Category Archives: Vegetarian

Rice Cooker Fiesta Mexican Rice

  

Recently, I added a rice cooker to my collection of useful kitchen appliances. I didn’t spend much, in fact, this little guy was under $20.00. Not sure if It would end up in the appliance graveyard or a much appreciated purchase, I was reluctant to leave us eating hotdogs and pasta for the week so, I bought the second cheapest model.

To my great surprise, I am in love with my rice cooker! Like a crock pot, this is a busy mom’s dream! Fill it and forget about it. Perfect rice in about 30 minutes. 

Unfortunately, I have not found many rice cooker recipes that impress me. So, today, after spending too much time browsing the internet for a tasty Mexican Rice recipe to serve for a Fiesta night, I made my own.

Slice a lime and crack open a Corona, this recipe deserves a toast!

Note: Recipes Yields about 6 cups cooked.

All the goodies for our recipe

 

Ingredients

1 Cup white uncooked rice
EVOO
1 med onion diced
2 cloves garlic diced
1 Can (about 15 oz) of diced tomatoes (I used fired roasted)
1 small can of diced green chilies
1 Can of beans (about 15 oz) drained and rinsed (pinto or black beans are perfect)
1 Cup chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegetarian recipe)
1 Cup of corn (I used a leftover ear of grilled corn removed from cob, adds great flavor, but frozen would be fine)
2 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp of Smoked Hot Paprika (if you do not have, substitute with cayenne)
1/2 tsp dried Oregano

Directions:

In a frying pan, brown rice in EVOO to make it toasty. This is what adds the nutty flavor to traditional Mexican rice. Add onions and garlic, stirring often until onions are beginning to turn translucent.

Your rice should turn golden brown, and the onions should become translucent

 

 Lightly spray inner part of rice cooker with cooking spray and add rice/onion mixture. Combine remaining ingredients, set cooker to cook.

Add all ingredients into Rice Cooker....Whoa, careful, this baby sure is full!

 

 

 When cooker turns to warm setting, give a stir and return cover. Let stand for another 10 minutes.

Look at that fluffy spicy goodness...Ole I say

 

Serve with fresh cilantro and sour cream or shredded cheese if desired.

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Italian Minestrone Soup

2 cups of hearty soup is only 188 calories, 1.7 grams of fat, 9.7 grams protein and 9.4 grams fiber

The New Year is well on its way and many of us are paying attention to our diets after indulging in so many holiday goodies. This Italian Minestrone Soup recipe is so hearty and satisfying, you don’t even realize you are eating a big bowl of Healthy Goodness! A generous 2-cups of steamy heaven is only 188 calories, 1.7grams of fat, and packs in 9.7 grams of protein and 9.4 grams fiber….

But how does it taste you ask? It’s an Italian festival in your mouth! Tomato, garlic, Italian seasoning, hearty whole grain pasta and savory vegetables satisfy all of your cravings. With these numbers, one can even afford to grate some quality parmesan cheese over the top!

Use a large stock pot as this recipe makes at least 8, 2 cup servings

Ingredients:
Cooking spray (I used Olive Oil flavor)
1 Cup diced onion
1 1/2 cup sliced celery (about 3 large stalks)
1 1/2 cup Carrots sliced (I used frozen, straight from the Freezer)
1 Tbs diced garlic (I like the jarred as it’s much easier)
1 – 15 oz can low sodium or no salt added diced tomatoes
1 – 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
8 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable to make this vegetarian)
1 6-oz can no salt added tomato paste
1-2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (to taste)
1 1/2 cup sliced fresh zucchini
1 1/2 cup frozen green beans (no need to defrost)
2 cups loose leaf frozen spinach. The 10-oz frozen block may be used but it will need to be defrosted and drained of juices.
1 cup uncooked whole wheat shell pasta
Sea Salt to taste if desired.

Garnish with quality parmesan cheese freshly grated (this does change nutrition information)

Spray cooking spray on the bottom of stock pot. Preheat on med-high heat, add onions and celery. Let them sweat, turn down heat if needed to prevent browning, about 3 minutes, add frozen sliced carrots (or fresh). Stirring often, allow vegetables to become slightly tender. Add garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes more. Add tomatoes, juice and all, chick peas, broth, tomato paste and italian seasoning. Stir and bring to a gentle boil for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, clean and slice zucchini. Add zucchini, green beans (no need to defrost), spinach and pasta. Soup is done when pasta is done. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and crusty bread if desired.

This recipe makes a lot, put into individual serving dishes and freeze. Perfect to take to work for a healthy lunch or take out and defrost in the refrigerator the night before to accompany your dinner

Pineapple Stir Fry

Pineapple, jalapeno, cashews and currants make for an exciting Vegan meal or side dish. I served this when I was looking for something to compliment my Coconut Curry Halibut and Mango Chutney, what a compliment it was! This recipe is amazingly healthy, low in fat and cholesterol, full of sweet and savory flavors with a touch of heat from the jalapeno. There are quite a few Pineapple Stir Fry recipes out there, this is my own combination of flavors that work perfectly with the Coconut Curry Talibut and Mango Chutney, or simply by itself – I can attest to this as I am enjoying a bowl of it for breakfast while I write my blog!

Yields: About 5-6 cups, serving portions vary if using as a side dish or a meal. Leftovers reheat extremely well and are fantastic for lunch (or breakfast) the next day.

Ingredients
4 Cups cooked Jasmine rice (preferably made 2-3 days ahead of time, but see note at end for a tip if making the rice that day.
1 TBS high heat cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 jalapeno seeded, pith removed and finely diced (optional, omit if you do not want the heat)
1 cup red sweet pepper cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 green onions sliced on the bias, reserving the tender green ends to add at the end of dish.
1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
1 large carrot shredded
1 can (about 20 oz) pineapple tidbits drained, reserving juice
1 cup cashews (unsalted or I did use ones with sea salt with great results)
1/2 cup currants (or raisins)
Sauce:
2 TBS low sodium Soy Sauce
3 TBS reserved pineapple juice
1 1/2 tsp curry powder

Gather all ingredients and have ready to add to wok, as cooking time is very quick. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, pineapple juice and curry powder, set aside.

Heat wok and oil until very hot. Add jalapeno fry for about 30 seconds while constantly stirring careful not to burn. Add sweet red peppers and fry for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, add scallions (the white part) peas and carrots. After a minute, begin to add pineapple, cashews and currants. Keep mixture moving until hot. Add rice and fry for about 3-4 minutes. Add sauce, mix, remove from heat toss in the green ends of the onions and serve.

Tip: If you do not have leftover rice to use that has been refrigerated for 2-3 days, make rice as directed and spread on a large baking sheet and place in freezer. This will help it to cool and remove some of the moisture. I find that after 15 minutes or so, I will mix the rice around and break it up with my hands and return to freezer for another 15 minutes. Remove before beginning to make recipe and allow to reach room temperature. I’ve used this method a few times now and it works well.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

With their beautiful presentation, these Acorn squash are hearty enough to be a meal or an impressive side dish.

As the weather begins to cool and the leaves start to turn to their golds and reds, I am so happy to change my recipes from salsa’s and summer salads to the flavors of Autumn. Rich and fragrant foods now begin to emerge from my kitchen, my much ignored oven has once again become a comforting source of heat as the chilly breezes begin to wash around us. Oh the smell of Fall in Michigan. Now, the Acorn Squash are ready in Ma’s garden and she was happy to share.

During her visit the other day, my mom confided to me that she just cannot get Dad interested in eating squash. I’ve been thinking about how to make this perfect food, full of nutritional goodness more appealing to the “non-squash lovers”. I knew I wanted to stuff these naturally pretty packages. My first attempt, was okay, but not recipe worthy. After my second attempt, I knew I had a winner!

Apples, dried cranberries, pecans, fresh sage and thyme are the stars of this dish. Sweet and savory, it’s the perfect side dish or quite frankly, a meal in itself! I hope this can change the opinions of non-squash fans, but it will surely make lovers of our fall produce very happy!

Recipe yields 4 small squash

Ingredients:

4 Small Acorn Squash (about 4-inches in diameter) tops cut off and seeds scooped out.
1 Package Stuffing mix any flavor
1/4 lb butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
1 3/4 cup Apple Cider
1/2 Cup roughly chopped Pecans
1 stalk celery sliced thinly
1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup peeled and diced apple ( I recommend Granny smith or other tart apple)
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries (golden raisins could be substituted)
1 Heaping TBS fresh chopped Sage
1 Heaping TBS fresh Thyme removed from woody stems
1 Heaping TBS fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp Cinnamon
Salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops of squash off, as if cutting the top of a pumpkin you will be carving, reserve tops. Slice bottom of squash if needed to let it set upright, careful not to cut too deep into cavity, leaving a hole. If this does happen, remove a bit of flesh from the top to fill the bottom. Lightly salt the inside of the squash. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, saute in 2 TBS of butter your onions and celery until just beginning to soften. Melt the remaining butter and add Apple cider until cider is warm and butter is melted. Add dried cranberries, diced apples, cinnamon, and fresh herbs. Mix gently, contents of stuffing mix and pecans. When mixture is completely coated, scoop into squash with a spoon. Mixture can be gently packed in to add more. Stuff squash about 1/2 inch over the top and place the tops of the squash to cover stuffing. There should be a small space between the bottom and top of squash exposing a small amount of the stuffing mixture. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until squash is tender.
Remove from oven, let cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy!

Ma’s Garden

Delivery from Ma's garden, including her fresh picked garlic, basil, thyme, parsley,sage, savory and rosemary. The flowers were nice too!

Goodies from Ma's Garden and the farmer's market

Ma's Garden

Doesn't get any better than this!

My Ma can grow! She can grow everything and anything that Michigan will allow. She taunts me with amazing and homegrown produce…feeding my creative taste buds. She delivers ingredients that would make an experienced chef drool. I am now finding myself challenged to utilize the amazing ingredients she has gifted me so casually! My Super-Gardener has my attention and admiration! In the picture, from upper left to right: Dill, Sweet Basil, Oh so Wonderful Radish, a bowl of Michigan Blend Greens (and a bit o’ radish),
Sweet Basil, Cilantro (I love you mom, as I know how you grew it just for me!), More Michigan Blend Greens, Rosemary, Thyme and Savory…Where does one begin? Fish, Potatoes, poultry, beef, salads, marinades…Know…I have taken a moment to taste each herb and vegetable alone…my tounge danced and my brain raced! Can I cook fast enough to give these perfect ingredients the respect they deserve? Organic labels, watch out! You cannot begin to touch Ma’s Garden!

Easy Vegtable Fried Rice

Not too long ago, I found an electric wok, hardly ever used and great quality at my local 2nd hand store. The price was a steal for the brand and condition. I did not want to become like my wok’s previous owner and neglect to appreciate it’s culinary genius. As I already had some beautiful red, green and yellow sweet peppers cut up in the refrigerator and carrot sticks from lasts nights vegetable tray, I was focused on making sure they would be the star in tonight’s dinner as produce like this should not be forgotten and let to turn into a science project. I had planned to use leftover chicken I had also grilled for last nights dinner (made extra, or so I thought), but my boys had already used it to make more Balsamic Chicken Wraps. So vegetarian we go! No disappointment to me, or my boys.

I had to do some research online, as using a wok of any sort is very new to me. I learned quickly that one must have all of their ingredients ready to add as the cooking process happens quickly. I also learned that fried rice is best with leftover rice about 2-3 days old. Shucks…I hadn’t planned for that! Luckily, I found a site that gave a tip if you didn’t have leftover rice and were making it fresh. After rice is cooked, spread on a large cookie sheet and put into freezer for about 30 minutes. It not only cools the rice, but helps it dry out. I have found out that the dryer you rice is the better for this dish. I did, however, find that after 15 minutes, I mixed and re-spread the rice as the corners were freezing and the middle still hadn’t lost its moisture.

So, rice is working, giving me plenty of time to re-consult the internet and to prep my veggies. On 1 plate I have sliced red, yellow and green sweet peppers. This was easy as they were already sliced and cleaned, I just made the slices a bit thinner and shorter for the recipe. I julienned the already made carrot sticks. Then, I happened to have a fresh pint of mushrooms, I removed 2 big ones, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced about 1/4 inch or so. Onion was next, I have fresh red onions from Ma’s Garden that had to be involved (many recipes call for scallions, but I used what I had with no regrets). Peeled, cleaned and halved. The red onion was sliced thinly and also put on the plate of veggies.

Next, I got out a small bowl and added 2 eggs. A dash of pepper and salt was added before I mixed with a fork. This too, was set on the table next to my wok.

I pull out the bottle of soy sauce and get my wooden utensils ( one with a flat edge and one is a spoon, no recipe secret, just what I have that will not scratch the wok)

Oil….Well, I did wonder why in my research Olive Oil was not mentioned…but peanut, sesame, and vegetable oil were always mentioned. OK, I’d rather use my vegetable oil instead of my expensive alternatives. You only use a couple of TBS anyways….

Now, I check my table to be sure all the ingredients are in place. So, now, I begin to cook!

Recipe yields about 4-6 servings or 6 cups total prepared Fried Rice

Ingredients:

1/2cup each of Yellow, Green, and Red sweet pepper sliced about 2″/ 1/4″ (substitute with what is available)
1/3 cup frozen peas (set in a small bowl and let defrost a bit)
1 whole large carrot juilenned into 1 1/2 inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
2 large white mushrooms sliced (about 1/3 cup)
4 Cups cooked and cooled rice
2 eggs lightly mixed and seasoned with salt and pepper
Soy Sauce (about 2 TBS to taste)
2-3 TBS high temperature oil (vegetable oil works fine)

Heat electric wok to highest setting, add about 1 1/2 TBS oil. When just beginning to smoke slightly, add carrots, stir and cook about 30 seconds. Add peppers, cook about a minute more stirring constantly. Add Mushrooms, cook another minute and remove vegetables to a bowl.

Add more oil if needed, pour in eggs, softly folding. Remove when done but still moist…make sure they are chopped up into small pieces.

Add remaining oil if needed, then the rice and onions. Let sit for 2 minutes or so, breaking up any clumps. Toss and keep frying to get rice a bit crispy. This may take 6-8 minutes with occasional tossing. Add bowl of vegetables and eggs. Add Soy sauce around the pan, about 2 TBS. Toss until all is hot, remove to serving dish and serve immediately. Leftovers are wonderful for lunch the next day.