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Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

A Flat Fish

Halibut comes from a dutch word “heilbot”, a flat fish. This is what we had for dinner tonight; a very light and healthy one. We are really making an effort eat lighter meals at night at an earlier time.
First off, I prepared my own salad dressing. I juiced one lemon in small bowl, added a pinch of cumin, 2 tablespoons of honey and whisked in about 1/4 c. of olive oil. Seasonead with salt and pepper to taste.

And then, I seasoned the halibut filets in salt and pepper, then sauteed them in extra virgin olive oil using my iron cast skillet. It took about 4 mins to brown the fish on one side, and about 2-3 mins on the other side.

While waiting for the fish to be done, I got my veggies together. I just used a storebought mixed spring greens, 1 c. of sliced cherry tomatoes, 1/2 c. of fennel, 1/2 c. of chick peas. Tossed the veggie with the dressing.
You may eat the salad as shown in the photo. Another option would be to dice the fish when they’re cool enough to handle, and toss the pieces in the salad, so they can also get coated with the dressing. I prefer to eat it this way.

Such a good meal. Even leaves you room for a cookie or two for dessert. :o)

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Just a few days before they leave for their 3-year missions trip to South Africa, we had the pleasure of having our dearest friends, the Logans – Kevin, Holly, Emily & Katie – join us for dinner at our home last Saturday. As in the past times, it was a joy to have them, but this particular Saturday was somewhat a bittersweet time, at least for me, knowing that we’re going to be missing these people who we’ve come to consider not just as friends, but as family.
Before I go all mushy here……….Needless to say, I wanted a special dinner for them. Alas, it was not so hard to think of what to cook because I know that both Kevin and Holly are smitten (haha!) with my hubby’s steak – the “Joe-steak” as Holly has called it to be. (Actually, Holly DID request the Joe-steak..)

So off I went to the grocery on Saturday, carefully picking out the most beautiful pieces of rib-eye steaks that I could find. Then, I made it a point to season the steak hours before grilling them, to make sure that the meat has marinated well in the spices. The rub that I used was one that my hubby mixed together himself, inspired by Emeril’s Southwest seasoning. His twist was to add about 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar to the mixture.

What goes well with steak? I bet 90% of those who are asked with this question will say “potatoes”. Well , while at the grocery, I got attracted to a bag of fingerling potatoes. They’re finger-sized/shaped potatoes – hence the name – in different colors (some gold, some red, some purple). Fingerling potatoes to me, are tastier, sweeter – pricier, but definitely worth it. And so, I grabbed that.And then to accompany the potatoes, I also got some pencil asparagus – to be roasted, as well. Because the steak is already flavorful as it is, both the potatoes and the asparagus need not be complicated. So I decided to do another Emeril-inspired recipe – this one I saw him do during his tv show, The Essence of Emeril. It looked so good and was very easy to do so I remembered this particular recipe very well. The potatoes are just seasoned with a mixture of fresh herbs – sage, rosemary and thyme – then blanched, sautéed and roasted. The roasting part was my twist to the recipe, as I thought the potatoes would come out better that way.As for the asparagus, they were sautéed in walnut oil and then roasted and garnished with toasted walnuts, of course. Again, the roasting part was my twist. Can you imagine the smell of my house as I was roasting both the potatoes and asparagus? Hmmmnn… so good!

Then ,there’s one more item to the menu –Insalata Caprese (Caprese salad). This is yet another simple but very good dish. The key to this is to use fresh mozzarella (not the processed kind) and use a good extra virgin olive oil. Also, I used a mixture of tomato for different shapes – vine-riped and cherry tomatoes. A little lemon juice, salt and pepper and a chiffonade of basil leaves and …. voila!! A real pretty and yummy appetizer!

For dessert, I did a simple one – some Hazelnut-Chocolate Chip cookies from Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe (I love her!). The cookies, I would say, wasn’t as attractive looking as I would have liked them to be – but do not be deceived! They sure tasted delicious. The only change I made to the recipe was by using ½ semi-sweet and ½ bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips (because I thought I had enough semi-sweet chocolate in my pantry).

It was a joy preparing this meal for our friends. As the saying goes, “ the way to a man’s (i.e. friends’) heart is through their stomach”. So, I hope this meal was good enough to remember us by! :oDLove you guys, God bless you and the Joe-steak will be waiting for you when you get back here in 3 years! PROMISE!

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Lets Do The Salsa!

I’m not talking about “Salsa” the dance, though I wish that my hubby and I can do the Salsa like the sexy dance that it is! LOL….

“Salsa” is also the spanish word for sauce, or it could also mean a mix of ingredients, usually involving tomato. I’ve decided to make a little salsa to accompany our tequila-lime flavored chicken wings. So, lime would be the common ingredient in our dinner toinght. For my version of salsa, here is what I did:

I juiced 1/2 of a lime and whisked in about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil (more or less, I just eye-balled it), salt and pepper to taste. I let the vinaigrette sit for a few minutes. In a separate bowl, I seeded and diced 2 med. sized vine-riped tomatoes, diced 1/2 softball sized red-onion, seeded and diced 1 piece jalapeño pepper, chopped 2 tablespoons cilantro. Then I tossed the the tomato mixture with the vinaigrette. Adjusted the seasoning.The salsa was a breeze to make, yet it made a perfect pair to our chicken wings. The cilantro really gives this dish a fresh taste, and the crispy but a little spicy jalapeño was a good combination. The salsa served as our salad, but I can imagine that this would be good with some tortilla chips as well.

Note: Jalapeño pepper is very hot, and its heat lies in the seeds and membranes. If you want a more spicy salsa, then you can just dice the whole pepper up. Be sure not to touch your eyes while working with the pepper. And don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards!

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Mung Bean Soup

This is a common Filipino dish that is probably the equivalent of lentil soup here in the United States. It’s made of mung bean or “monggo” as we say in our language.

The soup is very easy to make, except that the beans take a while to soften.

Ingredients:

1 c mung beans, 2 c water (more may be added when boiling), 1 clove garlic, 1 small onion, 1/4 lb meat (whatever you prefer), 1 c veggetables (spinach is suggested but you can use whatever you like)

Directions:

Boil the beans for about 30 minutes. When they’re fork tender, mash them up. This will make for a creamy soup.

When the beans are ready, in another pan sautee garlic, onion. When the onions have turned transluscent, add the meat. (I added ground meat to mine.) When the meat is cooked, add the vegetables. (I had left-over broccoli slaw in the fridge so that’s what I added in). Continue sauteing for 2-3 mins. and when the veggies have softened up, add the entire sautee mixture to the boiling soup and stir. For more flavor, I added chicken stock to my soup but this is not done tradionally. Season with salt and pepper. Just simmer for another 3 minutes and your soup is done! This soup is very versatile, as most soups are. In my country, we usually add to it a certain leafy vegetable called “kangkong” – very similar to spinach. Some even add a bit of coconut milk for a creamier soup.

The soup is served with steamed rice, to be eaten at best when it is warm.

This is another healthy, comforting meal for me. Luckily, my husband likes it too. Reminds him of the Philippines, he says… (of course!!! )

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Tex-Mex Fun

My idea of a fun meal is something that requires the most minimal of cooking. And tacos fit the description. Ground meat is really the only thing you need to cook for this dish, and it doesn’t take long to do so. Since the rest is basically salad, it’s a no-sweat meal. Yeah, there’s a bit of chopping/dicing involved, but with just the two of us, I don’t need to chop a whole lot.

Tacos, I’d say is good to eat if you’re watching your diet, that is, if you don’t add tons of sour cream and cheese in it. It is a very versatile food in that you can easily substitute the ingredients to make the dish healthier, or simply to suit your preference. For instance, you can use whole lettuce leaves instead of the taco shells. That there will save you some calories. Or you can omit the sour cream and just use salsa. That would definitely be healthier.
My husband wanted ground beef this time around, but we’ve tried this with ground chicken and turkey too. We even had tacos one time using the vegetarian “meat” (it’s made of tofu and alaskan fish meat – but it tasted like beef, I swear).

I have the taco seasoning that I bought from the grocery but due to the sodium content in it, I used only about a teaspoon of it for the meat. I also added garlic, onion and green peppers , a dash of worcesteshire sauce, red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper and Emeril’s Essence seasoning to the meat for added flavor.
For the veggies, I chopped lettuce, tomatoes and seedless cucumbers. I also added diced fresh avocadoes in it (instead of guacamole, which is healthier). Just a dallop of sour-cream light, salsa and a bit of cheddar cheese… and that’s it… an easy and fun Tex-mex meal for us!

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Comfort Food

I have adjusted pretty well to eating american foods in that, I don’t have to eat rice in every meal, everyday anymore. But nevertheless, I gotta have my comfort food once or twice a week, at least. This means rice, or something else that’s familiar to me.

So last night, I decided to do a dish that I grew up with. This dish is what we call “lumpia” (pronounced as loom-pya) in our vernacular, or a.k.a. spring roll to the rest of the world. This dish and “pansit” (Filipino noodles) are the staple of every Filipino party. Go to a Filipino gathering and chances are, you will find this dish served on the table.

In my country, there are 3 kinds of lumpia – the vegetable lumpia (veggie spring roll), the lumpia shang-hai (meat-filled spring roll) and the fresh lumpia (veggie filled but using a crepe-like wrap). As you can see, this time I chose to do the the meat-filled spring roll.

I didn’t have to follow a recipe for this dish. I learned to make this at an early age and have made this with my mother a countless number of times with her in the past.

Traditionally, the meat used for this dish is ground pork. But in an effort to somehow lessen the fat (because this is deep fried), I used ground chicken – but with a twist. Because chicken needs a lot of flavor, I thought of adding shrimp to the mixture.

This is a labor intensive dish. Rolling the wrap takes a long time, especially if you’re making a bunch of them. So to free myself from all the chopping and mincing, I threw in all the veggie (garlic, onion, carrot, red & green bell pepper, red pepper flakes) and shrimp in the food processor for a few quick pulses. This would also make for the same texture as the meat which is important so that the filling cooks evenly.

And then for yet another flavor, I thought of laying a few fresh cilantro leaves down on the wrap with the meat before rolling each one up.

Then as a side dish, I made an Asian salad which was inspired by Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa. I just took some elements from her salad and made my own from there :fresh bean sprouts, fresh shredded carrots, spring onion and sugar snap peas. The peas I had to blanch for just a couple of minutes to make it a bit tender. The dressing is simple: soy sauce, vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, 1/8 tsp of ginger, dash of sugar, salt and pepper.

The dip is store-bought, my favorite sweet and spicy dip from Thailand.

Note: It is important to fry the spring roll in low fire (maybe medium-low heat) to allow for the cooking of the meat. If the heat is to high, chances are you’ll end up with a burnt wrap and a half-cooked meat.

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Quick Dinner

Yesterday was particularly a draining one in the office. Not physically, but mentally. I was dealing with numbers for the most part of the day. If you know me, Math isn’t my forte at all. But I like doing something that is challenging. And getting the numbers to reconcile was a major brain stimulant. It’s for a huge project contract in thousands of dollars, so obviously, I have to get all my numbers right.

So on my way home that afternoon, I wanted a good but easy to whip-up meal. And in days like this, my go-to food is fish.
I thought of preparing a mustard glazed salmon for dinner. It needs only few ingredients which most of it I already have in my pantry. Above all, it takes less than 30 minutes to cook – and it’s healthy.
I broiled the salmon for a total of 2 minutes, then applied my glaze on to the fish and broiled it again for another 5 minutes. Easy isn’t it? The glaze consists of dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, fresh rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil.

The asparagus took longer to cook than the salmon. I suggest that you do this first. I roasted them directly in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. The veggie was coated with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, garlic powder and my secret ingredient – a dash of turmeric. It’s a spice that’s commonly used in Indian cooking. It gives a slight smokey taste, much milder than cumin does and I love it in my roasted vegetables.

This dish is so easy and delicious. It is just the right one to do when you are hungry but too tired to spend time in the kitchen. Try it.

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