Food, Wine, Rock & Roll

Part food blog, part jam session

As a returning college student, one of my more recent concerns is super healthy food that can be cooked quickly, makes a ton of food (left-overs are my friend), is super filling, and is really easy on the budget.  In the area in which I live, that means anything vegetarian.  In this quest for all the above mentioned foods, I have also discovered my new favorite vegetable: bok choy (Chinese cabbage), which is very inexpensive, incredibly healthy, and very flavorful and filling.

This recipe is similar to Bibimbap, in that is uses many of the same ingredients and has a very similar flavor profile.  I view it as a “stripped-down” version of bibimbap, though, & turn to it when I am really short on time.  Served over hot cooked rice, this dish never fails to please.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp. sriracha (Thai chile sauce)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 tbs. sesame oil, divided
  • 1 14 oz. pkg, firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 lb. bok choy, roughly chopped (I prefer baby bok choy, also known as Shanghai bok choy)
  • 2 c. shittake mushrooms, sliced
  • Hot cooked rice

Preparation

Cut tofu into bite-sized cubes.  Place cubes on an absorbent towel and cover.  Allow tofu to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  The towel will absorb the excess liquid from the tofu, which will prevent it from falling apart while cooking.

Whisk together cornstarch and 1 tsp. of water in a small bowl.  Whisk in soy sauce, ginger, chile sauce, garlic, and 1 tsp. of sesame oil.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tbs. of sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Stir-fry tofu until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Set aside in a large bowl and cover with a towel to keep warm.

Add 1 tbs. of sesame oil to heated skillet or wok.  Stir-fry bok choy until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add to large bowl, covering to keep warm.

Add remaining 1 tbs. of sesame oil to the pan.  Stir-fry mushrooms until tender, about 2 minutes.

Return tofu and bok choy to pan.  Stir in soy sauce mixture and stir-fry about 1 minute, until hot.

Serve with additional soy sauce and gojuchang paste over hot cooked rice.

Sausage Hash

Posted by Becca On February - 11 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

Looking for a dish that is super simple and inexpensive to make, warms your insides with its Cajun spice and comfort, and leaves amazing left-overs that can be quickly reheated throughout the week?  Well, look no more because this is your dish!  I think Andouille sausage is amazing for a number of reasons.  It is such a versatile protein that can be mixed with any number of veggies and/or starches (and other proteins) and you have an instant spicy Cajun delight.  It’s also pretty inexpensive, which is always a plus in my book.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. red potatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 links Andouille sausage, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preparation

Over medium heat, saute the potatoes and onions in butter until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the sausage, bell peppers, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and continue frying until the sausage is browned, about 5 minutes.

Add more salt and pepper to taste.

 

Bibimbap

Posted by Becca On January - 28 - 201220 COMMENTS

My husband and I both love Korean food.  When we lived in a more metropolitan area, we were able to go out about once a month to a great little Korean restaurant and eat until we thought we would explode.  Unfortunately, the area in which we now live does not have a single Korean restaurant.  We were both heart-broken until he decided to find a good recipe for our favorite Korean dish: bibimbap.  Now, this is a dish I usually make once a week.

Bibimbap is incredibly easy to make.  There are several different forms of bibimbap (hot stone-bowl, sanchae) and many different recipes that call for  a wide variety of ingredients; it is rare to find two identical recipes for this dish.  I spent a good bit of time experimenting with several recipes until I came across this one.  It is the one which most closely resembles the dish we used to get at our favorite Korean restaurant.

This version is vegetarian BUT I have also used rib-eye (1/2 lb., thinly sliced) instead of tofu and it is equally tasty.  I have also been thinking about experimenting with shrimp, chicken, and/or pork.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger, grated
  • 8 oz. firm tofu, cut into thin slices
  • 1 1/2 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 lb. baby bok choy, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • handful of julienned carrots
  • handful of bean sprouts
  • eggs (optional)
  • hot rice
  • gojuchang red pepper paste (optional) – can be found in most international markets or on Amazon.com
  • rice wine vinegar (optional) – I don’t use this but some people like it

Preparation

Cut tofu into thin slices.  Place slices on an absorbent towel and cover.  Allow tofu to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  The towel will absorb the excess liquid from the tofu, which will prevent it from falling apart while cooking.

Combine the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a plastic seal-able bag.  Add the tofu and coat.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Warm 1/2 tablespoon of the sesame oil into a large wok or skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they are tender and soft.  Set aside in a large bowl (large enough to hold the other ingredients when ready) and cover with a towel to keep warm.

Warm 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil in the wok or skillet and add the shredded zuccini and chopped bok choy.  Cook until it is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the handful of julienned carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes (carrots should still be firm and crunchy).  Add to large bowl, covering to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, bring a few cups of water to a boil.  Add the bean sprouts and cook for about a minute.  Drain in a colander and add bean sprouts to large bowl with other cooked ingredients.

Increase heat in wok or skillet to high.  When hot, add the tofu.  Cook, stirring constantly until the tofu is browned on all sides.  Add to large bowl.

Optional:  In a medium non-stick skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat.  Cook the eggs until the whites have set, but the yolk is still runny.

Place hot cooked rice in the bottom of bowls.  Add all cooked ingredients over hot cooked rice, placing the fried eggs on top.

Break the yolk and stir all ingredients until well mixed.

Serve with gojuchang paste and/or rice wine vinegar if desired.

Chickpea Patties

Posted by Becca On January - 11 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

I discovered this recipe several years ago while visiting my sister.  I met a friend for coffee and she had a Martha Stewart magazine with her.  I was still relatively early in my cooking experience and was looking for new and interesting things to make; I needed to get out of the rut I had found myself in so I started flipping through her magazine.  I stumbled upon this and couldn’t wait to get home to test it out.  It was a huge success and has been in my repertoire ever since.

Ingredients

  • 15 oz. can chickpeas (drained; reserve juice)
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 cp. low-fat plain yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

Preparation

Chickpea Patty

In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, parsley, garlic, cumin, 1/4 tsp. salt, and pepper until coarsely chopped and mixture comes together when gently squeezed.  If mixture is too course, very slowly add some of the reserved chickpea juice until desired consistency is reached.

Patting between your hands, make 1/2 inch patties out of the mixture.  Coat with flour.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the patties in the skillet until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes per side)

Dressing Preparation

In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper.

Place chickpea patties on warmed flatbread and drizzle with yogurt dressing.

Serve with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese.

Drinks

This is a very light, refreshing dish that can easily be overwhelmed by many pairings.  It needs something that is equally light and refreshing.  Indaba wineries makes the perfect Chardonnay for this dish.  It has the crisp flavors of fresh fruits and a hint of citrus that goes very well with the yogurt dressing on the dish.  It also has a nice balance of creaminess to it that blends with and complements the chickpea patty.

Music

The perfect album for this fresh, light meal is on that is fun, eclectic, and created by hippies.  For that, there is no album more perfect than Rusted Root’s When I Woke.  This band is the definition of the modern-day hippy and the album is full of tracks that just make you want to dance, sing, & laugh.


Homecooking is Hard

Posted by Becca On September - 17 - 20101 COMMENT

As the school year gets underway, I’m sure we all find ourselves growing more & more busy.  I know I do.  Because of this, I find I have less & less time to make fresh, home cooked meals.  And, if you are anything like me, the temptation to simply stop at a fast-food restaurant & grab a quick meal increases as the year progresses.  So how does one fight this temptation that, when given in to, not only effects your health but also your wallet? Easy!  I have found some excellent time-saving, pre-packaged foods (both at the grocery store & online) that are not only delicious, but are also relatively healthy & easy on the budget.

1. Tony Chachere dinner mixes: These are awesome if you like Creole food.  My favorites are the etouffe mix, the gumbo (both the dinner mix & the gumbo base mix), & the jambalaya mix.  They take anywhere from 5 minutes (the etouffe) to 30 minutes (the jambalaya) to cook.  Combine them with shrimp, andouille sausage, chicken, &/or crawfish, serve them with warm bread & butter, & you have an instant Creole dinner to serve your family.  The Tony Chachere line also has a wide variety of spices, meats, & marinades for your cooking needs.

2. Bertoli: I love pretty much everything Bertoli makes.  I use the olive oil for regular cooking, enjoy their pasta sauces, & love the frozen meals.  I especially love their frozen meals.  They are tasty and only take about ten minutes to cook.  The classic meals include a nice variety of classic pasta dishes (my favorite is the Chicken Florentine & Farfalle pasta), the Mediterranean style meals are a little lighter, & the oven bake meals are perfect when you want something bubbly and warm from the oven.  Most of these meals are perfect for two people.

3. Bear Creek Soups: As Fall approaches & the nights grow cooler, I begin to crave hearty soups & stews for dinner.  Bear Creek Soups are dry soup mixes that can be found in the soup aisle of your grocery store (usually down by the Lipton soup mix area).  They are inexpensive, quick & easy to make, & can feed lots of people (the small size serves four).  Just add water, cook for 30 minutes, & you have a delicious soup or stew that tastes home-made.  My absolute favorite is the tortilla soup which I like to serve with Mexican cheese, sour cream, avocado slices, & warmed tortillas.  If you have time, you can also mix in shredded chicken to add a bit of protein.  I also like the Creamy Potato & the Cheddar Potato; combine the two for a delicious Creamy Cheesy Potato soup that everyone will love.

4. Amy’s Kitchen: If organic & vegetarian is what you are in to, then Amy’s is the way to go.  This line has a HUGE variety of frozen meals, snacks, pizzas, burgers, international foods, deserts, breakfasts, etc.  You name it, Amy’s has it (as long as it’s vegetarian & organic).  I have enjoyed everything I have ever tried in this brand.  My favorites are the burritos, especially the bean & cheese.

5. Knorr Sides: This used to be the Lipton Rice/Pasta Sides.  These take less than ten minutes to cook &, when combined with a protein, make a great, quick meal sure to make the whole family happy.  I really like to brown hamburger meat & combine it with the Mushroom rice for an instant rice casserole.

6. Comfort Foods/Desert Gardens: I first came across this brand when I was spending a summer in the mountains of New Mexico and instantly fell in love.  The line includes dip mixes, spices, salsas, soup & stew mixes, & even breads & desserts.  The Desert Garden products bring the Southwest straight into your home, while the Country Gardens line is more conventional comfort food style mixes.  I generally stick with the Desert Garden line, simply because I have a deep love for the flavors of New Mexico.  The dip mixes are great & perfect for any party or quick afternoon snack (my favorite is the green chile dip).  My favorite soups/stews are the Tortilla soup & the Green Chile stew, which packs a lot of spicy heat.  I have not been able to find this brand in stores outside of New Mexico so I order in bulk online.  They are reasonably priced & ship very quickly.

7. Mahatma Rice: Mix with your choice of protein & you have an instant dinner.  I like the red beans & rice mixed with andouille sausage or the Saffron yellow rice with chicken.

8. Freschetta: The brick oven pizzas are amazing!

These are just a few of the brands I like to use when time is short but don’t want to give in to the temptation of fast-food.  Hopefully I have given you some great ideas for feeding your self & your family when time is short but the want for healthy meals isn’t.