Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Zucchini and Yellow Squash "Spaghetti"

I bought a small handheld Spiralizer after my friend Helen raved about hers and have been using it for almost every meal.  (I've actually gotten so addicted to using it, I got an even bigger and better kind on sale that has a crank!)  I've been using it to add vegetables to pasta (using the smaller size setting) with either tomato or olive oil based sauces that I've come up with that have been delicious.  However, since pasta is a heavy food, I decided to just make dinner using vegetable "noodles" in place of spaghetti.

And I'm glad I did.

I made this simple and rustic peasant style dish last night, which took about 5 minutes to make.  I used the larger size setting of the Spiralizer to get the look of spaghetti.  I used a large zucchini and a small yellow squash, which was perfect as a side, but if you have this as your entree, I would suggest using two of each type of squash.  If you're lucky, you'll have some leftovers the next day for lunch!




The ingredients:

zucchini and yellow squash, spiralized
minced garlic
olive oil
salt
pepper
lemon juice from one lemon
1/4 cup of dry white wine
Korean pepper flakes, for garnish


In a high rimmed saute pan, heat a tablespoon of oil (or more, depending on the amount of vegetables you use) on medium high heat.  When the oil streams, add the zucchini and squash and stir to coat.  Cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the "noodles" are somewhat pliable, making sure they don't wilt.  Add desired amount of salt and pepper and combine.  Lower the heat to medium and add the minced garlic, sauteing for about 30 seconds, until the smell of garlic is at its strongest.  (There will be liquid in the pan from the vegetables, which will keep the garlic from burning and add moisture.)

Add 1/4 cup more of olive oil, stirring gently.  When the oil begins to bubble, stir as you add the lemon juice and wine to the pan, which will create a sauce.  The liquid mixture will thicken a little, cooking the "noodles" to the point that they are cooked to al dente.  The flavors will permeate through as you combine with the sauce. 

To serve, pile a mound of the noodles onto a large plate, adding as much sauce on top as needed.  To finish it off, I sprinkled a little Korean pepper flakes on top, for a little added flavor and color.

When the "noodles" were gone, I soaked up what sauce remained on my plate with a slice of bread, which ended up making this the most perfect, most satisfying meal.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Roasted Sweet Corn

Butter... salt... pepper... what's missing?

Why, sweet corn, of course!

I picked up four ears of sugar and butter corn from our local farmers market:  two for me, two for my husband.  These were large ears with yellow and white pearls of juicy, tender sweetness.  We had vegan and gluten free mac and cheese for an early supper, and decided to have the corn a little while later.



Instead of shucking the corn and boiling a big pot of water, which would have made an absolute mess, I decided to roast the corn, something that I had only done previously while camping.  The ears would be thrown into the campfire with the husks on for thirty minutes, which couldn't be any easier.   When they were ready, we would just peel down the corn silk and husks, using them as a handle.   After all, who's got time to look for a pair of corn holders?  The roasting process made the sweetness pop, the kernels bursting with a flavor that is the perfect addition to any barbecue, any lunch, any dinner.


Trust me.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  When the oven comes up to temperature, place the ears of corn still in their husks directly on the rack, with the handles facing out for easier handling.  Roast for 30 minutes.  When done, take an ear and pull down the husk enough to reveal the kernels.  Pierce a few kernels with the tip of a knife to make sure it's tender and juicy.  Turn off the oven, leaving the door closed.  After taking an ear of corn to eat, keep the rest in the warm oven.

Serve with butter, salt, pepper, and any other desired dried herbs.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chocolate Egg Cream!

When I was a young teenager, I would go to Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts to hang out with friends, listen to street bands, eat at some great restaurants, including a diner called "The Tasty," which was in the heart of Harvard Square, near the T station.  This was a tiny greasy spoon that was an institution among Harvard and Radcliff students, as well as locals and tourists.   It's also a great location for a movie, of which there have been many.

 You've probably seen the place, even if you've never been there!  In the movie "Good Will Hunting," (who HASN'T seen that movie?) there is a scene where Matt Damon and Minnie Driver were eating in a diner.

THIS WAS THE DINER!

In the next post, there's a loop of Minnie Drive laughing during the diner scene, where you can see the neon sign behind them.

When I would get peckish, I used to get these greasy, decadent cheeseburgers like they were going out of style, always with mustard and ketchup.  (My metabolism was a heck of a lot faster then.)  It was my favorite place to go because they were open late, so you could get some great grub for not a lot of money.  Those cheeseburgers were the best!

Well... almost.

My favorite thing for there was the glorious chocolate egg cream.  The name is misleading because there are no eggs in this drink.  It's sort of like a Yoo Hoo soda, but even better.  What's even better, other than the taste, is it's very easy to make.



This is a recipe that is vegan, but you are perfectly welcome to make it with dairy milk.  It's going to be just as good.



Ingredients:

1 cup of So Delicious coconut milk (or other milk)
1/2 cup of club soda
3-4 tablespoons of chocolate syrup


In a tall glass, combine the milk and chocolate syrup, stirring briskly until well blended.  When blended, stir gently and fill the rest of the glass with club soda - you don't want the club soda to go flat.

Grab yourself a straw and enjoy!   

 















Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Hang Tai Fine Chinese Cuisine Szechuan & Mandarin Style Lounge, Franklin, MA

My husband and I have passed by this place several times but had never gone in.  It looks like a local watering hole that has a bunch of devoted drinkers and Keno players.  Be warned:  the use of foul language from the drinkers was a little jarring, so it may not be suitable for children or sensitive people.

While the decor wasn't distinguishable from other restaurants, the food was magnificent.  They have a varied menu, even offering up an extensive choice of vegan and vegetarian foods.  We decided to just get a couple of dishes for the table, starting with the vegetarian spring roll appetizer; the dry cooked string beans; the crispy bean curd, Szechuan style; and white rice.  The spring rolls made for a great start - there were matchsticks of ginger root that totally transformed every preconceived notion of what a spring roll is.  The dry cooked string beans were very fresh and crispy - definitely quality ingredients.  The pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance was the crispy bean curd, Szechuan style.  The sauce was delicious and plentiful.  The tofu was succulent, made even better from soaking up the sauce.  The white rice came in a medium sized metal serving bowl, which gave us plenty of rice between the two of us.  For the record, by the time we were done, nothing was left except for two satisfied - and full - customers.

Their customer service was great!  Our waiter came by at least once to find out if we were enjoying out meal.  He was very friendly.  He asked us if we had been there before; when we said no, he said he was glad we were there, that we enjoyed the food, and he's looking forward to seeing us again.  It made us feel comfortable and right at home.

One complaint I'd have to make was you have to pay for soft drink refills, which is unheard of.  I had two glasses of orange soda, which cost $5.  I think I'll be sticking with water or hot tea next time. 

I definitely suggest trying this restaurant.  It may not look like much from the outside, but the food is top notch, fresh, and very tasty. 

I give it 4.5-stars!  *  *  *  *  1/2  (In order for this to receive 5-stars, drink refills have to be free.)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Heirloom Tomatoes

I have to admit, I went a little bit crazy @ the farmers market today.  I bought three pounds of heirloom tomatoes.  Aren't they just gorgeous?  Who could blame me for getting so many?  However, my eyes are infamous for being bigger than my stomach, so I had some concern they might go bad before I got to them.

When I went into the kitchen, my eyes went directly to these colorful, juicy gems.  I felt compelled to gorge on them.  I didn't want to get into a big production, so I just decided to do a simple tomato salad.


This is a full serving for one or two side servings, so if you want to feed a small army, go hog wild and use as many tomatoes as you need!

These ingredients are to be used as a guide.  I didn't put in any value amounts because different people like different herbs and spices.  You can also experiment with different spices, if you like.

The recipe:

2 heirloom tomatoes, in slices or chunks
salt
black pepper
dried 0regano
granulated garlic powder
olive oil

Slice up the tomato into 1/2-inch slices, arranging one on top of the other in a diagonal pattern or cut into medium sized chunks.  In a small bowl, add salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and olive oil and whisk to combine.  Drizzle the dressing over the tomatoes or toss together in a bowl. 


Enjoy!



Fried Green Tomatoes

This was a first for me.  I'd seen the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes," but never actually had one.  In a search for Heirloom tomatoes, I headed out to get some today @ my town's weekly farmers market on the town common.  I ended up getting a lot of tomatoes:  pink, red, orange, yellow, and - of course - green tomatoes.  I was just getting them for eating raw with a little salt and pepper or in a salad.  That is when I found the small green tomato.  It was too firm and not ripe enough for a salad.  I couldn't figure out what to do with it until I remembered that movie, and decided to try to make it.

As a vegan, it is tricky trying to find an egg substitute that doesn't take away from the dish.  I knew I needed this to be a spicy dish, which helped me easily choose my ingredients for this never-before-made mysterious fruit appetizer challenge.  My husband was the guinea big for this experiment.  As he munched them down, I got a lot of "mm-mmms" and "oohs," and "ahhs," so these vegan fried green tomatoes passed with flying colors.

Here's my recipe:

firm, green tomatoes (as much as desired)
dijon mustard
olive oil
panko breadcrumbs
pepper
no-salt seasonings
garlic granules

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  In another bowl, combine the dijon mustard and olive oil.  In a skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat.  While waiting for the pan to heat up, slice the green tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices.  Gently wipe each side of the tomato slices with the mustard mixture, then dip in the dry mixture until covered.  Drop slices into the hot oil immediately after coating.  Cook approximately 3 minutes a side, or until golden.  When finished, transfer to a warm oven until they are all made.

To serve, I drizzled a little balsamic on top of each tomato slice, sprinkling coconut bacon on top to add a little character.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Recipe: Super Easy and Fast Vegan Nachos

What do you call cheese that's not yours?  Nacho cheese!

*crickets* 

Okay... so how that I got that morsel of cheesiness out of the way, let's get started!

These nachos couldn't be any easier to make. 

All you need are:

1 cup (more or less) of Daiya shredded cheese (I use cheddar, pepperjack, and mozzarella)
a dinner plate of tortilla chips
Salsa, guacamole, and sour cream


Put your desired amount of the shredded cheese on the dinner plate.  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the tortilla chips.  Microwave on high for 1 minute of so.  (My microwave needs 1:15 minutes, so time may vary.)  After letting it rest for about 30 seconds, remove from the microwave and garnish with the salsa, spreading it across the nachos so they're evenly covered.  Place small dollops of the guacamole and sour cream in different areas and dig in!  After all that hard work, you've earned it!



Recipe: Easy Peasy Vegan Quesadillas!

My husband and I go to a Tex-Mex restaurant that has many locations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, called Margaritas.  They have a great menu, but not a lot of vegan choices that appealed to me.  Due to that, I was compelled to cheat on my diet.

Shhhh!

I ordered grilled cojita corn to start with, which was nothing short of amazing.  I had Hector's Quesadillas, which contained melted cheese with guacamole and sour cream.  (I used the salsa we got with our tortilla chip basket.)  While they were amazing, I couldn't enjoy it as much knowing that it wasn't vegan.

A couple of days later, I decided to try making my own.  I am pleased to say it was a complete success, especially because it only takes a minute.

Here it is:

2 tortillas
1 cup of Daiya shredded cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and pepperjack)
Salsa, guacamole, and sour cream, for toppings

Put a tortilla on a microwave safe plate and spread the cheese shreds on top, making sure they are even distributed.  Put the 2nd tortilla on top, and put in the microwave for one minute, or until cheese is melted.  Let it sit for about a minute to cool down enough to handle.  With a knife or a pair of scissors, cut the quesadilla into quarters.  Serve alongside salsa, guacamole, and sour cream, and enjoy to your heart's content!



I'm baaaaaaack!!!!

Wow... it's been quite a while since I've added anything to my blog.  After having some great experiences @ a couple of restaurants and with some of my own recipes, I decided to start it up again. 

I hope you enjoy my site and look forward to your comments and hope you can share your culinary stories with me.  And if you have any advice on how to better improve this site, I welcome the feedback. 

I hope to see you soon!



Jesse

Recipe: Iced Mocha Coffee

I started out making this because I had some extra coffee left over, but wanted something cold.  I was thinking of a frappucino when I decided to make this, but when I was looking @ recipes online, they all called for ice cream, not ice.  But I wanted something that was quick and easy where I could use the ingredients that I had on hand and wouldn't take a toll of my waistline.

The concoction I created is just a nice cold iced mocha coffee that has the head of a frappe without the calories.  Speaking from personal experience, it is the perfect drink for a hot day and gives a great caffeinated kick that is a good afternoon treat.

So here it is:

1 cup of coffee (or more, if desired)
1 1/4 cup of soy milk
1 heaping tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon of maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
6 ice cubes

In the blender, combine the first four ingredients, blending well to combine.  Taste it and add more sweetener, cocoa, or coffee, if needed.  Add the ice cubes on the "crush" setting on your blender until smooth.  Taste again and adjust if so desired.

Review: Thai Garden, Woonsocket, RI

My husband and I decided to venture to Woonsocket, RI to try a Thai restaurant called Thai Garden, located 280 Main Street.  They have a parking lot right in front.  We actually passed it by accident because the place was so small and unassuming.  Normally, our "go to" Thai restaurant is in our town, but now it has a true contender. 

We were seated right away and given menus.  There were a lot of vegetarian choices.  We ended up ordering a lot of food for the table:  Tofu Yellow Curry, Vegetarian Spicy Noodles, Pad Pik Khing with Tofu - all ordered to be extra spicy - and rice.  Our dishes came out very quickly, so we were able to indulge right away.  ALL of these dishes were phenomenal.  The noodles, which came out first, had an infusion of spice with a touch of sweetness that was so amazing, we had gone through half of it by the time our other dishes arrived.  Both the curry dish and the Pad Pik Khing were scrumptious.  The tofu and the vegetables were perfectly cooked, not overdone.  I particularly liked the sweet sauce of the Pad Pik Khing, which was our "cleansing" dish, to clear our palates of the heat inflicted by the curry and the noodles.  We finished the noodles and were able to bring home what was left of the curry and Pad Pik Khing, how little there was left.

I'm hoping we go to Thai Garden again really soon.  It's about a 20 or so minute drive away from where we live, but it was well worth the travel.

I give Thai Garden my highest rating:  5 stars!  * * * * *

Review: Dosa-N-Curry, Somerville, MA

My husband and I discovered this hidden gem located @ 447 Somerville Ave in Somerville, MA when we were in the area, visiting friends.  This is an Indian "vegetarian fusion" restaurant, featuring both vegetarian and vegan meals, as well as gluten-free options.  The decor was dark, but the light that streamed in from the front windows made it a delightful experience for the senses.  There was a television toward the front that was playing Bollywood entertainment on mute while the speakers filled the room with Indian music in quiet tones that only further added to the ambiance.

They had a lunch buffet, but we chose to order from the menu.  The offerings all looked to be reasonably priced.  And what a menu!  There are a ton of dishes to choose from that have enough description to make your mouth water.  For lunch, I had a piece of garlic naan along with a favorite dish of mine, Dal Mahkani and white rice.  I received both of my items at once in a timely manner.  

The portions were quite large.  I got a ton of rice and the entree was so large, I had to take home the leftovers (which I was more than happy to do!), which made for a terrific dinner later that night.  The Dal Makhani was totally amazing.  The spicing was perfect and the flavors were exotically transforming.  

When our server came over to ask us if we enjoyed our meal, I was literally speechless for a minute.  I gushed about how good our meals were, that it was a wonderful experience, and how we would definitely come again.

I give this restaurant my top rating:   5 stars!  * * * * *




Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to all!

My husband and I went to my father's house for dinner with my family, including my father, my two brothers, their respective wives, and my little nephew.  We had a wonderful time.  I got to spend some time with everyone, and got to hang out with my nephew, who I don't get to see all that often.  I totally spoiled him for Christmas, getting him a lot of toys and books.  He was having so much fun with everything everybody got for him.  He's a smart cookie and is just the cutest little thing! 

My father served a beef tenderloin with the choice of horseradish or Bearnaise sauces (he said he overcooked it, but everyone thought it was great); broiled salmon filet (for my husband); a baked potato (again, for my husband); risotto with peas; and caponata.  I brought my marinated olives (mentioned earlier on this blog, I believe), molasses cookies, brownies, and chocolate sorbet, all homemade.  I was very pleased with how everything turned out.  Everybody liked everything.  I'm already thinking about what to bring next year that will really "wow" them.  One of my brothers and his wife brought a homemade banana ice cream, with chocolate chips that they made in their ice cream machine.  (It turns out that me and both of my sister-in-laws have the same kind.  Small world!)  I loved it, since Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey is my favorite ice cream flavor, and it tasted almost exactly like that, minus the walnuts.  It makes me want to get creative the next time I make ice cream, to make something spectacular.  I'll put it up here when I do it, hopefully with much success.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

REVIEW: Asia Palace, Medford, MA

I LOVE this restaurant!  We've only gotten delivery from there, but it's been top notch, for the most part.  The major reason for my rave review is because they make the most delicious, most succulent Peking Duck I have ever had!  I always get a whole duck, which lasts for many days.  The 1/2 duck is good, but if you want to really experience the best, go for the whole duck.  The great thing is that they include the carcass, which has crispy skin, along with some fatty flesh.  I can imagine you could use it to make a stock, but I have yet to do that.

My husband gets vegetarian hot dishes and sushi from there.  The vegetarian dishes are excellent.  The sushi is really good, but the issue (and only criticism) has been regarding his allergy to sesame seeds.  There have been times where he's ordered it, requesting that they omit the sesame seeds, and they are in there.  When I say "in there," they put it in with the vegetables and fish, so you can't see it until it's too late.  Unfortunately this has led to mild allergic reactions.  But after pointing out that issue, they've been really good about it.

They are very pleasant over the phone.  Also, their delivery is usually quite timely, even remarkably quick at times.

Since it's the best Peking Duck I have ever tasted in my life - for delivery or in a restaurant - I have to give them my highest rating:  an enthusiastic 5-stars!  
* * * * *


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Marinated Olives

This is the time of year where I make my marinated olives, something that is always in high demand during the holidays.  My husband and I made 24 (1/2 pint) jelly jars.  That was 10 lbs of mixed already spiced olives, which we ordered in 5 lb. bags for a very affordable price.  We're currently waiting 90 minutes before we top off the olives with more olive oil, if needed.  Then, we're putting them into a hot water bath until they seal, for about 10 minutes.

I'm looking forward to trying one of these in a week or so.  Usually, the wait time is 5 days, but I like to infuse the olives with as much oil and spices as possible.  That way, they are succulent and filled with flavor.  Now we'll have some to share with our families for Christmas.

Monday, May 7, 2012

THE MOST FANTASTIC CHILI EVER!! (For real!)

I came up with this recipe when we had nothing in the house, which is why I call it "On The Fly" chili.  It's completely vegetarian, but my carnivorous friends can't tell the difference.

Jesse's "On The Fly" Chili

1 large onion, chopped
8 large cloves of garlic (or to your taste), finely chopped
1 hot chili pepper, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
3 tbsp cumin
3 (14.5 oz) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 (14.5 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz) can of spicy black beans
1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 large jar of tomato sauce (flavor of your choice)
2 tbsp maple syrup (grade B, if you can)
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped


In a large pot, over medium heat, saute onion until translucent, stirring so it doesn't stick.  Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  When the garlic is done, add spices, chopped chili pepper, rinsed beans, as well as the spicy beans.  When combined, add diced tomatoes, maple syrup, and tomato sauce.  Stir gently until all the ingredients are incorporated.  The mixture should look soupy.  Stirring often, wait until the mixture bubbles and turn down to medium low heat.  Leave cover on and let sit for about 30 minutes, stirring ever so often.  After the time is up, stir in chopped cilantro and let cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn off the heat.  Stir again and let sit for 10 more minutes before serving.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Review: Mama Gina's, Somerville, MA

This is seriously the best pizza I have had in ages - or ever!  It's got a nice thin crust and slightly greasy in the best way possible.  It's got the perfect amount of sauce and cheese and toppings.  This is the kind of pizza that every pizzeria should have, as far as I am concerned.  I am so glad I found out about this place.  I've ordered pizza from a few places in Somerville, and I've never found anything that completely "wowed" me like this place has.  This is going to be my "go-to" place for pizza from now on.  EccellenteIncredibileSpettacolare!

I give Mama Gina's of Somerville my highest rating:   5-stars!    *  *  *  *  *  


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Holy frappucino, Catman!

I made a homemade frappuccino for me and my husband for dessert.  Sooo good.  Here's how it goes:

1 cup of cold, strong coffee
1 cup milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup (I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I used 4)
3 tablespoons of sugar
2 - 2 1/4 cups of ice, chopped

Chop ice in blender until rough.  Blend all ingredients.

Enjoy!