Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mushroom spinach wrap with bean spread

Wow...that title sounds really appetizing doesn't it? NOT.  It turns out that, despite the name, this was a quite tasty lunch. I saw this recipe a while ago in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  I never had the ingredients on hand at the same time, but last night I decided to get up off the couch and go to the grocery store to buy them. Here they are:
  • Mushrooms
  • Italian dressing
  • Spinach (cheaper when bought from the salad bar)
  • 1 can of beans (cannellini or navy)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Tortillas
  • Cheese (I used a shredded Italian blend)
Here's what you do.  First, coat the sliced mushrooms in Italian dressing.  I'm sure another type of dressing would work too, but that is what I had on hand.  Then, broil the mushrooms in the oven for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, lightly dress the spinach in dressing.  Then, use a blender to combine the can of beans, garlic, olive oil, and chili powder into a thick liquid--somewhere between gravy and peanut butter. All that's left to do now is put everything together!  Lay out a tortilla, smear it with the bean spread, and then layer on spinach, mushrooms, and cheese. I refrigerated my wraps overnight and had them today for lunch.  I was afraid they might get a little soggy from the spread and dressing, but had no problem.

Curried Chickpeas

Last week my friend Laura came to visit from Philly. For dinner, we made chicken tikka, rice (a mixture of brown and white), and curried chickpeas.  I forgot to take pictures that night of the food, and more importantly my guests, but ate the chickpeas and rice again the next night as leftovers.  Pictured are the curried chickpeas over rice with broccoli.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bean Salad

Right now, my refrigerator is on the empty side (as tends to happen towards the end of the work week), so I went to to find a recipe to make.  This website is great.  You list the ingredients that you have in your kitchen, and it spits out a list of dishes you can make with them.  Today it gave me a simple bean salad.  Over Thanksgiving, my brother told me that he now eats almost no meat, and tons of beans.  That inspired me to cook more bean dishes, so this was a perfect opportunity to try something new.  It was very easy.  1 can black beans. 1 can chick peas. Balsamic vinegar. Olive oil. Parsley. That's all the recipe called for. I also added in some red pepper that I already had in my fridge.  I was a little skeptical by the simplicity of this recipe at first, but it is surprisingly flavorful! It would be great as a side salad, or served with pita as a dip.

Spring Rolls

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with two of my friends about cooking.  We decided that we wanted to try making dumplings and spring rolls. None of us had ever tried to make either of these before.  Well, last night I decided to give spring rolls a try.  It turns out my mom has a recipe from an old family friend in her book You Won't Believe It's Gluten-Free!, so I gave that recipe a shot.  It worked! The recipe contained a warning about the spring rolls breaking while frying, but all of mine came out in one piece. The first step is to prepare the filling. I used cabbage, onions, and shrimp, along with the seasonings.

While that was cooling, I soaked the spring roll wrappers (which you can buy at an Asian grocery store) in water.  They are actually made out of rice flour, and are gluten-free.  Which would make sense considering I found the recipe in a gluten-free book...

Then, I wrapped the filling in the wrappers, and fried for about ten minutes.

I also found a recipe for sauce in her book, and then kicked it up a notch with some siracha.  Yum.

Homemade pizza

Last Friday night, we made homemade pizza for dinner.  I wanted to try out a new topping combo, so I bought a variety of vegetables at the salad bar, and defrosted a chicken breast.  It turns out that I had left the chicken out too long, and it went bad :-(.  I still tried a new veggie combo though: spinach, peppers, olives, and onions, along with a bunch of oregano, basil, garlic, and cayenne on a thin crust.  It turned out pretty well.

Brandon made his pizza hand-tossed with cheese. Whose pizza looks better to you?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tortilla Chips

The other day I saw a recipe online for nachos on the grill.  While this sounds amazing, I have no grill, and it is disgusting outside this time of year in DC. Instead, my boyfriend had the great idea of making our own tortilla chips.  It turns out this is REALLY easy to do.  We preheated the oven to 350 degrees and cup up a couple of store-bought tortillas.  Next, we sprayed them with cooking spray (alternatively, you could brush them with oil) and then sprinkled on some spices.  For the first batch we were adventurous and went with cayenne, cumin, salt, and pepper.  They turned out pretty spicy.  For the second bath, we played it safer and sprinkled on some sea salt.  We also cranked up the oven to 450 for the second bath, trying to get a crisper texture.  That worked a little too well.  If you want to use a hotter oven, make sure you keep an eye on the chips.  They baked for about 5-7 minutes and were a little soft when they came out. As they cool, however, they harden up. I thought these chips were quite tasty.  My only complaint is that they are more like cracker chips than true tortilla chips.  They turned out a little thicker, not as thick as bagel chips, but in that direction.

The Pumpkin Craze

It seems like there has been a relatively recent craze for pumpkin.  Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin muffins. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin bagels. Pumpkin cream cheese. Pumpkin cheesecake. Even Pumpkin soup. Growing up, the only pumpkin-flavored food we ate was pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  My obsession with pumpkin food started in college.  Right on campus there is an Einstein Bagels.  In the fall, they have pumpkin bagels with pumpkin cream cheese.  This was my first taste of pumpkin outside of pie, and I loved it.  Recently I've hopped on the pumpkin band wagon, and started making more and more adventurous pumpkin recipes.

This all started when my boyfriend decided that he wanted to make a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin last Thanksgiving.  The tradition has continued, and we made another homemade pumpkin pie this year (check out that blog post below).

This fall, I also made pumpkin bread and muffins.  I used the recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. This recipe is excellent.  It is easy to follow, and the product turns out moist and delicious.  The only drawback--if you can consider it that--is that it makes a ton of food.  I've recently discovered that you can freeze muffins, breads, and even cupcakes without a problem.  Bring on the baked goods!

My next pumpkin recipe attempt occurred when I went home for Thanksgiving. I decided that instead of having pumpkin pie at our family Thanksgiving, we should have a pumpkin cheesecake.  I used the leftover pumpkin puree from the pumpkin pie we made for first Thanksgiving.  The cheesecake that I made tasted like cheesecake (always a good thing), but not so much like pumpkin.  It was a little disappointing.  I don't think I added quite enough pumpkin puree.  But that's okay...there's always next year.

Finally, this weekend I had my most adventurous pumpkin cooking experience yet: pumpkin bean soup. I had half of a can of pumpkin left over from my most recent round of making pumpkin muffins, and I couldn't let it go to waste. So, I googled pumpkin soups and came across this southwest-style variety.  It includes pumpkin, black beans, corn, bell pepper, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, olive oil, and chicken broth (though vegetable could very easily be substituted for any vegetarians or vegans out there) and is simply seasoned with garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper.  This soup turned out amazingly creamy.  I think it would be great for anyone who cannot eat dairy but is craving a creamy, hearty soup.