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Grilled Portabella Sandwich

It rained lightly all day yesterday which is a good thing when you are trying to get seeds to sprout. I was looking out my second story window this morning at my raised garden beds wondering if any of my seeds sprouted overnight from last weeks planting. It was too great of a distance for me to tell for sure, but I thought I saw something green so I went out for a look. Sure enough I have several little Arugula sprouts showing off that they have beat out the other seeds for the honor of who sprouts first. I suspect my lettuce crop will show up next and then the beets and basil. Last but not least will probably be the peas of which I planted extra this year since they taste so good and grow so well here in the Spring.

arugula sprouts

arugula sprouts

If you haven’t planted a crop this year it’s not to late! Even if you think you don’t have space for such farming think again. Check out the concept of square foot gardening, vertical gardening, and container gardening, where most anyone can grow a bit of produce on their own. Here’s a link to the University of Maryland’s “Grow it, Eat It” article to get you started:

http:/extension.umd.edu/growit/food-gardening-101/container-vegetable-gardening-healthy-harvests-small-spaces

Here’s a bit from their article of one of the benefits to using these methods:

Better control over growing conditions (water, sunlight, nutrients) can lead to higher yields with less work than a conventional garden (10 sq. ft. can produce 50 lbs. of fresh organic produce).

With these types of gardening almost anyone can grow their own vegies and fruit. Just get on out to your favorite garden shop or big box hardware store and load up on the items needed for your space. You could even grow your own mushrooms if you want, but that’s an indoor crop.

Speaking of mushrooms, I made Grilled Portabella Sandwiches last night, and boy are they good! They are just about as hearty as a burger, and super yummy. When you put them on a bun with sauteed onions and bell peppers topped with jalapeno jack cheese it makes a substantial sandwich. Served up with a side of potato salad, or cole slaw, and chips it makes a great summer lunch or dinner meal.

What about the time it takes to marinate the portabellas? Forget that time consuming step, because yours truly, the Fast and Furious Cook has come up with a way that produces a great tasting mushroom without marinating it. This recipe takes all of 15-20 minutes to prepare and cook. Give it a try and see if you agree that this is a great way to eat great tasting food that is quick, healthy and simple. And get that garden planted because Spring is here!

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Grilled Portabella Sandwich

4 large portabella mushroom caps( about 4 inches across)

4-5 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil

your favorite steak seasoning salt

1 cup sliced onion

1 cup sliced bell pepper, red or green

1 tablespoon olive oil

 

 add oil and seasonings

add oil and seasonings

To clean the portabellas pop the stems off the mushroom caps, then rinse them with cool water, and wipe the top of the cap only with a kitchen towel. Set aside to finish drying.

Saute onions and peppers in the plain olive oil and season with steak seasoning.

yummy grilled onions and peppers

yummy grilled onions and peppers

Cook on medium low heat until soft,(about 15 minutes).

Brush top of mushroom caps with garlic infused olive oil then invert on a cutting board or other surface and drizzle the rest of the garlic infused oil on the insides(gills) of the caps.

Dust with the steak seasoning on both sides and grill cap side down/ gill side up for about 8 minutes, see note. Flip caps and cook for about another 6 minutes gill side down. Flip once more and divide sauteed onions and peppers on the gill side and top with cheese.

Continue cooking for about 1 minute until cheese is melted.

Serves four.

 

Mushroom sandwich perfection

Mushroom sandwich perfection

Note:

You can cook the mushrooms in an oven broiler, but if you do it works best to have a baking pan and rack combo the lets the mushroom juices drain. When using an outside gas or charcoal grill you don’t need to worry about the juices draining except that with charcoal the juices will put out some of your coals if your mushrooms are good and fresh!

 

Most steak seasonings work well with this recipe as they contain salt, pepper, garlic, onion and other herbs and spices that work well with portabella mushrooms. One of my favorites is McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning blend.

I like to use jalapeño jack cheese, but use whatever is your favorite cheese. I think manchego, cheddar or swiss would be good too!

Pom Pom Mushroom Faux Crab Cakes

Yesterday I went to a mushroom talk and cooking demo to highlight pom pom mushrooms, aka lions mane and other strange names like monkey’s head. The studies showing health benefits are many and varied, but what I found most interesting was studies showing that pompoms helped with MS, Parkinson’s disease, reducing cholesterol, improving liver function, ailments of the stomach and digestive tract, and inhibiting cancers and tumors. That’s a lot of health benefits from one little mushroom!

 

What I like is they taste good and are quite different from most other mushrooms in texture and flavor. The cooking demo showed us how well pom poms work in a faux crab cake. If you slice them about one inch thick and then just pull the slices apart into one inch clumps they resemble crab bits. Then you saute the pompom bits on high until browned a bit and cool. Use them like you would crab in your favorite crab cake recipe and you have a yummy meatless faux crab cake with many health benefits.

pom pom

a typical pom pom

 

I had already planned a crab cake dinner for last night so I thought I’d just try this faux crab cake thing alongside the real thing, but when I started to prep for dinner I found that the crab I had bought the day before had somehow ended up in the freezer so I was lucky to have the pom poms to use instead. I cooked them up the way Alan Kaufman had shown us to use them at the Phillip’s demo and mixed them into the Old Bay Seasoning crab cake recipe. I won’t say that it would fool many people into thinking it was real crab, but it was delicious and quite similar. Pom poms can also be used in place of veal and lobster in many recipes with good results. I hope you can find these golf ball sized wonders of the mushroom world and give them a try.

Pom Pom faux crab cakes with quinoa and veggies

Pom Pom faux crab cakes with quinoa and veggies

Feisty Tofu Enchiladas

With all these cold and snowy days this year hot comfort food is welcome more than the past two winters. I keep coming up with new original recipes for the blog to keep you warm and eating healthy through the cold and crappy weather most of the country is experiencing. Now you could find tofu enchilada recipes on a google search, but it wouldn’t be these. I like to put a hot and happy feel to many of the dishes I create and chipolte peppers in adobo sauce make this recipe a winner. It’s also fast and simple for those who don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen.

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Should you think tofu is just too weird a substance to use in Mexican food think again. Tofu lends itself to this type of seasoning quite well, and if you want it more meat like just get the extra firm tofu. It’s certainly more healthy for you than CAFO(concentrated animal feeding operation) pork/beef that most Americans would be eating in their enchiladas. Served with beans and rice it’s a meal you won’t walk away from feeling hungry. I also like to serve it with sliced avocado and fresh cilantro sprigs for color and taste. For a bit more protein and taste I top them with roasted shelled pumpkin seeds just out of the oven.

As for the enchilada sauce it whips up in 15 minutes, and is easy to cook at the same time as the filling as long as you start the sauce cooking first. I hope you brave souls that are trying to eat healthier give this a try and please leave comments on this or other similar recipes you are trying. Until next week stay warm and think Spring!

sauteing the filling

sauteing the filling

Enchilada Sauce

 

1/4 cup minced white or yellow onion

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil, or regular olive oil

1 6 oz can tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika, or hot paprika

1 15.5 oz can tomato sauce

1 chipolte minced, optional

 

Saute minced onion and garlic in oil for 5-7 minutes on medium low to low heat stirring often.

Add rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat uncovered stirring about every five minutes. If you have the time simmer for thirty minutes.

 

roll them up

roll them up

 

Grocery list

1 6 oz can tomato paste

1 15.5 oz can tomato sauce

1 can chipolte peppers in adobo sauce

1 yellow or white onion

fresh garlic

Fast and Furious Feisty Tofu Enchiladas

 

2 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil, or regular olive oil

1/3 cup chopped yellow or white onion

3/4 cup chopped red or green bell pepper

12 oz firm tofu, drained and dried a bit

3/4 teaspoons cumin

2 tablespoons salsa(like Pace Picante Chunky)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup shredded cheddar and jack cheese

6 inch corn tortillas

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Saute onions in oil in a saute pan on medium heat for three minutes stirring often.

Add peppers and cumin and cook for seven minutes on medium low stirring occasionally.

Add tofu, and salt. Cook five minutes stirring carefully so you don’t break up the tofu too much.

Add the salsa and cook one more minute stirring just to incorporate the salsa.

On a countertop or cutting board assemble corn tortillas and fill them with approximately 1/3 cup tofu filling, and cheese. Roll and place close together in a 10-12 in square baking dish. Top with sauce, cheese, and bake at 375 degrees for about ten minutes to melt cheese.

You can also use banana boat shaped baking dishes to bake two enchiladas per person in.

Makes 4-6 enchiladas, and is easily doubled.

 

Grocery list

1 white or yellow onion

1 green or red bell pepper

12 oz firm tofu

Pace Picante salsa chunky style

8 oz shredded cheddar and jack cheese

6 inch corn tortillas

ground cumin

roasted shelled pumpkin seeds, optional

Paella, a great one pot meal

The roads outside my home are white. Not with snow, but with salt from combatting all the ice, and snow we have had recently. Just a week ago I was enjoying a great vacation in Spain where we didn’t see snow. Then we came back to reality and one week’s worth of below freezing temperatures with some nights below zero. Yikes!

Maybe we should have stayed just one more week?

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Spain is an amazing country. Sure they are going through financial pain and unemployment is a huge problem especially with the young folks, but it’s still a great place to visit. Some of the things I learned on my latest trip are that Spain has the largest wine growing region in the world, with 2.89 million acres. It is the most mountainous wine producing country (this according to the book “Wine”, by Andre Domine). They also have some great beaches on the Mediterranean Coast. Unfortunately I wasn’t there for beach weather. It rained six out of the seven days we were visiting, which was a bit unusual. At least it only rained a little each day. On our one sunny day we made it to the beach in Valencia and had a nice walk in the sand and surf. It was a great respite from the rain. Any country that boasts great beaches, mountains, food and wine is tops on my list of places to hang out.

I also think Spaniards are about the friendliest Europeans I have met compared to the French, Brits or Italians. In Madrid when we got off the metro to go to a flamenco performance we were stumped by the map in the Metro station. A young family of four got off at the same stop and saw us staring at the map with that lost look, and asked if we needed help. They were kind enough to walk with us two blocks to make sure we knew where the Flamenco venue was even though they had a crying two year old with them.

Plaza Mayor Madrid

Plaza Mayor Madrid

Food and wine are very reasonable at numerous tapas bars and restaurants. Spaniards love to eat out and there are lots of foodie choices in most cities and towns. Madrid has a population of about 3.2 million according to Wikipedia and Tripadvisor.com list 5,930 restaurants. Little ol’ Denver, Colorado(where I’m from originally) has a population of around 2.9 million and sports only about 2,448 restaurants on Tripadvisor.com.

May I be so bold as to say Spain is a foodie paradise!

On our trip we started in Madrid for one day, then went to Granada for two days, then back to Madrid for one night to cue up for the high speed(185 mph!) Renfe train the next day, then Valencia for two days, before retuning to Madrid for one more night before heading home. In all of these places we found outstanding restaurants and tapas bars.

In Valencia I went to the huge Central Market. I wished I had a place where I could have cooked at, but we were in a hotel. I was blown away by the abundance of vegie stands, fish stands, fruit stands, olive and olive oil stands that all sported great looking groceries. The freshness of the seafood and the variety of fish and shrimp had me taking a lot of pictures, as that’s about all I could do with the seafood.

Valencia Mercado

Valencia Mercado

One of the olive oil stands had free samples where I dipped bread bits into many types of tasty oil. I held off buying any as I still had one more train ride to go before flying home from Madrid and olive oil is heavy stuff. I did buy some yummy dried and roasted fava beans as well as Mediterranean pistachios to bring home. I didn’t do much other food shopping until I got to Carrefour a huge grocery/department store from France that has locations all over the world. It was the biggest grocery store I have ever been in, and I bought a bunch of olive oil, rice and saffron to bring home.

In Madrid there was a different type of mercado. The Mercado de San Miguel was an old iron and glass building that housed a bunch of food and drink options. We bought tray full of seafood tapas from one of the stands then got a plate full of olives for just one euro to go with it. There were several wine bars to choose from and we tried the goods from two of those. We bought a nice cod croquette to go with a glass of white wine that was delish! If you are ever in Madrid I hope you can check this place out. It’s just off the Plaza Mayor, and fairly easy to find.

Mercado deSan Miguel

Mercado deSan Miguel

Stacked cherries at Mercado de San Miguel

Stacked cherries at Mercado de San Miguel

My favorite food stop on the trip was in Valencia where a friend of a friend recommended Navarro restaurant for paella. It was so good we went back on our last day there to have a different type for our last lunch in Valencia. You can see my review on tripadvisor using this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g187529-d993266-r191597981-Navarro-Valencia_Valencia_Province_Valencian_Country.html#REVIEWS

The funny thing was that as good as the paella was we were the only ones eating it both days we ate at Navarro. Everyone else looked like they were locals, and I guess they were there for the other items on the menu like the amazing seafood and salads. We had the vegetarian salad for a starter both days we went there. It had three types of lettuce, several chopped vegies, as well as olives, tomatoes, sliced beets, avocado and grilled tofu. It was the best salad I have had in Europe!

an amazing salad

an amazing salad

When I got home I was determined to make paella in a way that you my dear readers could make also. Knowing that a paella pan is a rare thing in American kitchens I tested my recipe in a saute pan and a enameled cast iron dutch oven. I think the cast iron cookware worked best and would recommend that type of pot if you have one. This one pot meal is prepped and cooked in less than 45 minutes making it a great dinner item.

To make it easier for you to make paella in your kitchen I’m having a giveaway of:

one bottle of Spanish olive oil, one bag of Bomba rice and a small jar of saffron, all of which I bought in Valencia. One lucky reader will receive all three to make paella in their home. Just leave me a comment of your favorite rice dish and you will be entered in the giveaway. Good luck and happy eating!

the ingredients

the ingredients

Paella, fast and furious style

1 cup of Bomba rice, or Uncle Ben’s original converted will do

2 cups stock, chicken or vegetable see note

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh garlic minced

1/4 cup minced onion

1/4 cup minced red bell pepper

1/2 cup cut green beans

1/3 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup frozen lima beans

1/3 cup chopped tomatoes

1/8 teaspoon ground saffron, see note

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

 

Using a cast iron enamel pot,

Using a cast iron enamel pot,

or using a saute pan

or using a saute pan

In a saute pan or enamel cast iron pot saute onion, red bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil on medium heat for 5-7 minutes stirring until onions are soft.

Add rice and cook one more minute stirring to coat the rice with the oil.

Add the spices, salt if using, lima beans, all but 1/4 cup of the stock and turn heat up to medium high stirring once or twice to distribute the stock. Once it comes to a boil reduce heat and cook for eight minutes uncovered.

Stir in tomatoes and green beans and cook for five more minutes at a low simmer.

Add peas, stirring one last time, and cook about five more minutes at a simmer until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is just barely cooked through. You may need to add the rest of the reserved stock at this time.

Stir to fluff it up a bit and serve with a nice salad, bread and olives for a Spanish type meal.

Serves two, but is easily doubled to serve four.

 

yum!

yum!

Note:

This is a good vegan or vegetarian meal if you use vegetable stock. If you want meat add 8 ounces bite sized raw chicken at the beginning when the onions, garlic, and bell peppers are sauteeing. Chorizo, shrimp, and rabbit are good with this also.

 

Saffron is considered one of the most expensive food ingredients in the food world, but you only need a little and a small jar(.7 grams) of saffron threads bought at Trader Joe’s will only set you back $5.99. This small jar would make about three to four batches of paella thus costing you about $1.50 for a paella that serves four. You can also buy it on Amazon.com for about $12.50 for 2 grams plus shipping.

http://www.amazon.com/Spanish-Saffron-Mancha-Tin-gram/dp/B004OKTBVQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1390833363&sr=1-1&keywords=saffron

 

I like to grind my saffron threads in a mortar and pestle like my friends from the middle east taught me instead of buying ground saffron.

Silly Reindeer Games

Last night was Christmas dinner at our home, and with my in-laws visiting it made it even more special. We spent the day hanging out, and watching a bit of tv. We managed to eat quite well throughout the day as you might expect. The whole wheat waffles I made for breakfast came out great using hazelnut oil in place of melted butter, and topped with home made hot blueberry topping with just a touch of whipped cream.

We all enjoyed the Maitake Mushroom Chowder(http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/392/) I made the day before for our simple lunch. After lunch came our nice walk in the sun to let our puppy Tucker chase sticks behind the school for some much needed high impact exercise. You got to take advantage of the sunny days this time of year in Baltimore!

decorated and ready

decorated and ready

Around 3pm I put the leg of lamb in the oven for its three hour journey to tasty perfection. It was simply rubbed with Penzey’s lamb seasoning, fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper. I placed it on top of diced carrots, onions, and celery for flavor. What was real different was surrounding it with sunchokes. This was my first time cooking sunchokes and I went to youtube to find instructions on how to prep and cook the little nuggets. Lucky for all of us Youtube is there when you don’t know how to cook something like sunchokes. For those of you that don’t know about them they are native to North America and are a tuber. Think of them as a little potato with more flavor.

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To round out the lamb feast was a nice starter of cauliflower, red bell pepper, sun dried tomato salad on a bed of shredded cabbage dressed with my mushroom salad dressing. We also had garlic mashed yukon gold potatoes, and succotash.

The pecan bars I baked the day before made for a great dessert when paired with a scoop of Keyes Creamery pumpkin ice cream. Mind you that this was not a low fat healthy meal, but well worth the calories!

 

The race course

The race course

To wind up the festivities we had bought four party poppers( a British tradition ?) with a reindeer theme. You haven’t lived until you have had in home reindeer races! These little wind up toys were inside the poppers and came with a race course. All four of us received a reindeer for the big race. A practice session was granted to get the feel of the equipment then off we went. My mother-in-law seemed to have the winner in the practice round as it flew straight and true. I had a fast little guy named Prancer, but he didn’t have a great sense of direction. My father-in-law had a confused reindeer that only excelled in running tight little circles. When the smoke had cleared Prancer won the race and the prize bag containing a $20 gift certificate to Trader Joe’s, a fine little note pad and pen set, and a candy cane.

The

The winner Prancer on the left

 

Some of our most memorable Christmas dinner parties have been the ones with poppers. So if you see some while out shopping the day after Christmas be sure and get some for New Years or Christmas dinner parties and party like a reindeer!

One Pan Wonder Dish

 

I consider myself a master of using leftovers! This comes from years of restaurant, and crew cooking. In the restaurants many places I worked at fed the employees on the leftovers from the night before. Since many of the employees were close friends of mine there was an added incentive to making the employee meal taste good.

In the Coast Guard and on the offshore oil platforms I would often incorporate the leftovers into soup from the previous days meals. One of the best ways I found to use leftovers was in fried rice. There would be leftover steamed rice quite often and it’s perfect for using in fried rice the next day. If there was some roast chicken, pork or steamed shrimp all the better. Many cultures from Asia, and even Ecuador have their own versions of fried rice. The best thing about making fried rice from leftovers is it’s really quick and a one pot meal too!

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I got home from a three day trip to New York City late last night and figured I’d post a good one pot/pan meal today for all of you that love to eat well with less time in the kitchen. I had in my fridge 2 1/2 cups of leftover brown rice, 1 cup of cooked lobster claws, and some green onions that all needed to be used soon. The stage was set and off to work in the Fast and Furious Test Kitchen I went. It took all of 5 minutes to get the vegetables cut and ready, then out came the wok. It took less than 15 minutes to whip up the fried rice and sit down to a tasty lunch without making a huge mess of the kitchen I had just cleaned up. Made with brown rice and lots of vegies this is a healthy fast meal that can be tweaked to please almost anyone. Just plan ahead by making extra rice next time you cook it for a dinner starch and plan on using the extra in the next 3-4 days for a yummy fried rice main dish or side. I think you will agree that this is a winner.

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Lobster or Shrimp Fried Rice

2 teaspoons peanut, or canola oil

1/2 cup yellow onion diced small,(about the size of a pea) or slice green onions will do

1/2 cup celery diced small

1/2 carrots diced small

1 small clove fresh garlic minced

1 pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

1 cup lobster, shrimp, or tofu cooked or raw

2- 2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, but white rice will do

2-3 tablespoons soy sauce, regular or low sodium

wok it

wok it

 

In a wok or fairly large saute pan on medium high heat add one teaspoon of the oil and the garlic and cook stirring for 1/2 minute.

If using raw lobster or shrimp add now and cook for 3 minutes stirring on medium high heat.

Add celery, carrots, pepper flakes, and yellow onion, and cook stirring on medium high heat for three minutes,see note*

If using cooked lobster or shrimp add now and cook on medium high heat for 3 minutes.

Remove from pan and set aside.

Wipe pan then return to medium high heat.

Add the last teaspoon of oil and rice.

Cook stirring for 3-4 minutes then add the lobster and vegetable mix.

Cook stirring on high heat for, you guessed it, 3 minutes or until everything is hot.

Add soy sauce and stir in well while cooking on medium heat 1-2 minutes or until soy sauce is well distributed and the fried rice is piping hot.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

 

*Note:

If using green onions add after the celery, and carrots have cooked for 3 minutes.

 

Many vegetables go well with this dish. Consider adding with the celery and carrots:

1/2 cup cubed zucchini or yellow squash

1/2 cup peas

1/2 cup corn

1/2 cup fresh shitake mushrooms

 

Makes a good vegan main dish when adding tofu and extra vegetables.

 

 

 

 

Mushrooms Roasting on an Open Fire

Halfway through December and I am furiously cooking several things today in the fast and furious test kitchen. I baked two pans of apple bars for Thursday’s meeting of the online meetup mastermind group. I made gingerbread dough for tonight’s class at St Vincent’s Villa where I volunteer teaching the girls basic healthy cooking. On top of that I tested a new original recipe roasting mushrooms with root vegetables for a great tasting side dish. All before the busy weekend approaches.

vegie goodness

vegie goodness

This weekend has me taking a class at the Intl Culinary Center in good ole’ New York City. The class is on spices, a part of cooking that most struggle with. For example, I heard an interview on NPR with the owner of the little spice box(La Boîte A Epices) shop in New York City describe an experience where as a new chef he was asked by the boss chef “how many herbs, and spices can you name”? He could come up with about 40, but the boss chef knew of, and used over 160! That got me interested in learning more about herbs and spices right there and then. With any luck I’ll come away from the class with lots of new ways to use the herbs and spices I have, and add some herbs and spices to my collection for testing.

With that in mind I give you today’s recipe that will give you a chance to play around with herbs. This recipe can be done with several different herbs to create a lovely side dish. I’ve listed three herbs to consider using in this dish as a combination or just one of them. I also list two seasoning blends that will work well if you want to try either. My favorite seasoning blend is Spike, but I like Lawrey’s and Mrs Dash too. Not that I have a problem with grabbing one or more of the 50 plus herb and spice choices from my cabinet, but sometimes I just love the simplicity of shaking some Spike on a dish I’m cooking and be done with it. There is no hard core right or wrong as long as you are pleased with your results. So give it a try and please leave comments on how your test drive of this recipe came out.

Oven Roasted Mushrooms with Root Vegetables

1 medium sized baking potato, cut into one inch pieces

4-8 ounces fresh royal trumpet mushrooms, or shitake mushrooms

2 cups golden beets, or rutabaga cut into one inch pieces

1 large carrot slice into one half inch slices

1/2 medium yellow or white onion cut into one inch pieces

1 red bell pepper cut into one inch pieces

2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil with 2-4 cloves of the garlic that flavored it ,http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/garlic-infused-olive-oil-roasted-garlic/

1 teaspoon of Lawrey’s seasoning salt, or Spike seasoning salt

ground black pepper to taste

 

the goods

the goods

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until coated with the oil.

Spread onto a baking sheet pan and cook for 25-30 minutes or just until tender.

Do not overcook!

Stir after 15 minutes of baking.

Serves four as a side dish.

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Note:

Butternut squash can be used in place of potatoes.

 

Turnips can be used if golden beets, and  rutabagas can’t be found.

 

Several herbs go well with this such as:

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1 teaspoon dried thyme

or a combination of the above.

 

If using shitake mushrooms remove and discard stems.

 

Makes a great side dish with roasted chicken, pork or beef.

 

Makes a great vegetarian main dish when feta cheese is sprinkled on top during the last 3-5 minutes of cooking.

 

Spelt Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Pesto

Spelt Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Pesto

Here we are a week after Thanksgiving and I am hard at work in the kitchen dreaming up lighter, healthier meals for in between holiday extravagances. I’ve been testing several ways to use spelt pasta, and spelt flour since Nature’s Legacy sent me a box of their products to try out. Thus far I am very happy with their spelt products and the recipe development using spelt in my kitchen.

Today I cooked up a dish that came to me last night wondering what would be the best type of dish for this time of year. I wanted something hot and satisfying, but vegetarian.

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This dish came out great in testing today and I am happy to share it with you in the hopes that you will give spelt a try.

Why, you might ask should you give spelt a try? Well, for one reason it taste great. For another reason it’s all natural, and not-been-messed-with like its cousin wheat has been. Spelt is non-GMO, high in fiber and vitamins too. More and more people are searching out simple natural foods to add to their diet and spelt is gaining in popularity.

So try one or more of my spelt recipes, and see what you think. To help you try out spelt Nature’s Legacy is giving one of my lucky readers a box of spelt products.

Just leave a comment on this post what your favorite pasta dish is and you will be entered in this drawing. I’ll draw the winner soon and let you know who the lucky person is on my Facebook fan page. Due to shipping costs the winner must take delivery in the US.

 

 

Included in the box is:

1 5 lb bag 100% whole grain spelt flour

4 boxes whole spelt rotini

4 boxes whole spelt spaghetti

2 boxes whole spelt lasagna

 

Spelt Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Pesto

 

1 ten ounce package of Nature’s Legacy spelt spaghetti

4 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup pesto

2 1/2 cups butternut squash cut into 1 inch cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley

1 cup roasted walnuts(optional)

salt and pepper to taste

the goods

the goods

 

Heat water in a 5 quart pot with a tablespoon of salt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

mix in the pesto, parsley and walnuts

mix in the pesto, parsley and walnuts

Toss butternut squash, salt and pepper with olive oil in a bowl and mix to coat. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

Cook spelt spaghetti according to instructions on package fifteen minutes after the squash goes in the oven, see note*

Drain and rinse spaghetti and put in a large bowl.

Add pesto, walnuts and parsley and toss well.

By now your squash should be tender but not mushy. Put hot squash in with spaghetti and mix well.

mix the hot squash in

mix the hot squash in

Serve with a garnish of steamed broccoli, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Serves 4-6

 

Note*

The package says it takes 4-6 minutes to cook the spaghetti in boiling water, but I had to cook it about 8 minutes and it wasn’t overcooked.

 

I made a basic pesto from a recipe on the Food Network’s website that turned out very well, and only took ten minutes. You can buy or make your own pesto for this dish. Here’s the link for the recipe I used:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/basic-pesto-recipe/index.html

Even though I was gifted a box of products from Nature’s Legacy it didn’t influence my opinion.

spelt products from Nature's Legacy

spelt products from Nature’s Legacy

Lamb and Mushroom Stew

Thanksgiving is upon us, and definitely one of my favorite holidays. After all how can you not love a holiday that is about family and friends gathering to share good food and conversation? I am always amused by the many new recipes for Thanksgiving standards that come out each year, however I usually stick to the same old roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce. Why do I stick to the usual? Because I only eat this specific meal once per year and I know from over twenty five years in a row of cooking Thanksgiving meals what taste best to me.

That is not to say I don’t appreciate some new ideas for Thanksgiving favorites, because I do. I just cook up the new recipes I find afterwards, or for Christmas dinner. But to each his/her own and by all means learn new recipes for your holidays if that’s what churns your butter.

What I plan on blogging about over the next several weeks is the healthy meals you should be eating in between these big, rich meals that are coming at us for the next five weeks. I too will be eating the good stuff when it comes my way at parties and family get togethers, and will want to eat light healthy meals in between so I come out the other end of this five week food fest feeling good.

 

stew time

stew time

One of my favorite meals growing up in Colorado was a good leg of lamb, and the stew that usually followed the next day made from the leftovers. It qualifies as comfort food in my book. Today I give you my original Fast and Furious Cook lamb stew recipe that is very easy to make, delicious, and fairly healthy too. I have tested it this last week to be made in the crock pot and it came out great! During the next five weeks when you need a hearty, healthy easy to cook stew I hope you give this one a try and please leave comments on how it turned out.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

 

the goods

the goods

 

1 oz dried mushrooms, chanterelles or morel

2 cups water

1 pound lamb stew meat

1/3 cup flour

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium sized yellow onion chopped

3 stalks celery sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

1 clove minced fresh garlic

1 8 oz package white button mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup of dry red wine(Cabernet Sauvignon)

1 carrot sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

1-2 teaspoons Lawry’s seasoning salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme, optional

 

*Soak dried mushrooms in water for at least 10 minutes.

Dredge lamb pieces in flour and set aside. In a saute pan or enamel cast iron pot cook onion, garlic and celery in half of the oil on medium heat for five minutes stirring often. Add fresh mushrooms and cook stirring for another five minutes. Pour into crockpot, then wipe pan/pot clean and brown lamb in remaining oil on medium to medium high heat. Add lamb, wine, mushrooms, seasoning salt and carrots to crockpot and cook for 4-5 hours on high, or 6-8 hours on low heat. If you are able to stir it halfway through the cooking time it is helpful but not necessary.

Serve over a cup of steamed brown rice, or your favorite pasta.

Serves four.

 

in the crockpot

in the crockpot

Note:

Dried mushrooms vary in the amount of grit hiding in the nooks and crannies. One way I have found to reduce the grit is to soak the mushrooms in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup and stirring them gently before using them to allow the grit to settle on the bottom. I then take the floating mushrooms from the top of the water and add them to the dish I’m cooking and carefully pour the mushroom water into the dish leaving the last couple of tablespoons of liquid on the bottom to throw out with the grit that has settled there.

You can skip the fresh mushrooms and double the amount of dried mushrooms if you like.

If you can’t buy dried mushrooms in your local grocery store consider ordering them online as they don’t cost much to ship and at $5.99 for one ounce of chanterelles most people can afford that price. Here is a link to my favorite source: http://www.thewoodlandsatphillips.com/dried-mushrooms-1/

IMG_5145

 

 

Cold Weather Special

It’s good to be back home and in the groove. My 10 days in Spain gave me many ideas for recipe development that I’ll work on in the weeks to come. One of my favorite dishes was the ever present breakfast and or tapas dish the “tortilla”. It’s a simple preparation of potatoes and eggs served at room temperature or warm. What I like about it is that you can add so many ingredients to this base recipe to come up with your own favorite way to eat it. At the resort where I was staying they served it with a side of a nice tomato garlic salsa that went great with it. I don’t plan on eating this sort of thing every day, but would like to incorporate it into a special weekend type of breakfast food in the near future.

With the holiday upon us I will mainly focus on healthy recipes to counterbalance the good stuff most of us will indulge in during this feast a plenty few weeks. I do believe in eating healthy most of the time and splurging during Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, etc. I tested a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites cookbook I bought while visiting Ithaca, NY last September. For those of you not familiar with Moosewood they are a collective of owners running one of the best farm to table, mostly Vegan, and Vegetarian restaurants in the US. They have been around for forty years, a feat that is difficult to say the least, putting out inventive meals for those who love to eat healthy delicious food.

The recipe I tried out last night was the Navajo Stew, a lovely stew of sweet potatoes, onions, bell peppers, beans and tomato seasoned with ground cumin and coriander.

I don’t own many cookbooks or use them much, but this one is fast becoming one of my favorites.

I actually followed the recipe closely, and only deviated a bit when adding Korean sweet potatoes to come up with four cups total as I was a little short using just regular sweet potatoes.

The result was a wonderful tasting, quite filling stew that was served with a side of whole grain baguette that satisfied and warmed us on a chilly dark night. I suspect one could use delicata, or butternut squash in this stew in place of sweet potatoes with good results. For those of you that want meat in a stew like this I believe it would be easy to add chicken, beef or pork at the beginning while sauteing the onions.

IMG_5122

Navajo Stew

2 T olive oil

2 cups chopped onion

3 garlic cloves minced

1 t salt

1 red or green pepper seeded and chopped

1 T ground cumin seeds

2 t ground coriander seeds

4 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes(1 inch cubes)

2 cups water

one 15 oz can diced tomatoes

2 T canned chipolte peppers in adobo sauce

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 1/2 cups black or red beans rinsed and drained

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels(optional)

 

Warm the oil in a covered soup pot on low heat.

Add the onion, garlic, and salt, and cook about 10 minutes.

Stir in the bell peppers, cumin, and coriander and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the sweet potatoes and water, cover, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes covered or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes, chipoltes, and cilantro in a blender.

When the vegetables are tender, stir in the tomato puree and the beans. Add corn, if you like.

Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

A hot bowl of love.

A hot bowl of love.

 

Serving and menu ideas.

Top each serving with Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce(page 310), plain yogurt, or sour cream, or shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese. Serve this stew with cornbread(see pages 283 and 284), flatbread, or tortilla chips. Also nice on rice.

 

Thanks to Moosewood for letting me share this great stew recipe.

Moosewood Inc copyright 2005 from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers, published by Clarkson Potter.

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Did you ever come home from work or a busy day and thought you didn’t have time to cook a healthy great tasting meal? Many of us have this problem, but there is a way to conquer that beast. You just need the recipes, basic supplies and support of this blog to get you through it. I have learned over the last twenty years how to create great, healthy meals in very little time. You don’t need to be a chef to make this work for you. I have done the hard work of developing a plan for you.
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