Month: January 2014

Tex-Mex Omelette Breakfast Burrito

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Burrito Omlette

Despite the fact that this dish is a breakfast burrito, I had this omelette for lunch.  It was one of the most scrumptious lip smacking lunches I’ve ever had in a while. And very filling too. It’s been 4 hours and the hungry pangs haven’t resumed yet. I generally try to avoid anything heavy with cheese, sodium, and carbohydrates even though I crave for them from time to time. I needed a break from my regular salad lunch routine and decided to pamper myself just a bit.  So I made myself an Tex Mex style omelette breakfast burrito, something I have been meaning to make and perfect for a while.  They would often fall apart in my attempt to make them. This round, I was satisfied with the results I achieved. After meeting my once a month egg quota, I may make this burrito omelette again next month but I may add more vegetables. 

As someone who is originally from Upstate New York, I have a ridiculous affinity to spicy (and Asian) food. I may not be an expert in Tex Mex cuisines as someone from the southern western region in America but I do appreciate a good home cooked Tex Mex meal. Unfortunately, there aren’t any decent Mexican/Latin restaurants where I live. Most of the Mexican/Latin condiments are imported and obscenely expensive. That is partially the reason why I prefer to make my own salsa. I also make taco shells from tortilla wraps, a brilliant idea a friend suggested to me. I bake them rather than deep frying them of course.

While omelettes are easy to prepare, I am ashamed to admit that I sometimes struggle with getting the right consistency. Sometimes a plain omelette is not enough for me.  I took peppers and tomatoes from the salad I was suppose to have for lunch and used them in my omelette along with some mushrooms. I also used a chili pepper that I was reserving for dinner later on in the week to liven up my omelette a bit. You can embellish your omelette breakfast burrito to your heart’s content with whatever additional ingredients you like. I would have included eggplant in there as well but didn’t have any. I used avocado instead. Although this is a breakfast burrito recipe, I intentionally did not include a tortilla wrap for a low-carb meal.  You can layer a whole wheat flour tortilla wrap the way you would for any burrito if you like. This recipe yields one omelette breakfast burrito but you can multiply the ingredients to make more.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 eggs
  2. 2 tablespoons of olive oil divided
  3. 1 medium onion diced
  4. 1 clove of garlic minced
  5. 1 small chili pepper chopped
  6. 2 ripe tomatoes diced
  7. 1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms
  8. 1 bell pepper chopped
  9. 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  10. 1 ripe avocado sliced (optional)
  11. Salt and pepper for taste
  12. Grated reduced fat cheddar cheese (optional)

Instructions

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Saute vegetables for a couple of minutes or until soft. Remove vegetables from skillet and set aside. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Whisk two eggs in a bowl. Pour eggs into skillet and spread with a spatula. When cooked enough, carefully flip it over and sprinkle with cheese, salt, and pepper. Remove omelette from heat. Place avocado and 1/3 cup of the sauteed vegetables down the middle. Season with fresh cilantro. Roll up and cut in half.

Yields 2 servings

 

 

 

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African Spicy Lentil Dip

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Lentil Dip (2)

Most people don’t normally visualize a dip made of lentils. At least I didn’t until recently. I discovered a  lentil dip recipe in a magazine and was inspired to recreate my own interpretation. Lentils as commonly used in soups and stews. Nowadays, dips can be virtually made out of anything imaginable. Lentils are often used in African cuisine,  especially in countries on the Indian-influenced eastern coast, such as Tanzania and Kenya. Contrary to what you have been woefully misled to believe, lentils laced with garlic and various spices make for a really wonderful concoction that is great as a dip and as a spread.  Akin to to ubiquitous hummus, this spicy lentil dip recipe uses lentils that don’t require soaking and long boiling time. Unlike hummus, however, lentils yield a smoother dip as they are smaller than chickpeas.  Who would have thought that lentils would be so versatile? Apart from containing a lot of protein, lentils are a great source great source for iron and lentils also contain dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B1. I used brown lentils for this vegan dip but I recommend red lentils to novices as they cook a lot faster and break down more easily therefore making them ideal for dips. Lentils are not popular among my peers and family. I was a bit hesitant to serve this lentil tip fearing that it wouldn’t be received well by my guests. I took that risk anyways. To my surprise, they kept on begging for more. Serve with whole wheat pita chips, toasted bread, corn chips or bread sticks. Have an aversion to lentils or know someone who does? Perhaps this recipe may help them conquer whatever repulsion they have of these legumes. It’s just a matter of consistency and retaining the perfect balance of flavors.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 cups of brown or red lentils rinsed and drained
  2. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  3. 1 small jalapeno pepper minced
  4. 1 onion chopped
  5. Juice from one lemon
  6. 1 teaspoon of cumin
  7. 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  8. 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  9. 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  10. 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  11. 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  12. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add lentils, vegetables, and spices ans saute until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the lentils in the process.  Add enough water to cover by 4 inches and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the lentils are tender. Drain and place ingredients in a food processor along with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Puree till smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the cilantro.

Yields 12 servings

 

Irish Stew

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Irish Stew

I know have this annoying habit of gushing over my kitchen appliances but I can’t help but marvel the convenience of owning my a crock pot. To say that my crock pot is one of my prized possessions would be a bit dramatic of me. It indeed is a time saver and a stress reliever for me . I simply dump all the contents in this slow cooker and let it work it’s magic. I am not trying to be lazy or always look for a shortcut. Sometimes, I can’t muster the energy to whip up a swanky 5 course meal.  Stew is usually the perfect solution for me. I try not to let crock pot meals become a regular habit but I like to end a week or a day on a stress-free note.  I love cooking but I have a time budget. That is where Irish stew comes in. Irish stew has always been in the makings for me. Shortly after I announced that I was going to be making and serving this stew, I have been inundate with recipe requests.  Suffice to say, this Irish stew recipe was more than just a hit. Sadly, I miscalculated the number of ingredients I’ve used and didn’t have enough to serve a household of 7 people seconds. If you are looking for something comforting, this Emerald Isle stew is perfect for a cold and murky winter night.  Traditionally, Irish stew is normally made with lamb.  Apart from lamb being astronomically expensive, it has higher fat content than beef chuck so I opted for Goulash meat. Not to cast stereotype nor judgement on the Irish, I used beer which amplified the flavors in this hearty stew. You can use dry red wine as well if you decide to. If you have unexpected company, just toss in more vegetable as needed. Easy to make with hassle-free prepping, this nutritious and filling Irish stew recipe provides protein, carbs and ample amount of fiber in one bowl of hearty goodness.  The aroma is absolutely tantalizing when the stew is cooking. I made this stew overnight and had to fight the urge to have a bowlful the very next morning when I woke up. Serve this stew over a bowl of steamed wholegrain rice. If you are not a fan of the crock pot, this recipe can  be easily converted to oven or stove-top methods.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 lbs of cubed goulash beef
  2. 4-6 medium red potatoes peeled and quartered
  3. 4 carrots peeled and cut into chunks
  4. 2 large celery stalks chopped
  5. 1 onion chopped
  6. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  7. 12 sprigs of fresh thyme
  8. 12 once can or bottle of your favorite beer
  9. 2 cups + 1 tablespoon of water
  10. 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  11. Fresh parsley chopped
  12. Salt and fresh ground pepper for taste

Instructions

Sprinkle goulash with salt and pepper. Place beef in crock pot along with vegetables, thyme, water and beer. Cover and cook low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours. During the last hour before serving, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water and then stir into the stew. Simmer on high for a few minutes to thicken. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley ans serve hot.

Yields 6 to 8 servings

 

 

Spiced Poached Asian Pears

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poachd pears

Sometimes I don’t always want to listen. Sometimes I don’t feel like being obedient. Sometimes, I would rather contradict the laws of nature and run wild. Sometimes, I don’t always want to control my impulses and cut my inhibitions loose.   After all, rules rules were established for the sole purpose of being broken. If there are no rules to follow, there is none to break. While sometimes facing the consequences may be worth the risks we take, good behavior is the safest resort.  Although I believe I have been programmed to challenge authority (not doing so would be supernatural of me as despicable as it may seem), there are boundaries that I know better than to cross. Cheating on my diet and physically slacking off is one of them. I try to discipline myself  but I am sometimes overcome by sheer laziness. Images of my overweight teenage self motivates me to exhibit self control apart from serving as rude reminder of how much I hated my physical appearance. I seldom eat more than I should but I make sure that my gluttony is reimbursed with exercise. I compromise a heavy meal with a light dessert. I am willing to sacrifice a chocolaty dessert for one week. Some people may think of me as being frugal. My “stinginess” is sometimes justified. When you are investing a lot of time, energy, and power making a heavy meal for a lot of people, a light dessert such as poached pears seems ideal and practical. Besides, most people I know are not always able to stomach a rich dessert. Poached pears was the perfect solution. Even my friend’s toddler devoured them despite the fact that they were sugar-free. I don’t normally eat poached fruit. The canned fruit is loaded with sugar, syrup, and artificial flavorings. That is why I would often turn down compote unless its homemade.  I used Asian pears as I thought it would add an interesting dynamic.  While these poached Asian pears are a great lighter alternative to heavy desserts, their strong flavor profile will even satisfy the most discerning sweet tooth. Infused in blood orange juice and white wine, this spiced poached Asian pear recipe  is a perfect dessert option for cold winter nights or as an elegant luncheon dish.  Truly decadent but not as caloric, this recipe maximizes the natural sweetness of the Asian pear, combining it with a fruit-forward white wine and highlighting both with a touch of cinnamon, ginger, whole cloves and all-spice. Serve with low-fat vanilla ice cream. Reserve the poaching liquid for cocktails if you are feeling naughty ;-). Certain urges can’t always be fought.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 4-6 Asian pears peeled and cored
  2. 1 1/2 cup of white wine
  3. 2-3 blood oranges juiced
  4. 1 cup of water
  5. 1 cinnamon stick
  6. 2 inch’ piece of fresh ginger peeled
  7. All-spice
  8. Whole cloves

Instructions

Place cinnamon stick, ginger, all-spice, and whole cloves in a cheesecloth. Tie ends together and place them in a saucepan along with the wine, orange juice, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add pears (if you can’t fit all the pears in at once, cut them up into slices). Cook pears for 10-20 minutes or until tender. Remove pears from the blood orange wine mixture and boil the liquid until it has been reduced by a half. Pour over pears and serve with ice cream or low fat vanilla/plain yogurt. If not serving immediately, transfer liquid in a container once cooled and store pears in there.

Yields 4 servings

 

 

BBQ Spicy Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

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sloppy joes

Words can’t begin to describe the frustration I endured when hunting for good quality vegetarian minced meat . The search was long and arduous but subsequently  worthwhile. I nearly had to get my local supermarket to place an order for me of a particular brand of vegetarian minced meat. I found and bought a couple bags of those just when I thought all was lost and hopeless. Okay, I am being a little melodramatic. I had this gnawing urge to make a dish involving vegetarian minced meat for a while. I was in hot pursuit for a perfect vegetarian Sloppy Joes recipe.  Not recalling the last time I had Sloppy Joes, I felt that a vegetarian version would make wonderful dinner idea.  To some, Sloppy Joes elicit warm childhood memories. To others, it exhumes an unwanted nightmarish hypermnesic past of the school cafeteria. To me, it does a bit of each. I remember how excited we would be as kids when my mother announced that she was serving Sloppy Joes for dinner.

While I have been making vegetarian oriented meals as of late, it is hard to find high quality vegetarian versions of the meat originals. Perhaps that may just be me being selective about my choices of vegan products. Until I started making my own, I never liked veggie burgers mainly because I felt they had a Styrofoam texture and were often very bland. Soy ground meat wasn’t any better. In retrospect,  if I was feeling adventurous and desperate, I could have concocted my own vegetarian Sloppy Joes from scratch using cooked lentils/beans, quinoa, and assorted vegetables.  That would have been a soy-free alternative. It’s definitely a thought to be considered for another vegetarian dinner inspiration. If you already know how to make Sloppy Joes, this vegan version is remarkably simple. I instituted a BBQ twist to appease my anti-vegetarian audience (if there is any). For those who boast that nothing can ever rival the meat original, even this satisfying vegan version of a family favorite earned 5 stars from my meat and potatoes red blood male hubby. Still skeptical? Don’t just take my word for it. Try it yourself. If you don’t like vegetable granules, try the soy-free version I mentioned earlier. Or use your favorite brand. Mine is Tivall. I would like to hear some of your experiences and ideas using soy minced meat.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  2. 1 onion diced
  3. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  4. 2 red bell peppers chopped
  5. 1 carton of fresh mushrooms chopped
  6. 12 oz package of frozen vegetarian minced meat or tempeh
  7. 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  8. 1/2 ground pepper
  9. 1 can of sugar-free reduced sodium crushed tomatoes
  10. 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  11. Dash of of hot chili sauce
  12. 1 tablespoon of molasses
  13. 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  14. Toasted whole wheat hamburger or sandwich buns

Instructions

In a large skillet, saute the onion, garlic, mushrooms and peppers in olive oil for 5 to 7 minutes, or until onions are soft. Season with chili powder and ground pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and add the remaining ingredients (except buns) and stir well to combine. Allow to simmer for at least 15 more minutes. Spoon mixture into buns and serve hot.

Yields 4-6 servings

 

 

 

Chickpea Orzo Soup

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Chickpea Orzo School

When I mentioned to hubby that I would be making a soup involving chickpea, he didn’t seem to enthusiastic with the idea. At first, I was taken aback by his attitude considering that I made a stew with chickpeas in which he devoured before. He later explained to me that he visualized a hummus-like soup which didn’t seem appetizing to him (truth be told, I feel my stomach dropping with just the thought of a hummus soup). I reassured him that hummus is not one of the ingredients in the soup. To my utter surprise, hubby licked his soup bowl clean after having 3 servings of this soup. I don’t blame him either.  Chickpeas are not limited to hummus as my lovable hubby is beginning to realize. I often use chickpeas in stews instead of beans as they are more digestible to me.  I mused about making minestrone using chickpeas instead of white or red kidney beans. I wonder if the nuances in the ingredients would dramatically change the dynamic of the soup. I don’t believe it would alter the flavors in any way.  This Middle Eastern spiced lemony soup contains an abundant amount of flavors. This chickpea orzo soup is very hearty, nutritious, and filling – perfect for a cold dreary winter evening. Serve a hot bowl full of this spicy chickpea orzo soup with a piece of toasted whole wheat pita and some fresh salad. If you have misgivings, I implore you to at least give this recipe a chance.  It’s hard to go wrong with this soup. The only disappointment you’ll have is with me not sharing this recipe with you soon enough. If hubby gave me permission to make this soup again, you are most likely to enjoy it as much as we both did 🙂

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion diced
  3. 3 cloves of garlic minced
  4. 1 small jalapeno pepper minced
  5. 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  6. 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  7. 1/2 teaspoon of coriander
  8.   1/4 teaspoon of paprika
  9. 1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes (preferably with low sodium content)
  10. 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas rinsed or 1 cup of cooked chickpeas
  11. 6 cups of reduced sodium vegetable broth
  12. 1 cup of whole wheat orzo (if you can find any)
  13. 3 cups of fresh spinach or kale stemmed
  14. Juice of one lemon

Instructions

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, jalapeno pepper and garlic and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions are cooked through, add the cumin, cinnamon, paprika and coriander and cook for a minute more. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, 6 cups of  vegetable broth and stir. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Then add the orzo and continue simmering for another 15 minutes. As the soup cooks, add additional water as you see fit. Once the orzo is fully cooked, remove from heat and stir in the spinach or kale and lemon. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes so the spinach wilts. Serve hot.

Yields 8 servings

Carob Smoothie

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Carob Smoothie

To a lot of people I know and even to me at a certain extent, carob has a negative connotation. When I think of carob, I visualize these hard leathery pods that take minutes to bite into. I nearly dislocated my jaw from trying to chew into them.  I have no objection to carob powder though. And I have been using carob powder as of late; mostly in my drinks.  Carob is a pod like fruit that is native to the Middle East where is has been in cultivation for nearly 4,000 years.  Akin to cocoa powder and chocolate, carob powder come from a tropical pod in which the pulp is roasted and ground into powder.  Interestingly enough, most carob trees are monoecious. They contain individual male and female flowers. The dark-brown pods are not only edible, but also rich in sucrose and protein. Moreover, the pod has vitamin A, B vitamins, and several important minerals. Some nutritionists recommend using carob powder in lieu of cocoa powder and there is a reason for it.  The nutrition facts on one tablespoon of unsweetened carob powder lists 25 calories, no fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, and 6 grams carbohydrate. By comparison, one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder contains 12 calories, 1 gram of fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, and 3 grams of carbohydrate. Despite the difference in texture and taste, a candy bar made with carob has about the same amount of fat and calories as a chocolate bar. Unlike cocoa powder and chocolate, carob is caffeine-free. Carob also contains three times as much calcium as cocoa powder. That doesn’t go to say that I am substituting cocoa powder for carob powder from hereon out. I am merely trying to accustom my taste buds to the flavor of carob powder. Plus the idea of making carob brownies and cookies is still of an interest to me. As of now, I will be sharing a carob smoothie recipe with you.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 ripe bananas
  2. 1 cup of milk of your choice
  3. 4 cocoa beans shelled (you can use nuts as well)
  4. 2 tablespoons of carob powder
  5. 1 tablespoon of flax or chia seeds
  6. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Instructions 

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Serve cold.

Yields 2 cups