Saturday, December 24, 2011

Almond Christmas Cookies

These get requested every Christmas!  I made up the recipe a few years ago and haven't changed it since.

What you need:

8 ounces almond paste, room temperature
1 cup butter/ margarine ( I usually go with half and half)
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
3+ cups flour (you may end up adding an extra half cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon amaretto
1/4 teaspoon salt

Start by beating the butter/margarine and almond paste until there are no more lumps ( I use a handheld mixer).  Beat in the sugar and the eggs until smooth.  Stir in three cups of flour, the salt, vanilla, and amaretto.  Add extra flour if needed to create a stiff dough.

At this point, you can put the dough in a cookie press or roll into a log to slice and bake.  Either way, refrigerate afterwards for half of an hour or so.  Then either press the cookies or slice and place on a lightly greased or non-stick cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 7-9 minutes or until the bottom JUST begins to brown.  The top should still be VERY light colored.  Let cool for a couple of minutes and enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pumpkin Pork Chops

I needed to use up some extra pumpkin and came up with this.  Delicious!

What you need:
2 pounds bone-in pork chops (or boneless, we just don't have those here)
Salt and Pepper
1 cup chopped onion
3-4 hot peppers, chopped (something moderately spicy, or else use less)
2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, chopped
4 cups pureed roasted pumpkin (see how to roast pumpkin under my Curry Pumpkin Soup post)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup hot water with 4 chicken bouillon dissolved into it
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sage
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder

Start by sprinkling the pork chops with salt and pepper and then searing in a large frying pan on both sides until lightly browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Spray the same pan with oil and saute the onions and the peppers until softened and browned.  Add a splash of soy sauce as you do this to help them cook.  Next, add the pumpkin, applesauce, water, rest of the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, and spices.  Stir to mix.  Now put the pork chops back into the pan, spooning the sauce over them until they are covered.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, occassionally moving the chops around to ensure even cooking and prevent things from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Top with some chopped green onions.  

You could serve this over rice or do it my style- over a bed of lettuce.  Enjoy!

Curry Pumpkin Soup

A thick and spicy pumpkin soup for colder weather.

What you need:
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 finely chopped ginger
3-4 chopped hot peppers (I'm not sure what variety mine were, but they probably comparable to jalapenos on the spiciness level)
1.75 ounces red curry paste (this is the amount that came in the packet I bought- probably 2 tablespoons.  My soup was pretty spicy, so you may want to use less)
1/2-1 3/4 cup coconut milk, depending on how creamy you want it.  I didn't use much because I was trying to keep it light, but I added a bit more to a small bowl later to see the difference and would say that using more does taste better and also cuts the spiciness.
5 cups roasted fresh pumpkin, pureed (see note below on roasting pumpkin)
4 cups of chicken broth or 4 chicken bullion and 4 cups water
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Greek Yogurt, Goat Cheese, Cilantro, and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (garnish)

Saute the onion, ginger, and hot peppers in a skillet sprayed with oil until slightly browned and softened.  Add the red curry paste and mix in, allowing the spices the brown slightly before adding the coconut milk.  If you are not sure how much to use, just start with a little right now, and add more after the soup is about done if you think it needs it.  Add the pumpkin, chicken broth, and soy sauce.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.  You may need to add more water during this if it becomes too thick.

After it is finished, you can puree everything if you want a completely smooth soup.  I didn't, and thought that the chunks of pepper, onion, and ginger were nice to come across.

Serve with a dollop of the yogurt or cheese, cilantro and pumpkin seeds.  Enjoy!

Roasting Pumpkin:

Cut your baking pumpkin (not the same as the type you make jack-o-lanterns out of) in half if it is small, or quarters if it is larger.  Scrape out the messy inside, saving the seeds if you have plans to roast them.  Spray the inside with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour or until soft and cooked through.  Let cool before pureeing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Balsamic Onion Sauce

I decided to splurge and get some pork tenderloin instead of the usual bone-in pork chops.... definitely worth it!  This was WAY more tender and flavorful than they tend to be, plus you don't have to cut around the bone!

The only vegetable I put in the sauce was onion, but if I had had mushrooms, I definitely would have included them.  So give that a try. 

What you need:
Two 1-pound pork tenderloins, cut into 1/2 inch medallions.
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder
Cooking Spray or small amount of olive oil.
1-2 cups sliced onion
3-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
(mushrooms, sliced, if you have them- I definitely think they would add to this!)
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar or 1/4 cup Balsamic Glaze
2-3 tablespoons flour

Place the tenderloin medallions, 1-2 teaspooons salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, and 1 Tablespoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon dried sage in a large bowl.  Stir to even distribute seasoning.  Heat a large frying pan on high until very hot.  Spray with cooking spray or add a little bit of oil and let that heat up.  Place the tenderloin medallions in a layer across the pan (you may not be able to fit them all at once, depending on your pan size and how much tenderloin you are doing).  Sear for 2 minutes, then flip, cover, and let cook 5-7 minutes more, or until cooked through.  Remove from pan and place on a plate.  Cook the remaining tenderloin in the same fashion if necessary.  Remove that to the plate, spray the same pan with oil again and add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms.  Saute until softened and slightly browned, then add 1/4 basamic glaze (which is I used since I didn't have balsamic vinegar at the time) or 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar.  Also add 1/3 cup water if you use the glaze or a few tablespoons if you use the vinegar.  Whisk in the flour until smooth and then add the tenderloin back into the pan.  Stir to coat in the sauce and let cook 3-4 minutes until the pork has heated back through and the sauce has thickened slightly.  Ready to serve!

I served this with sauteed swiss chard on the side for me, and herb roasted potatoes for Rob.  Yum!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Super Healthy Veggie and Tuna Stir fry

A staple college lunch of mine that I should be making more often now!  It's quick, low calorie, filling, highly nutritious, and fairly cheap. 

For the Stir Fry:
1.5-2 cups chopped fresh vegetables (an example blend I use: 1/4 cup onion, 3/4 cup eggplant, 1/4 cup mushroom, 1/4 cup bell pepper.  Also try zucchini, celery, cabbage, hot peppers, bok choy)
Cooking spray or small amount of olive oil
Sprinkle of Salt
Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Cumin, Coriander- I put these in order of what I use the most of to least, but switch it up according to your own preferences
1 5 ounce can of chunk light tuna in water
Soy Sauce

Saute the veggies in a lightly greased frying pan with the sprinkle of salt (this helps the vegetables cook down).   As they cook, add the other spices to your taste (since this is just one serving, I usually go with a sprinkle of each, heavier on the garlic than the others).  When the veggies have softened and slightly browned, add the can of tuna, undrained, and a splash of soy sauce.  Cook until heated through, about 1-2 minutes.  Serve on top of a bed of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and, if desired.  Sometimes I will also add a drizzle of this ginger-wasibi sauce I like to buy and also garnish with fresh cilantro.


Thursday, November 17, 2011


A hearty and delicious meal.  Great as an appetizer if cut into thin slices.  Also very portable for packing in lunches (which is what I usually do for my boyfriend if he doesn't eat it first)

What you need:
Pizza or Bread Dough (I have done this with my own- see recipe below- or store bought dough in the refrigerator section)
Spicy Mustard and Mayonnaise
1/2 pound Deli Meat: I use a mixture of salami and pepperoni usually- you can also use ham or cook up some Italian sausage if you have it
(Sauteed peppers, onion, and garlic cloves if you feel like it- sometimes I do, sometimes I don't make the effort)
1-1.5 cups Shredded Cheese: I usually use a mixture of mozzarella, Parmesan, and cheddar- you can also try provolone, pepper jack, or whatever suits your fancy
Garlic Powder, Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes

Topping: Kosher Salt, Oregano, Garlic Powder

Roll dough out on a jelly roll pan as if you were creating a rectangular pizza crust.  Spread mustard and mayonnaise on the dough to create a THIN layer.  Arrange deli meat (and sausage if you are using it) in a strip down the middle, about 3-4 inches wide.  Add the peppers and onions if you decided you wanted them.  Sprinkle cheese on top and the garlic powder, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Fold the sides of the dough in and pinch shut.  Then fold the ends in and pinch again to seal.  Carefully flip the loaf over.  Sprinkle with the kosher salt, oregano, and garlic powder.  Let rest for 10-20 minutes and place in preheated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven, or place in cold oven and turn on to 400 degrees (it will rise a bit while the oven heats).  Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!

Dough Recipe:
This recipe makes double what you need for one loaf of stromboli- you can either halve it, or make the whole thing and place the other half of the dough in the frig for a day or so until you need it.  Just be sure to cover it.

6 + cups all purpose flour
2 packets yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/2 cups water

Mix 4 cups of flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Heat the water until it is hot (you should be able to stick a finger in it without it burning, but is slightly uncomfortable).  Pour into the bowl and stir to mix really well.  Keep adding the flour, switching from stirring to kneading when the dough becomes stirrer and not unmanageably sticky.  Knead for 5 minutes to create a smooth, soft dough.  You want to avoid adding much flour- only use as much as is needed to knead without it sticking all over you.  Form into a ball, spray with oil and place in bowl.  Cover and let rise 1-2 hours or until at least doubled in size.  Punch down, and let rest for 10-20 minutes.  It's ready to roll out (if you are making the stromboli or a pizza), or can be formed into loaves and baked.

Sweet Potato "Hash"

This is something I completely made up and I've done a lot of little variations on it by changing spices and what vegetables I add.  Here's the latest variety.  It may not be the prettiest dish, but it is tasty.

What you need:
1 large or 2 small cooked sweet potatoes (you can boil, bake, or roast in chunks- roasting will impart the most flavor, but the other methods are simpler)
2 eggs
2/3 cup bread crumbs, or 2 pieces of toast, crumbled
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Olive oil or vegetable oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 small hot peppers, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Soy sauce (1-3 tablespoons)
Cilantro and green onions, chopped

Start by slightly mashing the sweet potato- it doesn't need to be at all smooth, you just want to get rid of really big chunks.  I keep the skin on, but you can take it off if you don't like the texture.  Add the eggs, bread crumbs, pepper, cumin, chili powder, coriander, and garlic powder.  Stir together.

In a large frying pan, saute the onion, hot peppers, and celery in a lightly greased pan with a sprinkle of salt.  When they have softened and browned slightly, add the sweet potato mixture and stir to mix.  Continue to saute, adding splashes of oil to help the mix fry up a bit.  Also add soy sauce to taste.  There is no need to stir it around constantly- letting it sit for a minute or two lets more browning occur, which creates a nice texture and flavor.  Cook until the entire mixture has taken a slightly darker color from browning.  Top with the cilantro and green onions.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce

I made this for a someone's birthday.  Can't take much credit for the actual recipe (got it off of Eva's Fika blogspot and made few changes- so thanks Eva!)  Didn't try the actual cheesecake, but judging by the little mini ones (see picture below) I made with some the bit of extra batter, it was pretty tasty.

What you need:

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate sandwich cookies, creamy filling mostly removed
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

For the batter:
3 (8 oz) blocks of cream cheese- I used full fat because that was all the store had at the time, but I think you could easily sub in the 1/3 less fat for little change in taste or texture, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 12 ounces of bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped if that is available to you)
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon Amaretto
1 cup sour cream, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius.  Butter a 10 inch spring form pan, if you have one.  Or, line a 10 inch cake pan with parchment paper (which is what I did).

Mix together cookie crumbs and butter, press into pan. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until smooth.  Let cool a bit.

Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth (Or use a mixer if you have one.  Or even the whisk attachment on an immersion blender, if you're desperate like me).  Add the sugar and beat some more. Add the chocolate, beat until it is fully incorporated.  Then add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition.  Add the amaretto and sour cream, beat until batter is smooth and even.  Pour the filling on top of the crust, smooth the top slightly with the back of the spoon (and if you're like me and used a cake pan, you probably have some extra batter- yay! you get to make the mini cakes).  Place the pan on a jelly roll or other large pan and pour a cup or so of water into this pan (this will help prevent cracks on the top of the cheesecake).  Place in the oven and bake for about an hour, or until firm.  The center will still be a little jiggly and wet looking.  Remove from the oven and carefully run a knife around the outside or the pan.  Let cool and then place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.  Remove from pan, enjoy with whipped cream and the raspberry sauce.

For the Raspberry Sauce (this is a Saba version- not easy to get fresh or even frozen raspberries.  It works though, and is simple and convenient): 

12 ounces seedless raspberry jam
1/4-1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Amaretto

Place the jam, water, and lemon in a sauce pan on medium high heat.  Whisk until smooth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until it begins to thicken again.  Remove from heat and add the Amaretto.  Serve at room temperature.

Cheesecake Minis!

I made these with the bit of extra batter.  I crushed one cream filled cookie for each hole in the mini muffin tin (didn't bother taking out the cream filling this time or adding butter).  Poured a bit of batter on top to fill.  Baked at the same temperature for about 15 minutes or until set.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pan fried Whole Redfish with Chimichurri Sauce

Some guy was selling these fresh caught from his cooler and I couldn't resist buying it, even though it wasn't scaled.  So I scaled my first fish and then had to figure out a way to cook it.  Pan frying is a simple, tasty, and quick solution.  I made a chimichurri style sauce to accompany it.

What you need:
A 1.5-2 pound whole redfish, scaled, gutted, and washed (mine was gutted already, but I did have to scale it.  The back of a butterknife works just fine.  It's very messy, though, so you probably want to do it outside.  Do a Google search on how to scale a fish for more direction)
Cooking spray or oil 
Salt, pepper, garlic powder (and anything else you want to season with)

After the fish is scaled, gutted, and well washed, pat it dry with paper towels.  Season the outside and the inside (where the guts were cut out) with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Heat a large skillet to HIGH and spray with cooking spray or add a few teaspoons of olive to the pan.  Wait for the oil to heat up and then place the fish in the pan.  Cook on high for 5 minutes on each side (don't move it while it is searing, except to flip).  Reduce heat and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes, or until it is cooked through.  The skin will be a bit blackened and the fish should flake easily with a fork.  Serve hot and be wary of the bones!  

To make the Chimichurri Sauce:

In a blender, place:
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 cup EACH loosely packed, roughly chopped mint and parsley (if you have cilantro, replace some of these herbs with it)
2 green onions, roughly chopped
2 small hot peppers, roughly chopped (or only use one if you don't like much heat)
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2-1 teaspoon anchovy paste
Olive oil or water

Blend, adding olive oil or water as needed to help puree everything.  The olive oil, if used, will help mellow out the very fresh flavors in addition to adding its own flavor, but using just water cuts calories and keeps the sauce VERY fresh and tangy tasty. A combination of both would probably be optimal, but I went with just water to keep it very light.  Tasty and bold!

I served the fish over a bed of lettuce with cucumber, sun dried tomatoes, and a wedge of lemon with the sauce on the side  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Peanut Pesto Chicken Salad

What you need:
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup EACH finely diced onion and celery
1/2-2/3 cup Peanut Pesto (see my previous post for this recipe)
1/3 cup olive oil mayonnaise (or try fat free or reduced fat)
1/3 cup chopped sundried tomatoes

Mix everything together.  Let sit for a few hours before serving.  Enjoy!

I stuffed this into pita pockets for my boyfriend, but it would also work well on top of a green salad if you want to go a bit lighter.

Swiss Chard and Pumpkin Soup

A healthy, filling soup that is perfect for fall (even though I'm not experiencing that on Saba anyway).

What you need:
3-4 cups Homemade Chicken Stock (I made mine by simmering water, celery, onion, and garlic with the chicken carcass from a chicken that I roasted)
Cooking Spray or Olive Oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 small hot peppers, chopped
1 small bunch of swiss chard, chopped- stems separated from leaves
2-3 cups of cooked pumpkin (I used fresh, you could also use canned)
2 teaspoons EACH black pepper, coriander, cumin, and chili powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder

Saute the onion, peppers, and swiss chard stems in cooking spray or a bit of olive oil.  Add a pinch of salt here to help them cook.  When they have softened and browned slightly, add the leaves from the swiss chard and a spash of chicken broth.  Add the spice.  Continue sauteing until leaves have completely wilted.  Add the pumpkin and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes to an hour.  If too much liquid is lost in this process, add a bit of water.

I was orginally going to make this a pureed soup, but decided I liked it all chunky.  You could try pureeing though if you like those types of soup.  Serve hot or cold.

Simple Roast Chicken

Quick, easy, and delicious. 

What you need:
1 whole chicken, 5-8 pounds
Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Fresh Rosemary, and Sage (Also salt if your chicken is not presalted- the ones I've been buying are)

Thaw the chicken completely and remove the bag of giblets.  Wash the chicken, pat dry, and place in a large roasting pan (if you have a rack, use this and your chicken will be crispy on all sides.  I don't have one, so the bottom doesn't crisp).  The chicken have its legs sticking in the air.  Season the skin with the spices, and, if you want, also season under the skin.  Throw a couple extra sprigs of rosemary in the pan.  You can also place the giblets in the pan- it will add flavor to the juice and you can eat them if you want to.

Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place chicken in the oven and roast for 1.5-2 hours, depending on the size.  Mine, which are around 7 pounds, take two hours.  The skin will be brown and crispy, and the internal temperature should be 175-180 degrees.  Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!

Note:  Keep the carcass to make some rich, homemade chicken stock.

"Gourmet" Herb Dipping Oil

A lovely oil for bread-dipping.

What you need:
1/2-2/3 cup Olive Oil
1-2 Tablespoons EACH chopped fresh basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano (vary this depending on how much you like each herb.  You can also use dried, just reduce to 1-2 teaspoons)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small hot pepper, cut into slices (I used a red one for the color contrast)
Large pinch of Kosher salt
Large pinch of Black Pepper

Sprinkle herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper into a smallish shallow bowl.  Place pepper slices on top- evenly districbute for nice presentation.  Pour olive oil over the top and let meld for an hour or so before serving.  Enjoy!  Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pizza Scones with Tomato Dipping Sauce

A quick and easy meal.  Portable too!

To make the scones:

You need:
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 crushed tomato
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)
2 small hot peppers, sliced thinly
1/2 finely diced onion
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Measure flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl.  Cut the butter into the flour until there are no large chunks.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix gently until a soft dough forms.  Use a spoon to plop the dough onto a baking sheet.  You can make small "personal" scones, one huge one, or somewhere in between.  I made four, each with about a six inch diameter.  They were about 1.5 inches thick. If you make one large one, make the round a bit thinner to ensure it cooks through in the middle without having burnt edges. Sprinkle with a bit more cheese, some parmesan, oregano, and garlic powder.  Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 15 minutes.  If you are making larger or smaller ones than I did, adjust times accordingly.  Serve warm with pizza sauce or the sauce below.

For the Tomato Dipping Sauce:

You need:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
A few cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 hot peppers, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4-1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 cups crushed tomato
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
Olive oil

Saute garlic, onion, celery, and peppers in the vegetable oil with a pinch of salt until softened.  Add tomatoes, vinegar, pepper and oregano.  Add half a cup of water and then let simmer until sauce has thickened again.  Remove from heat and add the basil.  Let cool a bit and then place in blender.  Add a splash of olive oil and blend briefly (or more if you want a smoother sauce).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Guava Chicken Curry

This was a bit of an experiment, so the ingredients are really just estimations, but anyone on Saba who finds themselves with a bunch of guavas, give this a try!

First, make the curry sauce:

Cut a few pounds of guava into quarters.  Puree half of these in the blender (you will need to add a little water to these to help them blend).  Put all of the guava into a large pot, add a couple cups of water, a few tablespoons of soy sauce, 1/4 cup curry powder, and a couple of hot peppers, cut into chunks.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until sauce is thick and peppers are cooked.  Remove from heat and let cool a bit.   Then strain the sauce in a fine mesh strainer to eliminate most of the seeds.  Keep the big chunks of guava and pepper, but rinse to remove any guava seeds.  Put the chunks of guava and pepper into the strained sauce and add a cup of coconut milk.  The sauce is done!   This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until you are ready to make the rest of the curry.

To make the rest:

Chop up some garlic, onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, and hot peppers.  Sautee in a large greased pot with a few tablespoons of curry powder and a couple teaspoons of fennel seeds.  Add one pound of chopped chicken breast.  Sautee until chicken is lightly browned, then add the guava sauce.  Let simmer on low for 45 minutes, adding water if it becomes too thick.  If it needs more seasoning, add garlic powder, black pepper, cumin, and coriander to taste.  Just before removing from the heat, throw in some chopped fresh basil and mint.

Serve over rice or a bed of lettuce.  Top with a sprinkle of goat cheese or feta cheese if desired.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Peanut Pesto

A delightful twist on regular pesto.  No need to buy expensive pine nuts!

What you need:
2/3 cup honey roasted peanuts
1 hot pepper, chopped
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup fresh parsley
3 T soy sauce
3 T rice vinegar
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
Olive Oil/ Water

Place all ingredients except oil/ water in blender.  Add oil/ water as necessary to create a thick paste (I used about half water and half oil).

Enjoy as a dip, spread, or base for a pasta sauce.  I made a tuna salad using this, canned tuna, chopped onion and celery, and olive oil mayonnaise 

Black Beans and RIce

Cheap and hearty.  I make a variation of this about once a week for my boyfriend.  I often substitute bacon or smoked sausage for the Italian sausage and also sometimes add frozen peas or corn.  I also vary the spices from time to time depending on what's handy.

What you need:

1 cup uncooked rice (I think jasmine is best, but use any type you like)
1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
A couple hot peppers, chopped (use less or substitute bell peppers if you don't like the heat)
Soy Sauce
White Wine Vinegar
Black Pepper, Cumin, Dried Oregano, Garlic Powder
2 cups Black Beans (I use dried ones that I have reconstituted.  You could also use a can, just rinse and drain)
Fresh Cilantro
Shredded Cheese, Cheddar or a "Mexican Blend" (optional)

Cook the rice according to package instructions.  While it cooks, you can start the rest:  Brown the sausage in a large saucepan, breaking into small chunks as it cooks.  When it is nearly cooked through, add the onion, celery, garlic, and peppers.  If there is not enough grease from the sausage to keep these from sticking to the pan, add a little cooking spray or oil.  Cook until vegetables have softened and browned a bit.  Add a couple of splashes of both the soy sauce and the vinegar.  Season with black pepper, cumin, dried oregano, and garlic powder.  Stir in the cooked rice and the black beans.  Allow to heat through.  Sprinkle the cilantro on top and it's done!  Sometimes I also add a little shredded cheese on top.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goat Cheese, Basil, and Tomato Pizza with Eggplant and Hot Pepper Spread

A unique pizza using the Eggplant and Hot Pepper Spread as a sauce.

What you need:

A 12 inch Pizza Crust or Naan Bread (which is what I used, because there is a good locally baked one in the stores here)
1/2- 3/4 cup Eggplant and Hot Pepper Spread (from a previous post of mine)
1 large Tomato, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Greek Olives, chopped
1/2 cup Goat Cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup Mozzarella, shredded or cut into very small cubes
Fresh Basil and Oregano, chopped (used dried if you don't have fresh- that is what I did with the oregano)
Olive Oil, if desired

Heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spread Eggplant and Hot Pepper Spread on the crust.  Top with the tomato slices,Greek olives, and both cheeses.  Bake until cheese melts and begins to brown/ bubble (15-20 minutes).  Take out of the oven and sprinkle with the herbs.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil, if desired.  Enjoy!

Simple "Sushi" Snack

A quick and healthy snack or appetizer with a bit of flair.

What you need:

A cucumber, sliced into rounds
Fat free cream cheese ( or use the 1/3 less fat kind if you don't care for fat free)
Imitation Crab or Smoked Eel
Avocado, cut into thin slices or little chunks
Wasabi Dipping and Grilling Sauce (mine was Asian Gourmet brand)

Place a dab (about 1/2 teaspoon) cream cheese on each cucumber round, then top with a chunk of crab or eel and piece of avocado.  Drizzle with the sauce.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Simple oven-roasted red potatoes with fresh rosemary.

What you need:
5-6 red potatoes, cut into pieces (1/2 to 3/4 inch)
Olive Oil
1+ teaspoons Kosher Salt
1-2 teaspoons Black Pepper (freshly ground is best, but the regular will do fine)
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
Couple sprigs of Rosemary, stems removed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients to distribute seasoning and oil evenly.  Spread on a baking sheet.  Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Add more salt if needed.  Enjoy!

Hot Pepper and Roasted Eggplant Spread

This recipe is inspired by Baba Ghanoush, a Levantine spread commonly served with pita bread.  Mine is a good bit different- for one thing, it is green due to all of the herbs and peppers.  It also does not have the tahini or very much oil at all.  It would probably be even better if you did add tahini or more olive oil, so give it a try if you're trying to cut down on fat intake.

What you need:

3 small eggplant (4-5 inches long and 1.5-2 inch diameter)
1/2 head of garlic
3-4 Serrano peppers (or a different hot pepper if you want.  Also, use more or less depending on how much heat you want), roughly chopped
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 packed mint leaves
2 T lemon juice
1 T soy sauce
1-2 t olive oil
1-2 t black pepper
Salt to taste

First, turn the oven on to 375 degrees Farenheit to roast the eggplant and half of the garlic (or you can roast all of the garlic if you find lots of fresh garlic too pungent).  Place the whole eggplants and peeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle salt on the garlic.  Roast for the garlic for about 20 minutes and the eggplant for 30-40, or until the skin is all brown and it is soft to the touch.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

While the eggplant is roasting, you can work on the rest of it:  Place both types of peppers, the onion, mint, lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil, and black pepper in the blender.  Puree, adding splashes of the same liquids if it does not have enough liquid already to blend.

Peel the the skin off of the eggplant and add these and the garlic to blender.  Puree and you're done!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Open Faced Sausage and Egg Focaccia Sandwich

One of the ways I used up all of the extra Focaccia bread.

I sliced a piece in half and then topped with a mixture of sauteed hot Italian sausage, onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and hot peppers.  While sauteing this, I added a splash of white wine vinegar, black pepper, and a little mixed seasoning.

I sprinkled mixed shredded cheese and some fresh chopped herbs (basil and rosemary) on top.  Baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until the cheese melts.  You could leave it like this or, as I did, throw a fried egg on top of each piece.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

A rich and thick dressing for blue cheese lovers.

What you need: 
3 ounces good quality blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used the reduced fat kind made with olive oil.  Not this this is a light recipe anyway, but there's no need to go overboard for no reason)
1/2 cup sour cream (I would also use light for this, but couldn't find it on Saba)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of milk with 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar added (or just use buttermilk if you have it)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons black pepper (or more, to taste)

Whisk everything together.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  If you can, make it even more ahead of time so that the flavors can meld.

Steak Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing or Balsamic Glaze

I made this for my boyfriend and I.  He got the blue cheese dressing, and I opted for balsamic glaze since I watch calories.  Either way, delicious.

What you need:
2 (6-8 oz) steaks (here on Saba I used strip loin, because that was handy)
Steak Marinade (see below)
Romaine Lettuce or Bibb Lettuce
Tomato, chopped
Cucumber, sliced and quartered
Blue Cheese Dressing (see my recipe) or Balsamic Glaze

Start by marinating the steaks in the refrigerator for at least two hours and up to overnight.  I did mine for 10 hours.  Take out of the refrigerator when you start prepping the salads so that they can warm up a little.

Create the salads by placing a pile of torn lettuce and arugula leaves in the center of each plate.  Top with cucumbers and tomatoes.  If you want to get fancy, place the cucumbers and tomatoes so that they rim the edge of the plate.

Heat up a greased frying pan on high.  Place the steaks in the pan and sear for a couple of minutes on each side.  I ended up cooking mine for 6 minutes total, which gave a medium rare 3/4 inch thick steak and a rare 1 1/4 thick steak.  Let sit for 10 minutes, then slice.  Place slices on top of salad and dress with the blue cheese dressing or balsamic glaze (or some other dressing of your choice).


Steak Marinade::
1/4 cup EACH balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce
2 t garlic powder
2 t black pepper

Focaccia Bread

Time consuming, in the sense that you have to start early.  Overall, though, it's not a ton of work and makes a really good bread.  So give it a try on a day when you'll be around.  Also, it makes a huge loaf- be prepared to find people to share with.

First make the poolish:
Beat together 1/4 teaspoon yeast, 2.5 cups flour, and 1.5 cups of water.  Cover and let sit on counter for 4 hours.  At this point, it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or you can go ahead and continue with the bread. If you refrigerate it, make sure to let it sit for an hour on the counter before you move on so that it can warm up.  Below is a picture of the poolish before it sits for the 4 hours.

Stir the poolish down.  Then add:
2 2/3 cups flour (if you have bread flour, that would be best, but I made it with all purpose and that worked fine)
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 teaspoons yeast
2 T olive oil
1 cup lukewarm water

Beat this together until a smooth, sticky dough is formed.  The dough should come away from the sides as you stir, but stick to the bottom of the bowl.

Make a thin bed of flour on a large flat surface.  Scoop the dough out of the bowl and onto the flour.  Sprinkle liberally with more flour.

With floured hands, stretch the dough to double its length and then fold it onto itself, returning it approximately the same shape you started with.  Repeat 3-4 times.

Spray with oil and let rest for 30 minutes.

Repeat the previous stretching step, forming a rectangle after the last stretch.  Gently move the dough to a oiled baking sheet and spray with oil.  Dimple by pressing your thumb into the dough.  The indents should be 1-2 inches apart.  Drizzle with olive oil and let rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Dimple again, sprinkle with Kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.  I also sprinkled it with dried oregano because I did not have fresh.  Then sprinkle with a mixture of chopped fresh herbs- I used basil, mint, and parsley.  Rosemary would be good if you have it.  Drizzle generously with olive oil.  Below is a picture of the bread before baking.

Turn oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Allow the dough to rest while the oven heats up.  Once the oven is to temperature  bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the bread is a nice golden brown.  You may need to turn the baking sheet around halfway through if it is browning much more quickly on one side.   Take out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes for cutting into squares.  Enjoy!

I served it with a herb and olive oil dipping sauce I made, but it was also delicious on its own.

If you want to add other toppings (cheese, olives, roasted peppers, etc.), do this halfway through the baking.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Black Bean Hummus, Eggplant, and Feta Pizza

Use up some black bean hummus by making a pizza!

What you need:

1 12" Pizza Crust (I either make my own dough or use a soft Naan bread.  You could also use a store bought crust or dough.  Lightly pre-bake the dough if you are using it)
Black Bean Hummus- about a cup and a half (see my recipe.  Or try using regular hummus).
Two small Eggplant, cut into 1/4 thick medallions
1 cup sliced Mushrooms
1/2 cup Onion, thinly sliced
1/2 Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
Salt, pepper, Garlic Powder
3/4 cup crumbled Feta
Olive Oil
Arugula, Basil, Chives- thinly sliced
Red Pepper Flakes

Start by roasting the vegetables: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lay eggplant, mushrooms, onions, and bell pepper out on a greased baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray and then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Put in the oven and let cook until veggies are slightly browned and soft.  This should take 15-20 minutes.

Place pizza crust on a pizza pan or baking sheet.  Spread with hummus and then top with the roasted vegetables.  Sprinkle with the feta cheese and lightly drizzle olive oil over the top.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese melts and crust is browned.  Sprinkle with the basil, chives, red pepper, and arugula.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Cut into slices and enjoy!

Note: If you are watching your carbs and don't really eat pizza, try the toppings of this pizza on a bed of lettuce.  Still tasty!

Black Bean Hummus

Maybe not the prettiest food, but it's a tasty variation on regular hummus.  I use dried beans because they are cheaper and have more texture and flavor.  Canned ones would work as well if you don't feel like the prep work required for dried.

What you need:
1/2 pound of dried black beans, soaked and boiled OR two 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained.
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped (or more if you REALLY like garlic)
1/2 cup of onion, chopped
1 cup of mixed fresh herbs (I use cilantro, parsley, mint, and sometimes chives)
1 small hot pepper, roughly chopped (optional)
3-4 T tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T apple cider vinegar (you could also try using a different vinegar here)
1 T cumin
1-2 t black pepper
1/2 t red pepper flakes
Water or Olive Oil ( I use water to cut back on fat, but it would be tastier with the oil.  You could also use half of each)

Place ingredients in blender or food processor.  Add 1/4 cup of water or olive oil.  Slowly add remaining water or olive oil until you create a smooth and thick paste.  Enjoy with pita chips, raw veggies, or as a "sauce" for pizza (See my eggplant, feta, and hummus pizza later when I add it).

Barbecue Pork Ribs

A cheap way to get a hearty and delicious meal on Saba.

What you need:
3 racks of pork ribs
1 onion, chopped
2 small hot peppers (optional)
2 cans diced tomatoes with garlic
A mixture of ketchup, barbecue sauce, tomato sauce, hot sauce and apple cider vinegar to make 1 to 1.5 cups
           ( I started by using 1/2 cup each of barbecue sauce and ketchup, and a couple tablespoons each of hot sauce and the vinegar.  Since then, I've been experimenting with leaving out the ketchup and barbecue sauce, which makes them a little less sweet.  You could still add a little of the ketchup or barbecue sauce, or a little brown sugar.  They've turned out good every time for me so far even though I try slightly different things each time)
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T garlic powder (or more)
2 T soy sauce
2 t black pepper

Start by cutting each rack in half (makes them easier to stir around in the pot).  Sprinkle with salt and sear in a large pot until browned.  You may need to do this in batches or just use tongs to move the pieces around so that all of the sides get seared.  Add 2 cups of water and scrape up anything that has stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir.  Partially cover, turn heat to low and let simmer for 3 hours, stirring every 45 minutes or so.  I use tongs to do this.  Add water if the ribs are not covered in the sauce.  You know they're done when they are falling off the bone and the sauce has slightly thickened.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Welcome to Adventures in the Kitchen!

I've been cooking and baking for years now and I have always been interested in sharing my ideas with others (maybe a cookbook someday?).  Blogging will be a good start to going public!  I love to try different things and hate directly following directions when cooking or baking.  Thus, many of my recipes stem from recipes that looked interesting to me.  Then I change them to suit my mood.  Also, my measurements tend to be approximate because I hate measuring.  I like a take a "to taste" approach.  I hope the recipes I post inspire you all to make up your own variations to fit your tastes and moods as well.  Enjoy!