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.

 

Cheesy Taco Stew

Posted by Becca On December - 29 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

During a recent trip to my in-laws, I watched my mother-in-law prepare a hearty stew for the current group of hunters she had visiting their deer lease.  I came in while she was already half-way through the process, so I didn’t get any information on the full “plan” for her stew.  On the way home, I contemplated the ingredients she was using & an idea for a quick, easy stew started coming to my mind.  I wanted something that was hearty & warm for the cold winter & combined my love of the flavors of the Southwest.  Thus, this recipe was born.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pkg. Goya Sazon with Coriander & Annatto (orange box)
  • 1 lb. ground beef (venison or buffalo works well, also)
  • 16 oz. 2% milk Velveeta cheese
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 7oz. cans chopped green chilies
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans (partially drained)
  • 1 15 oz. can ranch beans  (partially drained)
  • 1/2 15 oz. can whole kernel sweet corn (drained)

Preparation

Taco Meat Preparation

Pre-heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Place ground beef in skillet and sprinkle first seven ingredients over ground beef and mix well.  Brown the beef.

Stew Preparation

In a large stock pot, cut the Velveeta into 1 inch cubes.  Slowly melt over medium heat, stirring constantly.

When the cheese is completely melted, stir in the diced tomatoes and chopped green chilies and increase heat to medium-high.  Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the browned taco meat, black beans, ranch beans, and corn.  Stir well.

Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, and sliced avocados.

Drinks

A spicy, warm, filling stew calls for a beverage that can match it.  For this, I like to go to one of my all time favorite brewing companies: Samuel Adams.  One of the reasons I love this company so much is their seasonal brews.  There is a wide variety of them that change with the seasons and there is always something perfect for whatever mood you are in.  The perfect beer to balance out the spice of this stew is the Winter Lager.  It has a hint of the spices we all connect to the colder months and it matches the richness of the stew.

Music

This is a stew that had a very classic, predictable recipe as my jumping off-point: the basic queso.  But then, it takes a turn & became pure experiment (yet still remained incredibly comforting).  So it would seem only fitting that the perfect album to listen to while making it is one which begins as “familiar” but then turns on you…in a cozy sort of way.  The Tallest Man on Earth’s  (also known as singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson) album, The Wild Hunt first catches the listener with an incredibly familiar sound: Bob Dylan’s reedy voice and finger-picking guitar.  But then, he catches you by surprise by bringing a slightly modern twist to classic folk music.  It is an album that is simultaneously  soothing  and invigorating.


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.