Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Veggies and Rice with Parmesan




Steamed veggies and rice is a favorite dish of mine. This was one of my go-to orders at restaurants when I was living in L.A.  I don't really see it on menus anymore, even when I visit Southern Cali. I never did see it on a menu outside of the L.A. area. Oh, well.

Steamed veggies and rice is yummy, simple to make, healthy and cheap.

If you have a couple of pots and a steamer, you are good to go.



Veggies and Rice with Parmesan



1 cup brown Texmati rice (or the rice that you prefer)





2 ¼ cups water (you may need more or less water if using another rice, I always check on my rice periodically anyway--sometimes the water recomended is just not enough)

¼ tsp. salt

pepper

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic- minced






3 green onions-chopped






8 oz. raw broccoli florets

12 oz. cauliflower florets





9 oz. carrots - sliced to about ¼” thickness

11 oz. zucchini (1 zucchini)-sliced to about 1/3” thickness

5 ½ oz. yellow squash (1 squash)-sliced to about 1/3” thickness

8 oz. green beans-trimmed

10 oz. butternut squash-peeled and chopped into 1” pieces

(if you aren’t sure how to peel butternut squash, A Veggie Venture will show you).

It's really easy!







2 oz. parmesan - grated





Spray butter








Heat olive oil in a medium sized pot. Add garlic and cook till light brown. Add rice and water. Add salt and pepper. Heat to a boil.

Then reduce the heat and simmer with a lid on the pot. About 15 minutes before the rice was done, add the green onions. I needed to add more water than what I was supposed to need, so you should check the rice periodically and stir.

Heat the oven to about 325 F.

Prepare the pot for steaming the veggies--it should be big (like a pot you’d cook a good sized batch of pasta in). I used one that was about 10” across and 6” high. I use an old school metal steamer that opens up like a flower. Mine is ancient, but it works great. Add water to just below the steamer bottom.

Add the butternut squash to the steamer pot.

Add the other veggies to the steamer pot and steam them however long you like them steamed.  I layered my veggies. I put the longer cooking veggies on the bottom, so as the top layer was finished cooking, Cover and cook.

Check the water once in a while so you don't scorch the pot. I have done this. Often.

This is how long I cooked my veggies:

Zucchini - 9 minutes

Yellow squash - 9 minutes

Green beans - 15 minutes

Broccoli - 17 minutes

Cauliflower - 17 minutes

Carrots - 17 minutes

Butternut Squash - 30 minutes (till they feel right when you pierce them with a fork, however you like your squash done)

When the rice is done, toss in the parmesan (save some for sprinkling on top, if you like).

Put the rice in an oven safe dish. Top with the cooked veggies. Sprinkle with a little cheese. Put in the oven for a few minutes to heat a bit, less than five would be great.



Some of the restauarants I ordered steamed veggies and rice from gave the option of adding cheddar cheese on the veggies. They heated that so it was all melt-y, and it was hecka yummy.  If you are watching cholesterol, I would go light on the cheese. They do have lowfat cheddar, though. 






I have made this dish for folks that aren't into healthy foods, and they really liked it. Even the kids were digging in.


 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Connie's Barbecue Sauce






This barbecue sauce is the easiest bbq sauce ever. And it’s super good.
Basically, you throw some ingredients in a pot, boil, and it's done.

I love using it on grilled shrimp, but I have used it on turkey burgers, and grilled chicken, too.  It’s so good, I can the stuff and give it to friends at Christmas time, and they always want more.



Connie’s Barbecue Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp chili powder

2 dashes hot sauce
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 tbsp. brown sugar
Stir ingredients in a pot and boil.




I used green onion this time. I usually use purple onions.
Marinate whatever meat you are using for an hour or more. Baste, especially in the last 15 minutes of cooking.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grape-Nuts Cookies


Once again, I was in “trying to get healthy mode,” so I picked up Grape-Nuts Cereal at the store.  When I got home, I noticed a cookie recipe on the box.  Grape-Nuts Cookies--yes!  I immediately began to make cookies.  I have not yet had a bowl of cereal. 

The recipe called for ingredients to be mixed with an electric mixer, and I haven’t seen mine since a friend borrowed it a few years back, so the mixer I used was me.



I was super happy this recipe requires rolled oats. I have an unopened box that will finally get put to good use.  I have never been a fan of rolled oats, but I picked those up on another day I was thinking of being healthy. The oatmeal has been kept very safely in the cupboard ever since. I dusted it off and it was fine. 



The recipe called for dark brown sugar, but I only had light brown sugar.  It worked quite well.

I tore my kitchen apart looking for cookie sheets, with no luck. I got to thinking about it,  and to tell you the truth, I haven’t made cookies in so many years, they’d probably be rusted through if I did have any cookie sheets.  I found a lasagna-style bake pan, so I decided to make due with that.  



Grape-Nuts Cookies
(printable recipe)

½ cup softened butter
 


½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar



3 tbsp. honey
2 eggs



2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup flour
1 cup Post Grape-Nuts cereal




Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and sugar till the mix is smooth. Add honey, eggs and vanilla and mix. 

 

Add baking soda, salt, rolled oats, flour and Grape-Nuts. Combine till just mixed.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto lined or greased cookie sheet, 2” apart. Bake 10-14 minutes or till golden brown.



Cool 2-3 minutes, then remove from baking sheet. Cool completely on wire racks. When cool, you can store the cookies you have left in an airtight container (if you are like me, you have already started eating them at this point).

Makes 4 dozen cookies, or 24 servings (2 cookies per serving).




They were delicious!

My neighbor came by and tried one. She loved them!  I would give a direct quote, but she used a series of expletives to declare her praise.

The only thing I would like to change about this recipe is the butter. I am going to try these again, and replace the butter with applesauce.  The cookies should come out fine--but I will try it to make sure.  I will update the recipe with the applesauce option, if all goes well.







Sunday, September 4, 2011

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork





Pulled Pork Sandwich with yellow plums (my favorite)



I found a crock pot at a thrift shop for five bucks and wanted to break it in.





I went to Allrecipes.com and perused the “Slow Cooker” section and spied something that looked interesting. There was a recipe for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork , and it was made with root beer.

There were four ingredients, including the buns. I can totally do this.

I was a little nervous about the pork thing. I have never purchased pork so I didn’t really know what to expect.

I went to the store and searched the pork section for something resembling a pork tenderloin.

The names on the packages were slightly different than what the recipe indicated, and I was hesitant to grab what might be the wrong thing. After all, this was a recipe for pulled pork, whatever that is, and I didn’t know if you could pull just any pork. Or beef. Or chicken, for that matter.

I began interrogating unsuspecting shoppers about pork, and they, for the most part tried to ignore me. I managed to wear one lady down, and she let me know which product would work for this recipe. Before she could summon the security guard, I rushed over to the soda aisle.

I chose Hires Root beer for two reasons. One, it is quite delicious. And two, a hundred years or so ago, I did a commercial for Hires (titled: “Sitting at the Dock of the Bay”) that played nonstop, and they were very generous with me. I would like to take this opportunity to say, once again, thank you so very much Hires. You paid for lots of fun clothes and sparkly jewelry.

For some reason, I thought I had a bottle of bbq sauce at home. I did not. Grrrrr.

That's okay, I made some with a super simple and yummy recipe. I’ll post that later.

UPDATE:  I uploaded the recipe for my fabuloso bbq sauce.





All I had to do for the pulled pork recipe was throw the pork and root bear in the crock pot for 6 ½ hours. Drain, pull the pork apart, and stir in bbq sauce. It was so gooooood!


Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

(printable recipe)

Ingredients:

1 (2 lb.) boneless pork sirloin roast
1 (12 oz.) can root beer
1 (18 oz.) bottle barbecue sauce
***If eating the pork low carb style (no bread) just use 9 oz. of barbecue sauce.
8 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted

***The crock pot I used is a bit small (3 1/2 qt.), so you don't need a big one if you don't have one.

Directions:





Place the pork tenderloin in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 6 to 7 hours. Note: the actual length of time may vary according to individual slow cooker. Drain well. Stir in barbecue sauce. Serve over hamburger buns.

From Allrecipes.com



I tried it on a bun, and that was delicious.

I also tried a low carb version by just using the meat and adding a little salad.





Eating the pulled pork this way requires half the amount of sauce, since the bread won’t be soaking it all up.

The pork was so good, I didn't miss the bread.

Strawberry Milk Boba




(I told my sweetheart that I was going to use a jar for a glass. He was astonished and asked me why I don't just drink out of the carton. Hilarious. Clearly, he's not a southern boy.)



I got the idea to try Strawberry Milk Boba from reading an article on How to Do Stuff by Ginny Morris.

I usually drink Mocha Boba, but Strawberry Milk Boba sounded pretty fantastic.

I love boba. I love strawberries. I had to try it.

But first I wanted to do some research on the subject. I recalled a man telling me that you can learn anything on You Tube. He began his career as a balloon twister after watching You Tube videos on the subject. That was good enough for me. I went to this trusted source for information and began my journey into the world of boba. After a few videos, I felt pretty confident that I could tackle this job.

I went to the International Grocery in Carbondale, Il. It’s a magical place with delectables from around the world. But I was focused on boba. And hummus. And Thai Tea. Okay, I wasn’t focused at all, but I did remember to grab some dried boba.






The guy that was running the store told me that some people use the packaged Thai Tea mixes with boba. Hmmmmmm. *try this another day*

Asian stores are a good place to look for boba. You can also find it on Amazon.com. The WuFuYuan brand boba is available there. I really liked that this brand cooked up so quickly, but there are other brands available too.

I read countless recipes for boba and many of them say that boba can be stored in the sugar syrup for about a week. I‘m pretty sure that this is baloney. I tried it and the boba balls lost their chewiness after one day. They became hard and good for not much more than flicking at people.

I tried everything. I refrigerated the boba. I left it at room temperature. I even tried microwaving the boba to soften it up. The microwave worked a bit, but not very well. So, I will be making fresh boba, as needed.

I don’t mind making fresh boba. It’s easy to make. And the Strawberry Milk Boba was super delicious, so it is worth the effort!


STRAWBERRY MILK BOBA

(PRINTABLE RECIPE)

To create Strawberry Milk Boba, we’ll make:
-Simple Syrup
-Boba
-Strawberry Milk
And you’ll need a boba straw! Available super cheap on Amazon.com.

Simple Syrup for Boba
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar (I used light brown)
½ cup water

Boil. Let cool a bit.


Boba
1/3 cup dried boba
4-10 cups water
*water needed depends on the cooking time for the boba




Cook boba as directed on the package. I used WuFuYuan boba, which only boils for about 5 minutes. Some boba needs to be cooked for up to 45 minutes, but the package directions will indicate the cooking time. The cooked boba will float. They are chewy when done.

Strain.





Rinse in cool water. Toss boba in the syrup.





Strawberry Milk
8 Strawberries
½ cup milk
¼ cup half & half
1 tablespoon syrup
1 cup ice

Blend well in a blender.





Assembly…

Pour Strawberry Milk in a glass. Scoop boba out of the syrup and spoon into the glass with the Strawberry Milk. Don’t pour in the extra syrup; it just keeps the boba from sticking while you blend your drink, and adds a little flavor.

Add the boba straw and enjoy!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dad’s Potato Salad






Dad’s Potato Salad

(PRINTABLE RECIPE)

2 ½ lbs. red potatoes-cook, cool and chop
½ c. mayo
½ c. sliced dill pickles-chop
1/8 c sweet relish
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1/8 c. yellow mustard
1 tsp. dill pickle juice
3 stalks celery-chop
½ small red onion-chop fine

Optional:
Parsley-chopped
3 hard boiled eggs-peeled & chopped
Paprika

I halve the potatoes and steam the till done. It took about 40 minutes to cook ‘em.

Stir the mayo, pickles, relish, vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard, pickle juice, celery and onion. Toss in hard boiled eggs and parsley, if you want them.

Pour the mixture over the potatoes and gently turn till mixed well.

Sprinkle with paprika, if you are so inclined.

You can chow down now, but I like to let it sit overnight, so the flavor develops.

I’m not sure how many people this feeds, but it makes a bunch of potato salad. Maybe it feeds six or something?




I chopped up the onions a bit and then stuffed them in the Salad Shooter so they would be chopped fine. I *heart* my Salad Shooter. I use it all the time for salads.

It was especially helpful while I worked with these onions. These were mighty potent and I was crying so much you'd a thought a wild raccoon got into my kitchen. Mascara was everywhere.



If you don’t have celery, maybe try celery seed.




And if you like a really mild flavored potato salad, you might want less mustard and pickles.






I used Red Potatoes this time, but I’ll use whatever kind of potato is on sale. Besides, I love all potatoes.





Cook them however you like.

I almost always steam my veggies. But if you steam the potatoes, don’t forget to check the water because potatoes take a while and the water will be gone before you know it. In fact, I did burned the potatoes. Again.

I had to disable the fire alarm so my neighbors would not call 9-1-1. Then I had to steam up a second batch of spuds because the first smelled like charcoal. It looks like I’m gonna need some muscle to scrub that pot.

*think positive* I now have charcoal flavored potatoes for composting. The plants will thank me.



Do you see how selfless I am? I give of myself for the benefit of the environment.


In our house, there was no written recipe used for potato salad. So obviously, it never came out the same way twice.



I decided to make this potato salad with measuring devices handy so I could write an actual recipe.

It’s a pretty standard potato salad. Nothing fancy, but it’s simple and I think it’s good.




Friday, August 12, 2011

Simple Watermelon and Tomato Salad





After stumbling across a few watermelon and tomato salad recipes, I decided to try to make one. The only thing is, I don't really like watermelon.

Then I thought about how healthy watermelon is; that's good.

And then I remembered all those seeds; that's bad...

And then I reasoned that I do like the pretty red color; that's good...

After going back and forth like this for a while, I decided to be wild and just go for it.

I perused recipes online and decided to pare down one I found from My Recipes. I used the most basic ingredients for this first try. The recipe called for red onion, but I didn't have any. Also, I used white wine vinegar instead of the red wine vinegar from My Recipes, because it's what I had in the old cupboard. The My Recipes version gives an option of serving with Romaine lettuce. I do have iceberg right now, but decided against it. I have seen other tomato and watermelon salad recipes with some interesting ingredients, such as avocado and feta. That does sound pretty amazing...

I, however, will start with the basics.



I got lucky on picking the watermelon. I really have no idea how to properly "thump" these giant fruits, so I just grabbed one. I cut off a hunk to try it and it tasted pretty good. For a watermelon.


I went with cherry tomatoes because their color was the most vibrant of all the tomatoes available. And I love the way they look in salads. Aren't they adorable?



Simple Watermelon and Tomato Salad


(PRINTABLE RECIPE)

5 cups seeded watermelon chunks
1 1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes-halved
3 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Toss watermelon and tomatoes. Add sugar and salt--toss. Let stand 15 minutes.

Whisk oil and vinegar and toss with fruit.

Serves 4-6


The result was shockingly good, considering how I feel about watermelon. I really expected that I would try to choke down the salad while telling myself how very healthy it is, while my distaste for this fruit of a thousand seeds quickly overpowers my desire to improve my eating habits.

The flavors were well balanced and delicious. I think that feta, avocado and red onion would be terrific additions. But if you want a super simple salad...this is a winner. It was filling too.

I hope you give it a try!