Monday, May 31, 2010

Catching Up!

I need to get better at blogging. For real. Each time I get a chance, I feel like it takes me 5 hours to write a post since I have so much to write. Since I used up all my desserts for the last post, I'll highlight some of the dinners made lately. And by lately, I mean 2 months ago. ;)

The reviews of this dish were kind of blah. Which made me very nervous to try it. However, I'm really glad I did. This dish was super yummy and all it needed was some chili powder. I wish the other reviews would have known their way around a spice cabinet so they could taste this yummyness.

Cilantro Beef and Orzo
from Eat Better America
serves 3 for dinner, 6 as a side

  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 9 oz orzo pasta
  • 1 can (11 oz) corn (I used 1/2 cup frozen)
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles, undrained
  • 2 tsp. oil (olive, canola, soybean...)
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef (it says stir fry beef but I just used ground beef...)
  • 1 large bell pepper (used 3/4 cup frozen bell pepper and onion mix)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a 2-qt saucepan, mix broth, pasta, corn and chiles. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. 

Cover, simmer about 10 minutes or until pasta is just tender. Remove from heat. Let stand about 5 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed. (This didn't happen for me...the pasta was done and there was quite a bit of  liquid I just drained it a bit to get that sticky consistency).

Meanwhile, spray 10-inch skillet with cooking spray. Add oil; heat over medium-high heat. Add beef and bell pepper (I added onion too); cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown.

I'm I chop my cilantro with a food processor ;)

Stir beef mixture into pasta mixture. Stir in cilantro.

It tasted like it needed some oomph. So I garnished each with more cilantro and about a tablespoon of chili powder. Perfect. Yumm! I was impressed by this simple, healthy and easy meal.

When I was a kid, my mom had this cookbook for me. It had many recipes for "kids." The language was simple enough for me to understand when I was younger and the recipes were very simple. One of my favorites, to this day, is Oatmeal Pancakes! So I asked my mom and she emailed me the recipe...after changing some of the ingredients for a more filling, grown-up, and healthy pancakes...I made them for dinner. And I think I made something great...even better!

Oatmeal Pancakes
modified from kids cookbook Mom has
makes 12 pancakes
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup buttermilk (1 Tb. white vinegar + enough milk to equal one cup)
  • 1 Tb. brown sugar
  • 2 Tb. butter, melted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Soak oats in 3/4 cup buttermilk for 5 minutes. Mix dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon). Whisk brown sugar, butter and egg lightly in a separate bowl until just combined. Add soaked oats, 1/4 cup leftover milk and dry ingredients to the bowl and mix together until combined.  

Grease a heated griddle or spray with cooking spray. Pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are puffed and dry around the edges. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown. Top with syrup.

These pancakes are the best ever! Seriously, they're fabulous. They're higher in calories than normal pancakes due to the oats...but they're FILLING. I have 3 for dinner and I'm good all night. They freeze well, too. You can freeze extras and pop them in the toaster later for a quick breakfast!

I have become the weirdo who like tofu. Even before I decided to become vegetarian (more on that later), I loved tofu. So I wanted to try to make tofu parmigiana. I looked at some recipes online, but didn't like them so...I made my own. It wasn't that hard, trust me. It's just all about the process.

Tofu Parmigiana
from my brain :) 
Serves 2-4 (depending on how hungry they are!)
  • 1/2 package firm or extra-firm tofu, sliced in 1/4-in thick slices, pressed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs, whole wheat if you can find them
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tb. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 jar spaghetti sauce, or your own recipe (this is my own sauce)
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella
Slice the tofu into 1/4-in thick slices. Half a block should make 4 slices. Be make sure to press and dry the tofu slices. (How to press tofu slices: Place several paper towels beneath the tofu and on top of the tofu. Put a cookbook, skillet or other heavy, flat surface on top and press gently on the tofu until tofu is dry.)

In assembly line fashion, place the flour in a shallow dish, followed by the lightly beaten egg in a different shallow dish, and a third shallow dish with the bread crumbs, Parmesan and Italian seasoning.  In the bottom of a small casserole dish, spread enough sauce to cover the bottom. One at a time, cover the tofu in flour and pat off excess. Next, dip the tofu slices in the egg and then in the bread crumbs. Be sure to cover completely with bread crumbs.

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a skillet. Place breaded tofu slices in the skillet and cook until browned. Flip and brown the other side. 

Arrange tofu slices in the casserole dish. Top with sauce and cheese. Bake at 375° F for 20 minutes. Serve each slice over 1 oz whole wheat angel hair pasta. 

YUMMM. Seriously. Anything drenched in my fabulous spaghetti sauce would be divine but even still, this was delicious.

I have one more recipe for this post and it's another creation from my brain. For mother's day, my dad did a Mexican-themed meal. I asked if I could bring dessert since that's my specialty ;) but he had that covered...fried ice cream, anyone?? (It was absolutely amazing, in case you wondering...) So he asked for a side dish...something like Bush's Black Bean Fiesta. So I looked up what that was and tried to find recipes like it. But I came up with nothing. So, I looked at the ingredients. Black beans, corn and bell peppers in a spicy-sweet chipotle sauce. I can handle that. :)

Honey-Chipotle Black Beans
from my brain
serves...a ton! seriously, I didn't realize how much 1 lb. of black beans makes!

  • 1 lb. black beans, soaked overnight, then simmered until tender
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth (as needed)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 6 oz can water
  • 2 chipotle chiles, from can in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tb. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F.

To make the sauce, add the oil to the pan and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic; cook for 2 minutes. 

Add the remaining sauce ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce is thickened. 

Place the sauce in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. 

Sauté diced pepper about 2 minutes.

Place the beans in a large bowl, stir in sauce, pepper and corn. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Transfer the mixture to a casserole or baking dish and pour 1 cup of the stock over. (I was so excited to use my new casserole dish I got from my MIL for my birthday!)

Bake the beans, covered, for 20 minutes. Check to see if the mixture is dry and add more stock, if needed. Continue baking an additional 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and fold in the cilantro, if using. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving; it sets up nicely.

I would use 1/2 cup broth the first 20 minutes and then add another 1/2 for the next 20 minutes next time. I think it would've done better. I forgot to use the cilantro since I had to take it somewhere and didn't serve immediately. I bet that would've added to the flavor even more. 

Overall, I was impressed with myself. They tasted good. Nothing to swoon over but they tasted like I wanted them to taste so I considered it a success. :)

Well, hopefully I'll be writing again today with the rest of the stuff I promised: an update on us people, instead of the food. Plus those reviews of those Jillian DVDs I promised ages ago! lol Oh, and in case you were wondering if my cat can get any weirder....he can:

Yup, that's the trash.


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