Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pepper, Chili and Potato

Pretty good for spuds and lunch meat. Use 'real' ham slices (or bacon) if you have the money; thin ham slices are better than thick. I envisioned this to have a little bit of a 'kick' to it, but the anaheim peppers were more sweet than spicy. Oh well.

Serves 2
30 minutes
-large saucepan
-mandolin slicer (or a good, sharp knife)
Quick and simple

2 to 3 medium red potatoes
1 small green bell pepper
1 large anaheim pepper (or spicy-er variety)
2 to 3 green onions
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
3 to 4 slices of ham (I used lunch meat*)
1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. parsley flakes --- or Tbsp. of chopped fresh parsley!
sea salt
*Oscar Mayer cold cut lunch meat is gluten free

1. Wash the potatoes, don't bother peeling. Cut them into 1/4th inch thick slices-- about as thin as you can get them.. I used a mandolin slicer. Half the wide slices to make them a little more manageable (length-wise, not widthwise; see picture).
2. Wash and core both peppers. Slice green bell pepper into 1/2 inch strips. Cut each strip into thirds. Dice up the anaheim pepper (some say you must remove the thick skin beforehand, but I didn't have a problem with it). Place pepper pieces together, but not with the potatoes.
3. Remove the roots from the onions. Slice the green onions into 1/2 inch pieces (both the green and remaining white part). Set onion pieces aside apart from peppers.
4. Place potato slices into the large saucepan. Begin cooking potatoes over medium-high heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until all water is removed from the outside of the spuds (don't want the oil to splatter).
5. Drizzle with peanut oil just before potatoes begin to stick to the bottom of the pan; mix to evenly coat slices. Take out the ham slices and tear into medium, bite-sized pieces with your fingers. Add directly to the pan. Mix with spuds and oil.
6. Cook ham and potatoes for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, just often enough to brown the spuds and meat, but not burn it.
7. Turn the heat down to medium and add in the bell and anaheim pepper. Season liberally with garlic powder, sea salt and parsley flakes (fresh parsley would rock!). Stir well. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the peppers are crisp-tender.
8. Add in the green onion pieces. Stir to distribute. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the green onion wilts and potatoes are tender-- if you have thick slices or used Russet potatoes, you might want to make sure the potatoes are done. Serve warm alongside something else yummy.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Italian Asparagus Rice Bowl

Asparagus with crisp red bell pepper, sauteed with chicken and tossed with toasted white rice. This actually made quite a bit. I'll stuff this in rice tortillas for lunch tomorrow.

Serves 2
20 (for rice) + 35 minutes
-large saucepan
Quick and simple

1 cup pre-cooked long grain white rice

10 to 15 asparagus stalks? spears?
1 small to medium red bell pepper
1 medium white onion
6 cloves garlic
1 to 2 chicken thighs (or breasts-- but I think the darker meat is better with the beans)
1 + 1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 (14 oz.?) can dark red kidney beans*
salt and pepper to taste
*Bush's kidney beans are GF; so are S&F fine foods kidney beans.

0. Cook up enough white rice to make 1 cup prepared rice. Decrease the cooking time by about 2 minutes to avoid the rice getting soft in the final dish. Set rice aside.
1. Remove the tough end of each asparagus stalk. Cut up the asparagus into 2 inch long pieces. Set asparagus aside.
2. Wash and remove the seeds and core of the red bell pepper. Slice into thin strips, then half (the pepper strips should be about the same length as the asparagus pieces). Coarsely cut up the white onion-- these pieces don't have to be uniform or small. Finely dice up the peeled garlic.
3. Wash off the chicken thighs. Cut or tear the meat into bite-sized pieces. Place chicken into large saucepan. Add a tsp. of water (just a very little bit). Begin cooking the chicken over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken, stirring occasionally, until all the water boils off (should happen under 5 minutes).
4. Once water is gone, before the chicken starts to stick to the pan, add in 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Mix to coat. Saute chicken for an additional 2-3 minutes, turning frequently. The pieces should be about fully cooked.
5. Add in the asparagus pieces to the saucepan (might spit a little, be careful). Turn the heat down to medium. Mix. Cook asparagus pieces for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so that neither the asparagus or chicken start to brown too much on one side.
6. Add in the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the saucepan. Season liberally with basil, oregano, black pepper and sea salt. Stir. Cook over medium heat for an additional 5 minutes, on until the onion becomes translucent.
7. Open the can of dark red kidney beans. Drain and wash the beans thoroughly. Once the bell pepper and asparagus pieces are tender (not soggy!), add in the kidney beans. Stir well, then add in the prepared, cooked white rice. Add in the other 1 Tbsp. olive oil (and more spices, as you see fit). Stir well, making sure everything is mixed.
8. Heat rice, beans and veggies for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning the rice (it should be browned a little, though). Turn down the heat to medium-low if the rice is sticking too badly instead of adding any more oil. Heat until the beans are warm and the rice is toasted. Serve warm by itself or wrap inside a big rice tortilla.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Eggplant-Zucchini Toss

So damn good! I absolutely love eggplant (zucchini isn't half bad, either). I wanted to try a saucepan dish with eggplant, so I sliced it up into wide, pseudo-thin pieces. The slices turned into wide egg-like noodles. I was very happy.

Serves 2 (as a side dish)
35 minutes
-large saucepan
-spatula for tossing
Quick and simple

1/2 to 1 whole eggplant, peeled
1 to 2 medium zucchini
1 Tbsp. olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 medium white onion
1 Tbsp. dried basil leaves (or fresh, if you have them)
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash and peel the eggplant. I cut off the very top portion first, that seems to make it easier to 'catch' the skin. Cut off the bottom, then slice vegetable in half (perpendicular to the length). You should now have two 'cylindrical' sections, each about 3-4 inches long. Stand a section upright, and slice into the eggplant, creating wide sheets about 1/2 of an inch thick (they will shrink alot, don't worry). Cut the sheets in half length-wise to form rectangular eggplant-noodles. Repeat with the second half of the eggplant if you wish.
2. Do the same with the zucchini (but don't peel it). Chop off the ends, slice into two cylinders, then cut into strips, these are about 1/4th of an inch thick-- it's easier to cut the zucchini when it's lying on it's side instead up upright (duh). Don't half the zucchini strips, each should be the full width of the vegetable.
3. Slice the white onion into 1/4th inch disks, as if you were making thin onion rings. Leave the onion pieces as O's. Wash, peel and dice up the garlic cloves-- lots of garlic!
4. Place the zucchini strips into a large saucepan. Begin cooking over medium heat. When they start to sizzle, right before they begin to stick to the pan, add in the olive oil. Toss to evenly distribute the oil. Cook eggplant for 2-3 minutes more-- the vegetable will begin to wilt and turn a wonderful greenish-grey, don't be alarmed.
5. Add in the zucchini strips and garlic pieces. Mix. Cook for 5 more minutes, making sure to flip and rotate the pieces so they cook evenly.
6. Add the onion rings, breaking the layers apart a little. Sprinkle generously with basil and oregano. Season with sea salt and pepper. Mix well to coat. Add in a little more oil if you see fit.
7. Cook the entire dish for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the onion, zucchini and eggplant are wilted, tossing frequently. Stop cooking before they fall apart, however. Serve warm alongside meat, or with a generous helping of rice.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Homemade Kettle Corn

You know that irresistible, hot and crispy kettle corn from the local fair? I've always loved the fresh stuff, but hated those nasty, chemical-filled microwave popcorn substitutes. Well, now you can make it yourself, on your own range, with nothing more elaborate than a regular large pot (+lid) and a small piece of aluminum foil.

To get this right (i.e. no burning of sugar), you MUST first test the head capacity of your range and pot. Once you get this down, you can cook up a batch of fresh kettle corn in less than 2 minutes. I'll guide you through the process below...

Makes about 2 cups
3 minutes
-large pot with lid
-small piece of Al foil
Quick and simple

2 Tbsp. corn oil
1/8th c. loose yellow popcorn kernels (they are so cheap!!). White popcorn kernels will also work, but I prefer the bigger yellow puffs.
1/8th c. white sugar
fine salt

Kettle corn (once you've got the timing down-- see below if this is your first attempt):
1. Pick out a nice big pot with a lid. Rinse it briefly with water, then pour out the water, leaving a few droplets on the inside. Place the pot on the range and collect the pot lid and a small piece of aluminum foil. (The aluminum will go between the pot and the lid so you won't have to scrub oil and sugar droplets off of the lid when you're done-- easy easy cleanup).

2. Measure out the corn oil, a portion of popcorn and the white sugar. Place right near the stove, where you can get to it quickly. You must beable to get to these ingredients fast. Also turn on the fan above the range, just in case.
3. When everything is in place, begin heating the pot over medium-high heat (I use level '7' on my crappy electric range). Watch the pan closely... you need to know when all the water has boiled off.
4. As soon as the pot is completely dry -- make certain of this, you don't want to add oil to hot water-- pour in the oil, swirling slightly. Start timing... wait exactly 30 seconds, then add in the popcorn. Keep timing-- watch your clock-- you should know how long it takes for the kernels to start popping (say the time is 'X' seconds)! Don't cover the pot, but still shake to mix the corn. When X number of seconds pass (should be just before the popcorn really starts to pop!), quickly pour in the sugar and cover the pot with the foil and then lid. Shake vigorously.
5. It will take a little longer for pops to continue, since the addition of sugar will bring the temperature down some. Once the popcorn pops rapidly, turn off the range, but leave the pot on the hot burner. When the pops are parted by more than 2 seconds, remove the pot from the burner and place on a range (or other metal surface). This conducts heat out of the pot, to keep the sugar from burning.

6. Pour the kettle corn out into a metal bowl-- careful, the melted sugar is hot. Hopefully the worst is you have a little bit of 'caramel corn' on the bottom and no singed pieces. Sprinkle with salt, to taste. Enjoy your fresh, warm, sweet-and-salty kettle corn.
Kids will love you. So will engineers at late-night homework sessions.

To first test your pot/range system (only needs to be done once)-
Okay, in order to not burn the sugar, you need to figure out hot long it takes for your popcorn to start popping using a certain pot. Once you get the times down, make sure to keep using that same pot and start at the same temperature.
1. Pick out a nice big pot with a lid. Rinse it briefly with water, then pour out the water, leaving a few droplets on the inside. Place the pot on the range and collect the pot lid and a small piece of aluminum foil. (The aluminum will go between the pot and the lid so you won't have to scrub oil and sugar droplets off of the lid when you're done-- easy easy cleanup). Also make sure you have access to a clock with a seconds hand.
2. Measure out some oil and a portion of popcorn. Place right near the stove, where you can get to it quickly.
3. When everything is in place, begin heating the pot over medium-high heat (I use level '7' on my crappy electric range). Watch the pan closely... you should see those leftover water droplets first fan out, form bubbles and start evaporating. Right before all the droplets boil away, you should see them start to dance in the pot (you've hit the Leidenfrost point! ~220 C). Doing it this way guarantees you'll have the same temperature each time you start a batch.
4. As soon as the pot is completely dry -- make certain of this, you don't want to add oil to hot water-- pour in the oil, swirling slightly. Start timing... wait exactly 30 seconds, then add in the popcorn. Keep timing! Cover the pot first with the foil, the the lid; shake the pop vigorously to mix the kernels. Note how many seconds it takes for you to hear the first small *pop* inside your pot. Remember this number, it will vary slightly from range to range and pot to pot-- for me it was around 30 seconds.
5. Go ahead a pop up the rest of this regular popcorn. Make sure to remove from the heat once the pops are parted by more than 2 seconds.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dirty Rice with Turkey Sausage

[It's difficult being a graduate student. I don't think you'll see anything besides 'quick and simple' on here for awhile.
Anyone near Palo Alto, CA know where I can find some GF cereal and rice tortillas?]

Rice with black beans and turkey sausage. I steamed the rice up beforehand in my new microwave rice cooker. (So easy!) The turkey really brings a new flavor; I normally use beef sausage, but I think this compliments the beans much better.... not so greasy and overpowering.

Serves 1.5 (2 if used in a wrap or as a chip dip)
15 + 25 minutes (only 25 if you have some pre-cooked rice on hand)
-large saucepan
Quick and simple

1.5 cups COOKED white long grain rice-- cook up with less water than directed on bag
1/2 c. chopped fresh chives -OR- 1/2 of a large white onion
1/2 of a Hillshire Farms Polska Kielbasa Turkey Sausage link (the big U shaped sausage)
1 tsp. peanut oil
1 can black beans*
1 tsp. garlic powder
sea salt and white pepper
* S&F black beans are GF

1. Cook up enough white rice to yield about 1.5 cups. Follow directions on package, EXCEPT, use 1/8th cup less water than instructed AND cut ~2 minutes off the cooking time. This will leave the rice nice and crisp.
2. While rice is cooking, wash and coarsely chop up the white onion. Set chopped onion besides range. Wait until the rice is done and stirred to start next step.
3. Cut the turkey sausage up into 1/2 inch slices. Quarter each slice and place in large saucepan. Begin cooking meat over medium-high heat. Saute for about 5 minutes, then add in white onions. Turkey should begin to brown a little.
4. Cook onions for an additional 3 minutes. Add in a little peanut oil at this point if turkey sausage is not providing enough grease. Spoon cooked rice in saucepan. Stir well to mix.
5. Saute rice with sausage and onions for another 3 to 5 minutes. Rice should darken and soften a little. Add in more oil if necessary to brown rice. Sprinkle liberally with garlic powder, white pepper and some sea salt.
6. Turn heat down to medium. Open and drain a can of black beans. Rinse beans off well, then stir them into the turkey-rice mixture. Heat beans through-- shouldn't take more than 2-3 minutes. Serve hot alongside your favorite rice chips.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Baked Chicken with Veggies

Sometimes I just want some spiced spuds baked golden-brown from the oven (think Lipton onion potato mix, but with 75% less oil). Every once in awhile, I throw in some broccoli. Today I had both chicken and onion on hand, so in it went. Very good, little cleanup, and of course quick. To feed 2 people, this needs to be served with a side dish (bread? rice? steamed veggies?).

Serves 1.5
50 minutes
Preheat oven to 475 F
-large cookie sheet with sides -or- a 9x12 inch glass pan
-Al foil to line pan for easy easy cleanup
Quick and simple

2-3 medium red potatoes
1/2 of a large onion (white, yellow, red.. they'll all work)
1 large head of broccoli
2-3 chicken tenders -OR- 1 large chicken breast
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper

1. Clean the veggies. Cut potatoes into small-ish 1/2 inch cubes. Cubes over an inch thick might not bake all the way through. Slice the onion into large, 1/2 inch thick rounds, then slice each circle in quarters (you want large wedges). Cut up the broccoli into bite-sized pieces.
2. Cover your pan/cookie sheet with a large piece of Aluminum foil. Arrange the veggies on the sheet, one layer thick.
3. Tear chicken into bite sized pieces (not too large, but not too small, either). Place the chicken among the veggies on the Al-covered pan.
4. Carefully drizzle olive oil evenly over the chicken and veggies-- it's easy to pour to much in one spot. Sprinkle liberally with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
5. Gently toss the veggies and chicken pieces around on the pan. Make sure the veggie/chicken pieces are semi-coated in oil, or else they won't brown nicely.
6. Slip into a 475 F pre-heated oven. Cook uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, checking that the edge pieces aren't getting too singed. Eat right out of the oven (it cools fast) with GF bread slices or a side dish.