Posts tagged ‘recipes’
Everywhere I look lately, there are tacos. Really fun and interesting looking tacos. Like these and these and these. I even made my own! I would venture a guess that tacos are one of the trendy foods this season, and I am loving it! Bright colored veggies packed with flavor on a warm corn tortilla is totally my idea of fun backyard summer food! More so, I love the ideas that are breaking tacos out of the box. These recipes are certainly more creative than my memories of family taco nights, and are sure to liven up your dinner table!
These tacos are a fusion of cooking influences in my life right now. My boyfriend, who is Korean, has been teaching me some basics about Korean cooking, and I have learned how to make some simpler traditional dishes like kimchi jjigae and ssam jang. Learning this new style of cooking, and having a fridge full of new-to-me condiments, has started to spark my creativity and put ideas in my head of how to combine our food heritages. Thus, after a weekend of Korean cooking and a brief glance through the most recent Cooking Light magazine my mom lent me, the idea for these tacos were born! Korean pulled pork, a simple ginger cucumber, and a great scallion slaw, and it worked! The meat is tender and flavorful, with rich and complex notes upfront and a slow spice that follows. The cucumbers and carrots are crisp and refreshing, and the scallions nicely finish off the taco.
Some notes on the recipe: First, you might be scratching your head about the pork. Isn’t she a vegetarian? Well, recently, I have slowly started to add meat back to my diet. (My decision was made mostly for personal health reasons that I won’t fully discuss here.) I am still eating vegetarian meals 80% of the week, but am making a conscious effort to make a meal that includes meat at least once a week. After 5-ish years of vegetarian cooking, this has required a little more planning and experimentation than I expected! Also, don’t be intimidated by the super long ingredient list that follows– most of it is for the meat marinade and is pantry-based. The only “specialty items” are the Hoisin sauce, which can be found in most major supermarkets, and the gochujang. That might be a little harder to find, unless you have an Asian food market in your area. It is essentially a red pepper paste that adds a slow, sweet spice to your meat. If you can’t find it or don’t love spice, replace it with ketchup. Lastly, make sure that you take the time to toast your tortillas! A warm corn tortilla is much more pliable and tastes better, really giving the finishing touch to this dish!
Question: How do you feel about the changes on my blog? Over the past two years, this blog has been an outlet to record and share what I have been making and the things that excite me. I realize that I have many vegan/vegetarian readers, but feel that it is important for me to share how I have been eating! Like I said, most of my meals will still be largely vegetarian, but I hope to reflect the new styles of cooking I am learning to incorporate as well. I hope you will continue as I adventure in cooking and healthy living!
Korean Pulled Pork Tacos with Sesame Ginger Cucumbers, Carrots and Scallions
12 corn tortillas
2 lb pork (shoulder, butt or loin all work well)
1-inch piece ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
3 tbsp gochujang paste (or ketchup)
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp honey
2 star of anise
1/4 tsp fennel seed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Set to low and cook for 7-8 hours. Pull meat apart using two forks to create pulled pork. Mix desired amount of residual sauce into meat.
cukes and carrots:
4 medium pickling cucumbers, julienned
3 carrots, julienned
2 clove garlic, minced
2-inch piece ginger, minced
4 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame seed oil
Combine the matchstick-sized cucumbers and carrots with the marinade ingredients. Shake and then refrigerate, covered, for at least one hour.
2 bunch scallions (greens only), julienned
1.5 tbsp sesame seed oil
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1.5 tbsp red chili flakes
Cut the scallion greens into 2-inch chunks, then julienne into thin strips. Combine with remaining ingredients and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Warm a corn tortilla in a skillet or griddle. Layer cucumbers, carrots, scallions and pulled pork. Fold and enjoy warm!
Ginger might not be the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of fall, but in reality is one of the unsung heroes of this culinary season. That might sound a bit extreme, but bear with me. What makes the pumpkin in pie sing? Ginger. A really great apple or pear crisp? Ginger. Breads, cookies, pies, and fruit crisps all rely on cozy spices to make them truly come to life. Ginger happens to be one of my favorite flavors, but can be a bit aggressive and divisive. If you love strong ginger flavors, then this post is for you.
It all started out with the goal of making homemade candied ginger. I love the store-bought version, but it is expensive and very sugary. I set out to make my own and, thanks to Pinterest, found this great recipe and tutorial. The cashier at my grocery store looked at me funny when I walked away with a rather large ginger
knob tree, but I was determined to accomplish my goal! The result – decent. Honestly, not as great as the store-bought version, but also could be cook’s error. My syrup over-boiled, dried out, and likely didn’t cook for quite long enough. The candied ginger is tasty, but not a solely edible treat like its store-bought counterpart. The resulting ginger syrup, however, is delectable. I cannot get enough!
Here are some ideas of what I have been doing with my ginger creations!
Honey Ginger Butter: Mix 1/4 cup of ginger syrup, 1 tbsp honey, and 1 stick softened butter. Whip with an immersion blender, and then refrigerate in a small container until solid. Goes great with pancakes, waffles or this amazing Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread!
Coconut Ginger Granola: Maybe the best granola I have ever made… seriously. I made a few changes, like using butter instead of coconut oil and adding a dash of ginger syrup and it is DELICIOUS! You should definitely try this.
In case that isn’t enough for you, here are some ginger recipes I tried out last year…
…and some I have my eye on!
Question: Are you a ginger fan?
Between Pinterest, stars in my Google reader, old bookmarks, and saved family recipes, I have more meal ideas than I know what to do with! To deal with some of the recipe overload, I have been making some other blogger’s meals for the past week with delicious results. The only problem is, for every recipe I try, I find three more to replace it with! Inspired eating is never a bad thing, so I am not complaining. Here are some of the things I have tried and loved lately. All of the pictures are from the original websites, since I was to lazy to photograph my recreations.
A microwaved sweet potato with a scoop of plain Greek yogurt, almond butter and cinnamon. I was inspired by Sarah at My Less Serious Life during a WIAW post. I was a little skeptical at first since I usually associate sweet potatoes with savory meals, but gave it a try anyway. I had a small sweet potato and enjoyed it for breakfast, and am so glad I didn’t let my skepticism get in the way of this delicious meal! It is definitely something I would make again.
For lunch, I have been enjoying a healthy, hearty and delicious layered salad. Angela at Oh She Glows recreated a favorite from the Whole Foods salad bar, and it is easily one of the best grain salads I have ever tasted. The quinoa and edamame help keep you full all afternoon, and the citrus dressing is incredibly light and refreshing. I didn’t follow the recipe for the dressing exactly since I didn’t have apple juice on hand, but used what I had to approximate the flavors. Check out this recipe for a week of easy, healthy and portable vegan lunches!
For all of you cauliflower fans out there, this recipe from Heather at 101 Cookbooks is for you. If you aren’t a cauliflower fan, I would bet you’d still like this meal. The chiles and cilantro give the dish a great kick, and the turmeric adds a fantastic pop of color. To make this a rounded out meal rather than a side, I added some roasted red potatoes and some adzuki, lentil and pea sprouts. My friend went back for thirds, so let that speak for the bold and amazing flavors in this vegan dish!
Looking for a dairy-free alternative for a crudite platter, I tried out Katie’s vegan Ranch dressing. It is tofu based and has a great dill flavor. I made a lot of substitutions to use what I had on hand (real onions for onion powder, Greek yogurt for vegan mayo, and a touch of extra salt) and loved the result. This recipe makes a pretty large batch of ranch dressing, perfect for a party dip. I think it would also be great thinned out a bit for healthier, protein-packed, salad dressing!
Question: What is one new recipe you have tried and loved lately?
There is so much to be thankful for this year. I got to be home with my family for several days. The family that we are not near, we have gotten to catch up with on the phone. I have been able to spend time with my sister and my closest friends. I have not had to think about school or sneak away to get work done at all during this holiday. I am well and energetic, able to go for a run in the beautiful fall weather each morning. I have so many hobbies that I can enjoy, in both busyness and vacation: cooking, knitting, blogging, running. I have a fridge full of good food and have been able to spend days in the kitchen with my mom, experimenting with old and new favorite recipes. I am so thankful for the many blessings I have in my life, but am most thankful for the deep and meaningful relationships that I have. My sister was asked to sing at a church member’s funeral on Friday, and I was deeply touched by the message of how important relationships are in life. The pastor’s sermon emphasized her importance as a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. The tributes recounted memories of time spent together and, even without knowing her well, I could see how deeply she had touched others lives. One day, we will look back and remember holidays, birthdays, and dinners spent together. Important things of the present like exam scores, work deadlines, and temporal achievements will fade away. I hope to carry this message with me throughout each day of the year, and not just let it permeate my mind during this holiday of thankfulness.
To celebrate Thanksgiving, we made our traditional feast, even if we were a day late! The rest of this post will be pictures and links, with a few teasers of some recipes I will post in the next few days. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend and continue to reflect on the many people who bless your life each day.
Recipe to come soon!
Sauteed Green Beans, a Homemade Adventure Original
Mustard Roasted Asparagus, recipe to come soon!
Roasted Root Vegetable Candy, from the Pioneer Woman Cooks
Spiced Sweet Potatoes, from Rufus’ Guide
Cornbread Stuffing, from Rufus’ Guide
Homemade Cranberry Sauce, a Homemade Adventure Original
Dinner Rolls from About.com (How did people cook before Google? ;)
Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle, recipe to come soon!
Question: Which recipe do you want to see first?
Most people can cook – with a few basic tools and skills, and some patience, it is easy enough to follow a basic recipe. However, it is much more difficult to create. Looking in the fridge and pantry, seeing what is on hand, and combining only what you have to create an awesome meal. This is what makes programs like Boston Organics or traditional CSA’s so intimidating – a loss of control of what ends up in your fridge, and a big push into the realm of creative cooking. However, this, for me, has been the most fun part of my Boston Organics box! I love day dreaming about how I can pull together the random assortment of ingredients from my fridge and cabinets. A quick tip: keep a well-stocked pantry! I always have pasta, brown rice, quinoa, cous cous, canned and dried beans, canned tomatoes, vegetable broth, olive oil, a few vinegars and basic spices on hand. They really make a huge difference when trying to pull together fresh ingredients into a satisfying meal! The biggest hurdle to overcome: fear. But what is there to be afraid of? If it doesn’t taste good, scrap it and start over. At least food usually isn’t too expensive of an experiment! (Or you could eat it anyway, what I usually do since I really, really hate to waste my veggies…)
Who knew that it would be such great preparation for my time at my friend’s vacation home in Croatia, too? We were excited to be able to cook for ourselves for a few days, both to save money, and to see some veggies back on our plates after a few days eating out in Sarajevo! We brought along some fruits and veggies from a market in Sarajevo, and bought a few necessities from the supermarket as soon as we got there. Soon, our fridge was full with necessities: tons of fresh fruit, eggplant, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, chicken, peppers, beer, wine, gnocchi, tomatoes, cucumbers. We bought what looked good, paying little mind to what we were going to use it for. We could always run back to the produce stand, or swing by the store on the way back from the beach if we needed anything! We ended up making three meals at home, one of which I have already shared. The other two are coming up this weekend!
Two bits of exciting news… I now have a Facebook page! I feel guilty for constantly spamming my friends and filling their news feed with post updates. If you are a friend who gets updates about new recipes and posts through Facebook, or are a regular reader, like my page to keep getting those updates! I will no longer be posting to my personal wall, so be sure to stay in touch!
In much more exciting news, my best friends are getting married! Over the long weekend, I will back home in NJ for the wedding (you may remember her engagement celebration and bridal shower!) I am fortunate enough to be hosting her rehearsal dinner, so will be busy this evening tonight and tomorrow with preparations for that. And of course there will be no time for blogging on the wedding day – Saturday! I am so excited for my friends and am so blessed to get to share in their special day. I hope you enjoy my prescheduled posts about my cooking adventures in Croatia in the meantime!
Question: Are you a recipe-follower or creator in the kitchen?
Roommate dinners will soon be back in full swing! I am so looking forward to these – we don’t simply share a meal but life together as we sit and talk for hours at the dining room table. I don’t think either of us realized how much we valued these times together until we no longer had them! Ten weeks apart over the summer meant 5 hours of non-stop chatter in the car as we drove back to Boston after completing the NYC triathlon.
This dinner was the brain child of my lovely roommate, a really good cook despite her lack of confidence as such. It has been so much fun watching her grow and experiment in the kitchen over the past year! She made this for us and her sister, brother, and his fiance in a tiny studio apartment in Manhattan the night before our triathlon. Limited in both space and spices, the meal still turned out wonderfully and was great pre-race fuel. I hardly changed anything when I made it again this past week in Boston. You could call it a stewed quinoa, or a quinoa and greens pilaf, or a use-up-those-veggies one-pot meal… no matter what you call it, it is really simple, tasty, and healthy! Some of the liquid from the tomatoes cooks into the quinoa, giving it more flavor. The veggies can be subbed for what you have (spinach for the kale, +/- broccoli, less onions, more carrot – whatever you would like!) You can also kick up the spiciness with a bit of Sriracha sauce, or leave it out for the more faint of heart (you can tell I like my spicy food!). Even better – one pot means easy clean up. Basically, there is no way to go wrong with this one. Learn from my roommate and try something new in the kitchen tonight!
Question: Who does most of the cooking in your house?
Marie’s Stewed Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
28 oz can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 2/3 cup water
1/3 cup chopped carrots
3/4 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 bunch kale
Mince the garlic and the onions. Sautee in olive oil in medium heat until the onions become soft. Add the carrots and tomatoes. Add the quinoa and allow to absorb the liquid from the tomatoes. Top with 1 2/3 cup water and season with red chili flakes. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until quinoa is cooked and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Before it is fully cooked, add the washed and chopped kale (or greens of choice) and allow to wilt in. Season to taste with nutritional yeast (optional) and salt. For extra spice, add Sriracha sauce after serving.
I guess my friends and family are beginning to think I know how to cook… silly. I merely enjoy myself in the kitchen, and usually dream up something tasty in the process. My best friend, Amanda, has always been amazed at how at ease I am while cooking, since her idea of making dinner used to be heating up a frozen pizza. Her taste buds have matured so much through the course of our friendship, and now she is even brave enough to get her hands dirty in the kitchen! She assisted me with the Baked Arancini I made for my mom’s party (which, according to my mom, were better than the Italian restaurant’s fried rice balls that she sampled today!) and got her first full cooking lesson this evening. We made Balsamic chicken with mushrooms (my college roommate’s favorite recipe!) as well as my take on the classic haystack, with none of your expected ingredients. A haystack is typically tortilla chips, shredded lettuce, beans or meat, salsa and cheese, but is layered in stereotypical fashion that is unique to the dish. My version uses none of the same ingredients, replacing the chips with polenta, the lettuce with green beans, the salsa with roasted red peppers, the protein with pine nuts, and the cheddar with goat cheese. Polenta is new to me as well, introduced to me by my mom less than a year ago. It is simply boiled cornmeal, which can be made as a porridge or shaped into a log. I am totally in love with this dish – I created it to use up some leftovers a few months back, and was even more pleased with the result the second time around! Definitely give this recipe a try, and play around with the layers to use up whatever you have on hand!
A few tips on the recipe for those of you who are new to the kitchen (I did just give a cooking lesson, so figured some advice might be appropriate in this post!)
1. Using recipes is a really good way to start learning flavor combinations, get inspiration, and get instructions of how to make dishes using certain techniques. However, don’t feel like you need to stay married to the specific recipe if you feel inspired to branch out and try something new! (The exception to this rule is in baking, where it is usually a pretty good idea to follow instructions…)
2. Don’t skimp on the seasonings. Herbs, vinegar, salt and pepper add a HUGE flavor component, with a relatively low-cost and calorie component. I season almost all of my food with at least pepper, if not also salt and dried herbs. If you are worried about your sodium intake, salt can be omitted from some dishes without being missed, but on occasion is really needed to bring the flavor out of certain foods. You can also choose to let your dinner guests let their own taste buds be their guide – check out these adorable salt and pepper shakers that my mom and I found at a local festival this afternoon. A crafty addition to my dining room table!
3. Chopping is a simple step that often takes too much time for new cooks. I once cooked with two of my guy friends and was finished with cooking dinner before they even finished their one chopping assignment. True story. Save yourself from this fate by using sharp knives, learning the simple rocker technique (where you stabilize the blunt back tip of a chef’s knife with the palm of your hand and using a rocking motion to facilitate chopping), and using scoring for easy veggie chopping.
4. Minimize your clean-up by re-using sautée pans when possible. For example, tonight I sautéed green beans in one pan, then transferred them to a bowl and added my mushrooms to the same pan. I pushed the mushrooms to the side while the chicken cooked. Be careful not to let raw meat come in contact with food that will not be further cooked when using this dish-saving technique.
5. Start with something manageable and work your way up. If you start with a recipe that is way too complicated, you might get discouraged which will only further keep you out of the kitchen. But don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something that looks a little more challenging than you think you can handle. If you mess up, at least its only food – probably not an expensive mistake, and there is always pizza or a good ol’ PB&J as a stand-by dinner ;)
With that being said, go forth and experiment with a new recipe or two. Maybe even this one (recipe guidelines are at the end of the post). Just enjoy yourself and see what you can create!