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Friday, July 26, 2013

Fettuccini and Zucchini Ribbons in Moscato Sauce with Drunken Mushrooms

Because I'd like to be in the running for "longest recipe title EVER."

It's no secret that I loath fad "health" trends, like raw diets, using coconut oil for/on/in everything, any diet that's low-carb/high-protein, and on and on.  And, up until recently, I also used to mock the "gluten-free" trend.  I'm not saying that people with a legitimate health concern, such as celiac disease or gluten intolerance, were silly for avoiding gluten.  No, I'm referring to the people who tend to pick one aspect of the food they shove in their face as the culprit of all their ails, rather than examining their diet as a whole.  It couldn't possibly be alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, dairy, animal flesh, or the incredible amount of overly-processed junk food Americans tend to consume.  [Sorry for the sarcasm; I've been watching too much Dr. McDougall lately.]

Anyhow, back to legitimate gluten concerns.  One of my best friends just started seeing a girl who doesn't do gluten.  When he first told me that, I rolled my eyes.  But then he pointed out that gluten sensitivities can cause just as much discomfort as lactose intolerance.  Yep, I'm LI, so that hit home for me.  (Without going into gory details, my experience with LI is that dairy- in even the smallest amount- makes me feel.... yucky in the tummy, if you know what I mean.)  OK, so I should stop being cynical.  And, hey, if I'm going to accept gluten free as a legit trend, why not also tap into the trendiness of it to my advantage???  That's right, folks, the following recipe is 100% gluten free, and I fully intend to send it into a current recipe contest, aptly themed "Healthy Cooking."  Mwahahahaha.

A couple of notes about the recipe:
-It turned out much sweeter than I had expected.  If you don't want a sauce so sweet, try using a dry white wine or lemon juice instead of the orange juice (but I would start with 1/4 cup lemon juice and add more as needed).
-Gluten-free foods are definitely more expensive than gluten-filled foods.  These noodles were $2 more than the store brand.  Ouch!  So, if you don't have a gluten issue, feel free to use gluten-loaded pasta to your heart's content.
-Same goes for the GF flour.  I happened to have garbanzo flour on hand, but if you're not avoiding gluten, use any kind of flour you'd like.
-I like the flavor of fresh thyme, but I forgot how time-consuming it is to get those pesky leaves off the stems.  If you don't feel like wasting your thyme (ba dum bum!), use dried.
-Most wine is naturally gluten free, but if you're really really sensitive, I'd go to an actual liquor store and ask if they could recommend  a GF wine.

**Update: My dad asked me why the mushrooms were drunk.  (No, they do not need an intervention.)  This is actually a good question.  In the step where you allow the wine to reduce by half, you're cooking off the alcohol, leaving just the sweet taste of the wine.  However, I was entirely too impatient to wait for the alcohol to cook off when making the mushrooms, so I just let the 'shrooms soak up the boozy goodness.  If you're serving this to children or pregnant women, or other populations who oughtn't be consuming alcohol, feel free to substitute white wine vinegar or vegetable broth for the wine.

14 oz gluten free fettuccine (I used brown rice pasta)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely sliced shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Moscato  (or other white wine of choice)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I got this from 2 oranges)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 1/2 Tbsp gluten free flour, such as garbanzo (chickpea) flour
2 medium zucchini, shaved into ribbons (I'll explain that in a sec)
2 tsp fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

For the mushrooms:
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp wine (same stuff as above)
6 oz portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

*For zucchini ribbons:  Using a vegetable peeler, slice zucchini lengthwise to create ribbons.  Continue until you reach the seedy core.  Repeat with remaining zucchini.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Cook pasta according to directions on package.

In a large saute pan, heat oil on medium heat.  Add shallots and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes, or until starting to soften and brown.  Add wine and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or so, until liquid has reduced by half.  Add orange juice and vegetable broth and stir to combine.  Whisk in the flour and allow to simmer about 2 minutes until starting to thicken.  Add zucchini and thyme and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until zucchini is soft but not mushy.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat.
When pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water.  Return pasta to pot.  Add sauce and stir to coat well.   Cover to keep warm.

For the mushrooms:  In a large saute pan (you can use the same one as you did for the sauce), heat oil and wine on medium heat.  Add mushroom slices in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until heated through.

Dish out pasta onto a plate and top with a couple of mushroom slices.

**Bonus:  I'll give a dollar to anyone who can come up with a better recipe name for this dish.  And... go!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Picnic For One

Because it's too damn hot to cook!!!!

I had to work this morning, and there's no place I would have rather been.  In fact, I may have gotten there early.  See, it's about a thousand and twenty degrees in my apartment, but work has AC.  Aw, yeah.  But I couldn't realistically stay there all day (nor would I have wanted to!), so alas, I'm back home in the hot, sweaty, melty apartment.

I've had this idea all week to make a pasta dish with zucchini and a white wine sauce, but the thought of standing over the stove was simply unbearable.  So the obvious solution was to make something cold.  But satisfying.  And worth writing about.  And taking pictures of.  I have standards, people!  I've been in the mood to go on a picnic lately, but I don't have anyone to go on picnics with.  [Any takers???]  So, I made my own picnic.  A "me" picnic.

The recipe I'm about to post is really for the white bean spread, not the sandwich itself.  Because I trust that y'all know how to make a sandwich.  (If you don't, then leave a comment and we'll chat.)  The spread acted kind of like a sandwich filling.  I would say that this recipe makes about 4 sandwiches, although it would also be fantastic in a wrap or as a dip with crackers and veggies.

Italian White Bean Spread

15 oz can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dried oreagano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
Salt and pepper

In a medium mixing bowl, mash beans with a fork until no whole beans are left.  Throw in all remaining ingredients, stirring to mix well.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Let it chill in the fridge until ready to use.

For the sandwich:
I loaded this baby with veggies!  It's like the Dagwood of vegetable sandwiches.

 My sandwich included lettuce, cucumber, red onion, sprouts, yellow pepper, mushrooms, and guacamole.

 I may have put too many things on...

My picnic included the sammie, some chips, and an iced coffee.  All enjoyed with my hair blowing in the wind of the fan pointed directly at me.

 The heat is hot y'all!  Stay hydrated!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Let's Call It Goulash...

Because you know sometimes words have two meanings.
(There's more than one way to goulash.)

A very dear friend of mine offered to do some work on my car for me, which saved me a ton of money.  So to repay him, I offered to make dinner for him and his children.  [I also helped watch the kids, since his wife is out of town.  Because I'm a super awesome friend like that.]  But I had to come up with something kid-friendly.  See, he has 5 kids.  Well, tonight, we were down 2 kids, but also up two neighborhood kids.  (That's still 5.  Math, y'all.)  As one of 5 myself, I tried to think of a dish that I really enjoyed growing up.  When you're feeding 7 people, you need something easy, cheap, and that everyone can agree on.  My mom used to make goulash pretty regularly and I know all of us kids liked it.  Seems easy enough...

Well, here's the thing:  I couldn't remember what went in it.  Elbow macaroni, tomatoes, ground beef... ? So I asked my mom.  But first, I consulted the Google.  Hey! it turns out that goulash is a Hungarian dish, and it's traditionally not much like what I just described.  At all.  It's more of a meat stew which " derives its thickness from tough, well-exercised muscles rich in collagen, which is converted to gelatin during the cooking process."  That's disgusting.  Also, it calls for potatoes rather than pasta, carrots and other soup veggies, egg noodles, etc.  I went with my mom's recipe instead (Wikipedia says that this is the "American" version), adding in a few extras, but keeping the paprika as mentioned in the Hungarian version.

The result: My friend, one of his daughters, and myself each had 3 servings!  All of the kids loved it!  And it was cheap.  I bought all of the ingredients tonight, including the Hungarian paprika, and it cost about $15.  Plus, it fed 6 people (the toddler was sleeping) with a few leftovers, not to mention leftover ingredients to use for another time.  And it took maybe 20 minutes to make (frozen veggies to the rescue!).  All in all, this family-friendly dish was a huge success.

Oh yeah.  I almost forgot to take a picture, we were too busy shoveling food in our mouths.  So here's a shot half-way through my second helping.

1 lb pasta (you can use macaroni; the store was out, so I used corkscrews instead, which the kids- and my friend- got a kick out of)
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced green pepper
1 bag (12 oz) soy crumbles (I used Boca "burger" crumbles)
2 cups corn
15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp Hungarian paprika
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook pasta according to directions.  While that's going, saute onion and garlic in a large pot for 3 minutes on medium heat.  Add in the pepper and cook for another minute or two. Add in the soy crumbles and corn, and cook for about 10 minutes.  Now stir in the tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, cumin, and paprika.  Continue to cook over medium heat.
At this point, your pasta is probably done.  So drain it, and add it to the saucy pot.  Stir to coat well.  Give it a minute or 5 to allow flavors to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*A couple of notes about the ingredients:
-You can certainly make this without the soy crumbles, but I wanted it to be like the goulash my mom used to make.  Also, the neighbor kids totally thought it was ground beef.  :)  (My friend's kids are well aware that I'm vegetarian, so they weren't fooled.  But they still liked it!)
-I'm not super positive what makes Hungarian paprika different from not-Hungarian paprika.  I was just trying to be authentic.  Use what you have, I think it'll be fine.
-I would have liked some heat in this, like a dash of cayenne.  I omitted it for the children's sake, but feel free to add some spice if you like.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cheddar-Jalapeno Black Bean Burgers

Happy Fifth of July!!!  Though not a holiday itself, it is a pretty magical day in which you get to dig into the leftovers from yesterday's festivities.  And boy, is it delicious!

Cheddar and jalapeno have been paired a zillion times before.  Black bean burgers are nothing new (clearly).  But cheddar-jalapeno black bean burgers???  Now that's something to write home about!  My holiday was pretty low-key.  I spent the day with a friend, first on a lovely nature walk, and then off to whip up these bad boys.  (We also ended up at a park to watch fireworks with some other folks, which were quite nice, but then had to wait an hour to get out of the parking lot, which was very un-fun.  So I won't talk about that part.)

This recipe is similar to my other BBB recipe, but with a few adjustments.  First, I decided not to add the oatmeal.  The burgers still stuck together just fine and were less dry than BBB #1.  Also, to get the ultimate cheesy goodness, I added the cheddar to the burger mix.  However, I hadn't decided to do it that way until I was actually putting the ingredients together.  I only had cheese slices, so I broke 4 of them into pieces and stirred it into the mix.  I would recommend just using shredded cheese (and will note that in the recipe).  Way less hassle.  Lastly, we used a blend of brown rice and quinoa (you know, the kind in a microwave pouch) instead of just plain rice.  It was fantastic.  But, if you don't have fancy things like that, you could use regular old rice.  But it should be noted that the pouch grains were seasoned, so I didn't have to add any salt or pepper to the BBB mix.  If you don't use pre-packaged rice, you might need some S&P.

And finally, we passed on all other condiments in favor of sweet and spicy barbeque sauce.  Aw yeah, best decision ever.  Seriously, top these babies with BBQ sauce and it will rock your world.  I promise.

15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked rice, your choice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
2 1/2 Tbsp ground flax seed
4 oz. diced jalapeno
1/2 cup shredded non-dairy cheddar cheese (more or less, as it suits your cheesy desires)
Salt and pepper
You're also gonna want some barbeque sauce.  Do it.

In a large mixing bowl, mash beans with a fork or potato masher until lumpy.  Stir in rice.  Add garlic and onion powders, cumin, chile powder, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and flax meal, and stir to mix well.  Fold in the jalapeno and cheese.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Heat a skillet on medium-high heat.  Scoop about 1/3 cup BBB mix and plop onto the pan, flattening with a fork or spatula.  Cook for about 2-3 min on each side, until heated through.  Repeat with remaining BBB mix.
Yields 6 burgers.