artichokes down to a science. Do check out the website I mentioned in the last post, the tips are great, and I'm sure their recipe great too. I'm going to try that next time I think!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Margarita pizza and stuffed artichokes

For supper last night I made Margarita pizza at home. However I did buy a Boboli crust, I know how to make my own, but it was fairly late, and I didn't feel like it. So the Boboli thin crust pizza crust was the way to go. I did however, make my own sauce. I forgot to take a picture of the whole pizza though, so before I finish off all the slices I'll snap one. I bought fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, some plum tomatoes, an onion, pepperonis, and some "pizza" cheese to fill in where the mozzarella didn't cover. And, I know I know, you aren't supposed to put pepperoni on a Margarita pizza, but hey, I'm the one making it. Anyway, it was really good. Fresh mozzarella makes all the differenceI think.

I was going to make stuffed artichokes today, but I just haven't had the time, so I think I'm going to try to do that on Saturday. It's been a few years since I have made a stuffed artichoke, but the kind I like is stuffed with a rice pilaf. So we will see how that comes out. I found a really good website on how to properly prepare your artichoke, as well as the recipe they include sounds great, but I'm going to stick with mine. (This time anyway.) This website is a vegan website, and I am definitely a carnivore, but they have great stuff, as well as super healthy stuff on it, so I'm down.

I figure since Micah (boyfriend) is out of town, now is the time to try new recipes, because if it turns out horribly, well he doesn't have to eat it, nor do I, and no one has to know! Unless you know, I post about the "adventure" of a failed recipe.

So we will see how this artichoke stuffing goes, hopefully it doesn't make me choke!

and pizza pics coming soon!


Here is what is left of the pizza. Obviously this is a picture of it cold, but I think it pretty all the same!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Black Bean Quesadillas with Corn Salsa for one.

So, my boyfriend is out of town this week. He works for the guy who owns the Alabama State Fair, so he is AT the fair. Which I think is NO fair. But I'm just saying...

I got a new cookbook when I was at home in Jackson MS this past weekend, and I love it already. It's super quick, healthy recipes that you can prepare during the week, for when you are in a rush, get home too late to do anything really involved, or I suppose if you are just being lazy. Anyway, tonight I made Black Bean Quesadillas with Corn Salsa. Yum. Also, being the absent minded person that I am, I forgot to get some tortilla chips to go with the cheese dip that I had in order to have the full on "TexMex" experience, so...I made my own. I just baked some tortillas in the oven while I was preparing everything else, and tada!! Chips.

This is the "innards" for the quesadilla. The recipe calls for black beans, plum tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro. I however also threw in some chopped celery, and some mushrooms for good measure, and you know, because it's oh so good for your body. You simply simmer this stuff until the juices have gone. I used 1 can of beans, about 5 small/medium plum tomatoes, a clump of fresh cilantro, 1 1/2 teaspoon of garlic, 2 stalks of celery and about 6 mushrooms. Simmer it all in Olive Oil.

Once you get the innards prepared, you simply toss it in the tortilla, throw some cheese on it, and stick it in the oven on broil until the tortilla is golden brown, or the cheese is melted. Super easy.

Corn Salsa, also super easy.
Throw some corn, a chopped red bell pepper, cilantro (which I forgot to save some for the corn salsa), and lime juice into a pot, simmer for about 2 minutes, and it's done. Quick easy, and healthy. Not to mention it was dang good.

I am a fan of sour cream, so when I was eating these I spread a thin layer on top and put the corn salsa on top of that. Yum. Also, as I said before, I made my own tortilla chips, which I quite liked. I do love a good tostitos chip or some variation of a salty restaurant style tortilla/corn chip, but this was nice because when you make you own chips, they aren't quite as salty or "heavy".

The great this about this recipe is that you can store everything for this separately so that like me, since I'm the only one eating it currently, I can make some lunch with it tomorrow.

So starting the week off well with some good eats, let's see what else I can whip up later this week.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend Creations

This weekend I had a little get together to go to, so I asked if I could bring the dessert. Because you know it's always polite to bring SOMETHING, even if it's just your own alcohol. But maybe that's just a southern thing. Earlier in the week my boyfriend and I went to the grocery, and I ended up getting a Bon Appetit magazine, solely based on the dessert on the front cover. Blackberry, Lemon, Gingersnap Cheesecake Pudding. YUM. So that's what I made.

I am pretty sure that I have found my new favorite dessert. It was delicious. And I made all of it, from the lemon curd to the whipped cream to the berry sauce. While it does take 8 hours for the lemon curd to chill, it honestly was a really easy recipe, and one that I will definitely use again. A lot.

Next for my weekend cooking escapades, I had a dream about pizza. Now I love pizza. So imagine my excitement when I woke up with an idea to make pizza at home, that I simply had not thought of before.

However, before I get into that, I should mention that when I lived in North Carolina a number of years ago as a whitewater rafting guide, on a few days I was off, mostly on Sunday's though, I worked in a little pizza shack called Pizza by the River. It literally was Pizza by the River. You could be rafting or kayaking down the river, and pull your boat over, get out, get a fresh hot slice or a whole pie, eat, get back in your boat and continue on. Or you could be driving down the road and stop as well. Basically it was a tiny kitchen sandwiched between a mountain, road, and river. I miss that place, but one thing I took with me from it was knowing how to make my own pizza, dough tossing and all.

Now my idea....

I woke up having dreamt about pizza, and immediately got to work. My stepmom years ago taught me a recipe for something called Navajo Tacos, thats for another time, but the key thing here, is that you make Navajo Tacos on frozen dough dinner rolls. The kind that you have to let thaw, rise, and cook. But there's a faster and more simple way to use these. Once you thaw the rolls out, you simply spread them out until they are a flat bread. To cook them simply put some some olive oil in a skillet, let it get warm, and then you fry the flat dinner rolls in the oil until they are a golden brown. Since I then had to put these in the oven to make pizza I didn't cook them quite all the way so that the oven would do the rest of the job.

Now for the sauce. I made my own. I just took a can of tomato paste, put it in a sauce pan, added 1 can of water (same can the paste just came from), some oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Then I simply let it simmer until well mixed.

About this point in time, my boyfriend who is sitting at the island doing some work on his computer looks up and asks me what I'm doing. I simply tell him "magic". It's pretty much my response to anything, even though I'm 25. That or some variation of a "your momma" joke. Mature I know.

I didn't happen to have any meat for this pizza, so it was strictly veggie, but still delicious. So after placing cooked flattened dinner roll pizza crusts on the pizza pan, I brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with garlic and a little bit of Tonys. Then I added the sauce, green olives, onions and garlic, stuck it in the oven on broil for about 5 minutes, pulled it out added a layer of shredded cheese, mushrooms, halved cherry tomatoes, and some broccoli then tossed a little more cheese on top. Stuck it back in the oven until the cheese melted and the broccoli had a slight "singe" to it, then pulled it out.

See the reason I thought this was a great idea was because using these dinner rolls gives you kind of a sweet crust for your pizza. And I thought it was great.

So here's the final product....

Now, it's obvious that I am not a master chef, I didn't go to school for it, I wasn't technically trained, my stepmom just taught me to cook at the age of 8 and I've been doing it ever since. I enjoy it. So this blog isn't going to be some kind of blog showing off my skills at food decoration or anything like that, I have an art blog to display those kinds of skills, the things I really DID go to school for, I just thought this would be fun, and I like food. And I'm pretty dang good at making it. So....

Thus begins my documented adventures.

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