Mauve Cabinets and a Bottle of Red

My two passions–Food and books

Peanut Sesame Dressing January 6, 2013

Filed under: Asian,Quick and Easy,Salad,sauce,Vegetarian — hmills96 @ 7:46 pm

Let’s face it, I have been doing hell to my body for the past year. I’ve hardly cooked (as evidenced by the lack of posts on this blog), I’ve drank a ton, and I’ve rarely exercised. Add a lot of stress and a job where I sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day, and the results are not pretty. It doesn’t help that buying fast food is so much cheaper than buying all the ingredients needed to make a healthy, well-balanced meal. But, I guess you get what you pay for.

Now I have no more excuse. I HAVE to get back in shape. Richard and I both agree we need to lose weight. Neither of us feel well most of the time, and there is so much going on in the next year that we need to have energy for. I went on a mega grocery trip yesterday and spent all day today prepping for meals. Man it felt good to really get back into the kitchen and letting my creative juices flow.

One of the things I prepped was this dressing. It’s maybe not the healthiest dressing out there, with the peanut butter and oil, but it’s better than what I HAVE been eating for lunch. I also cut up an apple and bell pepper, and roasted a chicken tonight, so I have plenty of toppings for the mixed greens I bought. It’s a step in the right direction, definitely.

This dressing isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s very strong, but also very delicious. You don’t need a lot–the flavor goes a long way. Oh! I even put some in a baggie with sliced chicken breast for stir-fry on another night. Yum!

Peanut Sesame Dressing
Adapted from Cooking Light, May 2009

3 Tbsp Water
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter (I used chunky)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Sriracha
1 tsp Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp White Wine (I used flat champagne leftover from New Years.)

In a blender, mix ingredients until well combined to your taste. Add more of something if it needs it. I played around with it for awhile, even tripled the recipe so I could use it as a marinade.

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Spanish-Style Rice October 10, 2012

Filed under: Mexican,My Recipes,Quick and Easy,Side Dish,Vegetarian — hmills96 @ 10:40 am

I moved AGAIN this weekend. Three apartments in 12 months. WHEW! I am so not moving again for a long time. But, now that we’ve gotten most everything put away, I actually feel at home. I’ve been feeling like a guest in someone else’s place for awhile, so it’s a relief to be so much more relaxed.

We had our first company over last night for the Red’s playoff game. I am in training this week with a new group of employees, and I knew I’d be getting home after Richard’s friend was already there. Because I needed a quick, easy meal, I settled on tacos. Those are pretty self explanatory–meat, seasoning, cheese, shell. Some refried beans on the side (or the way I like it–in my taco). But, I wanted to cook SOMETHING. This rice was super easy–just throw it all in a pot for 25 minutes. That gave me time to crack open a beer (Sam Adams Harvest Nut–get your hands on this, if you haven’t already), catch up on the game, and talk to our company. The boys loved it, so I will definitely be making this again.

Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a picture of this. There wasn’t really any recipe that I followed, just threw everything together based on what I THOUGHT was in Spanish Rice. It worked for us, even if it wasn’t totally authentic.

Spanish-Style Rice
Original Recipe

1 15-oz can Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 1/2 cup brown rice
1 1/2 cup water
1 chicken bouillon cube (I actually used a ramen noodle packet because that’s what I had on hand.)
Generous amount of a cayenne pepper/chili powder based seasoning blend
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp soy sauce (or Worcestershire would work as well)
2 Tbsp butter

Combine all ingredients in a large pot over high heat. Bring to boil, reduce to low heat. Cover. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Don’t touch this why it’s simmering, otherwise the rice will come out sticky and gooey.

Remove from heat when rice is tender and has soaked up most of the liquid. Serve hot.

 

Vermicelli with Peas May 30, 2011

I’ve been finding myself a little burned out lately. I’ve been working a lot of overtime, and just not really taking much time for myself. Even my weekends have been busy. This long weekend was much needed. I had a graduation party Saturday evening, so I went home for that. But that was my ONLY event the whole three day weekend. And OH how I relished the peace. I watched scary movies, drank some wine, visited with some friends, and caught up on my YouTube Subscriptions (PhillyD and Shaytards. I love them.). I finished a book, and started another.

Today was a little bit more productive. I cleaned my kitchen, did some laundry, made stock. I cut up a fresh pineapple and put the rind and core in vodka to infuse for a week. And the big one–I mowed my yard! Ok, just the front part. I still need to do the back half. This was the first time I’ve ever mowed. My neighbor has done it for me a few times this summer, but it was time for me to learn to do it on my own. The only problem? I couldn’t get my mower to start. I had a friend come over and take a look at it. He jostled a few bits around and got it to start for me. Oh man, mowing is hard work. I have a GIGANTIC hill in the front of my house, and that was not easy. I’m just a little too short, the mower a little too big, and the hill a little too steep. I can’t pretend that there wasn’t lots of cussing and more than a few tears. But I got it mowed. I’ll do the back half another day…or I may just find some high school kid who I can pay to do it. I’m not afraid to admit I felt more than a little defeated.

The rest of the afternoon I just relaxed. I watched a movie and listed to some music. I was planning on just popping some popcorn for dinner, but, as usually happens on my productive days, I decided to play with my food. The following is what came out of that little game. Very springy tasting, very fresh (even if the peas were frozen). The sage is what is left of my herb garden last year–it grew back! And the purple flower was mixed in with that super plant. Pretty (I didn’t eat it, don’t worry)!

Vermicelli with Peas
Original Recipe

6-8 oz vermicelli
2 Tbsp Butter
1 half white onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
Handful Sage leaves, minced
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
Juice of one lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste
Parmesan, Optional

Boil and salt a pot of water, add your pasta. Cook until al dente.

While the pasta cooks, melt 2 Tbsp butter in a saute pan over med-low heat. Add onions and cook until golden brown and soft. Add garlic and sage, cook another 2 minutes.

Add peas, cook until heated through. Add lemon juice and a Tbsp of pasta water.

Drain pasta and add to pea mixture. Salt and pepper to taste, serve with Parmesan.

 

Country Onion Soup May 1, 2011

I have always been fascinated by storms. I remember one summer, when I was really young, my dad pointed out a massive storm cloud gathering over the fields, and told me, “That’s where tornadoes form.” I remember Mom freaking out one afternoon because Dad had taken off to follow a funnel cloud. Ever since then, I’ve watched the clouds, curious about what makes one thunderstorm different from the cells that form tornadoes. I watched Twister so many times, enthralled by the power and beauty (only now do I realize how awful that movie really was).

Thanks to the Internet, I can do something I’ve always wanted to do–Chase storms. Ok, so I’m not ACTUALLY out in Kansas with radars on my truck, but it’s still pretty thrilling. This will be my third season watching StormScapeLive.com, with Michael Phelps behind the wheel, teaching all of us amateurs/wanna-bes what is happening as a supercell develops. There’s 20-30 of us regulars who have really become a family on the chat. We always look forward to storm season, not just for the cells but also for the conversation.

This has been a particularly crazy season so far–the kind that us storm nerds both love, and hate. The storms that have hit America so far have all been in majorly populated areas, in Wisconsin, and the southeast, instead of in the middle of nowhere in the plains. As much as we love seeing the awesomeness of an F5 sighting, when it devastates an entire town, we are struck silent in the chat, we are praying, we are mourning. None of us want to hear that 200+ people are gone forever, thousands are injured and suddenly homeless. My heart and prayers go out to all those who have been affected by the storms this spring.

Minestrone di Cipolline (Country Onion Soup)

Adapted from Smoky Mountain Cafe

1/4 cup olive oil
3 small yellow onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp sage leaves, minced
1 small can of tomato sauce
6 cups chicken stock
4 cubes beef bouillon
1/4 cup red wine
10 oz vermicelli
Grated Gruyère or Parmesan

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Cook onions 8-10 minutes until golden-brown and caramelized. Add garlic and sage, cook another minute or two until soft. Add tomato sauce, cook another 2 minutes.

While onion mixture is cooking, put bouillon cubes in one cup of stock, microwave 2 minutes, or until dissolved. Add this and the rest of the stock to the onion mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes. Salt & Pepper to taste.

Bring to a full boil. Add pasta, cook until very al dente (You want to keep the pasta with some bite to it).

Serve hot with lots of shredded Gruyère or Parmesan over the top. You can broil the cheese French Onion style, only without the soggy bread.

 

Eggs and Tomatoes March 23, 2011

I will always love winter. My friends give me hell for it, I mean, we live in Indiana after all. Sure it’s not the upper Midwest, but it gets COLD here. And the ice. And the snow. And did I mention ALL THAT ICE???

Don’t get me wrong, I love the spring. Summer not so much. For all of you balking at that–get sun-poisoning where you can’t walk for 3 weeks. Then you’ll understand. Plus, my migraines always hit really hard this time of year, as the temperatures and pressures go up and down and up and down.

All of that said–it is GORGEOUS out today! (I’m writing this Monday night, but you guys won’t see it until Wednesday.) I normally swim on Mondays, but I couldn’t wait to get home and head to the park for a walk. 72 degrees in March? Yes please! I’m dog sitting my Mom’s “princess” and the two of us had a blast walking around Morrow’s Meadow.

When I got home, I was hungry, but didn’t want to put a lot of effort into the meal. Eggs sounded good, but not just eggs and toast–boooooooooring. I had seen a recipe for a Moroccan-style tomato sauce with eggs on top somewhere. I don’t remember to be honest. It had a bunch of foreign ingredients that I cannot pronounce. But I figured, hey, I can do that my way! So I did. And it was awesome. I would recommend doing this with some heavy Italian bread–my white Wonderbread (don’t hate, it’s good) didn’t quite hold up to the heavy sauce. But the rich creamy yolk and the herby tomato sauce…mmmmmmm….

It wasn’t pretty, so no pictures this time. But this was a great throw-together meal. Just toss in whatever herbs or spices you have on hand. Play with your food!

Eggs and Tomatoes
Original Recipe

1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of herbs, chopped (I used rosemary and sage)
1/2-1 cup diced or crushed tomatoes
Salt & Pepper
2 eggs

Heat some olive oil in a pan. Toss in some onion, garlic, herbs. Let them cook for a minute or two over medium heat, until soft. Add tomatoes, cook for another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper.

Carefully crack eggs over sauce. Cover. Cook until eggs are just set.

Serve with thick, crusty French or Italian bread. Eat in your pajamas in front of the TV. This is not a fancy dinner. Could be breakfast too, if you like savory in the morning like I do.

 

Mushroom and White Bean Ragout December 9, 2010

Can you believe it? I cooked AGAIN last night! I’m on a roll here. Part of it is, I bought too many mushrooms at the store last weekend and needed to use them before they rotted. (I have a really bad habit of buying mushrooms and forgetting about them until it’s too late.)

The other part is that while I’m toning up in most areas, I haven’t seen much of a difference in my weight, especially in my tummy area and it’s frustrating to me. Cooking at home is so much healthier than eating out somewhere. I’ve been using Livestrong.com/myplate to track my calories and the difference between where I eat is astonishing.

This dish is really simple to make, and fairly rustic on the plate, but man is it delicious! I’ve always been a firm meat eater, and would never have thought of putting beans in a sauce like this. I really enjoyed the flavor and texture though of this, I think cannellini beans will make more appearances in the future.

Mushroom and White Bean Ragout

1 1/2 cups onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of Fresh thyme and sage (or 1 tsp dried)
1 pint mushrooms, sliced (I used shittake but I think button would work better in this)
1/4 cup white wine
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
28 oz diced tomatoes
Handful parsley

Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Toss in onions, garlic, and herbs. Cover for 8-10 minutes until soft. (Watch the temp on your garlic, turn it down if it starts to burn.)

Add mushrooms and white wine. Cover for 6 more minutes.

Add beans, tomatoes, and parsley. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, or until some of the juice has evaporated.

Serve over polenta or some kind of heavy noodle. (I used egg, penne or bowtie would also be good.)

****I’m not at home so I’m not sure where I got this recipe from. I’ll add it later when I have the recipe in front of me. I do have pictures too!

 

Roasted Pepper and Garlic Tomato Pasta Sauce November 29, 2010

Filed under: garlic,Italian,My Recipes,pasta,Quick and Easy,sauce,Vegetarian — hmills96 @ 7:51 pm

Wow! What a holiday! Can anyone say FOOD OVERLOAD!!! I’ve learned that when I go to my parents’ house, all I do is eat. And Eat. AND EAT. I made a new version of my turkey, I’ll try to share that recipe with you here soon. It’s a little bit more involved of a recipe.

Anyway, after all of that over the top food and snacks, I definitely needed something healthy tonight. I thought about just a salad, but that wasn’t going to satisfy the taste buds after the deliciousness of the weekend. I had a tomato and orange bell pepper that I bought before the holiday that were getting ready to turn, so I cut them up with a head of garlic and tossed them on a sheet pan, drizzled them in olive oil, and roasted them for a little while. When they were soft I turned them into a pasta sauce. Oh man. SO SO good. And, only 193 calories (according to Livestrong.com/myplate)!

Roasted Pepper and Garlic Tomato Pasta

Original Recipe

1 tomato, quartered
1/2 orange bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 head garlic, sliced though girth to reveal all cloves
Olive Oil
Salt
1 Tbsp butter
Italian seasonings
Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup Chambourcin wine (or any spicy red)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. On a sheet pan, spread out tomato, pepper, and garlic heads. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in oven for 20 minutes or just until garlic and veggies are soft.

Melt butter in small saucepan on medium heat. Add roasted veggies and garlic. With a hand blender, puree mixture (if you don’t have a hand blender, puree veggies in a blender or food processor before adding the veggies to the pot. ) just until there are no visible chunks of each veggie, but the mixture is still rustic.  Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 2-3 minutes to thicken.

Serve over favorite pasta–Ziti or penne is really good with this.