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Recipes by Type

Pasta Portabella

With a busy schedule that has me out of town one or more days for each the next five weeks I don’t want to spend any more time than needed in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong. I still love to come home from a trip and cook, but it has to be quick and healthy like this Portabella Pasta dish. When I’m on the road I get to eat at some great restaurants. Take for instance the Wicked Spoon in Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan Casino last week. The food was amazing and they have a bottomless glass of wine special too. When you order a glass of wine the waiter will ask, “Would you like our bottomless glass of wine for just $4 more?” to which I said, “Hell yeah!”. The catch is you have to get your wine drinking done within two hours. That is not a problem for most of us, certainly not me. After three tasty glasses of Prosecco I had enough food and wine for the day and was off to enjoy the sunshine.

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Once I get home I  look forward to cooking in my own kitchen again. I might have even picked up some ideas from dinning out on the road. This week I went up to Phillip’s Mushrooms in Kennett Square and picked up a load of portabellas, shitake and maitake mushrooms to use in my test kitchen. I had some ports leftover and decided to share this recipe that I wrote two years ago but had lingered on the back burner awaiting a final test. I learned this type of cooking while visiting Ostuni, Italy. That region of Italy is known for simple dishes made with just a few ingredients. Their thumbprint pasta called “ orecchiette” is found often and usually served with some sort of tomato product, and maybe some fresh herbs. We loved every dish we tasted with orecchiette in it and I have used it occasionally since that visit.

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In your kitchen you can substitute orecchiette with bow tie pasta or a gluten-free pasta and I suspect it will still turn out quite well. Use the best canned or fresh tomatoes you can get your hands on for best taste. If you want to make it a meaty entree just add Italian sausage in it or on the side and you will have the full meal deal. Pair it with a nice Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon for dinner Italian style. It beats Spaghetti O’s any day! Please leave your comments so the world knows I have a gazillion readers/followers. Until next time, eat well and drink well my friends.

 

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Pasta Portabella

2 cup orecchiette pasta, or bow tie pasta

1 16 oz can diced tomatoes

3/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

5-6 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil

1 portabella mushroom sliced in 3/8 inch slices

2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped,optional

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

saute time

saute time

Heat to boiling 8-10 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of salt.

While water is heating sauté portabella slices in a sauté pan on medium heat until lightly browned. It may take two rounds as the portabella slices  should not be touching. After browning set aside in a warm oven.

Cook pasta when water boils.

Use same sauté pan to heat tomatoes and herbs to a simmer.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and toss with tomatoes.

Add chopped parsley and arrange on individual plates.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top with sautéed portabellas, and parmesan.

Serves 2 as an entree or four as a side dish, but easily doubles to serve more.

Let's eat!

Let’s eat!

A Turkey Chili Story

Once upon a time there was chili and chili was good. Back then chili was always made with beef or pork for the meat component, and it was good. For many years all the people in the land ate of the usual beef and pork chili and all was well. Then one cold day came strangers to the world of chili and proclaimed that there are other meats that are good in it. These strange people put ground turkey in their chili much to the surprise of the beef and pork chili eaters. As if that wasn’t enough strangeness they would also use bison instead of the age old method of beef and pork to make matters more unsettling. The “old school” beef and pork chili eaters were upset by this oddness and said, “woe is thee who eateth the turkey or bison chili” and they refused to eat it. This did not bother the “new school” turkey and bison chili eaters, and they blended in as best as they could in the world of the “old school” crowd.

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Many years passed and the “old school” chili eaters had children who grew up alongside the children of the “new school” chili folk and in time they became friendly towards each other. It was bound to happen that one day the child of an old school chili eater was visiting his friend who’s parents were of the “new school”. It was cold and nasty outside and the “old school” child was invited to stay for dinner. Lo and behold the family served nothing for dinner but turkey chili. The “old school” child  thought it was better to eat of the strange turkey chili than go hungry and upset his hosts so he bravely tried this new chili. What a surprise to his taste buds this milder flavored meat had! It was delicious in a most agreeable manner and he ate much of this warm and satisfying bowl of hot red goodness. He couldn’t wait to go home and tell his parents about what was once thought of as sacrilege amongst chili eaters, was indeed quite tasty. He asked his hosts for the recipe to take to his parents so they too could sample this new chili. When he arrived home with chili smeared on his happy little face he told his parents of the wondrous chili at the “new school” chili eater’s home. He presented them with the recipe and the parents tried it and liked it. Soon all the land was rejoicing in the bliss of two new chili recipes and all was well in the land.

Today I share with you that amazing turkey chili recipe that brought peace and harmony to the land of chili eaters. May it keep you warm and happy.

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1/2 pound ground turkey

1 cup diced yellow onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 15 oz can of tomato sauce

1 can of pinto beans

1 can of kidney beans

2 tablespoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a 6-8 quart pot add olive oil, onions and garlic, and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes stirring often.

Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 more minutes stirring often.

Add ground turkey, turn heat up to med-hi  and cook for 5 minutes stirring every 30 seconds until turkey is no longer pink.

Add rest of the ingredients, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook at a slow simmer for 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so.

Chili is ready to eat after 20 minutes, but improves if cooked for 45 minutes, the last 25 minutes should be with the cover off. Like most chili recipes this one improves the next day.

Serves 4-6

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Soba Noodle Soup

Soba Noodle Soup With Shitake Mushrooms

Japanese cuisine tends to be healthier than American food and has taught me much about eating right. That’s not to say the Japanese are without health issues, but overall they are slimmer and healthier than us Americans. Most of the foods they eat are lower in fat and sugar than American foods. According to a Business Insider article from February 19,2012  us Americans were consuming one hundred pounds of sugar per year each! The Japanese consume only about forty pounds each. Their fat consumption is less also and other than pork katsu or tempura vegetables and shrimp they don’t overdo it with fat as often as we do.

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Even if you didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier I want to share a Japanese inspired soup recipe I developed using soba noodles. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat and are used often in Japanese soups and served cold dipped in broth as well. I sometimes make soba noodle salad and hope to post a recipe for spring or summer this year. Soba can be a bit high on sodium so if you are concerned with sodium be sure and by the less-sodium version sold in most Asian grocery stores. Soba soup or salad is versatile and tastes great with broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, green onions, snow peas, or edamame. For meat additions try pork, chicken, beef, salmon or tofu if you are eating a vegetarian diet.

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I love how fast a from-scratch soba soup recipe comes together, and how it incorporates super healthy shitake mushrooms. This recipe of mine can take as little as twelve minutes to make  if your veggies are purchased cut-up and soup ready. It’s low-fat, easy to make and filling as well as delicious. There was a time you had to go to an Asian grocery store to buy soba noodles but I’m seeing them in many regular American grocery stores lately. If you can’t find them local try amazon.com where I found one of the brands I like, JFC Brand six pack for $17.36 plus shipping.

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So please give it a try and leave comments on how you tweaked the recipe to include what you had on hand, and share on your favorite social media. Here’s to eating healthier in 2015!

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Soba Noodle Soup with Shitake Mushrooms

1  quart water

2 teaspoons chicken base, or bullion cubes- see note

1  1/2 tubes of soba noodles

1 cup sliced shitake caps

2 cups chopped green or broccoli florets

1 cup shredded carrots

1 tablespoon soy sauce,optional

Bring water to a boil with bullion, or base.

Add mushrooms and noodles and cook on high for two minutes stirring often.

Add cabbage and carrots cooking for two more minutes.

Add soy sauce to taste, about 1-2 tablespoons.

Serves four.

Note:

If you are concerned with your sodium intake buy the “less sodium” soba or bullion.

To make this soup a main course add one of the following:

1-2 cups cubed tofu

1-2 cups of cooked shredded chicken, or sliced pork

Top with La-Yu hot sesame oil to kick it up!

Spinach and Feta Tostadas

Spinach and Feta Cheese Tostadas

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Here we are in the first week of the New Year and I bet everyone is eating healthier thanks to resolutions made on New Year’s Day. If you are a little late to the health food party no worries as I have a delicious and easy recipe for you to try. I keep corn tortillas in the freezer most of the year because they are so versatile,quick and yummy. As long as you fry them in a healthy oil I think they are a great choice for eating better without much prep time. With the right ingredients you can make a full meal deal with them. I usually go vegetarian, but have been known to add a bit of leftover chicken on them if I have it on hand.

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In this latest creation of tostada magic I had some feta cheese in the fridge and a jar of sun-dried tomato pesto just waiting to appear on the table. I figured spinach would be a great choice of greens to complete the circle and into the kitchen I went for lunch. It took all of about fifteen minutes to make these spinach and feta tostadas and was deee-lish! Three of these cheesy circles of mouthwatering joy, with a side of avocado, were enough to satisfy my hunger. I probably could have eaten another but after all the high calorie goodness I had during the holidays I was glad to show some restraint.

ready for the oven

ready for the oven

Give it a try and see if you think this is a worthy recipe for you family and friends. Why you could even serve them for NFL playoff snacks if you wanted to, and if your teams wins they will taste even better!

Spinach and Feta Cheese Tostadas

4 cups fresh spinach 2-3 corn tortillas

6 corn or flour tortillas

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon garlic infused olive oil, or regular olive oil

3 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto, or tomato salsa

2/3 cup feta cheese crumbles

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Fry the tortillas in a sauté pan with 1 tablespoon oil on medium high for about 1 1/2 minutes each side then drain on paper towels. You don’t need to brown them much.

In the same sauté pan, or a bigger one wilt the spinach in 1 teaspoon oil stirring often for 2 minutes on medium heat. Add a bit of salt and pepper if you like.

Spread the sun-dried tomato pesto on the flour tortillas, about 1 1/2 teaspoon each.

Top with spinach, then feta cheese.

Bake for 5 minutes on a rack.

Serve with a side of sliced avocado and a bit of the pesto, or salsa.

Serves two but is easily doubled.

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Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Sherry

 

Are We There Yet?

Each year many of us find ourselves just about done with the feasting and drinking scene that dominates our American culture this time of year. Starting with Thanksgiving we pig out in the name of tradition and it is good! Then comes the Christmas parties, and family gatherings before Christmas where we indulge some more. When Christmas rolls around we get food gifts of hams and chocolate, scotch and champagne and who knows what else. The Christmas feast is a lovely affair of roast goose, baked ham, prime rib or some other very special food with all the trimmings we don’t eat often. Don’t forget the amazing dessert this time of year! Pecan pie is a favorite, as well as pumpkin pie. A side of whipped cream is a must with either of the aforementioned delicious desserts. Maybe just a taste of eggnog splashed with a spot of brandy wouldn’t hurt? You get the picture. We eat well in this country and outdo ourselves during the Thanksgiving to New Years Days stretch. With New Year’s Eve comes the big drinking fest for many of us. Finally we stretch out in front of the tv to rest on New Year’s Day now that we are at the end of the holiday splurge and feeling stuffed like a tick on a fat hound dog.

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Come January second we need a break from all of this good stuff! Bring on the gym memberships and the New Year’s resolutions, Get off the couch and take the dog or kids for a walk to burn off some of the seasons excesses. It’s all for naught if you don’t eat healthy for a while, and that is where I come in. You need healthy, easy to prepare recipes that don’t interfere with all that exercise you are going to be engaged in for the rest of the year, according to your resolution.

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To start, here is a tasty dish that should take you no more than twenty minutes to prepare using non-processed whole foods. To top it off if you email me with the types of foods you like and want recipes for  I’ll send you five custom choices to get your New Year off to a good start. Let me know if you lean towards gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low fat or low sugar and I’ll send you a list of five original recipes to help you make healthy choices for the New Year free of charge for the first ten readers. Also let me know how many minutes of prep time and cook time you want to stay within and chances are I can find recipes that fit the bill from my database of almost two hundred FastandFuriousCook.com originals. After all, life is short enough. Why make it shorter by eating and drinking too much unhealthy food and drinks?

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Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Sherry

1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 cloves of fresh garlic sliced thin

1/4 cup diced bell pepper

1/4 cup diced yellow or white onion

1 skinless chicken breast

8 oz white mushrooms sliced

2 tablespoon sliced green onions

2 teaspoons Spike seasoning salt

8-12 cherry tomatoes cut in half

1- 2  tablespoons sherry

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Cut the chicken breast across in thin slices and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in sauté pan and add garlic, bell peppers and yellow onion. Cook on medium heat for 3 minutes stirring often.

Add mushrooms and continue cooking until most of the moisture is cooked out of mushrooms, about 8-10 minutes stirring every minute or less. Set mushroom mix aside.

Add remaining olive oil to the sauté pan and cook the chicken breast on medium high heat for 2 minutes then flip each piece and cook for two more minutes.

Add mushroom mix, Spike, green onions and tomatoes cooking for 3 more minutes. Add sherry and serve.

Goes well with mashed sweet potatoes and steamed green beans.

Serves two, but is easily doubled.

 

Note:

Make sure the chicken is dried off with a paper towel to prevent splattering and sticking while sautéing.

Can be tossed with your favorite pasta too.

Cut olive oil to just two teaspoons if you want it low fat.

Chicken breast with mushrooms and sherry

Chicken breast with mushrooms and sherry

Salmon Rice Bowl

East Meets West

I love salmon rice bowls! On my most recent trip to Japan I paid extra attention to the food. From the restaurants, cafes, street foods, and even on the ANA Airline flight home I took mental notes of Japanese cuisine at its best. Japanese food is significantly healthier than American food overall. On the flight back from Tokyo to Chicago at lunch I noticed the calorie difference in our two choices of entree. The American style lunch featured braised beef with sides, and the Japanese style lunch featured grilled fish on rice with sides. The American lunch came in at about 1,250 calories while the Japanese lunch came in around 670.

IMG_0342I’ve been to Japan many times and have seen few fat people. They do have more incidences of stomach cancer, but overall their health is better than Americans. They eat less meat and fat than we do and get more exercise. I decided I would come up with some Japanese American fusion type recipes to share with those of you looking to eat lighter, or those who would like to explore Japanese foods.

Example at hotel free breakfast of the day's offering

Example at hotel free breakfast of the day.

In my first two or three trips to Japan I had a hard time eating the breakfast that typical locals ate. We usually stayed at hotels, hot springs resorts, and with my wife’s family there. The typical breakfast offered steamed rice, grilled or baked fish, steamed dumplings, shredded cabbage, several types of Japanese pickles, undercooked eggs(yuk!), miso soup, some sort of bread, and fruit.

I started taking granola on trips to Japan so I knew I’d have something I could eat for breakfast. On this trip something strange happened. We ate at restaurants or hotel buffets and I found I liked quite a few of the foods on the breakfast buffets unlike previous trips. Especially the fish and rice with strange vegetable side dishes. Remember the song “I think I’m turning Japanese”? I wondered after eating and liking so many of the dishes I usually wouldn’t have eaten at breakfast if I was. After eating fish on rice at three different places I decided to conjure up my own fish and rice bowl to share with you, my dear readers. This would be a lunch bowl, not breakfast. I’ve been cooking Asian dishes for over forty years. Some authentic, some blended East meets West style. Today I share with you my love of salmon, and brown rice. This simple, and very healthy dish takes no more than ten minutes to make, and uses ingredients that are easily found. If you have a rice maker get your rice cooking an hour or more before lunch time as this is one fast dish, but rice is not. Unless you do the microwave rice thing. Does anyone really buy that crap?

Three simple ingredients

Three simple ingredients

With the holidays upon us why not try this healthy salmon rice bowl before the new year resolution period? This salmon bowl is good hot or cold. If you have access to a good Asian grocery store, you can buy Bonito flakes, and rice sprinkles to enhance the flavor of the rice. If you can find unagi sauce(eel sauce) all the better. I tested it with Kikkoman BBQ Sauce brushed on, which worked well. I was  figuring it is easy to find, but have used unagi sauce for years on salmon with better results. If you have the time you can even marinate the salmon in my recipe:http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/teryaki-salmon-skewers-on-brown-rice/, for about forty-five minutes. This rice bowl goes well with a side of Asian style salad, or green salad with Asian sesame dressing. So here’s to eating better and healthier before and after the New Year.

slice the salmon like this

slice the salmon like this

Salmon Rice Bowl

1 pound salmon filet, preferably Alaska salmon

1/4 cup thin sliced green onion rings, the green part

1/4 cup unagi sauce or Kikkoman BBQ sauce

Preheat oven to 350

Sliced the salmon horizontally at an angle in 1/2 inch pieces

Rub with oil, or use a spray oil to prevent sticking

Place on rack near the top of oven and change heat to broil.

Cook for three minutes then remove from oven to brush topside with sauce.

Broil two to three more minutes.

Remove from oven and brush both sides.

Arrange salmon on top of rice and sprinkle with green onions.

I like to have soy sauce at the table ready to add as needed.

Serves four.

broil on rack

broil on rack

Note:

There are several type of rice toppings available in most grocery store Asian sections. I like several of them including bonito flakes, seaweed and sesame seed combinations, and Nori Komi Furikake.

Serve with an Asian salad like my Asian Broccoli and Bell Pepper Salad:

http://www.fastandfuriouscook.com/asian-broccoli-salad/

Unagi sauce is the better choice if you can find it.

Unagi sauce is the better choice if you can find it.

Turkey and Butternut Squash Soup

Thanksgiving

 

 

Of all the holidays Thanksgiving is my favorite. It not the only holiday that brings people together in a happy food filled day. Christmas and Fourth of July do that pretty well. Thanksgiving is about gratitude, not just food. It is a very healthy thing to celebrate gratitude all year long, not just one day a year. Sometimes Thanksgiving Day is there to help us realize that.

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I have many things to be grateful for and I bet you do too. I have excellent health, a wonderful wife, amazing siblings, my father is still alive after ninety-one years of circling the sun, my dog Tucker entertains and protects us, our cat Boots is a champion purring machine, we live in a nice house, and I have the best friends a guy could ever want. There was a time I didn’t think much about gratitude, and I’m glad that is in my past. Since surviving two near death events in 1986, and remember traveling down the white kaleidoscope tunnel of no return that obviously I did return from I’ve been changed by that. Little things that used to set me off in anger aren’t triggers anymore. Smiles from a friend or stranger are more special now. A good walk in nature with friends or family can be priceless.

 

I am especially grateful for my ability to cook and share good food with friends and family. From the cooking classes and demos in Kennett Square to visiting Colorado I cook where ever I go whenever I can to share the love. At the table the outside world disappears and life slows. This special time allows us all to focus on the food and the pleasure being with each other. Thanksgiving is a time when we take that to a higher level. A super bowl of good eating is what it seems. We cook up the traditional foods and sometimes go with creative new ways to cook our turkey, potatoes, green beans, squash, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. If we are lucky we are given another shot at out doing ourselves again next year. This year when you are having your feast with friends and family try taking that gratitude into everyday of your life. It shouldn’t take a near death experience like I had to own that level of gratitude!

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I’d like to share a recipe for turkey and butternut squash soup that you can make with  the yummy turkey stock made from Thanksgiving leftovers. With  turkey stock you can make a lovely seasonal soup in minutes for this cold weather that has come down from up north. Please feel free to share this with friends and family, or on social media of your choice.

saute in turkey stock not oil!

saute in turkey stock not oil!

Turkey and Butternut Squash Soup

1/2 pound diced turkey meat, about two cups

1/2 gallon turkey stock, see note

2 cups butternut  squash cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 cup onion minced

3 ribs of celery sliced thin

12 oz package of frozen mixed vegetables,corn, green beans, carrots and peas

2 cups pasta, bow tie or shell pasta will do

2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley, optional

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 tablespoon fresh sage minced, or 1 teaspoon dried sage

Sauté onions and celery in one quarter inch of the stock on medium high heat in a 4-5 quart soup pot. Cook for 5-7 minutes stirring often.

Add rest of stock and cook on high for 5 minutes.

Add butternut squash and bring to a boil.

When it comes to a boil add turkey and mixed vegetables.

Bring to a boil again and add pasta cooking on high heat and stirring often during the next two minutes to keep pasta from sticking together.

Cook until pasta is tender then add parsley and sage, cooking at a simmer for 2 more minutes.

Serves 4-6

Note:

If you don’t have turkey stock you can use chicken stock.

Even when I have turkey stock I put a little bit of Better Than Bouillon chicken base in it.

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Asian Broccoli Salad

Last local broccoli of the year

Even though it is soup season there is still time to check out this Asian broccoli salad recipe. Since my Maryland gardening adventure began three years ago I’ve become much more knowledgeable about the growing seasons for vegetables. Before my gardening education  I didn’t realize how well broccoli grew in the fall. It thrives in the cooler weather and lack of bugs. If the weather is cool enough, broccoli planted in August and September grows fast and full. Big thick crowns of this healthy vegetable flourish in cold weather and can even withstand a bit a frost without damage.

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The weather forecasters are really loving this big winter storm coming down on the bulk of the US earlier than usual. Almost everyone has heard of winter storm Astro by now. It has dumped up to sixteen inches of snow in parts of Minnesota and is just getting started. While us lucky folks in Maryland won’t get that type of winter weather, it is going to bring a hard freeze. Therefore it is time to get out to your local veggie farms and buy the last of the fresh broccoli, cauliflower, kale and other fall vegetables before it turns into frozen veggies!

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I went off to Wilbur’s Farm yesterday in Kingsville, MD, just up the road from my home to buy what was left of their fresh veggies. I bought great looking broccoli that was just cut, and a sack full of various peppers. Knowing that it will be many months before I can buy fresh locally grown vegetables I made it a priority to get what I could before the big freeze comes on Thursday and Friday nights.

Mix it up

Mix it up

With the broccoli and peppers safely  back home in my kitchen I knew what I wanted to do with them. If you have not made a home made broccoli and bell pepper salad with an Asian vinaigrette you are missing out on one tasty salad. I usually make my own dressing but I had a bottle of Annie’s shitake vinaigrette salad dressing and put it to work. This is one of the easiest and healthiest salads out there. It shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to make, and can be eaten right away or chilled for 1-4 hours for optimum flavor. So before we get all the way into soup and hot foods season I hope you try this simple and delicious recipe. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t already, and please share this with friends and family.

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Asian Broccoli and Bell Pepper Salad

2 cups of broccoli florets, cut into bite size pieces

1 1/2 cups red bell pepper diced large, about the size of a nickel

1/3-1/2 cup Annies shitake vinaigrette salad dressing, see note

1/4 to 1/2 cup thin sliced red onion

1-3 jalapeños sliced thin, optional

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Serve right away or chill up to four hours for best flavor. Roasted seaweed goes well with this as an edible garnish. Try the wasabi flavored seaweed for some added spice!

Serves six to eight

Note:

Try an Italian vinaigrette salad dressing for a nice variation and grate some parmesan cheese into it if you like.

Cauliflower goes well with this too. Try adding a cup of bite sized florets and reduce the broccoli to one cup.

Sweet Potato Hash

One person’s idea of fast meal preparation is different from another’s. Many of you use your microwave oven often and I use mine about once a year. Without the use  of a  microwave to speed things up fast meal prep is a bit more difficult but doable. For example, take the humble crockpot. Many recipes for a crockpot meal take less than ten minutes to prep and when you get home just like magic you have a house that smells like mom has been in the kitchen cooking all day and it is ready to eat!

 

Stir fried meals are quick and easy if you buy your veggies and meats already cut up and ready for the wok. You would also have to have leftover rice to make this method fast or, god forbid use microwaved heat-and-eat rice. Overall a stir fry meal is healthy and fast.

 

bi-colored sweet potato hash

bi-colored sweet potato hash

 

You can take a steak or chicken breast that has been pounded out real thin and it cooks in five to six minutes on the grill or in a frying pan. With some steamed fresh or frozen veggies and a salad you have a winning combination that if seasoned right should taste great. Blackened catfish, salmon or tilapia also cook very fast due to the high heat used in the blackening method.

All of these should take about ten minutes which I believe most of us would consider a fast meal.

 

With all these types of fast cooking I believe you can eat well without going to the aid of frozen dinners, or eating too many canned foods. Life is too short to eat crap food! With that in mind I’ll share a fairly quick breakfast meal that even though it takes about twenty minutes it’s delicious and healthy. No recipe needed on this one that I’ll call Southwestern Sweet Potato Hash.

the humble sweet potato

the humble sweet potato

Just get about one sweet potato per two persons peeling and cutting it into bite sized bits. Put it into a pot and cover with water. Add a bit of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer until just about tender. While it’s simmering cut up bell peppers(or jalapeños if you like it hot), and onions. Sauté them in a bit of olive oil on low while the spuds are cooking.

 

If the onions and peppers are soft before the potatoes remove them to a plate. When the spuds are done drain them and add to the pan the onions and peppers were in with a bit more oil. Cook for about eight minutes stirring/flipping every three or so minutes. About five minutes into this add back to the pan the onion and green peppers. If you like add a few tablespoons of cooked and drained black beans. At this time add some ground cumin, paprika, and Lawrey’s Seasoning salt. Just before serving adjust salt and pepper if needed.

 

Your breakfast is just about ready now and if you want you can cook up some over easy or scrambled eggs to go with it. You might even want to add some grated cheese on top of the hash. Serve with a side of avocado slices and salsa. This filling and healthy breakfast was made from scratch by you in less than twenty minutes and is better than just about any breakfast joint’s food. Give it a try and let me know how your version turned out in the comments section. If I get more than ten comments on this one I’ll give away a $50 Whole Foods gift card to a winner chosen at random. If you don’t have a Whole Foods nearby I’ll change it to a local grocery store gift card.

Delicata Squash and Kale Soup

October Harvest

 

With the cooler weather some of the remaining veggies in my garden are rebounding from the summer heat. The kale crop is growing like crazy after just pluggin’ along the last two months. With so much kale coming out of my garden I felt the need to create a new soup using it. My friends at Wilbur’s Farm have not had much luck selling their gorgeous Delicata Squash and gifted me about fifteen pounds of it recently. With these two ingredients abundantly crowding my storage facilities I set out to make a healthy, great tasting soup that most people would love, not counting picky kids of course.

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Back when I was a kid I wanted nothing to do with any kind of squash. I think there was an unspoken rule to be cool you had to hate all squash as a kid. It was one of the few rules I had no problem adhering to. However I eventually started to eat squash when as a twenty something year old cook one of the restaurants I worked at served acorn squash, and later on zucchini sautéed with onions and mushrooms. Both of these veggie dishes met with my discriminating approval and opened the doors to more squash appreciation and experimenting.

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Delicata squash was not on my radar until I tasted it at a Whole Foods produce section about ten years ago. They were sampling it to stimulate sales of this relatively unknown squash. My wife and I tasted it and pronounced it excellent. I’ve cooked to for many people since then with rave reviews. It has been only recently that I started putting it in soups. Delicata works well in soups as long as you don’t put it in too soon. It can turn to mush if overcooked, just like most vegetables. When cooked properly it adds color, flavor and texture that is quite good in many a soup and veggie dish.

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October is a great time to buy winter squash and you will find Delicata in many grocery stores. To pick a good one select a firm squash with no big wart like blemishes. When you are ready to cook it run it under cool water with a veggie brush to clean off any dirt clinging to it. Dry it, cut off a half inch on both ends and then cut it lengthwise for seed removal. A soup spoon usually is best for scraping out the seeds which can be cleaned and roasted for a great tasting snack.

cut it up

cut it up

At this point your Delicata is ready for what ever recipe you want to try on it. So get out and buy some of this great little squash as I think you will find it to be one of your favorites due to its taste and ease of preparation.

Delicata Squash and Kale Soup

 

1 delicata squash cut into bite size pieces, about 2 cups

1 cup yellow onion, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons oregano

1 can kidney beans, 15.5 oz size

1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz size

5 cups water

1 vegetable cube or chicken bullion

2 cups chopped fresh kale, if buying whole leaf kale instead of chopped, cut out the tough spine.

salt and pepper to taste

yum!

yum!

In a 3-4 quart pot sauté onion for three minutes in olive oil on medium heat stirring often.

Add garlic and cook stirring two more minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.

When it reaches a boil reduce heat to a simmer and cover.

Cook for fifteen to twenty minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Add salt and pepper to taste

delicata squash soup

delicata squash soup

Variations:

Chili variation:

2 tablespoons of chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper, optional

use four cups of water instead of five

reduce oregano to 1 teaspoon

 

Super veggie variation:

1 cup of cut green beans

1/2 cup sliced carrots

1/2 cup frozen peas, added towards the end

1 teaspoon basil

add all of the above, except peas, after the onion and garlic have been sautéed

 

 

Meat variation:

By adding meat this can become a main dish. Use 1 pound Italian sausage, or ground beef. Start by browning the meat  in oil for five minutes, then add onion and garlic cooking on medium heat stirring for five more minutes.

Add rest of ingredients and cook as directed in original recipe.

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