Monday, April 26, 2010

Spicy Black Bean Burger

I left Chicago yesterday and cried for the first time since starting this new adventure.  The past week or so has been a total blur - saying goodbye, my mom and brother visiting, turtle races, delicious pizza and so much more.  

I'll be at my mom's for the next couple of days - she has a garden with ripe lettuce, radish, green onion and broccoli.  We had a salad today that was all fresh from the garden, which was so much sweeter tasting than anything you can get in a store.  Tomorrow we are going to get all the weeds out of the garden tomorrow.  I'll have to get some pictures of her cute little garden and roosters. 

This is a spicy black bean burger that I made a handful of to eat the past week.  I love Spicy Black Bean Burgers for breakfast.  I usually buy the Morning Star burgers - but I wanted to try making them myself.  They ended up not being spicy enough for me - I think they need a jalapeno or two.  I felt like I used a lot of jalapeno sauce, but I guess not enough.  I liked the overall flavor of the burgers and would make the base of the burger the same way again.  I also made my first poached egg!

Start with sauteing chopped red and green bell peppers, onion and frozen corn.

Mix in chili pepper, pepper and jalapeno sauce.  (This was what I had - I was going to use some Adobe Peppers.  I opened up the can and couldn't stand the smell of the sauce.  I had to throw it out almost immediately - I thought it was going to make me ralph.)

Add in drained and rinsed black beans, bread crumbs and an egg.

Mash them with a potato masher until it becomes a thickened mixture.

Form into patties.  Since I baked these, I didn't refridgerate the mixture.  If you are going to grill them, make sure you do refridgerate or else they will just fall apart.

Baked until cooked through.

This is my first poached egg.  Actually, it's my second.  My first looked more like egg drop soup, which is delicious but wouldn't have been right for the patty.

Happy cooking.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sea Bass with Aspargus and Broccoli

On Sunday, we had our going away party (my roommate is going to New York City a week after I leave).  It was nice to see everyone and say some of our final farewells.  However, there was also a lot of - what are you doing Friday?  I'll meet you there...  So it didn't really hit me that I was leaving.  Yesterday (Monday) was my last day at work.  When I was walking away from the office with my big bag of everything from desk it hit me that there wasn't any going back now.  I'm so ready for my adventure that I don't want to go back anyway.  Soon my backyard will be this:

I love a good piece of fish.  I don't eat it very often - mostly because I live no where near an ocean and I get nervous cooking it.  This piece of Sea Bass was singing out to me when I walked by the seafood counter the other night.  I looked at almost every sea bass recipe online (and there really aren't very many of them).  I decided to bake it with some spices (based on this recipe) so the flavor of the fish could come through. I roasted some asparagus and broccoli as a simple side.  

I seasoned with what I had - garlic powder, paprika, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Bake this at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  (If we had a grill, I would've grilled it - but we don't have a back patio.)

I added the asparagus and broccoli on a second pan. 

While the fish baked, I sauteed some garlic and butter together.  Drizzle this and some olive oil on the fish when you pull it out of the oven.

This was a simple dinner that was so satisfying.  I don't know if I've ever had sea bass before, but it's really great fish that didn't dry out during the baking process.  A simple side compliments the fish without taking away to much from the flavor of the fish.

I will miss then when I'm gone...  Happy cooking.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Feta and Thyme Muffins

In front of my apartment now, we have a walkway that gets covered with ferns during the summer.  In fact, I've had a friend describe it as, "that is some Jurassic Park ri-dic-ulousness!"  

I've always loved ferns.  My mom has a collection of ferns that whenever I see them, they make me feel like I'm home.  Whenever we moved in, I didn't realize that a fern jungle would grow beside our walkway every spring and stay bright until the winter snow came and drove them back down.  The spring has been truly started for me when they start to uncurl out of the ground and soak in the sun's rays.  Home.  (even if only for another week and a half.)


I saw these Feta and Thyme Muffins recently and just knew I had to make them.  They are delicious.  The thyme seems to permeate throughout the muffins.  The little pieces of feta add a sour bite that prevent these from being all herb.  I had it with a cup of Earl Grey morning tea (from a little Mediterranean tea shop in Andersonville) - with a splash of milk.  I'm normally not a hot tea fan; however, it went perfectly with muffins.  I actually drank the whole cup!  (A girl that I used to work with had a theory that I didn't like hot tea because I'm from Texas and it's too hot there to like hot tea.  Maybe - my mom doesn't like it either!)  They would be perfect to serve for an afternoon tea or Sunday brunch.

I was out of buttermilk and didn't want to go to the store, so I made my own replacement buttermilk.  Start with about a tablespoon of lemon juice.

Fill up the rest of the cup with milk.  Let it sit for five minutes and ta-da buttermilk (substitute)!

Whisk together the buttermilk, an egg and a quarter cup of olive oil.  

Create a well in the dry ingredients - two cups of flour, 3 tsp of baking powder and a half a tsp of salt.  (The real ingredient list is 2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of baking soda.  I was out of baking soda so I substituted an additional tsp of baking powder.)  Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry.  (Mine over flowed shortly after this photo was taken.  Oops!)

Fold in the wet and dry ingredients.  Be sure not to over mix.

Combine together 3/4 cup feta with about a tbsp of fresh thyme.  

Fold this into the batter.

Use an ice cream scoop to spoon the batter into a prepared muffin tin.

They actually rose!  My muffins never rise!  

These really are a phenomenal breakfast muffin.  

Happy cooking.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Szechuan Green Bean and Pork Stir Fry

After making the pot stickers, I had some leftover ground pork, which isn't an ingredient I use often.  I found this recipe for Szechuan Green Beans with Ground Pork from Cooking Light.  We are nearing the end of my Asian invasion inspired recipes and I think this one was one of my favorites.  It worked perfectly as a leftover for work lunches.  The pork had a great spicy flavor that sort of caramelized around the crumbles.  (Although, it would be fantastic with tofu for a flavorful vegetarian dish.) The green beans were still fresh and crisp (make sure not to over cook them).  The fried egg blended into the dish flawlessly. 

Start with adding the rice into water to get it cooking.  Once it starts boiling, turn down the beat and cover until the water is mostly evaporated.

Brown the pork and add in some chopped garlic.

Prepare the green beans by washing them and chop off the ends.

Make the sauce - a combination of sesame oil, soy and hot pepper flakes.

Add the green beans and spice to the meat.  Let it cook down and the green beans get a little softer to the bite.

I'm not the best at frying eggs - but I love a fried egg.  It's a skill I'll have to practice more, especially now that I'm photographing my food

Fluff up the rice.

Combine all together on a plate.  Truly delicious and easy meal.

Happy cooking.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Personal Roasted Broccoli Pizza

I made this pizza tonight in an effort to stay awake, but then I got so excited by how good it turned it out that I immediately want to share it... or maybe it's my delishional state (due to lack of sleep).  (Don't worry - the Asian invasion isn't quite over yet.  I still have my favorite dish left to share...) Yesterday afternoon, I was feeling sluggish and a bit fevered so I laid down to take a nap around 6 p.m.  Well I didn't wake back up until 11 - and at that time I was feeling fantastic!  

That means I didn't fall back asleep until about 3 a.m., which was followed by a series of bad/bizarre dreams that kept jolting me back awake.  Mice running at me and tornados.  I've been exhausted all day but I wanted to stay awake long enough that I'd be able to sleep through the night. So here we are.

I stopped at Trader Joe's on the way home - mostly because I had no idea what I wanted.  As soon as I walked by the broccoli I knew I wanted to make a pizza.  My favorite pizza place in Chicago, Piece on North Avenue, is New Haven style.  My roommate and I often go and get a white pizza (no sauce but lots of garlic) with tomatoes, artichokes, spinach and goat cheese.  Last time I went I had a white pizza with broccoli and spinach.  It was phenomenal - the broccoli caramelizes just a bit and mixes with the cheese for a gooey treat.  My mini pizza (on a pita bread) was missing roasted garlic because I didn't want to wait while the garlic roasted - I would have fallen asleep.  This is definitely going to help my cravings for Piece when I'm not here anymore.  (Don't get me wrong - Piece's pizza is by far superior.  If you have a chance to go - go!  They have great beer too.  Their Hefeweissen just won bronze at World Beer Cup last weekend.)

Start with pre-roasting the broccoli a little bit so you don't have to burn the whole pizza to get that caramelized flavor.  Put on a pan and drizzle with EVOO.  (Thanks Rachel Ray.)

While the broccoli is roasting, prep all the other ingreidents - whip off and slice cremini mushrooms, wash and pat dry spinach and slice up the mozzerella.  (See all the prepped ingredinets - they are blurry so you can't.  Hehe!)

Pull out the broccoli out when it start to turn a little brown in spots but not cooked through.

To assemble the pizza, I started with a whole wheat pita (on foil for easy clean up) and a drizzle of EVOO.

I smoothed out the oil with a spinach leaf and then add the rest for a bed of spinach.

Add the broccoli.  I've always loved steamed broccoli with butter, which was probably my favorite food as a kid.  Roasting broccoli might be my new favorite way to prepare it though!

Add the sliced mushrooms.

Add the fresh mozzerella.

Spot goat cheese all over.  Goat cheese takes any pizza from great to phenomenal.  The creamy texture and rich taste bring the whole thing over the top.  

Stick in a 400 degree oven until the cheese is melted and edges of the pita bread are a little toasty.

Add hot pepper flakes - if you're into that kind of thing.  Enjoy!  I certainly did!

Happy cooking.  (Did you ever watch Bob Ross?  He makes me extremely happy - and at the end of all his shows he says, "Happy painting and God bless."  It makes me feel warm and fuzzy.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Steamed Pot Stickers

I'm beginning to clean and pack up today.  My mom (and possibly brother) are going to be in a week and a half!!  I want to be pretty much prepared when they get here.  I'm also trying to not grocery shop and just use up what I have in my refrigerator.  I'm not as worried about pantry items because I'm distributing those items to my mom, who doesn't have access to a lot of items, and my niece, who loves to cook.  I'm getting extra excited about my new adventure as it's getting closer.  

Pot stickers are on of my favorites - and surprisingly easy to make.  Just mix together a combination of finely chopped veggies, meat and fold up in wrappers.  The little purses are perfect for an appetizer - sweet and spicy.  I steam them, which keeps them a little bit healthier.  

Start with sauting the pork with some pepper.

Chop some bok choy, water chestnuts and grate fresh ginger.

Add to the browned pork along with some toated seasame oil.

Refrigerate to let the flavors meld together.

Start with a wrapper.  

Add in a dollop of filling.  Put water along the edges to help them stick together.

Fold together so you have a triangle.  Then push the two points together to create a little purse.

Steam some water and place the pot stickers on a wire rack until cooked through.

The sauce is a combination of hot oil, sesame oil, soy sauce and chopped scallions.


Happy cooking.