Sunday, January 26, 2014

5 Super Bowl Treats for the Vegetarian Fans

If you're hosting a Super Bowl party this year, don't forget the vegetables. Whether you are preparing for bona fide vegetarians or just trying to supplement the chili and burgers, you'll need something besides chips and pretzels.

Include one or two of these favorites and then just veg out and enjoy the game!

1. Guacamole (of course)
2. Baked Potato Bar
3. Roasted Vegetable Tapas
4. Pico de Gallo
5. Veggies and Dip

Sunday, January 19, 2014

French for Leftovers

I'm sure I was in my twenties before I ever heard the word "mirepoix." To me, it was celery, onions, and carrots--the first things to be chopped before making soup or stew. As my culinary vocabulary improved, so did my cooking skills, and I learned that starting with a basic mirepoix can lead to delicious rewards--even with leftovers.
Last night, we didn't really plan for dinner and probably could have just snacked our way through the evening. Instead, I found what I could in the refrigerator and came up with a satisfying soup for a cold winter's night. Of course, it began with a mirepoix.
I sautéed chopped celery, onions, and carrots with a clove of fresh minced garlic in some extra-virgin olive oil. Next I added some chicken broth, a chopped Yukon Gold potato, and a little of Colonel De's Cowboy Rub. (The rub is a blend of chili pepper, garlic, onion, cilantro, cumin, oregano, basil, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne available at Colonel De's Gourmet Herbs and Spices at Findlay Market. I like it because it doesn't include salt yet adds plenty of flavor.) Next I added some leftovers from the fridge: a chicken sausage, sliced, and a few tablespoons of sauerkraut. (You can see why I didn't need to add additional salt). I let everything simmer for about 45 minutes, and then we enjoyed our meal in a bowl.
You know, soup is really easy when you start with a mirepoix. Now I need to find a fancy-schmancy word for "leftovers." Any ideas?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Two Kinds of Cooks

I've determined that there are two kinds of cooks. One is the go-getter and the other is the user-upper. Mr. Daisy Mae is the go-getter. He prefers to carefully decide what he wants to make, and then he goes to get whatever the ingredients are that we don't have on hand.
I, on the other hand, am the user-upper. I dislike trips to the grocery store so I'll avoid those trips until necessary. I decide what to cook by looking through the refrigerator, searching the pantry, and researching substitutes.
Guess what? I'm cooking tonight. We have boneless chicken breasts and plenty of fresh tomatoes. Hmmm. What to make? Since I'm kind of burned out on cooking after the holidays, I want something quick. I scan through my Pinterest recipe board and a pasta dish with lots of tomatoes catches my eye. Click, click. Inspiration. I'm making Tomato Basil Chicken from Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom.  If you're looking for a 30-minute meal with ingredients you have on hand, Tomato Basil Chicken may be your go-to dish for tonight. Go-getters, enjoy. Tomorrow night is your turn to cook.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Go Green for 2014!

Have you decided to maintain a better diet this year? New Year's Resolutions come and go, but the goal of improving your diet never goes out of style. This year I'm intrigued by the green smoothie movement, and I'm definitely always up for adding more green vegetables to my plate. 
Green smoothies are no longer just for vegetarians, hipsters, or gym rats. More and more people are finding that smoothies are an easy, economical, and quick way to add vitamins and minerals, enzymes and antioxidants, and more fiber to the diet. A basic green smoothie for starters consists of about 60% fruit and 40% greens with enough water to blend it all together. Bananas, strawberries, kiwi, or pineapple all work well. For the greens, beginners should probably start with spinach or Romaine lettuce. Kale, of course, is full of nutrients and very popular, but if you're just getting into smoothies, you might find the kale adds too much bitterness. You can use a regular blender or get fancier with something like the Vita-Mix, but the goal is just to blend the ingredients together into a nice smooth drink that is delicious and nutritious. Many people make smoothies in the morning and use as a quick breakfast drink when they're on the go. Others opt for a smoothie at lunch or as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Once smoothies become a habit, you might include ingredients like Greek yogurt, coconut or soy milk, whey powder, honey, or other supplements. 

If you're ready to take the green smoothie plunge, try this First Green Smoothie recipe from Incredible Smoothies

6-8 oz. water
1 banana, peeled
4-5 fresh strawberries
2 c. fresh spinach 
Blend together for 30-60 seconds or until smooth. 

Cheers to you for going green in 2014!