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Posts Tagged ‘Recipes’

Have You Tried Perogies? They’re Polish Pockets of Pure Love!

In Do-it-Yourself on March 13, 2014 at 7:55 pm

ImageI never hear of any of my friends talking about Perogies, but it’s something my mother used to make for me as a kid, just the store-bought kind, and I’ve made it a few times as an adult. I’ve yet to make it by hand. A Polish acquaintance recently presented an entire package of Perogies that made me smile with glee, and that I will happily cook tonight!

What are Perogies? If you like Chinese dumplings and potstickers, and Italian raviolis and other stuffed pastas, you’ll love Perogies. What’s even better, you can find packages of Perogies in any grocery store in the freezer section for a comforting, but budget-friendly meal. Choose from a variety of cheese-filled or potato-onion-filled Perogies, and you can either just boil them or fry them up, have them plain, or dress them up.

It astounds me that more people don’t talk about or know about Perogies. Everybody loves them….even kids devour them.

I’ve found a good link that gives some ideas on various ways to top and/or make your Perogies into a one dish meal. Check these out if you’d like to venture into buying some pre-made Perogies and want ideas, or even better – if you’re wanting to make your own:

Background of Perogies (Pierogi)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierogi

Perogies – Serving Ideas
http://www.polskafoods.com/100-ways-eat-serve-pierogi

Make Your Own Perogies!
http://www.thibeaultstable.com/2009/04/perogies.html

Photo Credit: Thibeault’s Table Blog

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Givin’ Your Liver Some Love – Detoxifying With Foods

In Healing Foods on July 1, 2013 at 11:29 pm
Image

Thinking of some of my friends who may partake in a lot of drinkypoos sometimes or eat a lot of processed food without much fruits and veggies. And yes, that sugar-rich Starbucks habit does not help.

Show your liver some love! The liver is one of the main body’s filtration systems (other than kidneys) and also breaks down excess chemical compounds like excess hormones and even xenoestrogenic compounds from the environment (pesticides, chemicals, pollutants, toxins, preservatives, healthcare product additives, etc). If your liver gets nice and choked up, it actually backs up and causes problems in your body, including something simple like hormonal problems that lead to weight gain, insulin resistance/blood sugar problems, polycystic ovaries, skin problems, and the list goes on. And once you have the above problems, it can snowball into diabetes, fertility problems, and other things.

Some great foods that clean out your liver are fiber-rich foods and dark leafy greens, and green tea is awesome at detoxing. Vitamin C is also pretty detoxifying. There are others mentioned here:

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/foods-that-detox-the-body/

If you’d like to read more, one of my favorite books on my shelf is Maggie Pannell’s “The Detox Health-Plan” cookbook. I haven’t actually done any rigorous detoxes, but the recipes shown in this book are delicious, nutritious, and restorative. I absolutely love it. 🙂

http://www.amazon.com/The-Detox-Health-Plan-Cookbook/dp/B004TMPLHW

Bright, Refreshing Dish in the Dog Days of Summer – Panzanella

In Do-it-Yourself on June 29, 2013 at 2:42 pm
Panzanella

Panzanella

In the dog days of hot, humid, but gorgeously sunny weather in Georgia – I tend to want cold flavorful dishes and foods that don’t need a lot of time in a hot sweltering kitchen.I had a lot of bright garden veggies and herbs, and unfortunately, a crusty baguette bought for a cheese party that had morphed into a rock hard baton worthy of doing some major organ damage if I ever decided to use that thing as a weapon.

I was hot and hungry, so I made some Panzanella – a Tuscan provencial summer dish that makes use of those once-crackling pieces of chewy bread, and your summer bounty of colorful and water-rich produce (you may have noticed a trend in my recent posts of summer dishes because it’s just too hot lately – Garden Squash and Green Tomato Bake and Vietnamese Spring Rolls).

Simply dice up tomatoes, cucumbers (cut out the seeds), and chop some herbs and the stale bread you have on hand. Mix with extra virgin olive and season with kosher salt and cracked pepper, and minced garlic (or garlic powder may work). You can add yellow bell peppers or other veggies for additional crunch and color, and even red wine vinegar if you have any, but the tomatoes I had provided enough tartness, so I didn’t add any. Grate some white cheese of your preference: Pecorino, Romano, Parmigiano- Reggiano, Gruyere, etc.

Combine – you can even be a little heavy handed with your spoon (or bare hand) to crush some of the tomatoes. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

Between the juices and oil, the bread will soak up all the flavors and juices – which makes this a satisfying meal on a hot day. For an all encompassing meal, you can put in shrimp or chicken, or lentils/beans if you’re vegetarian. Deliziosa!

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The Classics: Pan-seared Steak with Mushrooms and Onions

In Do-it-Yourself, Gluten Free on May 4, 2013 at 6:59 pm
Steak Collage

Sirloin Steak with Mushrooms and Onions

I’m the most sacrilegious semi-traditional Hindu girl you’ll ever meet.

I LOVE steak. I love meat. GROAR.

My parents are the same way.

Due to weather, and sometimes lack of charcoal briquettes, I do steaks indoors. The benefit of doing an indoor steak is having a nice buttery, mouth-watering, juicy steak and preparing some simple side dishes while it’s cooking. Though I’m sure there are more accurate recipes for timing of steaks and such online, lately, I’ve been eyeballing the steaks. If I had to judge what makes a great steak, I would say

1) Having it juicy
2) Seasoning

Choose Some Meat

I’ll briefly do an overview of what I know of cuts. I can dig deeper into this topic and include some nifty graphics I find on beef parts for another post!

Porterhouse: A Porterhouse actually is all of the cuts of meat together. You have the filet mignon, the NY strip, ribeye portion and I think the sirloin too. That’s a bigass piece of meat that nobody really can finish alone, but if you’re feeding your family, that’s a good thing to get and carve up.

Most people tend to buy the meats cut up – so here are the types.

Sirloin is the leanest, so there’s not too much fat on that, and it’s the healthiest, meatiest of the bunch. It also is easy to dry out because it doesn’t have as much fat. It’s also very budget friendly.

Ribeye is more marbled, very tender, and is all kinds of yummy juiciness. One of my faves.

Another fave of mine, New York Strip has one long strip of fat that is delicious when you put it on high heat and turns into this golden bubbly buttery crispy part bordering your steak. It’s lovely and keeps your steak ridiculously juicy. It sometimes has a thin sturdy bone in it. New York strips may be the fattiest, I am not quite sure. Ribeyes and New York Strips are pricier.

One of the most delicious is Prime Rib – which usually has an oval bone in it. This cut will make you cry it’s so wonderfully tender and juicy. Prime rib is usually on the higher end in price.

Filet is smaller, super duper tender, and is the smallest part of the big meat porterhouse piece. Most chicks like this cut, though it doesn’t do anything for me in terms of filling me up, or really flavor for that matter. Just personal choice. It’s squishy and has less flavor to me than the ribeyes, NY Strips and prime rib. It’s got similar flavor to sirloin, but is much more tender.

The above cuts don’t really need to be marinated, just the salt/pepper few spices seasoning combo I told you about earlier works here for about 10 minutes.

**The below need to be marinated.**

There are cheaper cuts of meats for other purposes. Skirt steak is good and cheap, and is great for fajitas or eating alone with sauteed onions and such, wrapping around goat cheese, which is super scrumptious. I would definitely marinate skirt steak to make it tender as well as for flavor – you can throw orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, whatever the hell you have in the fridge on skirt steak.

There’s other things like big top sirloins, eye of round, and whatever else, but those are for slow roasting in its own juices and pair well with root veggies and other things. They get tough with quicker high heat cooking, but you still can sear the outside with high heat in a pan and then stick it in your dutch oven/le Creuset, or crock pot.

Seasoning Steaks (Beef, Lamb, etc.)

The seasoning portion comes first – I liberally spread kosher salt, garlic powder, crushed black pepper, and paprika on my steaks. For lamb shoulders, I add rubbed sage. Do this on both sides and let it sit on a plate for 10-15 minutes to let the stuff do its work on the meat before cooking. There’s no need to marinate the steak for hours, this is enough time. The end result – you don’t really taste anything overpowering but a good beefy flavor when you’re done, but it’s the combination of what I mentioned that seasons everything while it’s cooking. You have to basically get a piece of steak from the package, and just be liberal about all stuff you put on it, pat it down on the meat.

Season Your Steak

Season Your Steak. Don’t Be Bashful.

Sear That Baby

The rest for me is eyeballing and I like my steaks medium to medium rare, I can’t stand tough well-done steaks. You may as well eat a shoe at that point, it would taste better.

I absolutely love to use a cast iron pan for my steaks. I put in a good mixture of pan oils and fats which probably accounts for the juiciness and lack of burning. I pour a bit of regular vegetable oil in the pan to coat the pan, drizzle some olive oil in for flavor, and then melt some butter in the pan and mix. Of the three the olive oil is more prone to burn at higher heat (high smoking point), so the vegetable oil stabilizes it. This pan should be heated at medium/medium high so that the outside of the steaks are seared. Depending on how thick the steaks are, I do a few minutes (2-3) on each side (super thick steaks). For thinner steaks, reduce this time.

From my chef friends, I’ve learned to finish my steaks off in the oven. This way the inside gets done at a lower temperature. This particular steak was a few inches thick, so I put it at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes. I got a nice medium steak with a bit of medium rare in the very middle yesterday with this (do 5-10 minutes for medium). It was perfect, soft and juicy, no weird shreddy stuff either.

Searing Steak

Searing Steak – He’s so PRETTY!

But FunnyFoodie, How Will I Know If My Meat is Done or Not?

Your meat will tell you. Listen to the meat. Be the Meat Whisperer.

Seriously though, you can take a look at it and poke the meat. As with most meaty juicy things, it will know when it’s ready to go.

Okay…I Really REALLY Want to Become a Meat Whisperer. How Do I Become The Meat Whisperer?

Take your spatula and prod and tap at the meat.

Take a look at your hand. See where the skin meets your thumb? Pinch that.

That same texture would would be raw or rare in steak. When prodding the meat, if it feels a little ‘slidey,’ the middle of the steak is rare or if the meat is REALLY squishy and dents in, the whole thing is still raw.

Take your fingers and pinch a little ways further into your hand. That’s medium-rare, a smidge further in, medium.

If you go all the way to the middle of your hand, that’s well-done. If you tap at the meat with your spatula and it’s hard, it’s well-done. And THAT, y’all,…is an absolute TRAVESTY, as I mentioned earlier.

If you like your steaks well-done, you have no business being on this site, and you and I have nothing in common. NOTHING!

Sorry. I get a little passionate when it comes to meat…

That Steak has Been Doing Some Serious Work in the Oven – Rest It

So, if you’re still with me here and like your steak with some actual flavor and not well done to all kinds of hell – when you take steak out of the oven, rest it.

Resting applies to all meats or fowl you bake, roast, or grill; let the steak sit for about 5-10 minutes to rest on a clean new plate (not the one you previously used for seasoning the raw meat, to avoid cross-contamination of bacteria).

Why Rest? *I’m* the One That Did All This Work, Not The Steak. Git This Steak In My Belly Already!

Patience, Grasshopper.

Resting the meat makes the juices that rise from the top travel back to the middle of the meat. This means that when you cut into a steak, the juices will not rush out onto your plate, but instead, will stay inside the meat and in your mouth where it should be!

This is basically the biggest trick with all meats I make. If you put anything on at high heat, the outside part of meats have a wonderful sear, or fowl skins crisp up and turns a rich golden color. Searing also flash-seals all the juices in. At a later point with all meats, after searing, you turn the heat down and let the heat circulate within the meat to cook the inside. All the juices get trapped within the meat and will not dry out.

Top or Topless?

I usually prepare and serve steak in the nude and usually have the notion that good steak shouldn’t be bastardized by strong or super-distracting toppings, but this particular day, I decided to try making a mushroom and onions mixture to top my steak. The results were fabulous.

For the mushrooms – while I let the steak rest on a plate, I put the cast iron that I used for steak pan back on the stove and sweat some shallots and white mushrooms (you can use any kind of mushroom, it would be delicious). The pan will have all that great butter, steak drippings, and seasonings already in it. To avoid it from being too salty, you can spoon some of this mixture out before putting your mushrooms in, but I had good results just adding mushrooms directly. I added some red wine to the pan to deglaze and let that work for about 5 minutes, and then covered my cast iron pan with a heat-safe lid so that the mushrooms would cook on the inside another 5 minutes. Mix and top it on the steak or serve it on the side.

Steak with Mushrooms & Onions and Caprese Salad

Steak with Mushrooms & Onions and Caprese Salad

Sides

You can choose to make any side that you like, but that particular night, I actually had a hankerin’ for a fresh springy salad rather than my usual starch dish or potatoes.

Simple Caprese Salad (Shown in Picture

The salad shown is a simple Caprese salad with some cucumbers because I had them on hand and like cucumbers. It’s just sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped basil, and some cracked pepper. Not shown here, but I made some balsamic vinaigrette to drizzle on top. Pour some balsamic vinegar into a bowl and slowly drizzle extra virgin olive oil into the bowl while simultaneously whisking. I added some agave nectar until it was mildly sweet and cut some of the tartness of the vinegar, but the more aged the balsamic vinegar is, it’ll naturally be on the sweeter side and you may not need any sweetening agent.

I personally love having ripe tomatoes as at least one side to my beef dishes for a few reasons: it’s a palate cleanser so you can enjoy more steak without getting that weird “my tongue is numb” feeling, and secondly, raw veggies have a lot of great enzymes to help you digest proteins…

AND … you’re gonna love this part…

…the fiber in raw veggies help you carry some of the lovely fat from foods out of the body, which is a big bonus to your waistline. So there’s a huge secret tip right there – the more fiber you have with something potentially fattening, the better off you’ll be.

Caprese Salad with Cucumbers

Caprese Salad with Cucumbers
(no dressing shown here)

For The Love of all That is Good and Meaty…EAT

Mmmmmm. Beefy.

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Cooking FAILS: Improper Seasoning & Execution

In Beef Up, Do-it-Yourself, Gluten Free on May 1, 2013 at 12:55 pm
Shark steak

Shown here: Seared shark steak; Dinosaur Kale with Fava beans prepared with garlic, shallots, and toasted sunflower seeds.

A few nights ago, I prepared some shark steak, fava beans and dinosaur kale.

The flavor combinations, herbs, used etc. were fine, but…

Basic Seasoning: FAIL
Execution: FAIL

Long story short, I treated the timing and seasoning as though I was preparing a simple white-fish dish with spinach, which was completely off-base.

Due to the dense texture of the shark, as well as the sheer thickness of the cut, I should have treated the shark steak as I would beef steak. Under-seasoning left the flavor lacking some oomph. Just like steak, I should have given some ample seasoning to the shark with kosher salt and let it sit a bit for it to go through to the core.

It was my first time cooking fresh fava beans too. The whole pods reminded me of snap peas, so I treated them as such after shelling; in reality, I should have boiled or kept them sauteeing for a bit longer than I do peas and treated them more like standard beans. Same goes for the kale – they were very fresh and tough and needed more sautee time.

Now I know for next time. I absolutely love how pretty shark steaks cook up though.

Upgrade to Standard ‘Bachelorette Meal’: Almond-Crusted Flounder with Shrimp Stuffing

In Do-it-Yourself on April 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

 Almond-crusted flounder with shrimp stuffing,
on a bed of garlicky Swiss chard

I tend  to do a lot of what I call “Bachelorette” meals. Some “Bachelor” meals are exactly the same as the aforementioned Bachelorette meals, maybe with less or non-existent veggies, but there’s a rung below that which perhaps I’ll dub as “Dude Food.”

Dude Food is probably something I am not likely to touch. Dude Food is cooking up that last little bag of instant rice and pouring and mixing in the last remainder of the crusty-bottled, forlorn-looking ketchup sitting by itself in the fridge (you know, next to the beer and some foreign substance that is growing tentacles in the very back of the fridge).

Dude food is smashing potato chips, Kix Cereal, and the leftover 5 year old soy sauce packets unstuck from bottom of the sticky catch-all kitchen drawer (yes, I think 99% of people have this drawer) in between some WonderBread.

*Dry heave.*

So, Bachelorette food is nowhere near the same vicinity of Dude Food.

Bachelorette meals usually consist of thawing out some animal out from the freezer earlier in the day before I leave for work, shake some spices, toss into the toaster oven. Done.  This cooking method dates back to college days.

What you see above is a slight upgrade to the simpleness of the standard Bachelorette meal. However, it looks so freakin’ fancy, I’m slightly ashamed to even post it. I also know that other people are super busy in their lives and may appreciate how wonderful this dish tastes with little prep work.

First of all, I’d like to thank the Academy…and thank my beloved Mini-Food Processor, for making this yummy meal possible with little hassle. I also used some leftover things I had in the fridge that I could use up that, of course, weren’t growing eyes or tentacles yet. Hooray for resourcefulness and frugality!

And I used brioche – which makes for part of an AWESOME stuffing (like there was any doubt brioche could ever be bad in anything…).


Prep and Method

I used what I had in the fridge and used the Taste of Home recipe link at the bottom of this blog post for inspiration and to get a hint at the process – after that, I just went at it on my own.

Basic Steps

Have:
– Skillet, Food processor OR blender, and spatula
– 2 Mixing Bowls,  1 spoon
– Foil lined Baking Tray
– Knife to chop, if needed
– Oven or Toaster Oven
– Fish Filets
– Leftover veggies, cheese, bread
– Spices (I LOVE herb de Provence and/or dill), salt, pepper, optional lemon

  • Have some fresh or thawed fish filets on hand. White fish is great: Orange roughy, catfish, swai, tilapia (not my fave, but it’ll work), cod, flounder, etc.  Few pieces of shrimp, if you have it, is great too.
  • Throw any veggies, shredded or pieces of cheese, onions, garlic, spices and other stuff in food processor or blender, put it aside in a bowl.
  • Hand-chop any big items or things you want to have some texture, like bell pepper or broccoli (optional). Add to your bowl mentioned above.
  • Grab some fresh bread or ideally, any leftover sorry-looking and stale pieces of bread you have in the fridge (end-pieces, etc.) and put that into the processor or blender.  Put that in a separate bowl. Add some salt, pepper, and spices. Drizzle some melted butter into your resulting breadcrumbs.
  • Sautee your veggies and spices, toss in your shrimp in the skillet; after you’re done, put back in your bowl.
  • Mix your breadcrumbs and veggie/shrimp mixture in the bowl
  • Lay out your raw filets flat on a foil lined baking sheet. Spoon in your sautée and breadcrumb mixture into the filets. Roll the filet as best you can (You’ll have some oozing out, that’s fine). Any leftover mixture can be scattered on top of the fish. Drizzle some olive oil over the fish.
  • Optional – I packed some almonds that I put through the food processor on top of the fish to coat it too. You can coat the fish before lying it flat on the foil line pan or pat some down afterward, whatever is easiest.
  • Optional, you can use some toothpicks to hold your fish filet rolls together while baking, but it’s not necessary.
  • Bake at about 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes. If the fish filet is thick, you can try 350.
  • Use your same skillet to sautee some greens.

Method Details

I sauteed the shrimp and garlic with a combination of stuff I tossed into the food processor at different times. I combined a few things depending on what it was in the food processor before sauteeing (spinach, fresh basil, garlic, shallot, mushrooms) and hand chopped diced green bell pepper since I wanted that to have a bigger diced texture.

I had put some old leftover brioche bread and butt-ends of multi-grain Italian bread in the processor too and put that in another bowl. After sauteeing, mix the shrimp mixture with the bread crumbs into a bowl together with a little bit of olive oil and a little drizzle of melted butter. I added a little bit of shredded Parmesan cheese I had in the fridge too. You use that to stuff the raw fish.

I had some sliced almonds in the pantry, so I put that in the mini-chopper too and added some spices and dredged the olive-oil coated and salt/pepper seasoned fish through that and then put the filling in. I poured a little bit of melted butter and lemon juice on top of the stuffed fish and I baked in a toaster oven.

While the stuffed fish was baking, I rough chopped some swiss chard I had and sautéed that in the same skillet with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Lemon juice optional.

The fish was delicious and flaky, almonds were toasty and provided some texture, the filling was very moist and comforting. It took, maybe 30-45 minutes for prep and cooking time.


Inspiration recipe
Flounder with Shrimp Stuffing Recipe:
http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Flounder-with-Shrimp-Stuffing

Tamarind-Date flavored Chicken Wings

In Do-it-Yourself, Gluten Free on April 5, 2013 at 10:29 pm

These Tamarind-Date flavored Chicken Wings are good for a party snack/small party meal or for a casual meal.

Tamarind-Date Flavored Wings

Fusion Finger Foods:
American / Indian Tamarind-Date Flavored Wings

I’m all about quickly tossing things together, throwing it in the oven and it doing all the work while I relax or do something else, especially on days that I had a full day at work.

This chicken wing recipe is simple:  rinse, coat, toss, and bake. …

COOKING METHOD AND SUGGESTIONS

These chicken wings are super tasty and simple   to make. Pair it with some carrot sticks, celery, sliced cucumbers, or something remotely vegetable-based to make a very balanced meal. Since I made these wings a while back, I’ll share what I remember of the cooking process.

Grocery stores typically carry wings frozen or  fresh in packets or bags.  I rinse all the chicken and quickly pull off any stray unsavory parts (a wayward feather, extra glob of fat that is barely hanging on).  In a huge mixing bowl, toss the chicken wings in.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Get a flat baking pan or cookie sheet, line with aluminum foil and place that on the countertop or stovetop for later. In another bowl,  I used a jar of Tamarind-Date sauce from a local farmers’ market or Indian/Indo-Pakistani store. I did a quick taste test of the sauce.

Sometimes, Tamarind-Date is either in concentrated paste form, which you need to dilute a little bit with water or even sweeten it a little bit, or they already make it into ready-to-use sauce form. It also lets me know if there’s already salt in the mixture or not.  If the label does not indicate that it has any salt, you can spread a little kosher salt and cracked pepper to your wings and let it sit there for about 10 minutes or so while you’re working on your sauce.

For any sauce or paste, add some olive oil and/or butter so that the mixture sticks to the chicken, and it crisps up the skin while it’s baking. You can make enough so that you can transfer some of this sauce to another serving bowl for dipping later during the meal (this bowl will not be contaminated with raw chicken). By baking the chicken wings, this is healthier, safer, and less of a mess than frying, and makes it nice and crispy. Also, with using high heat from the oven, you’ll see that the fat from the chicken skin renders and melts off the chicken, but leaves you a crispy skin. If you use lower heat, you’ll have full-fat, rubbery tasting chicken. So in my bowl, I put in the tamarind-date sauce, and if I need to add any salt, pepper,  or any spices that I feel like throwing in there, I do, but I wanted a nice sticky tamarind wing, so I didn’t do too much to this sauce.

I added some olive oil, and whisked this mixture.  Pour this mixture in your big bowl of chicken wings and toss with some tongs or a huge wooden spoon. Spread your coated chicken wings on the foil-lined baking tray, spreading it out all over so that each piece can have its time and space to cook. You can drizzle a little more olive oil if you’d like on top of the wings.

This part is something I don’t quite remember.  I know I did the wings high heat and checked on them in about 25 minutes or so. I may have basted them again in some additional tamarind-sauce and slid the tray back in the oven until the skin looked nice and crisp. You can take one out and see if the inside is done and not red/bloody. When poking cooked chicken, it should run clear juices, not pink. If you feel like the outside is nice and crisp but the inside is still needing some help, turn down your oven to about 300 degrees F and cook another 10 minutes or so. Once chicken wings are done, let it rest on the stovetop or heat-safe countertop for about 10-15 minutes until serving.

Rest all meats/fowl  at least 10 minutes after cooking or the lovely juices run out all over your hands and plate instead of your mouth.  I simply plated the chicken on a plate for my friend and I to grab and eat, but you can garnish with some veggies, lime wedges, cilantro or anything you’d like.

Oh, and have plenty of napkins handy 🙂

Enjoy!

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