Friday, February 26, 2010

Health Booster Smoothie

Well, most smoothie are supposed to be healthy, right? But sometimes you need that extra boost. I've been feeling down late, likely caught an end of February, long winter, worn down bug, and I am tired, feel run down, and definitely needed a break. After a few days of rest and not feeling much better, I went back to making my food a 'boost me back to health' as possible. 

Health boosting smoothie:
1 mango, fresh, peeled and cut in chunks
juice of one orange
juice of one lemon
1/2 apple
1/4 cup water
1 TB honey

Place all ingredients into a blender (best: vitamix) and puree. Serve immediately! (and drink, of course).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rice Waffles

A great idea for whole-grain, organic and savory waffles: rice waffles! They are made using cooked brown rice (I used brown basmati rice), whole-grain pastry flour and miso. The waffles are wonderful on their own, or can be with grilled vegetables and goat cheese.

Ingredients (makes 2 waffles):
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup whole-grain pastry flour
1 TB red miso, thinned out in warm water (ca. 1/2 cup)
1/2-1 TB spicy red pepper powder (optionally)

Special equipment: waffle maker

Preheat the waffle maker, and spray with oil or brush with oil. In a bowl, mix the rice, flour, miso and spicy red pepper powder. Pour half of the batter into the waffle iron, and bake on medium high for about 3-5 minutes (depending on your device). The waffle should keep it shape well and peel off easy from the iron. Once it cools, it will become crispy.

ps. one waffle is about 220kcal.

Maine Shrimp Risotto

A half pound of Maine shrimp, peeled and deveined, and wonderful home-made shrimp stock were waiting in the fridge to be converted into a risotto. Ideally, I would have made it with saffron, but I was out of it, so I looked into a different spin: roasted red peppers. One of my favorite store-bought food items is the sweet tasting red pepper spread from Trader Joe's own brand; combined with some kick using spicy red pepper flakes the risotto taste, color and texture was rounded out.

Ingredients (1 Portion):
1/4 cup Arborio rice, washed and rinsed
1/2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion or 1 shallot, finely minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
splash of dry white wine
1/2 TB red pepper flakes
1 - 1 1/2 cup of shrimp stock (see recipe below)
1/2 cup of fresh Maine shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 TB Trader Joe's red pepper spread
salt, pepper to taste
2 TB fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1) Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sweat until translucent. Then add the washed rice, stir and toast for 30 seconds on medium heat. Now, add the white wine, and wait until it is cooked off. 

2) Turn down the heat to low, and start ladling in 1/4-1/2 cup of hot shrimp stock to the risotto. Cook the risotto gently on low heat until the liquid is evaporated (4-5 min). Also add the red pepper flakes. Once the stock is cooked off, add another 1/2 cup of hot shrimp stock. Repeat until the rice is soft and cooked (about 20 min).

3) Add the red pepper spread, and the raw shrimp and cook another 3-4 minutes  until the shrimp are just cooked. 

4) Add the parmesan cheese and gently stir in. Serve!

Shrimp stock:
One advantage of buying fresh Maine shrimp is that peeling them makes for a good amount of shrimp shells and a perfect basis for home-made shrimp stock.

shells of 1 pound of Maine shrimp
1/2 onion, peeled and cut into big chunks
1 TB juniper berries
1 TB pepper corns
2-3 peeled garlic cloves
1 fresh bay leaf

Bring to a boil, and cook on ultralow heat (a bare simmer) for 2-3 hours. Discard shells, and sieve the stock. Freeze or keep in the fridge until use. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mango Greek Yogurt Smoothie

Last week, they were on sale: mangos for 99 cents. Still extremely firm and not ripe, but that would leave me some time to decide when I was actually ready to eat them. By this week, they felt softer to the grip, smelled wonderfully, so it felt like time for a mango smoothie (still being on the quest of all the things I can put into the vitamix). Using my favorite ingredients, 0% brown cow greek yogurt, a 1/2 banana, some water to thin it out, the peeled mango (without the pit, naturally) and a bit of agave nectar, the vitamix produced an absolutely silky, mango perfumed smoothie. I bet making this with crushed ice in the summer this will produce a wonderful sorbet. Love it!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Frozen Raspberry Greek Yogurt Smoothie

Ever since I got my new vitamix, I've been in love with it. After a series of green, spinach based smoothies I bought a few bags of frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries). My new favorite combination is greek yogurt, frozen raspberries, a 1/2 banana and some agave nectar. Delicious!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Brownies for the Rest of Us

I am not very much into sweets and baked items, beside Swiss chocolate, and though I had heard of them for a while, I was not too interested to try them out. Yesterday, I accidentally found them in a store, and so I gave them a try: No Pudge Fudge Brownies. It is a packaged mix, and only needs 2/3 cup of non-fat vanilla flavored non-fat yogurt. I had none at home, so I added plain yogurt and some vanilla extra as well as a teaspoon of instant espresso powder. All baked up at 350F for 35 min, they came out of the oven smelling wonderful, and being very chocolatey and moist. I had to have a piece, right away in the middle of the night, and then one for breakfast. Product review: highly recommendable!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Raw Beet Salad with Spiced Walnuts and Gorgonzola

A lone beet was still waiting; the rest of the bunch had been roasted a few days ago. The sun was shining brightly, the weekend on the horizon, and at least in the house, it is cozy and warm. Made me think of a raw beet salad, with some spring like accents: fresh squeezed orange juice, a dash of black cherry vinegar, fresh candied spicy walnuts and some gorgonzola.

1 raw beet, peeled and grated
1 carrot, peeled and grated
juice of 1 orange, fresh
1 TB black cherry balsamic vinegar
1 TB gorgonzola, crumbled
1 TB spicy candied walnuts (*)

Grate beet and carrot (I used the grating blade in my food processor), and mix. Arrange on a serving plate, and drizzle the orange juice and the balsamic vinegar over the beets. Add gorgonzola and candied walnuts.

(*)Spicy candied walnuts:

1/4 cup walnut halves
1 TB butter
1 TB brown sugar
1/4 ts cayenne pepper or hot chili powder

Chop the walnuts into smaller pieces. Melt the butter in a small skillet on low-medium. Add the brown sugar, and stir, until both the butter is melted and the sugar is mixed in. Add the cayenne and the walnuts, and stir well so that all the walnuts are covered. Continue stirring 1-2 min until you start smelling the walnuts being slightly roasted and the brown sugar caramelized. Take off the stove and stir for about a minute, and cool.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Asian Noodle Bowl

Here, we go again -- another noodle bowl! It's just the time of the year..... This time, a typical Asian version of a hot noodle bowl to keep warm in a cold winter.

1 package organic dry udon noodles (typically packages in 3 oz bundles)
1 TB. fresh grated ginger
1 TB bonito-based soup base
1 TB hot korean chilli paste
1 TB low-salt soy sauce
1 garlic clove, microplaned
1/2 cup sliced fresh shitake mushrooms
1/4 cup frozen edamame
handful baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup thawed raw shrimp and scallops
2 scallions, diced
1 fresh lime

In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water to boil.  Grate in ginger, garlic and bonito-based soup base as well as hot chili paste and soy sauce. Stir, and add udon noodles, cook 3 minutes. Now, add in shitake mushroom, edamame and baby spinach. Cooked for another 2-3 min, and add in the shrimp and scallops.  Finish cooking until shrimp and scallops are just cooked.  Turn off heat, stir in scallions and serve with fresh limes to squeeze.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hearty Natural Chicken Rice Soup

It is cold outside, the winter not making any plans to leave, and Punxsutawney Phil couldn't agreed more. Spring break is a month away, and who knows how long until spring. Sigh. To keep warm, I made another "chicken noodle soup", which basically consists for me of some fresh chicken on the bone (like drumsticks) for the extra flavor that the bone adds to the broth,  many different vegetables, fresh or frozen, and often pasta, but this time I used long grained, enriched rice (got a new rice cooker!), all simmering for about a half hour in just plain water. The result is lovely flavorful and natural. This time, the combination was inspired: I added dried porcini mushroom, fresh baby spinach and a cube of frozen basil to the soup. The porcini mushroom add a wonderful rich, earthy flavor, the baby spinach a great texture, and the basil a flavorful aroma. I am sure I will make this often. Hope, you like it, too!

3-4 cups water
2 fresh large chicken drumsticks, skin cut off
1/2 bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower mix
1/4 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen, cubed butternut squash (or fresh)
1 fresh carrot, peeled and diced
2-3 fresh scallions, cut on diagonal
a handful dried porcini mushroom
handful fresh shitake mushroom (optional)
1 fresh bay leaf
1 cube frozen basil (or handful fresh basil, cut in stripes)
1 garlic clove, whole

2 handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves
a few cherry tomatoes, halved, or a large tomato, cut in chunks
1 cup pre-cooked long-grained rice

1/2 ts chicken boullion (I like Maggi pollo boullion)
fresh ground black pepper, some Mrs Dash garlic and herbs

Fill a pot with the cold water, and start heating it. Add chicken drum sticks, the frozen vegetables and the other ingredients (but not the spinach, tomatoes and rice yet, they would overcook), and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, lower the temperature to a low simmer, and heat the soup for 20 min with a closed lid. Now, add the fresh baby spinach and cherry tomatoes as well as the rice, and simmer for another 10 min.  Remove the drumsticks from the soup, cut the chicken meat into chucks, put the meat back into the soup, and discard the bones.  Add some added salt or chicken bouillon to taste.  Serve ! 

Makes about 3-4 servings.