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Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

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Imperial Asparagus

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It is a fact. Technology is taking over every aspect in our lives.

For the last decade, the advancement of technology from the medical to industrial to the telecommunications industry (most especially), has truly made leaps and bounds. It is amazing.

So much have changed that I feel the world actually seems so much smaller than ever. The internet has done a huge difference in our day-to-day existence. Instead of writing letters via post/mail that will take days to get to the recipient, we send an email that only takes seconds to be read. Text messages have replaced personal phone calls. Photo albums are now gathering dust somewhere in favor of digital pictures that are saved in our computers. We can now all view videos together even if we are halfway around the world from each other, thanks to YouTube. News can be broadcast within seconds worldwide. Heck, we can now even date online. And with cell phones and every conceivable tracking device there is, “not being able to contact” someone has become short of impossible.

I can go on and on regarding the merits of technology but on the flipside of it are also its disadvantages. Technology has replaced our interpersonal communications that we have lost much of that valuable “personal” touch in the process.

With these techno-gizmos available at our fingertips, a question begs to be asked. Will there come a point that people will actually forget how to communicate personally? Worse, will the English language change to wazup, LOL and BRB, from hello, you’re funny and goodbye?

In a society that’s laden with superficial standards which we don’t feel we always measure up to, computers have become our escape-goats. It is easy to hide behind our monitors to avoid being judged. How long before a personal handshake be completely replaced with the keyboard? Will a robot eventually take the place of a human-to-human, interpersonal communication? Hmmnn… food for thought.

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I miss the good old, simple life sometimes. Yes, technology is good, but there are things in life that cannot be replaced with it. So once in a while, let’s remember those times before the internet, iPhones and iPods, shall we? Let’s make time for our friends and families by speaking to them in person, sending them cards with personal handwritten notes or even visit them in person, ok?

So with this post, I would like to remember our missionary friends (the Logan family) who are in South Africa. I have actually made this for them in the past as mentioned in my previous (older) post, but thought that this dish deserves a post of its own.

This salad is not only pretty, but delicious as well. It is especially good for warm summer days when the last thing you would want to do is stand in front of the stove /oven and cook!

Moreover, this is a breeze to make. You can put this thing together probably within 5 minutes and you’ll have a fresh salad that will transport you to the isles of Capri — with the aid of your imagination, of course! :o)

Insalata Caprese
(from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis)

1-1/2 pounds tomatoes like vine-ripened tomatoes*
1 pound fresh mozzarella
3/4 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or fleur de sel
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup packed basil leaves, torn or cut into thin strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
drizzle of fresh lemon juice

1. Slice the tomatoes and cheese into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the salad on a serving platter or individual plates in an alternating pattern.
2. Season with the salt and pepper to taste.
3. Scatter the basil leaves over the top and drizzle with the oil and lemon juice.
4. Serve at room temperature.

NOTE*: I used two types of tomatoes. I thought that the different shapes would help the salad look attractive. If only I found sun-gold yellow tomatoes, then this salad would have look even more summery!

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Coleslaw Salad

This post is sort of a continuation to my previous post, which was about our July 4th celebration. As mentioned to you, my hubby and I decided to grill some rib-eyes, and I prepared this side salad.

Like I said, this coleslaw was inspired by KFC. I’ve always liked how they prepared the coleslaw, so I wanted to make an imitation of theirs. I’ve browsed through the internet for recipes, and I was so surprised that there’s a lot that came up as a result of my search. I compared a lot of the recipes that I found and noticed that most of them have similar ingredients, only the ratio varies just a tiny bit. So, I decided to make my own version.

The salad is a breeze to make, mainly because I also decided to use the pre-shredded mix in the bag. Of course, nothing beats fresh ingredients from the market. But for working wives like me, or if you’re pressed for time, those pre-washed, bagged salads are a huge help.

Anyway, the following recipe is more like a method than anything else. Please feel free to adjust the ingredients’ ratio, according to your preferences. The measurements I gave below are all an approximation, as I eyeballed everything, and tasted the mix every now and then until I’ve convinced myself that I’ve come close to KFC-coleslaw taste that I was trying to achieve.

1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
3 tbsps granulated sugar (more or less, depending on your taste)
1 bag of pre-shreddix coleslaw mix (or approx 1 head shredded cabbage, 3 medium sized shredded carrots)
1/4 kosher salt
1/4 freshly ground pepper

1. In a bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients, from onion thru lemon. Let it stand while you shred the vegetables. (Skip this if using the pre-shredded mix)
2. Add the vegetables to the mixture. Toss until dressing is well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Cover the salad with plastic and let it rest in the fridge for about 2 hrs before serving.

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Every once in a while I do try to experiment and cook something vegetarian. Mr. J and I both like to watch what we eat, and vegetarian dishes make us feel like we could eat more and still feel not guilty at all.

Unfortunately, the word “healthy” in food has not always been associated with “tasty”. It is only in the past few years, when different diet plans began to emerge and the organic-food revolution came about that the mindset about healthy food has changed — that healthy could also mean flavorful, tasty food, afterall.

Well, here’s one such recipe. Mr. J and I both like tofu, so this recipe is perfect for us. And instead of using white rice, I decided to use organic brown rice that has more fiber — for good measure. Hmmn… the tofu was sweet and spicy- perfect for a light dinner. Trust me, with this dish, you won’t miss meat at all!

This recipe would also be my very first entry to Fat Chef or Skinny Gourmet, a food event hosted by Ivy of Kopiaste and Ben of What’s Cooking focused on diet or low-calorie foods.
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Chili-Glazed Tofu Over Asparagus Rice
2 cups brown rice (I used organic brown-wild rice mixture)
2-1/4 cups asparagus, chopped 1 in. (about 1 lb)
2 cups water + pinch of salt
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp fresh minced ginger (or bottled)
1 tsp hot chili-garlic sauce
1 lb extra firm tofu, drained and sliced to about 1/4-inch thick

1 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup shredded carrot
1 tsp dark sesame oil

1. Cook brown rice according to package directions.
2. In another pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. When boiling, add a pinch of salt and the asparagus. Cook 1 minute.
3. Take asparagus out of the hot water and straight into an ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. Let aspargus stay in water for 3 minutes. Drain and dry.
4. Combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and chili sauce in a small bowl.
5. Slice tofu to about 1/2 thick. Dry tofu by putting it in between paper towels and pressing it a little bit using the palm of your hand.
7. Heat peanut oil in a skillet. Sprinkle tofu with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. When oil is hot, add tofu to pan, cook 3 minutes on each side until brown.
8. Add soy sauce mixture; cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
9. Combine rice, asparagus, 1/2 tsp salt, carrott and sesame oil. Serve tofu over rice.

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It all started when I saw the beautiful tuna steaks in the supermarket. I couldnt resist them so I bought, albeit with eyes half-closed because this fish could get a little pricey. But heck, we’re treating ourselves tonight because all work and no fun makes us dull…. yep, good food is fun, especially the kind that you don’t have to feel guilty about after having wiped out your plate. And this dish fits the bill (no pun intended).


I love fish, and if you’ve read my previous blogs, I grew up in the Philippines having the freshest fish from the Pacific Ocean. (Just an observation, I think the seafood from the Pacific Ocean taste much sweeter than those from the Atlantic… in my opinion). Anyhow, we try to eat fish once or twice a week. First , because I’m not really a big meat eater (Mr. J is, though), and second, because of all the nutrition that you can get from them (Omega 3 acid, most especially).

I have made this dish before, but this time I just dressed up the tuna a little bit with the black and white sesame seeds. Honestly, as much as I love fish — I can’t say which one I love better in this dish- the tuna or the cippolline onions in balsamic reduction. I think they go oh so well together that one cannot be without the other.

I served this this with a Peanut-Ginger Rice (see recipe in my next blog).

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Sesame-Crusted Tuna
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tbsp sesame oil
4 (6-oz) Yellowfin tuna steaks*(about 3/4 oz thick)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted ( mix black and white sesame seeds if you have them)
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp green onions for garnish

1. Combine tuna , soy sauce and lemon juice in a bowl, tossing gently to coat. Sprinkle tuna with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt because the soy sauce is already salty. Let tuna marinate for a few minutes.
2. In the meantime, heat oil in a large , non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
3. Dredge the edges of tuna in sesame seeds.
4. Add tuna to pan and cook until desired degree of doneness.
5. Serve tuna with the cippollini onions (recipe follows) and peanut-ginger rice (recipe following this post).

*NOTE: If you want your tuna cooked rare, buy sushi-grade tuna.

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Roasted Cipolline Onions
1 lb cipolline onions (or pearl onions)
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Peel the onions and cut off the root ends.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Toss the onions, vinegar, oil, honey, salt and pepper in a baking dish.
4. Roast in the oven until the onions are tender and golden, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes to 1 hour.

GAME PLAN:
1. Get the onions to the oven first as this takes the longest to cook.
2. 20 minutes before the onions are done, get the rice started.
3. 10 minutes later, start on the tuna. By the time tuna gets done, the onions and rice should be done and just waiting to be served.

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This dinner is reminiscent of what Mr. J and I had when we went to Christy’s restaurant (here in Miami) a few months earlier. I wasn’t really interested in ordering an appetizer then, but Mr. J suggested that we get the crab cakes. So I thought, why not? And you know what — I wished I had the crab cakes for dinner. They were oh soooo good. I think I liked it better than the steak… hahaha.. I just fell in love with their crab cakes and since then, I’ve vowed to try making my version that I hope would come close to the one we had in that restaurant.

But looking for a good crab cake recipe was a mission. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s ton of recipes out there.. It’s just choosing the right one that would get me close to what I had in Christy’s proved to be not an easy task. In the end, I had 3 different recipes at hand which I kind of combined to come up with my own version.

I don’t know if I even came close to Christy’s crab cakes, but this sure was delish. I got a thumbs up from the hubs — which was all I needed for my efforts to be worthwhile!

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Crab Cakes
1 lb crab meat, picked free of shells
1/3 cup panko (japanese breadcrumbs), plus more for dredging
1-1/2 tbsp Emeril’s Essence or Old Bay Seasoning
3 tbsp c finely chopped onions
1 stalk scallion (green and white parts only), finely chopped
1/4 cup pimiento
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tbsp butter
Olive oil, for sauteeing

1. In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the crab meat, butter and olive oil.
2. When thoroughly mixed, add the crab met. Mix together gently, being careful not to break apart the lumps too much.
3. Using hands, shape the mixture into patties.
4. Place patties in a wax paper lined plate.
5. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes (or longer).
6. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
7. Take out crab cakes from fridge and dredge patties with panko.
8. When oil is hot, gently pace crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry till golden brown, about 4-5 minutes on one side.
9. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on the other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes.
10. Serve with Dijon sauce (recipe follows)

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Dijon Sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small shallot, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
pinch of kosher salt
pepper to taste
1 cup white wine
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp butter

1. Saute shallot and garlic in vegetable oil over medium heat, till shallot is transluscent.
2. Add wine to deglaze pan. Reduce liquid for 30 sec to 1 minute, or till wine is half its original amount.
3. Add mustard, salt and pepper. Bring to boil.
4. Remove from heat. Add butter. Stir. Serve with crab cakes.

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