Friday, April 22, 2016

Smoothies!


Smoothie time!!!!!!! 

Smoothies are a great way to get a lot of nutrients into the body at once. The natural vitamins and fiber make it like a multi-vitamin but better! They are also a fantastic way to promote healthy and efficient systems function while providing a great energy boost to your day.



This recipe makes two smoothies, so it's great both for couples to have one every day or for single folks to store one in the fridge for tomorrow. I have a smoothie each day in the morning, and it is the only food I consume for the first half of the day (not counting a cup of black coffee and water).

Ingredients can vary seasonally, though the basic materials are the same. Amounts are approximated:



- Fresh or frozen fruit - 2 cups (this could be a frozen fruit mix, or a combination of fresh fruit such as banana, pear, berries, pineapple, apple, mango, kiwi, etc.)
- Almond or Coconut milk - 3/4 cup (you can also use raw nuts such as cashews and 1/2 cup water)
- Seeds, Powders, etc. - a few shakes of items such as flax seed, chia seeds, maca powder, spirulina, matcha powder, cocoa nibs, acai powder, etc. Try starting with one or a few, and experiment from there.
- Dark Greens - 2 cups (this could be kale, beet greens, carrot greens, spinach, broccoli leaf, dandelion greens, radish greens, etc.)

Start with fresh fruit and either nuts with water or almond/coconut milk. Then add seeds, powders, etc. Add greens on top, and finish off with a handful of ice cubes and/or frozen fruit pieces to make the smoothie nice and frosty.



Next, blend!



While a more powerful blender will make short work of the mixture, most any blender will work. For smaller/ more conventional models especially: make sure your fruit and greens are cut into smaller pieces. Always put frozen items on the top. Use a wooden spoon to tamp down the mixture if necessary while blending, and add a little water if it's too thick initially (carefully though, or you'll end up with juice instead of a smoothie!).

The fruit will give your smoothie sweetness while the greens, seeds, powders, etc., will impart their own varying leafy, mineral and earthy flavors. The color will be that of the dominant leafy green(s) while being accentuated by whatever fruit you put in (strawberries and beet greens will create a red hue, etc.). The consistency should be thick but still drinkable with or without straw.

















Experiment with different combinations of fruit, greens, seeds, etc. to discover the things that your body responds to!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Zucchini Tacos


It's summertime, and for many of us that tend vegetable gardens, it is also zucchini time. A member of the squash family, zucchini has a habit of growing like a weed and many who choose to grow it find themselves with more than they can eat. I remember a Flash-created cartoon from the 90s Internet boom in which a masked man sneaks around his neighborhood during the night, leaving zucchini on unsuspecting neighbors' porches.

Yes, it's pretty much like that.

But truly, zucchini is an extremely versatile vegetable and can be used in many ways both cooked and raw. It is great for cold and hot pasta dishes, as a salad ingredient, appetizers and snacks (see the summer 2012 entry for a great summertime aperitif using zucchini, tomato slices, fresh mozzarella and basil), pizza topper, on a sandwich, in a stir-fry ... the list is never-ending. Seriously.

For this entry: a simple taco recipe. It's easy and quick to prepare. In addition to the zucchini, include whatever you like on a taco. Here's what I used:

- Zucchini, julienned into thin pieces.
- Avocado, cubed
- Pear tomatoes, sliced
- Jalepeno, julienned into thin pieces
- Shredded Monterey Jack
- Sour Cream
- Soft fajita-sized tortillas

Prepare the ingredients. I find that using a block of Monterey Jack and shredding it yourself is much more flavorful than the pre-shredded variety. When ready to build the tacos, heat the tortillas in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to make the more pliable. Then, place the sour cream on each tortilla first, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Finish them off by topping with the shredded cheese.

Enjoy with a cold beverage -- Happy Summer!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sheriff's Steak Relish


For our inaugural 2014 post, this recipe comes my good friend Sheriff Charley Cosmato, and is a recipe we concocted on the fly back in late October while spending a cold autumn night in the cabin on Craig Creek. Below are C's instructions -- we grilled medium-rare steak (rubbed with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper ... please refer to my previous posts about grilling or broiling red meat) and relish with a baked sweet potato and roasted red peppers.


INGREDIENTS:

- Five or so lightly oiled, long-bodied, medium-hot peppers roasted on the top rack of a hot grill (550 lid temp) with lid down until thoroughly blistered and softened through.
- 4 shots of quality bourbon and 3 craft beers (1 stout + 2 IPA)
- Dash of sea salt
- Red wine vinegar
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 3 dark-roasted, whole coffee beans

PREPARATION:

While grill his heating, pour beer and bourbon in the chef. A friend can help with this by telling jokes and co-drinking.


Cook peppers (see above).


While peppers are still hot remove stem ends with a sharp knife (discard ends). Take care as the knife is sharp and the senses are dull. Place peppers (seeds and all) in blender along with coffee beans, sea salt, a splash of vinegar, and a drizzle of olive oil. Pulse blender on high speed. Scrape sides and repeat. Add vinegar and olive oil to taste and repeat pulse cycle until consistency of mixture is
creamy, but not runny (not unlike a prepared creamy horseradish). 


You should have enough relish for two large servings of flank steak. Relish can be used as a dip or topping. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Turkey Tacos!!

Okay, this one shouldn't surprise anyone who reads this blog! These are easy and a great way to add some variety to those holiday leftovers. Adjust proportions as needed, this recipe serves two.

INGREDIENTS:

- 2 cups turkey, rough-chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (substitute queso fresco or your favorite taco cheese)
- 1 cup arugula (any lettuce or fresh green works)
- Mexican or taco seasoning (these can be easily had at grocery or specialty shops -- or you could make your own)
- 4 soft taco-sized flour tortillas

White sauce:
- 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
- Several generous shakes of your favorite hot sauce (I use Frank's or Louisiana)
- A dash of kosher salt and a few generous twists of black pepper
- The juice of 1/3 lime, fresh squeezed
- Chopped cilantro or green onion (this is optional)

Make sauce: combine ingredients in a bowl and stir well to mix. Set aside.

Prepare carrots and garlic. Toss turkey with seasoning mix. Put a skillet on medium heat and add oil and garlic, lightly sauteeing for 5-7 minutes. Allow garlic to become fragrant but not brown. Reduce heat to low and add turkey, sauteeting just long enough to mix it with the oil and get it warm (2-3 minutes). Depending on the meat's dryness, you may want to add a little more oil. Remove from heat.

Heat tortillas in microwave about 25 seconds. Place on a plate (as pictured) and assemble tacos: spoon a little sauce in each tortilla, sprinkle cheese on each and then add turkey, carrots, more sauce and arugula to top. Enjoy!! Leftovers can be fun after all!!!!

Thanksgiving Mussels

As it so often goes, I created this recipe by accident and ended up with something my guests not only loved, but have demanded in subsequent years. While I've named them Thanksgiving Mussels, they are good on most any chilly autumn or winter evening. As always, tweak proportions as needed. The recipe below serves four.


INGREDIENTS

- 2 pounds mussels (washed and scrubbed)
- 1/3 bottle red wine (something medium-bodied and dry, Cabernet will work well)
- 3/4 cup chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 12-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 1/3 box vermicelli or spaghetti noodles
- 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning (essentially a combination of oregano, rosemary, and thyme -- you could easily make your own)
- 1 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, put water on to boil for pasta. Next, in a large pot add about 1 inch of water to steam the mussels (they should sit on a steamer that fits inside the pot, an inexpensive and useful item for your kitchen). Place over low heat and cover, it will not take long to heat up.

Next, in a medium skillet, add oil, onion and garlic on medium heat. Saute 5-7 minutes, until garlic and onion are fragrant but not browning. When ready, add tomatoes and wine. Reduce and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally.

And, when you can lift the top off the pot and see steam rising, it's ready for the first batch of mussels (cook them in two). Add them, then cover.

Your saucepan should be boiling -- add the pasta.

As the shellfish and pasta cook, add the Italian seasoning to the broth simmering in the skillet, continuing to stir occasionally. As mussels cook, they will open up -- this usually takes between 5-10 minutes. Remove cooked mussels with tongs and place in a large covered bowl to keep warm. When ready, add the second batch. Discard any mussels that do not open.

When pasta is done, drain and divvy between four serving bowls. Next, add mussels and top with broth. Finally, grate parmesan cheese atop each bowl and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately with a cold white or sparkling wine.

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Summer Garden Aperitif

 As mid-summer arrives, many of us find our gardens rife with tomatoes, zucchini, basil, cilantro, and the like. This recipe makes use of these summer garden staples, though you can always pick them up at a produce stand or farmer's market if you're not the gardening type.

This is a great appetizer or side dish to a variety of different things you could make on a summer afternoon or evening. It goes well with both a light-bodied red wine or a cold, white variety. Adjust proportions as needed. This will make enough to feed two.


INGREDIENTS
- 1 medium or large zucchini
- 1 tomato, medium or large
- Fresh mozzarella
- Fresh basil leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper

First, thinly slice the zucchini into however many pieces you need (8 are pictured), arranging on a plate or platter. You'll have leftover zucchini, unless you're feeding a LOT of people.

Next, slice the tomato as normal, then cut each slice in half so that it fits atop each zucchini slice. Then, place a thin, half slice of fresh mozzarella next atop each zucchini, topping them with a fresh basil leaf.

Drizzle the olive oil over the slices, then use your pepper mill to crack some fresh black pepper over them. Serve immediately.






Technology is still on vacation ...!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Too Much Zucchini? Try Enchiladas.

If you maintain a garden during the summer and happen to have made the decision to plant a few zucchini plants, then chances are it is coming in faster than you can handle. Or, perhaps you know or work with someone who keeps giving it to you ... either way, after frying it and using it in a few sautees you may feel like you're running out of options.

But alas -- there is a host of things that can be done with the tenacious zucchini, from pizza to calzones to pickling to pastas to veggie sandwiches.

Below illustrates is a great and simple way to enjoy them in enchiladas. As always, adjust portions as needed -- this will made about eight enchiladas.



INGREDIENTS

- 1 package flour or whole wheat tortillas, soft taco size (burrito tend to be too large, giving you an excess of bread)
- 1 or 2 medium zucchini, cubed
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup black beans (drained)
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Salsa verde

It's summertime and it's hot, so get a damn cold drink and preheat the oven to 425. Then, get a shallow baking dish and lightly coat it with olive oil to prevent sticking. Then, place a small amount (a 1/2 cup or so) of the salsa verde on the bottom of the pan, spreading it around.

Prep vegetables, keeping each separate. Remove tortillas from package, plate and heat in a microwave for 20-30 seconds, until they are warm and pliable (you could also use an oven or grill, just make sure you wrap them in foil if you do so to prevent hardening or burning).

Next, fill each tortilla by adding small amounts of cheese, onion, beans, zucchini and avocado. It's usually good to start with cheese and onion on the bottom, then add the rest of the ingredients except salsa and cilantro. Eyeball your portions, giving a decent amount of filling but taking care not to overfill the tortillas, as they will tear when you fold them.

Roll each tortilla by first folding the edges and then rolling it up so that the filling is trapped inside. Place each side-by-side in baking dish. When they are all in, top with salsa verde and shredded cheddar as shown below.
















Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Check periodically to make sure the tortillas start to become crispy but not burnt or hard. When finished, remove and let stand for 5 minutes.




















Top them with chopped cilantro and serve with sour cream, hot sauce and perhaps some arugula or pea shoots (yes, try some different greens for a change).




















Today's music: The Mars Volta

Technology: put down that smart phone and go outside. Go to the pool. Ride a bike. Do some yard work. Grill out. Or at least sit under an umbrella with a drink and enjoy the summer. If it's too hot outside, go in and cook something!