Sunday, June 20, 2010

Can't beat it Rice Salad

easy? check.
great for potlucks? check.
healthy? check.
vegetarian? check.
vegan? check. brownie points for that one!
easily converted to gluten free? yes, even that.
cheap? ehh, not exactly, but you get a lot of really filling food out of this.

I found this recipe on one of my favorite food/living blogs, Apartment Therapy, and they adapted it from this Emeril recipe, and then I changed it up a bit to match what I liked and what I had available. The ingredient list is a little longer than what I usually go for, but it was worth it.

I used wild rice and bulgar:

and then all of this stuff:

I'd eated two bowls of it before I remembered to take a photo of the finished product:

This is salad is wonderful because it tastes incredible, it's healthy, and it's incredibly filling.  One bowl, and you're pretty much set for a few hours.  Great for a pot luck, you can make it the day before, and it's holds just perfectly in the fridge.

even better, I managed to make this entire thing only dirtying one sauce pan, and one bowl! 

I highly suggest preparing the rice and the bulgar the night before, as they take a while and you want them at room temperature or cold when you put the rest of the salad together.  Both the wild rice and the bulgar can just sit (covered) on the kitchen counter overnight.

Rice and Bulgar Salad

1 4oz package wild rice
1 1/2 cups bulgar
1 lime
1 orange
about 2 tbsp dried dill
a good bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
a few sprigs of fresh mint, chopped
1 sweet pepper, diced
1 cucumber, diced
about 1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup diced dried dates
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp cumin

Cook the wild rice according to the package directions. If you have extra water left, strain it.  Put the bulgar in a bowl large enough to hold the entire salad and pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over top.  Cover, and let sit one hour.

Mix cooled, cooked rice into the bulgar.  Zest the lime and the orange, and add the zests to the rice mixture.  Juice the lime and orange into a seperate bowl, and set aside.

Add the dill, parsley, mint, sweet pepper, cucumber, almonds and dates into the rice and bulgar. To make the dressing, blend the orange and lime juice with the cumin, olive oil, and some salt & pepper. pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.  add more salt and pepper to taste.  Chill for a few hours and enjoy!

Just looking at the ingredients, I knew this salad was going to be good, but I didn't expect it to be that good!!  the dates and sweet peppers are, well, sweet, the lime juice is tart, the mint is bright and fun, and the cumin, rice and bulgar are earthy, with some crunch in the almonds.  Just a really wonderful mix of ingredients.  I took it for lunch to work a few times, and I was amazed at how filling this was. Usually my lunch is a tupperware container full of something, and a snack.  after a bowl of this, I didn't need my snack.

Monday, June 14, 2010

For the love of cucumbers.

I heart cucumbers. Really, I do. Have since I was a kid. If I was bugging my Mom for a snack before dinner, and she didn't want me to wreck my apetite, she'd give me a hunk of cucumber to munch on. And I was a happy camper!  Cukes are so versatile when it comes to salads, they play well with just about anything.

Three Sentence Cucumber Dill salad.
So easy the instructions are three sentences. Ok, maybe four.

one cucumber, peeled or not
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
A few thin slices (or more to taste) of red onion, cut into 1" peices
1/2 tbsp dried dill

cut the cucumber in half longways, and spoon out the seeds. slice into 1/4" thick slices and toss in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients until the cucumber slices are coated. Test for seasonings, and add more salt/onion/dill/lemon juice as needed. Eat right away, or chill for later.

The original recipe I referenced called for sour cream and half of a small red onion. I swapped the sour cream for greek yogurt (I'm a huge fan of greek yogurt!), and after picking out most of the red onion because it was too strong, I lowered the suggested amount.

What to do with the rest of that onion? You could make salsa, or carmelized onion for pizza or focaccia or just eat the cooled carmelized onions with some drained canned chickpeas and a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

This would make a great pot luck dish. If you chill it for a few hours, it should hold at room temperature just fine for a while. Or, you could be like me and eat the entire bowl (ok, I picked out a bunch of onions) for dinner. It's not my fault, I swear, I just love cucumbers!

bread! and pictures!

behold some delicious food pr0n!

Hopefully next time I'll remember to take a picture before the food is nearly gone. This is the remaining third of some super awesome delicious fruit and nut bread I made yesterday.  I started with a basic Challah recipe, and got creative from there. You can roll just about anything you like into this stuff, just make sure it's chopped up small (my walnut peices were way too big) and that you don't have more than 1/3 cup or so of filling. You might not be able to tell from the picture, but I had way too much filling, and I didn't flatten my dough out enough before rolling. But it was still darn tasty!!  As will yours be, even if you nut chunks are too big, your filling too much, and your dough not rolled out enough.

Super Easy Fruit and Nut Stuffed Bread

makes one good sized loaf of bread
1 packet yeast
1/2 cup very warm water (warmer than body temp, but not "hot")
1 tsp honey + about 2 tbsp honey
1 egg
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 cups flour (have 3 cups ready, you might not use it all)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (or dried fruit of your choice, chopped if big peices)
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (or other nuts of your choice)

dissolve the yeast in the very warm water with 1 tsp of honey. leave for 5-10 minutes so the yeast can start to froth.

In a large bowl, beat the egg, then add 2 tbsp honey, the oil, salt and mix well. now add the frothy yeast mixture, and mix again. Slowly add flour until you have a soft dough. With well floured hands, knead the dough for about 12 minutes or until it is soft and elastic. pour a little bit of oil in the bowl, turn the dough ball to coat, cover loosely, and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours.

When you are ready to shape the dough, soak the dried cranberries in hot water for about 5 minutes. This plumps them up, helps to break up the sticky blobs of dried fruit, and rehydrates them a little. All good things! Drain the fruit well, it's OK if it's damp, but you don't want it to be wet when you put it in the bread.

Punch down the dough, and roll or stretch it out into a rectangle-ish shape that's about 10" by 20". Mine was not a perfect rectangle, nor was it exactly those measurements. Spread the nuts and dried fruit on top of the dough, leaving 2" or so on the edges. Starting at one of the long ends, roll it up as tight as you can. If your dough is especailly thin, try to be careful not to tear it. But if it tears, that's Ok! Really! it will still taste wonderful! However, if the outside is torn, and there is fruit or nuts right on the outside, you will want to pick them off because they will burn in the oven. Pinch the ends closed and fold them underneath.

Let rise on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for another hour. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until browned on the outside.

Let cool, and enjoy!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chocolate Chunk Sour Cream Muffins

Organized by "around the clock", starting with Breakfast & Brunch, then going into Coffee Break, Lunch, Afternoon Coffee Time, Dinner, After the Show, and ending with recipes for Midnight Snacks. Excellent pictures, with the history of coffee, the story of Maxwell House, brewing and serving tips, the lingo of coffee terms, and what to have in the kitchen.

This is the only recipe I've made from this book, so far, but I'm looking forward to trying more!

1/2 cup milk
2 Tbs instant coffee
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package (4 ounces) German's sweet chocolate, chopped

Heat the oven to 375 F. Lightly butter 12 muffin pan cups (or line them with paper cups).

Stir the milk and instant coffee in a small bowl until well blended; set aside. Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk mixture, sour cream, butter, and vanilla until well blended. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Stir in the chocolate. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup two-thirds full.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean. Remove the plan from the oven, put on a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes.

Coffee Drinkings & Desserts Cookbook, Maxwell House, 1999

Tuesday, June 8, 2010



doesn't the word just evoke something foriegn and romantic, possibly ex-pat?  ok, maybe I've been watching too much travel channel lately but you have to admit, it's a pretty cool word.  three minutes of your time for limitless satisfaction? can't beat that!

Three ingredients, a freezer and a fork, and you too can enjoy a tall glass of granitas on a hot summer evening.  Even the grapefruit isn't written in stone, this works will just about any non-sweet liquid, even coffee!

Grapefruit Granitas, serves 4-6
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
approx 3 cups grapefruit juice. If you get sugar free grapefruit juice, you will need to add more sugar.

in a shallow glass pyrex dish, blend sugar and boiling water.  stir so the sugar dissolves and the water cools a little. when the water has cooled a bit, pour in the juice to no more than 1 inch deep. Stir the juice a bit and taste it, adding more sugar to taste. It should be tart, but not super tart. After making sure the glass is no longer warm from the hot water, put it in the freezer. wait a few hours and scrape up the top layers of ice crystals with a fork. every hour or so, scrape it some more. when it is scraped and crystalized to your liking, spoon into tall glasses and serve immediately.

- don't use a "sweet" juice, such as fruit punch or grape juice. This should be a tart-ish palette cleanser, and you can always add more sugar as needed.
- want to make it an adult beverage? stir in a shot or two of flavored rum with the juice before freezing.
- fresh mint leaves make a lovely garnish.  but seriously, unless you're making Mojitos, who has fresh mint leaves sitting around?

Granitas are a great close to an summer party. take 3 minutes to make them in the morning, and you can poke at them every few hours as you get more ice out of the freezer anyways.