Monthly Archives: June 2012

Baked Eggs with Tomato & Feta

Breakfast is one of my favorite things and among breakfast things to eat, eggs are tops (second only to hash browns…maybe).  Nobody was more thrilled to watch the health news evolving again from “eggs are evil and will kill you” back to “eggs are good for you.”  I eat them almost every day.  And why not?  They are quick to cook, full of protein and delicious to boot.  Plus you can combine them with almost anything.

I just knew when I bought my little ramekins that I would find many fun things to do with them.  And I was right!  You don’t necessarily have to use ramekins for this, but I like the individual servings and they cook up perfectly (and quickly) in a small dish like this.

Eggs baked with tomatoes, feta and spinach. Yum!

Baked Eggs with Tomato & Feta

1-2 eggs per serving
Tomato, sliced or chopped
Fresh baby spinach
Crumbled feta cheese
Salt & pepper

Spray your ramekin with cooking spray.  Put a slice of tomato (or chopped tomatoes) in the bottom.  Cover that with a little bunch of spinach.  Sprinkle in some salt & pepper.  Break eggs over the veggies.  Top with chopped tomato and feta.  A little more salt & pepper on top and you are ready to bake.

Ready to go in the oven. There is spinach and tomatoes under there somewhere.

Bake at 375˚ for about 15-20 minutes until egg whites are white and yolks are done as much as you like.  Start checking after about 10 minutes so you don’t overcook them if you like them yolky.


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Chicken Curry with Onion and Tomato

Every once in awhile you get a craving for a specific restaurant dish and wish you could make it at home.  I get a hankering like that for Indian food all the time.

Last night I made some Chicken Curry that tasted like I had ordered it and had it brought to my table, fresh from the hard-working hands of a team of real life Indian folks in the back kitchen.  And complete with a bill of $12.95 (each!) at the end of dinner.  Except mine costs less than that for the whole darn batch and I got to eat it  in my living room.

One of the great things about this particular curry is that, although it tastes very authentic, it doesn’t require any terribly unusual ingredients.  If you haven’t cooked Indian food before you may have to pick up one or two spices, but they can be found at the grocery store in most cases. And once you have them on hand, you have no excuse not to make Indian food any ole time you’re in the mood for it.

For all you veggie-haters out there (you know who you are), you’ll love this one because all of the veggies (except the mushrooms, which you can leave out) are pureed smooth, creating this yummy sauce.  You won’t even know they’re there.

Chicken Curry with Onion and Tomato

Chicken Curry with Onion and Tomato
(adapted from Indian Home Cooking, by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness)

4 chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
3/4 tsp. turmeric
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 large onion, roughly diced
5 garlic cloves
A 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into a few pieces
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 cinnamon stick (about a 2 inch piece)
12 green cardamom pods (find in the Asian section of the grocery store)
9 whole cloves
9 black peppercorns
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon

To cook the rice, bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Add the rice you want (I use 1-2 cups for a batch) and boil for 8 minutes.  Drain the water, put a lid on it and set aside until you are ready to eat.  It will be perfect, with the grains separate, every time!

Combine the chicken, 1/2 tsp. of turmeric, 1/2 tsp. of cayenne and a pinch of salt in a bowl.  Stir to coat the chicken and set aside while you make the sauce.

In a food processor or blender, finely mince the onion, garlic and ginger.  Set aside.

Combine 2 tbsp. oil, the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon unfurls, 1-2 minutes.  Add the minced onion mixture and 1 tsp. salt.  Cook, stirring, until onion starts to brown around the edges, about 10 minutes.

Remove and discard cinnamon and stir in the remaining 1/4 tsp. turmeric and 1/4 tsp. cayenne.  Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 tbsp. oil in the same pan over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.  Add the yogurt, 1 tbsp. at a time and stir well after each addition.  Cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes.  Add the mushrooms and stir to combine.

Add the pureed tomato mixture and bring to a boil.  Stir in the water.  Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is cooked through, 20-30 minutes.  Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Then uncover and cook a few minutes more to reduce and thicken the sauce.  Stir in cilantro and lemon juice.  Taste for salt and serve hot over rice.  Serves 4.


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Roasted Vegetable Strudel

Phyllo dough is a fairly new discovery for me.  Other than for a couple of specific recipes it’s not something I think of in my day to day cooking. But that is going to change because every time I use it I love it even more.  Crispy, crunchy, flaky, versatile.  It’s everything I love about pastry without all the evils of pastry.

I came across a recipe on the “Proud Italian Cook” blog not too long ago for roasted vegetable strudel.  I didn’t do mine exactly the same but I thank that lovely lady for the inspiration because this turned out fantastic!  I can’t wait to experiment more with different variations, since I think you could use just about any combo of roasted veggies and cheese in this.  This first time I kept it pretty basic.  Delicious.  Feel free to mix and match your favorite veggies in your own version.

Roasted Vegetable Strudel and Fresh Fruit

Roasted Vegetable Strudel

12 sheets of phyllo dough
Cooking spray
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow summer squash, diced
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
Olive oil for drizzling
Salt & pepper

Spread veggies out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt & pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast at 400˚ for about 20 minutes, until tender.  I added the tomatoes about halfway through since they don’t need to cook as long.  Remove from oven.

Roasted Veggies

On a clean, dry work surface, lay out your first sheet of phyllo dough.  Keep the rest of the sheets covered so they don’t dry out.  For each roll I used 6 sheets.  On the first sheet, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with a cheese (I used about 1-2 tsp for each layer).  Lay out another sheet on top and repeat until you have 6 sheets.

Prepping the phyllo dough.  Just a spray and a sprinkle on each layer.

Spread half of the roasted veggies over the surface, leaving about an inch all around.

Top the phyllo with the veggies.

Roll up carefully.

Roll it up like you’re making cinnamon rolls.

Repeat with the other 6 sheets of dough and the rest of the veggies so you have 2 rolls.  Crimp the ends so things don’t fall out.  Sprinkle rolls with the remaining parmesan.  Drizzle with olive oil.

All dressed up and ready for the oven.

Bake at 400˚ for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and crunchy.  Let cool for a minute or two and slice with a serrated knife.  Serves 4.

Crispy, crunchy and ready to eat! Let’s slice these babies up!

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Island Tacos

I could live on an island.  Blue skies, palm trees, hammock, sunshine, umbrella drink and a stack of books.  And fish and fruit for dinner all the time.  It doesn’t sound too bad.  Okay, I’d probably be sick of it after a few weeks and miss the trees and rain, but I’m a little crazy like that.  But sometimes on rainy days (in June!) I pretend I’m on an island and cook something tropical.  And it makes me smile.

Island Fish Tacos

Island Fish Tacos

3 tilapia filets
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
Salt & pepper
1 cup pineapple, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1/4 cup diced red onion
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Corn tortillas
Salsa (optional)

Make pineapple salsa by combining pineapple, pepper, jalapeno, onion, lime juice and cilantro in a bowl.

Pineapple Salsa. Use on tacos or eat by itself!

Sprinkle fish with seasonings on both sides.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the fish 1-2 minutes per side until browned and cooked through.  They cook quickly, so keep an eye on them.

Tilapia cooking

To build tacos, put a piece of the fish (each filet will make 2-3 tacos) on a tortilla and top with pineapple salsa.  For some extra zip add a spoonful of your favorite tomato salsa on top.  Take a bite and let your taste buds dance the hula!


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Rustlin’ Up Some Chili

Cowboys have it figured out.  Fresh air.  Horses.  Chuck wagon.  Sleeping under the stars.  And along the way somewhere they discovered the perfect food.  Chili.  Chock full of protein & veggies.  Cooks in one pot on the stove (or campfire).  Does it get any easier -or tastier- than that?

Canned chili is disgusting.  And in my opinion, pointless.  Why would you eat a nasty can of something when it’s so easy to throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, come back 30 minutes later and find chili that is fresh and good?  Any cowboy worth his salt would throw that can to the cows and rustle up a batch on his own.  So hang up your spurs, throw on an apron, and get to rustlin’!

This is about the easiest recipe ever.  Sauté, throw things in, simmer.  I know there are a million recipes for chili, but even when I stray and try new things, I always return to my old standby.  For a vegetarian version, just leave the meat out.  It cooks in about 45 minutes from start to finish, and it’s even better the next day.  Plus the leftovers freeze very well. I like to make it in a double batch and freeze half of it in small containers for easy lunches later.

Three Bean Chili

April’s Three Bean Chili

1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef (optional)
2-3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (or 2 small cans)
1 can black beans (drain & rinse)
1 can pinto beans (drain & rinse)
1 can kidney beans (drain & rinse)

Sauté onions, peppers and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil.  Add beef and continue to cook until it’s browned.  Add seasonings and stir to mix thoroughly.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes (or longer if you want).  Check seasonings.  Adjust if needed.  Chow time!

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Very Veggie Quiche. It’s Gouda!

Quiche is one of those things that seems like it should be good for you.  It’s high in protein, filled with veggies…but alas, quite high in fat and calories as well.  But let’s face it, that’s probably why it’s so good.  It’s still one of my favorite foods, and to justify it, I usually eat it with a giant salad or a pile of fresh fruit and call it healthy.  Mostly.  I’ve made this recipe hundreds of times and it is foolproof.

Very Veggie Quiche & Strawberries.

Very Veggie Quiche

1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups half & half
Salt & pepper
2 oz. shredded gouda cheese
1 pie crust (I prefer Pillsbury fresh crust)

Preheat oven to 425˚. Unroll crust and place in a pie pan.  Press lightly to fit to pan and crimp edges.  Saute onion and mushrooms for 2-3 minutes in a bit of olive oil.  Add spinach and cook and stir one more minute.  Add veggies to pie crust.

Sauteing the veggies first will minimize extra liquid and give you a better texture.

Then add the cheese.

Mmmmm, smoky gouda.

Whisk eggs and half & half with a pinch of salt & pepper in a bowl.  Pour over cheese and veggies.

Be sure to not overfill the crust. Just go up to the edge, or a little below it. If you have to throw away a little bit of the egg mixture, no big deal.

Place carefully in preheated oven.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Then turn down oven temperature to 375˚ and continue to bake another 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting.  Serve with salad and/or fruit.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Beautiful, right out of the oven. As it sits, it will deflate just a bit. Don’t panic, it’s supposed to do that. Let it sit 10 minutes before cutting!

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