Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An Omelette: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore!

I've officially left my hiatus away from cooking. :) My new job was taking up most of my time and... frankly I was running out of ideas for new recipes! I decided to post an Omelette recipe because it's one of the easiest meals to make. It's yummy and healthy, especially for those of you who are trying to cut back on starch and increase your protein intake.

3 Organic Cage-Free Eggs
Handful of Chopped Cilantro
1/4 of an Onion, sliced
1/4 of a Tomato, sliced
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste

1/4 of Julienned Zucchini
Shredded Swiss Cheese

Start off by chopping and slicing all of your vegetables and cilantro. Crack all 3 eggs into a bowl and mix well with a fork. Place a layer of Olive Oil in a non-stick pan. Once heated pour the egg mixture into the pan. Let the eggs cook until yellow-ish. Crumble shredded cheese (optional) onto egg. Next sprinkle handful of onion, tomato, zucchini and cilantro. It's like making a pizza! Add dashes of salt and pepper to taste.

Let the egg cook some more. Once the pan-side of the egg turns brownish... carefully fold the egg in half with a spatula. Make sure the pan is oiled enough, otherwise the egg layer will break. Cook a little more if you like the eggs well done. Top off with cilantro when serving.

You can make a million variations of omelettes using different ingredients. Try it with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and mozzarella! Or asparagus, mushrooms, and some feta! It's yummy and super easy!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pasta Mama with Tofu

Although not the most attractive dish on a plate... Pasta Mama is by far the easiest and yummiest breakfast/brunch/anytime pasta recipe. I was inspired by the original Pasta Mama recipe featured on Food Network which is essentially a scramble of eggs and pasta. My version substitutes eggs with tofu.

1 lb of Spaghetti Noodles
1 clove of Garlic
3 Tomatoes
1 lb of Tofu
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp of Parsley (optional)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Shredded Parmesan Cheese or Asiago (1-2 cups)
Salt and Black Pepper

First boil water and add the desired amount of spaghetti noodles, cook al dente. In the meantime, take the tofu and mash with a fork until crumbled. Chop the tomatoes and mince the garlic. Drain noodles and set aside. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes to the pan, stir. Throw in tofu and 1 tsp of Oregano and Parsley. Stir and cook until tomatoes soften. Add pasta. Stir again so that all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Add 1 cup of cheese and salt, pepper to taste. Stir again. Sauté until the cheese has completely melted.

Top with leftover shredded cheese. Serve hot. Mmm!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mediterranean Pasta with Artichokes, Olives, and Tomatoes

Taken from Martha Stewart, this recipe is pretty easy and my boyfriend said it was quote: 'delicious!'

Coarse salt and ground pepper
12 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 Medium onion, thinly sliced
2 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and quartered lengthwise
1/3 Cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1 Pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese or Soy Cheese
1/2 Cup Basil Leaves, torn

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in artichokes and cook until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add olives and half of the tomatoes; cook until tomatoes start to break down, 1 to 2 minutes. Add pasta to skillet. Stir in remaining tomatoes, oil, cheese, and basil. Thin with reserved pasta water if necessary to coat the spaghetti. Serve with additional cheese.

Click here for the original recipe, the only difference is the dry white wine which would've made this dish brighter.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cooking Shows vs. Home Cooking

This is old news but, NPR had a little segment featuring this guy Michael Pollan who just wrote a new book called Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch. I've been a huge fan of Michael Pollan ever since I heard him on Terry Gross back in 2001. He's an NPR regular and very prolific writer who focuses on food. He examines food culture, food history, and of course the food industry. His recent NY Times article was really interesting. I found it appropriate to post because he examines why more and more Americans are tuning into reality cooking shows. And the irony is that Americans are cooking at home less and less. It was fascinating to me because I'm secretly obsessed with watching The Food Network even though most of the time the chefs are cooking meat. I think it's because I'm under the impression that I'll learn something relevant. Check out his article here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Polenta and Broccoli with Chicken-less Strips

Here is my shot at using the Chicken-less strips from Trader Joe's for the first time. (Click here for my beef-less strip recipe.) My instinct was to sauté them with broccoli using a Italian-inspired sauce. Luckily, I happened to have a tube of polenta (also from TJ's) which was pre-prepared. 30 minutes later I had a yummy meal that I couldn't stop eating. It got the seal of approval from the super-picky boyfriend too.

Trader Joe's Chicken-less strips
Olive Oil
Tapatio Sauce
Red Chile Pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare two pans. If possible, one of them should be non-stick. Spray or cover both pans with Olive Oil. First slice open the plastic containing the polenta. Make 1/4 inch slices after peeling away plastic. Turn on heat for the non-stick pan. In the meantime, chop tomatoes. Check the non-stick pan to see if the oil has heated. If so, then place as many slices of polenta that will fit onto the pan. While polenta is frying, chop broccoli if necessary. Normally, I buy the already chopped broccoli - it's a great time-saver.

Once the polenta turns brown on one side, you may flip it with a spatula. As long as you've oiled the pan enough, it takes a lot to burn them, so don't worry about it too much. Go back to the regular stick pan that you oiled and start heating that one too. Tomatoes should go in after the pan has heated. Meanwhile watch your polenta. Flip and flip. Once they're completely done you can retire each slice onto a plate and then start adding more. They keep really well and can be re-heated without losing a lot of flavor so it's good to cook the entire tube.

By now the regular pan with the tomatoes should be ready for the broccoli, then chicken strips. Add about 4 Tbsp of Tapatio, 1 Tbsp of red chile pepper and salt and pepper to taste. The dish can get salty pretty quickly so taste it before adding more salt. Stir and cover. Turn to low heat. Check after a few minutes. Make sure that the broccoli has cooked all the way through before turning off heat. You want it to be soft yet crunchy.

Periodically check on your polenta during the entire cooking process. There's a little mult-tasking involved in this dish, but I guarantee it's easy and definitely worth it. Once all of the polenta is pan-fried go ahead and place a couple pieces of polenta and a spoonful of the broccoli mix next to it. The way to eat this dish is to use the polenta as if you would bread. Spoon some broccoli onto the slices and take a bite! Great for breakfast or brunch! Mmm.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Slice Chop Pare Techniques

I admit it, I am a Food Network junkie. Chopped and Iron Chef are my favorite shows. Although they're just like 'sports for food' and not very vegetarian friendly; for some reason I enjoy watching them. I think it's because I believe that I'll learn by osmosis or something.

One show that really annoys me is that Alton Brown show. BUT I did come across an episode that was extremely enlightening and helpful. It's great especially for someone like me who loves to cook, but was never formally trained... I learned by watching my Mom. No offense mom, but even you didn't show me these tips and tricks. Watch and learn.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spicy Vegetarian Beef, Thai Style

You would think that I would've exhausted all of Trader Joe's brand goods by now... that store has a lot on their shelves and they keep coming up with new items! The Beef-less strips, however, is my favorite store brand good. I was surprised to find that it was really easy to cook and didn't take as long as I had anticipated. Just look at that picture... mmm.

Trader Joe's Beef-less Strips
1 Red, Yellow, and Orange Bell Pepper
1/2 of One Tofu - Firm
Thai Basil or Regular Basil

Vegetable Oil
Soy Sauce
White Rice

First stir-fry the sliced peppers in a pan with oil. While cooking, slice thin strips of tofu and chop a handful of basil. Stir in tofu and 1 Tbsp of soy sauce. Cook until peppers turn softer. Throw in entire beef-less package. Stir in basil. Keep stirring. Add sriracha to taste. I didn't add salt because of the beef-less strips, but you may want to add a little to your taste.

Serve over bed of rice... Quick, simple and yummy.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Add a Little Spice in Your Life

Featuring: Tapatio. For those of you who live in the LA area or anywhere that produces native Mexican foods you are well aware of this little hot sauce bottle. Before moving here, I wasn't familiar with it. Since my boyfriend who is from Arizona turned me onto it, I've been using it to cook lately. If you're a health nut, you might not want to use this sauce because it does contain preservatives. I do, however, only use a small amount to flavor some foods while cooking. For instance, last night I sauteed mushrooms and penne in a pan then added a few chopped tomatoes and some dashes of Tapatio. It gave it a slightly spicy and salty taste.

Try it in small amounts if you're a little wimpy about hot, then work your way up. I personally have a low tolerance when it comes to hot and I've been known to poor this on.

Ingredients: water, red peppers, salt, spices, garlic, acetic acid, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dr. Praeger Would Be Proud

Once in awhile when I'm browsing the frozen aisle at Trader Joe's I'll pick-up a box of Dr. Praeger's Veggie Burgers. They're yummy and pretty healthy to boot. If you're curious the list of ingredients are: Carrot, Onion, Stringbeans, Soybeans, Zucchini, Oat Bran, Peas, Spinach, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Broccoli, Textured Soy Flour, Corn, Oat Fiber, Red Pepper, Arrowroot, Corn Meal, Corn Starch, Garlic, Salt, Parsley, Black Pepper, All Natural Vegetable Gum. As you see, the only real unknown ingredient is 'vegetable gum.'

With the veggie burger patty, I made a Mexican style sandwich with just a few key ingredients.

Toasted Sour dough bread (or whichever kind you prefer)
Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burger
Mexican Cheese or Soy Cheese (there's a mixed kind you can get at TJ's)

See instructions on how to cook the burger from the box.
I used the guacomole as a spread and loaded it with cilantro. Use it like you would lettuce :) It's really that easy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Penne Arrabiatta Fusion

Here's an example of what you can do when you have very little ingredients. I found myself trying to create something out of nothing the other night. Since I had just moved into a new apartment, I hadn't quite had the time to go grocery shopping for the week. What I found in my fridge gave me this idea.

Penne pasta
Arrabiatta sauce from Trader Joe's
Baby carrots
Cayenne pepper (as needed)
Olive Oil

Cook desired amount of pasta. In the meantime, chop cilantro and julienne the carrots. Oil a pan over high heat with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Throw the carrots into the pan. Cook until desired crunchiness. Carrots take awhile to cook and depending on how crunchy you like them, could take a bit of time. Once the carrots are cooked to your taste, throw in a handful of cilantro. Stir. Toss in desired amount of pasta. Stir. Pour in about a quarter amount of sauce to pasta. You want to put enough to give the dish a good amount of moisture, but you don't want to drown the pasta in the sauce. This dish is a variation of a penne arrabiatta that is light on sauce.

For some hotness, add cayenne pepper. Enjoy!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Vegan Fried Rice

Reminds me of home without the meat and consistent nagging. The best part about this dish is that it's versatile! Try it with different kinds of vegetables...

12 oz. Bag of Frozen Peas (and Carrots if available)
Box of Firm Tofu
1 Small Yellow Onion
Cooked Medium Grain Rice
Garlic Powder
Soy Sauce
Black Pepper
Canola Oil or Sesame Oil

First cook about 2 cups of rice in rice cooker. Prepare to cook by chopping the onions. Usually the rice takes about 20 minutes to cook. Once you've reached close to 20 minutes,
take a fork and pre-mash the tofu. Then take a quarter of the frozen veggies bag and 2 Tbsp of oil and dump into pan. Heat the veggies until thawed. Place chopped onions in pan. Throw the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook until soften. Throw in the mashed tofu. Stir. Now spoon in the cooked rice. Add about 2 Tbsp of soy sauce.

Salt, pepper, and soy sauce to taste. Gobble it up.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Simple Italian Style Orzo

Here's a very simple variation of an Italian style meal substituting noodles with Orzo. If you've never had orzo, my best description is that it tastes like pasta in the form of rice.

2 Green bell peppers
1 Box of Mushrooms
4 Small Tomatoes
Olive Oil
Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute (or equivalent)

Boil orzo in a pot with a teaspoon of olive oil. While boiling chop bell pepper and tomatoes. Slice mushrooms. Set aside. Add olive oil to a pan. Sprinkle 2 tsp of seasoning. Once heated start adding bell peppers. Sprinkle another 2 tsp of seasoning. Cover for a minute. Stir in mushrooms. Let cook for another few minutes until peppers have softened a bit. Finally, stir in the tomatoes. Stir again. Cover for 1 minute. Take the jar of capers and spoon out 4 Tbsp into the pan. Cook for a few more minutes and cover.

If you haven't already, drain the orzo and place 1 tsp of olive oil. Stir. Spoon some of the veggies over desired amount of orzo. The capers will provide enough saltiness. Simple and good!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Vietnamese Style Sandwich

Yum a refreshing Vietnamese sandwich on a hot summer day!

French Style Baguette
Firm Tofu or Fried Tofu
Fresh Cilantro
Shredded Carrots
Shiitake Mushrooms
Trader Joe's Soyaki Sauce or just Soy Sauce
Soy Sauce
Sriracha or Cayenne Pepper

Saute Shiitake mushrooms in small pan with a dash of soy sauce until cooked. Set aside. Slice tofu into thin squares. Fried tofu will make your sandwich a lot better than the regular kind. (Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to purchase it when I took this picture.) Break off cilantro into quarters with fingers. In a separate bowl mix 2 Tbsp of Trader's Joe's Soyaki sauce with 1 tsp of regular soy sauce and a few dashes of Sriracha. If you can't get the TJ Soyaki I would suggest just using soy sauce with a little bit of sugar. The Soyaki has a hint of sweet that is necessary for the sandwich to even come close to tasting Vietnamese.

Cut baguette into desired sandwich size. Lather sauce on bread then top with carrots, tofu, cilantro, and finally mushrooms!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Japanese Style Noodle Dish

I was inspired by the Sansai Udon Noodle dish I usually order at my favorite restaurants. All you need is miso and some key ingredients and you're good to go. I cheated by using Trader Joe's instant miso soup, which by the way is very yummy on its own.

Miso (instant soup from Trader Joe's)
Shiitake Mushrooms
Canola Oil
Somen or Udon Noodles

Panko Flakes

Preheat oven 400º before chopping broccoli and slicing mushrooms. Place veggies on oil lined pan dashing with some canola oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes. Prepare one packet of miso soup. Boil the soup then place noodles in soup. Cook until noodles are done. Noodles should absorb most of the liquid.

Take out crispy vegetables from the oven and top the noodles in the miso base. Sprinkle with panko flakes for extra flavor.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gnocchi and Greens

It's not my fault I've been overworked lately. Blame it on the economy and the fact that we all have to wear many hats at our jobs. Rest assured, however, I am still cooking simple and good food. Here's a recipe featuring gnocchi (potato dumpling) - my favorite quick Italian food ingredient.

Gnocchi (Trader Joe's has it)
Your Favorite Tomato Sauce (I use Trader Joe's Vodka Sauce, MMM)
Olive Oil

Start by pre-heating your oven at 400º. Chop bottoms of asparagus off. Then cut remainder in half. Place asparagus and pre-chopped broccoli in pan and spread olive oil evenly. Shake some salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder. Bake in oven approximately 25 minutes. Meanwhile boil some water with a splash of olive oil. Once boiled place desired amount of gnocchi in water. Boil until little dumplings float to the top. Drain. Sprinkle with olive oil.

Heat sauce. Prepare plate by covering desired amount of sauce on gnocchi. Place greens next to gnocchi.
The best part about gnocchi is that it's easy to make. Whenever in a time crunch you can always count on the potato dumplings.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Poor Woman's Mashed Potatoes

I call it poor woman's mashed potatoes because it features mashed potatoes out of a box. It's cheap, quick and surprisingly good.

Garlic mashed potatoes box from Whole Foods
Olive oil
Fried onions from Trader Joe's
Salt & pepper to taste

Follow the directions on the box except rather than use milk or butter use olive oil. Place an equivalent amount to what it says on the box. Stir in a dash of dill and about 1/4 cup of fried onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can even top it off with them. MMM fried onions.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mushroom and Gnocchi

Italian inspired mushroom medley with an olive oil/garlic based sauce.

Crimini mushrooms, sliced
Shiitake mushrooms, sliced
White button mushrooms, sliced
5 Cloves of garlic, sliced
Olive Oil
Red pepper flakes

Boil water in pot with 1 tsp of olive oil and a dash of salt.
After water boils place gnocchi in pot until floats. When ready, drain. In the meantime, take a pan and sauté the mushrooms with 1 Tbsp of oil. Add a dash of red pepper flakes and salt. Turn down heat. Separately, for the 'sauce' you'll need to place 3 Tsp of oil with the sliced garlic. Cook until garlic turns a bit brown. Add about and additional 1/4 cup of oil. Cook until hot.

Place gnocchi on plate top with mushroom sauté pouring olive oil sauce to taste including a few garlic pieces.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Caprese Salad

Italian food is so good. And this salad is probably the easiest thing I've ever made. Thanks to Steve for the idea.

Fresh Basil
Bread (Italian Herb with 3 Cheese Bread from Trader Joe's)
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Pick off the basil stems and only use the leaves. Slice tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick. Slice mozzarella about 1/4 inch thick. I bought the kind of mozzarella from Trader Joe's that looks like a white ball. They have larger ones too that are more like logs. Slice bread very thinly and place desired amount in toaster oven. Toast until they are as hard as croutons. Place on plate similar to picture once toast is ready. Drizzle desired amount of olive oil onto salad. For variation, use capers. See other variations here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Chinese New Year's Egg Rolls

Disclaimer: Homemade Egg Rolls take at least a few hours to make. I'm going to post pictures here, but I don't want to break my own rules by posting the recipe. If you guys are interested, email me and I'll give you the dish (so to speak.) Heh. I have to say though. This is my mom's meatless recipe and she is a damn fine cook.

For those of you who don't already know, it's a popular Chinese tradition to serve Egg Rolls on New Year's Eve because they represent wealth since they resemble a gold bar.

Those are gold alright... Yum! Happy Chinese New Year's!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cauliflower, Tofu, and Spinach... Yum!

Although it's New Year's Day, I couldn't sleep in due to the fact that I've been recovering from a nasty upper-respiratory 'thing.' So I'm leaving you with this wonderful recipe that Steve just conjured up from that many faceted brain of his. I'm not hungover at all, but I bet this recipe is well and good if you're feeling that way today.

10 oz of Cauliflower, thinly sliced
8 oz Extra Firm Tofu, cut into thin long strips
2 Handfuls Spinach, chopped coarsely
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Pinches of Black Pepper

Combine olive oil, soy sauce, and pepper in pan. Turn to high heat. Add cauliflower. Stir and let cook, remaining on high. Cover for 5 minutes. Add tofu strips. Cover again and cook for an additional 3 minutes. When cauliflower begins to soften add spinach. Turn down to low heat and let spinach wilt. Stir.

Add salt to taste and serve (over bed of rice.)