Sunday, August 12, 2012

refrigerator rescue~fried rice

fried rice, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
This is the most wonderful way to use up all kinds of vegetables and meats teetering on the edge of the trash can.
I made this when I was house sitting a couple of weeks ago. My friends had left me with two roasted chicken thighs and about 3/4 of a cooked bone-in ham. I can't say that I'm a ham fan...all that fat. While I was pondering what to do with all that meat, I made up a big pot of rice medley to go with all the corn chowder I brought home from work.
The next day I came up with this as I contemplated an enormous skillet and the behemouth firehouse stove. I sauteed up some onions, garlic and celery, then tossed in some left-over, chopped up, green beans.  I tossed in the shredded chicken and diced ham and cooked that until crispy. I added the cooked rice along with some dried herbs: tarragon and oregano, then tossed that around until everything was hot. I made a well in the middle of the pan and mixed in 3 eggs into which I'd stirred in some fresh thyme and ground black pepper. Once the eggs start to set, then I mixed it all into the rice with a good splash of soy sauce. I turned off the heat and added some slivered scallions.
This was lunch and breakfast for the next two days.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pink Lemonade Bars

Pink Lemonade Bars, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
 It's my one and only day off. I've got nothing on my agenda. No To-Do list. Yet, I'm up at the crack of dawn headed down to my neighborhood cafe with my netbook, a stack of newly checked out library cookbooks and back issues of Gourmet and Saveur magazines, armed with a fistful of neon Post-it Notes ready to tag, and a blank page waiting patiently for me to begin my lists: things to bookmark for the future cookery, not-so-distant-future cookery,  immediate future cookery, finally:  "make this today!" Yet it doesn't take long before I get distracted  by some other shiny new cookery inspiration and forget I ever heard of Smitten Kitchens Pink Lemonade Bars...what greeted me this morning on my trusty news feed.
And sure enough... I did that. I forgot. I moved on to corn chowder. Hours later, I'm at my local produce market shopping for the afore mentioned chowder fixins' when I spy...raspberries! on sale!  $1 a basket! Wait! Why do I want raspberries? I know I MUST buy them. But why?
This is why. These are absolutely de-LISH!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Zucchini & Spaghetti Squash Lasagne

This is an off-the-hook cheezy veggie layered bake that began its journey as a mash-up of two recipes that collided in my ADD-led brain as I managed to fritter away the better part of my morning yesterday on Pinterest.
I would have gladly spent all day at it if it meant finding this at the end of it all: Green Lite Bites my new happy place for some awesome vegetarian inspiration where I was then drawn to this. Two recipes. Similar...but different. I love the look of zucchini sliced whisper-thin and was intrigued by the spaghetti squash. Then again there's always something going on in that fridge that needs to find it's greater purpose stat! So this is how this all went down. I slam the computer shut and run to the produce market...because I'm also making a quinoa corn chowder that needs potatoes and I must get all that going in the slow-cooker. Anyhoo...
I started by cutting the spaghetti  squash in half, removing the seeds and then sprinkling the cut side with salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil. I turned the two cut halves down on the flattest plate I had, jabbed the skin a few times with a fork and nuked it for about 12 minutes. You'd almost think I was a pro at this right? This is the first time I've ever prepared or voluntarily eaten a spaghetti squash (I was squashaphobic until about 2 years ago). While the squash was cooking I made
 Five Minute Tomato Sauce (from 101 Cookbooks) :
heat up 2 T. olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add a smashed clove of  garlic, a couple of pinches of kosher salt and about 1/4 t. of red pepper flakes and cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add a can of crushed tomatoes and cook on medium for about 5 minutes until the sauce is hot. Cover, remove from heat and set aside.
I sliced one large zucchini on a mandoline then tossed it in a bowl with a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper and let it sit a bit so it would exude a bit of water. Then I thinly sliced 4 plum tomatoes and tossed them with a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil and dried tarragon and let those sit about 15 minutes to release some water. The spaghetti squash had cooked and cooled a little. Then with a fork, start shredding the squash. It looks like fine egg noodles. I was dubious about the texture, thinking it would be mushy. It was not. Even after baking in the lasagne for 30 minutes the squash had some "tooth". They were still a little crunchy.
I had some ricotta cheese that was teetering on the brink of the trash can, parmesan and some bulk white sliced American cheese (courtesy of my Test Kitchen Dummy) that in my world, should have turned on me long ago, yet it looked and smelled just like it did that day so many months ago when it appeared at my front door, and it tasted just fine, I had to resist the urge to shove whole slices into my gob.
I started with sauce on the bottom, then layered zucchini,  squash, tomatoes, a sprinkle of dried herbs, salt and pepper, cheeses and then zucchini, sauce...oh and some roasted peppers, just for the heck of it 'cuz I had them roasting for a different purpose but couldn't help but thrown those all in there. I probably didn't need the tomatoes and the sauce but the whole thing turned out so freakin' good that I don't feel like I'd change a thing.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Breakfast and Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage Rolls, originally uploaded by riptideredsf. good I finished them off for breakfast the next day. I just had no idea that cabbage rolls could be so good. Here's how this little scenario went down:
Last weekend I was riding along with my friend who I affectionately refer to as my Test Kitchen Dummy. He started talking about stuffed cabbage...someone had told him about making it or something or other..."It sounded really good" he said.
I wasn't really following the core of his commentary because suddenly I'm haunted by images of my mothers corned beef and cabbage and my deeply-seeded adversity to the whole salty soggy mess. Whenever I watch cabbage being cooked on TV the "blech factor" kicks in and I turn off. I adore cole slaw but cooked cabbage, other than hidden inside a pot-sticker? No thank you.
"...not that that's a hint at all..." he says. Oh! Who's the dummy in this scenario? I then remember how I made it my mission to try to keep an open mind in the kitchen, paying special attention when it comes to preparing a vegetable I'm trying to re-visit in an enlighted way...those vegetables I hated as a kid and thought I hated as an adult. Eggplant. All things in the squash family. Brussels sprouts. Cauliflower...
Anyhoo, I googled away the entire evening, immersed in images and recipes and cultural traditions of cabbages stuffed and rolled through-out the world. I returned to google images and passed my curser over the very first image and much to my delight, it turned out to be Smitten Kitchen's recipe. I know I should have gone there first, but how can I procrastinate when I'm suddenly inspired to get dressed and go the store and start cooking at 11:00 at night because Smitten inspires me so.
These cabbage rolls were really, really, really good.
I tweaked this recipe the teensiest bit by adding garlic to the sauteeing onions, after testing a tiny cooked patty of the meat mixture I just couldn't resist adding a big blob of my fresh-off-the-plane-from-Paris Dijon mustard from Hediard into my meat mixture. I also remembered I had just bought a bunch of fresh tarragon so I chopped up about a tablespoon and squished that in.
My go-to recipe for tomato sauce comes from 101 Cookbooks. This Five Minute Tomato Sauce is unbeatable, because you can spice it up a notch or two by just adding more red pepper flakes.
TKD: "those cabbage rolls were off the hook!" and he's no doubt gleefully conjuring up his next little kitchen challenge.