Monday, July 27, 2009

Egg Taco ( Omelette with vegetables)

I had a huge amount of vegetables and herbs left over from other recipes. Therefore, I decided to experiment with an omelette for breakfast, which ended up looking more like a taco rather than an omelette. This is a great recipe to use for experimentation--so be as bold and daring as you'd like to be! Take a visit to your fridge and pull out all of the veggies and herbs (I used both fresh and dried) that you have to make your own egg taco. Also, this is a fantastic way to get your one daily serving of vegetables early in the morning. You'll get your day started off well with this egg taco!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

*2 eggs
*Veggies (For this one, I used 3 slices of a yellow squash cubed, 1/4 cup baby bella mushrooms, 1/4 chopped red and green pepper, and one green onion chopped)
*1T cilantro
*1tsp thyme (I used dry)
*1 T olive oil
*2 T freshly grated cheese (I used leftover gruyere--mixed cheese works great, too, and tastes awesome)
*fresh ground pepper
*pinch of salt

1.) Add olive oil to a small pan. Heat oil on medium high heat.
2.) When oil is hot, add the green and red peppers. While the peppers cook cut the other veggies. Add the other veggies.
3.) Sprinkle with thyme and cook until the vegetables have softened. While the vegetables are cooking beat 2 eggs in a small bowl. Add freshly chopped cilantro, green onions, ground pepper, and a pinch of salt. Mix together.
4.) Place vegetables on a plate and set to the side.
5.) Turn the heat down to medium low (you want the eggs to cook slowly so the bottom doesn't burn). Add the egg mixture so that it covers the bottom of the pan. Let it cook until the edges begin to brown.
6.) Use a spatula to slowly lift the edges. Once you can get the entire spatula underneath, flip the omelette.
7.) Cook on the other side for another 2 minutes.
8. ) Add grated cheese to the top of the omellette and the veggies to half.
9.) Fold over, remove from the pan. And, enjoy.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Recipe: Vegetable Tart ( with Gruyere )

This recipe is so simple. It's totally amazing that with the small preparation time that it tastes so delicious. The original recipe comes from Martha Stewart's book, Everyday Food: Great Food Fast and is supposed to be an asparagus tart. I went out on a limb here and decided to do a little experimenting. Instead of asparagus I added yellow squash, mushrooms, and red and green peppers. The gruyere cheese is outstanding. You should experiment with the different types of veggies that you include as a topping as well as different cheeses. Unfortunately, on this particular one I didn't add as many veggies as I should have. Next time, I'm going to pile them on.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes (sounds long, but it is totally easy)

*2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (imported from Switzerland and kinda expensive)
*1 sheet puff pastry ( from frozen dessert aisle and thawed according to package)
*1/2 bell pepper cut into 1/4 inch strips
*1/2 red pepper cut into 1/4 inch strips
*handful of sliced mushrooms (I used the baby bella)
*1 yellow squash thinly sliced
*olive oil
*black pepper

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees (make sure you have thawed the puff pastry according to package)
2.) Roll the pastry to 16 x 10 inch rectangle (or whatever you can manage, it also helps to roll it out with flour) and trim the uneven edges.
3.) Place pastry puff on baking sheet. Score dough 1 inch from edge to make a rectangle. Then poke the inside with a fork at 1/2 inch intervals (if you don't do this, the dough will rise to much and you'll have a burnt pastry)
4.) Bake until golden (about 12 minutes..It also helps to undercook it a little bit because you will cook it a second time)
5.) Remove from oven and sprinkle the grated gruyere cheese on top.
6.) Arrange as much of the vegetables over the cheese. The more the better!
7.) Brush the tops of the vegetables with olive oil and season with black pepper.
8.) Bake until the veggies are tender (about 15 - 20 minutes). The veggies are done when you can pierce them with a fork.
9.) Enjoy with a side salad and a nice glass of wine.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Weekend Happenings

* Sun Valley Center Wine Auction (Idaho)

*Northeast Jazz and Wine Festival (New York)

*Vintage Blues Bash (Michigan)

*A Taste of Camarillo (California)

*A Taste of Niagra (New York/Canada)

There's always something in your neighborhood--get out and enjoy!

Wine: 2003 Cobblestone Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2003 Cobblestone Cabernet Sauvignon was Big, Bold, Spicy, and packed a bit of punch. I'm still in my early stages of wine tasting, but I tasted a bit of cherry with a big hint of spice. I have really enjoyed spicy wines and was in love with this particular one. We had it with filet mignon--absolutely great together--and finished it off with dark chocolate.

The 2003 Cobblestone comes from Napa Valley of which I have many vivid memories. My brother and I complained during every trip to Napa Valley because we were bored out of our minds. My parents were busy tasting wine and my brother and I were busy trying to find creative ways to have fun (which probably was beating one another up). I've been to many of the wine regions in California, but still have not ventured to Napa Valley as an adult. I'm quite sure when I do get there that I'll have a totally different experience. Cheers.

Recipe: Asparagus a la Almandine

Veggies are healthy so I'm trying to eat more of them. The problem I'm running into is that I'd like to spend less time preparing them for consumption. In addition, there are few vegetables that I like to eat raw. Therefore, I'm always trying to find quick ways to prepare vegetables. This almandine recipe is one of my favorites. Tonight, I had it with asparagus, but it is just as tasty with steamed broccoli or peas.

Prep time: 5 minutes.
Cook time: 12 minutes
Total time: 17 minutes

*1 lb. asparagus
*2 T butter
*1 T olive oil
*1/4 cup cut almonds
*1 T lemon juice (optional)
*freshly ground black pepper

1.) Cut the rough ends from the apsaragus.
2.) Brush the asparagus with olive oil making sure to coat all sides.
3.) Cook 12 minutes on the grill turning a few times to cook both sides (Side note: I don't have a grill at home so it works just as well to cook under the broiler for 12 minutes). You know the asparagus is ready when you can easily stick a fork through it. The cooking time may depend on your cooking method and utensils.
4.) Meanwhile, melt the butter on medium-high heat. Add the almonds and cook until browned and fragrant.
5.) Add the lemon juice (I prefer it without lemon juice because I like the buttery almond taste as is) and cook an additional 1 minute.
6.) Place cooked asparagus on a plate, spoon the almandine mixture on top, sprinkle ground pepper and enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Recipe: Cucumber Sandwich with Veggie Cream Cheese Spread

The boyfriend and I just returned from a wonderful trip in Upstate New York. While visiting, we stopped at Murphy Orchards for a wonderful afternoon tea. We were served an assortment of pastries, sandwiches, and of course scones (what's afternoon tea without scones?). One of the sandwiches that we adored was the cucumber sandwich with spread. So, I decided to experiment with my own cucumber sandwich when I saw my mom had 2 beautiful cucumbers out on the counter. It took little time to prepare and turned out light and filling. I even paired it with the French rose from yesterday.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: none
Total time: 15 minutes

*8 0z. package of cream cheese (you may use light if you prefer)
*3 green onions
*2 medium carrots
*12 - 15 stems of cilantro
*1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
*1 cucumber
*4 slices of your favorite sandwich bread

1.) Let the cream cheese sit out for a few hours to soften. Once softened, place in a medium-sized bowl.
2.) Grate 2 carrots. Pat dry with a paper towel to remove excess water. Stir into the cream cheese.
3.) Finely cut the green onions and add to the cream cheese.
4.) Finely chop the cilantro leaves and add to the cream cheese.
5.) Add the ground black pepper.
6.) Mix all of the ingredients and set spread in the fridge while you prepare the sandwiches.
7.) Wash and remove the skin of the cucumbers. Cut into thin slices.
8.) Spread a thin layer of the veggie cream cheese on your bread.
9.) Add the cucumber slices and enjoy!

I had my sandwich with a banana and some of the 2007 French Bicyclette rose from yesterday! Yum.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday Wine: 2007 Red Bicyclette French Rosé

When I walk into the grocery store Rosés are not high on my list of wine to buy. In fact, they aren't on the list at all. However, this afternoon I was inspired by an article about rosé wines.
"Slightly chilled dry rose wines, especially those from Europe, can be a delight at the end of a summer day, with a lunch of chicken salad or with a nice piece of fish for dinner."
I wanted something light to relax with in this South Carolina heat, so I headed out to the nearest grocery store -- Piggly Wiggly (This name makes me laugh every time). After searching the shelves for a nice rosé, I settled on the 2007 Red Bicyclette French Rosé.

What: Rosé wines are light in color and range from orange to pinkish. The wine gets its color from the limited amount of time the grape skins stay in contact with the grape juice. The grape juice of the 2007 Bicyclette Rosé received only 12 hours of contact with the skin and was fermented for 3 weeks in steel tanks. This particular rosé comes from the Languedoc Roussillon region in southern France ( OOhh La la....I think I want to take my next trip here) . Rosé wines are great for warm summer time weather. You can pair it with light meals such as fish, chicken, and even sandwiches.

Taste: This particular wine isn't too sweet and is definitely light and fruity.

Rating: I don't particularly like the 2007 Red Bicyclette Rosé. But, I can be easily encouraged to give it another shot one day. I'm not going to shy away from rosés either. I will venture into other labels.

Price: $10.49

What I've learned: Don't be afraid to go out there and try something different. You might find something you like that you would have otherwise passed up.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Recipe: Mom's Fantastic Fried Chicken

I love fried chicken, especially my mom's fantastic chicken! But, it is rare that I eat anything fried. I've been on a mission to eat healthy and fried food items don't fit in that category. However, I do make exceptions for my mom's chicken. It's one of my favorite foods that she prepares. And, I rarely eat it because I live on the west coast and my parents live on the east coast. When I come home to visit (which is once or twice a year), she always prepares fried chicken for me. Yum! This is the recipe she uses. It is quite simple--take some chicken, season it, add flour, and throw it in the oil. You can eat it for dinner, lunch, or as a dish for a picnic. (Oh, my mom wanted me to add that she rarely fries chicken these days--she bakes them instead.)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

*12 chicken wings cut in half
*black pepper
*garlic salt
*Vegetable oil (or your choice of oil)
*1.5 - 2 cups of flour
*1 gallon size Ziploc storage bag
*Optional: Favorite Hot Sauce such as Frank's or Pete's Red Hot

1.) Wash and pat dry the chicken wings.
2.) Cut each wing in half and place on wax paper.
3.) Sprinkle with black pepper, salt, and garlic salt. Mom says,"use more garlic salt than salt. You want a more garlicy taste rather than a salty taste."
4.) Flip the wings over and repeat step 3.
5.) In a large cooking pan, add oil to fill pan 1/4 - 1/2 inch (enough to fry the chicken but not submerge). Turn the heat to high until oil is "good and hot".
6.) In a gallon size Ziploc bag, add 1.5 cups (or more) of flour.
7.) Add a few pieces of chicken to the bag, close, and toss to coat the chicken.
8.) Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium because "You don't want the chicken cooking fast."
9.) Add the chicken to the oil, cook 20 minutes one the first side, flip over and cook an additional 10 minutes (or cook until golden brown on each side).

Mom says, "The chicken is done when you can put a fork through them."

10.) Put a paper towel on a plate, add the chicken. And, serve.
11.) Optional: Make hot wings by tossing the chicken in your favorite hot sauce!
12.) Enjoy!

Wine at Starbucks?

From Bizjournal

Starbucks Corp. will add beer and wine to its menu of coffees, teas and snacks at one of its Seattle locations. The store has been named “15th Avenue Coffee and Tea inspired by Starbucks” and will open Friday.

Starbucks plans to serve alcohol at two additional stores in Seattle and is determining locations for these stores, which will open in the coming months, a Starbucks spokeswoman said. The performance of the Seattle area stores will determine if Starbucks will sell alcohol elsewhere.

Food, Wine, Sunshine

My parents laugh at the fact that I cook AND I drink wine. They laugh for a good reason. If you would have asked me two years ago to pick up an apron and knife and get in the kitchen, I would have responded with something like "I'm not your housewife, make your own food!" I hated cooking. More than that, I thought cooking was something I would never do for anyone (and apparently not even myself). At that time, cooking involved adding milk to my favorite cereal and slapping smoked turkey slices in between bread. Rather than cook, the boyfriend and I ate out almost every day of the week. We ate Chinese, Indian, Jamaican, burgers, etc. I enjoyed eating out, and so did my belly. I gained weight. Lots of it.

So, how did I develop this love of cooking? Well, the changing point was when I had three strangers ask me if I was pregnant. Me, pregnant? Okay, so I did have a pot belly and I did wear form-fitting shirts. So, their statement wasn't totally out in left field. (Just a hint, please don't ask women if they are pregnant unless you absolutely know 100% for sure) At first, I laughed if off. But after looking at my belly in the mirror, I saw what these people saw. This was the drive I needed to get out and exercise, gain knowledge about food, and to cook! Now, I am finding pleasure in cooking, tasting food, and learning about it in the process.

I have also grown an appreciation for a great glass of wine (and an occasional beer). The boyfriend and I are always trying new wines through wine tastings and wine bars. The more wine you taste, the more likely you'll find one you'll love.

Life is to be enjoyed. And, I'm having a good time at doing just that. This blog will share with you my love of food, wine, and getting outdoors and enjoying life. Feel free to post comments and send emails. Enjoy!!