23 January 2010

Herbal Remedy

By way of Ruchikacooks, I found a wonderful link to a blog site, A2ZVegetarianCuisine, that is collecting home herbal remedies for everyday ailments. I've always been fascinated with using herbs rather than man-made drugs, so I thought this would be an awesome time to add those types of recipes to the blog as well.

The recipe that I'm going to post to be part of this event is a massage oil that I've made in the past to help with sore and aching muscles. If you've had an exceptionally rough day, its great to mix with Epsom salt, and use as a body scrub while in a hot shower. The clove works to stimulate blood flow, and will act as a mild pain reliever. The sage also helps in pain relief, and has a wonderful calming affect on the body.

Clove and Sage Massage Oil
Topical application only!

2 cups virgin olive oil, or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons dried sage leaves
2 tablespoons cloves

1. In mortar and pestle, lightly crush sage and cloves.
2. Combine all ingredients in heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat on stove. As oil heats, reduce heat so as not to bring over the smoke point.
3. Heat oil for 7 to 10 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
4. Strain oil through cheesecloth so that only oil remains. Store in airtight cotainer out of direct sunlight. You can add addtional cloves to oil while stored to increase potency.

21 January 2010

When they say "Chicken Soup for the Soul"...

...they must be talking about this soup. Greek Chicken, Spinach and Rice Soup. It sounds simple enough, but the punch of flavour that this soup packs is staggering. Staci and I both agree that thus far, this has to rank in the top 5 items that we've made (she says the top 2). It's made from some simple staple ingredients that we normally have around the house, but not necessarily things that I would have put together. Bring me lemon chicken and I'll turn up my nose; combine it in a soup and I'll ask for a second bowl.

Greek Chicken, Spinach and Rice Soup
From the Turn Around Program Cookbook

4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

1/2 lb. chicken breast, trimmed of all fat

2 large eggs

1/4 cup lemon juice
10 oz chopped cooked spinach
2 cups cooked brown rice
ground pepper to taste

1. Bring broth to boil in pan, add chicken. Reduce to simmer till chicken fully cooked.

2. Remove chicken and set aside. Shred once cooled.

3. Wisk eggs and lemon juice till frothy. Using one cup of broth, whisk into egg mixture to temper.

4. In pan, add spinach to remaining broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in rice.

5. Whisk in the egg-broth mixture, being careful to keep mixture moving to avoid curdling. Continue whisking till mixture thickens.

6. Add chicken back to soup and cook on low while stirring till chicken is re-heated. Season with pepper, and serve.
This recipe makes about 4 healthy sized servings.

Instead of the suggested frozen spinach, I julienned about a pound of fresh spinach and wilted it down before adding to the soup. I wasn't happy with the strong kick of the frozen spinach; this was a nice alternative. I also added in some toasted french bread with fresh grated garlic. It made for a nice combo pair, and a great dinner.

Yesterday's dinner was pretty good too. The gingered pot-roast actually had a pretty nice taste, but I'm not a fan of the eye-of-round cut that was suggested. Even cooking the entire deal in the pressure cooker, it was still a tough meat. I'll keep this recipe on the back burner and maybe try it with some stew meat in the future.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

19 January 2010

Laissez l'etouffee..

Tonight was the night for Spinach and Mushroom Etouffee. The recipe was actually easy to follow, and was finished cooking quickly. I made a couple of small modifications, namely in adding in some tomato paste to add a little more depth to the cream of mushroom and cream of celery base, and using a bit more paprika to add to the smokiness of the dish.

I will say that the recipe is nothing like what Staci and i ate at Gumbo Ya-Ya's. It was good, but it wasn't on-par with traditional creole food. I'm going to keep looking around the net to see if i can find a vegetable etouffee or similar recipe so that I can try this again. Keepign the garlic, green pepper and onion a very small chop helps the overall dish. The bigger the pieces, the more apparent they are in the sauce, which only distracts from the texture of the chopped mushroom. Also, I'll probably use fresh spinach in my next attempt. The frozen spinach that I used tonight almost overpowered the complete taste palate. I think that had I cooked the dish for longer, maybe in a slow cooker, the spinach may have been tamed. Staci also thought that the cream of celery was too strong of a forefront taste, so if I use this recipe again, I'll likely use 2 of the cream of mushroom.

Outside the realm of "good for you food", I made Kheer tonight. Kheer is a rice dessert usually made with milk, cardamom, sugar, pistachios or cashews and raisins. I have my own recipe that I use most of the time, but this recipe is pretty close to how I make it. I usually add in some red or golden raisins, and on occasion, coconut flakes. It's a very sweet dessert, which means that you can usually get away with eating a small portion.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

18 January 2010

Not-so Gumbo

I never thought that red peppers could be so good! Normally eating a red pepper leaves a strange carrot-y acidic taste in my mouth. Today, having the red peppers roasted and then blended into a sauce was in a word, delectable. Combined with the white wine and dijon mustard flavors on the sausage and prawns it made for a sweet and deep smoky flavor.

This was a must-have recipe for a chilly day, and was a great addition to what seems to be a "comfort-food" week.
I didn't follow the recipe in full today, I embarked out on my own. Though I made some personal changes, I think that the recipe followed the overall flavour palate that the recipe originally implied. Though I've given credit to the recipe below, the directions will be how I cooked it today.

Shrimp and Sausage with Red Rice
From the
Williams-Sonoma Grilling & Roasting Cookbook.

1/2 cup apricot preserves

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/3 cups long grain white rice

2 2/3 cups water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large red peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped

4 green onions, separated into white and green parts

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup white wine

4 sweet italian sausages (3/4 lb)

parsley to garnish

1. In rice cooker or other vessel toast the rice then combine with water and cook till all water is absorbed. Keep warm.

2. While rice is cooking, combine butter and white parts of green onion in saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until onions soften.

3. Add red pepper to saucepan, along with chicken stock and chili powder. Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes until peppers are softened.

4. Pour ingredients of saucepan to blender and blend into smooth sauce. Return ingredients to pan and allow to simmer on the stove.

5. In small skillet, pour in white wine. Add sausages and cook till done throughout.

6. Move sausages to plate, chop, and add to red pepper sauce.

7. In same pan used for sausages, add oil, lemon juice, preserves, mustard and dash of stock or water to blend evenly. Cook shrimp in mixture till slightly opaque.

8. In bowl combine red pepper and sausage sauce with rice and shrimp. Toss in green onion tops and parsley to garnish.

An easy and filling recipe. Instead of the sweet sausages, i used the chicken and spinach sausages that we bought last weekend. I think they really added to the overall dish taste. This recipe is supposed to serve 4, but its more like 6 or 7 servings. I had more than enough for Staci and I to take for lunch tomorrow.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.

17 January 2010

Homemade Pizza

We started out the new week right today by having homemade pizza. I bought the thin crust from the store pre-made. Staci and I coated them with olive oil, and a thin layer of tomato sauce, and then dressed them with some great non-traditional pizza items. We opted for fresh mozzarella, spinach, kalamata olives, canadian bacon, turkey pepperoni, and mushrooms. They were great, and much better for us than something that we could have ordered in from a pizza joint!

Next week's list is prepared and ready to go. I'm most excited for Tuesday, as I'll be trying to make Spinach and Mushroom Etouffee. Staci and I went to a Cajun place called Gumbo Ya-Ya's here locally. We tried a sample of their Spinach and Mushroom Etouffee and just fell in love with it. It was tasty, filling, and spicy - just like you want a good Cajun dish to be! I haven't been too successful in finding a similar recipe online, but I've found a couple of recipies that I'm going to try and tweak to produce a similar result.

Monday - Shrimp & Sausage with Red Rice
Tuesday - Spinach & Mushroom Etouffee
Wednesday - Spiced Pot Roast
Thursday - Greek Chicken and Spinach Rice Soup

All of these seem like very comforting foods. I can't wait to get started cooking them.

Try it! You might like it...or maybe you'll order pizza.