Category Archives: Grains

Thanksgiving Light

Even though I’m not living in America right now and even if I were, I’ve kind of shunned Thanksgiving, this year I’ve had a craving for some delicious Thanksgiving Dressing and I thought why not do a Turkey Day light?!

I’m sure you’re wondering what Thanksgiving has ever done to me to make me shun it. The truth is that I do enjoy the whole family aspect of the holiday. Some of my favorite memories are getting up early and trekking from the Chicago suburbs into the city to my Granny’s house, where she inevitably had a stove, table and countertop full of food waiting for us. I got to see my cousins, and eventually their children, and just have a nice day of family.

turkey dressing 1But as I got older it just began to ring false to me. Not the family time, that’s always incredible. But the rest of it; celebrating a time right before an entire culture was basically eradicated. It just didn’t sit right with me and you combine that with the doses of unhealthy food served and I began to wonder if this holiday was doing the nation as a whole, more harm than good. I mean, with a growing obesity epidemic it hardly seems right to ply ourselves and children with tons of simple carbs that are consumed throughout the day with no regard for health or nutrition.

So for the last few years we have kind of skipped over it. Sure we’ll cook some good food and give thanks, but usually I try out some different world cuisine like Greek (spanakopita or moussaka), Korean (kimchi), or even Moroccan (pigeon pie). This way we are celebrating other types of culture and still enjoying time together. Honestly I wish I had spent some time when I was still in America learning more about Native American cuisine because growing up in Illinois there is no shortage of the culture but very little of the food culture.

Besides I think we should be giving thanks to one another for what we do and what we have on a daily basis instead of treating one another like crap 364 days and being kind on one. But hey…that’s just me.

This year I went the simple route: no big ass turkey with all the trimmings. Just a few turkey breasts without the skin and a nice dish of dressing. I decided to skip over the cranberry sauce, partly because I couldn’t find fresh cranberries this week and partly because I had an idea that an apple compote might be perfect for the type of dressing I was thinking of making.

I easily found the ingredients I needed and got to work.

Ingredients

  • 2 turkey breasts (one for today and one for tomorrow)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 bag of dressing (bread cubes)
  • 1 egg
  • 2.5 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ tsp. each: basil & sage
  • Sea salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled & chopped
  • 2 Pink Lady apples, peeled & chopped
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 celery ribs, rinsed & rough chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup each; raisins & cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ long red pepper
  • ½ tbsp. each: oregano, basil, thyme and marjoram
  • 1 tbsp. Irish butter (I use Kerry Gold)

Since this meal has 3 different components we’ll just take them one by one. But I recommend you prep everything and then just start cooking; it’ll make the process quicker and more enjoyable. But don’t forget the tunes because you can’t really cook without music…can you?

turkey wine

You’ll need to preheat the oven, I used 375 so I could cook the turkey and dressing at the same time, but they have different cook times so you’ll need 2 timers. I just relied on my mobile phone. Yay technology!

For The Turkey

  1. Poke small holes on both sides of the breasts with a fork then slather with 1 tbsp. of olive oil.
  2. Season with salt, pepper, basil and sage on both sides.
  3. Place breasts on aluminum foil and cover, creating a bubble so the foil isn’t touching the breasts. Leave 2 sides open so it kind of bake/steams them.
  4. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until internal temperature is 155-160.

For The Apples

  1. Add butter and half the brown sugar to a sauce pan over medium-high heat until butter melts.
  2. Add apples and sprinkle cinnamon and remaining sugar on top.
  3. Stir frequently until apples begin to caramelize, about 10-12 minutes.
  4. When the apples begin to soften and a sauce forms, reduce to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes then remove from heat.

100_5173

For The Dressing

  1. Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Warm broth in a small pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onions, celery and red pepper to skillet then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables soften, then add cranberries and raisins.
  5.  Cook 5 more minutes or until cranberries and raisins begin to plump.
  6. Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl, pour in bread cubes and remaining herbs. Slowly 2 or 3 ladles of broth into bread in until it begins to soften, stirring frequently.
  7. Add cooked vegetables and berries to the bowl and add more broth until it starts to resemble a thick batter.
  8. Beat egg and then pour over mixture, stirring with wooden spoon or your hands.
  9. Add more broth as needed then stir in pecans and transfer to oven safe baking dish.
  10. Cook covered for 45 minutes and then uncover and cook 5 to 10 additional minutes.
  11. Serve dressing with apple compote on top.

Enjoy!

I’m a red wine fan when I’m not drinking Whiskey of the Irish variety so I enjoyed a dry Italian red with my meal.

Advertisements

Welsh Rarebit Mac & Cheese

I don’t really eat macaroni and cheese often, mostly because of all that fatty stuff that goes into and makes it so darned tasty! But when I do get a craving it is definitely NOT for that boxed crap filled with nutrition-less noodles and orange powder…what animal does powdered cheese come from?? Anyway when I get a craving I like to take a page from one of my favorite TV chefs; Alton Brown.welsh rarebit mac

On one show, a million years ago he made this Welsh rarebit (or rabbit) cheese sauce and my mouth watered like crazy. I knew that I would be adding this recipe to my repertoire and tweaking it several times over. And guess what? I did. Continue reading Welsh Rarebit Mac & Cheese

Spicy Paella

Paella featured I It has been awhile since I’ve enjoyed any culinary treats from Spain. The last time I hit up a Spanish restaurant it was in the birthplace of Einstein and unfortunately the food was not as great as its most famous citizen!

I didn’t get the paella but my husband did and boy was he disappointed. The bite I had only whetted my appetite for the real thing. So the next time I hit up the Kaufland I decided to pick up what I needed for some truly fantastic paella.

Full disclosure: this was my first time making paella and after consulting a few chefs I mixed together what sounded best and this is what I came up with. I have to say though that the fruit di mare mix I found was superb! It has the world’s tiniest shrimp, octopus, calamari rings, mussels and chunks of white fish. Basically it is a seafood lover’s delight.

One ingredient that I did add but not at the suggestion of any of the recipes I found was turmeric. I use it when I make Spanish or Mexican style rice because it gives it that vibrant yellow color along with the smoky taste for authenticity. You can generally find this bright yellow powder in the spicy aisle of any big supermarket or in the ethnic aisle alongside various curries and cardamom. If you can’t find it, no big deal just go with the natural color and flavor.

If you’re making this for a gathering I suggest you slice and dice your fruit first so the sangria has time to chill before dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 bag (about 500g) mixed seafood
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup brown rice
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • Sea salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3 cups broth/water (I used ½ fish broth and ½ water)
  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tsp. each: oregano, basil and thyme
  • 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

spicy paella

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large, deep skillet.
  2. Add in onion, season with salt and pepper, then cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until onions are translucent and starting to brown.
  3. Stir in garlic and cook another 3 minutes.
  4. Add cherry & sun dried tomatoes, and stir.
  5. Add herbs, spices, bay leaves and rice, stir until blended.
  6. Add in water & broth combo, then bring mixture to a boil.
  7. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Add in seafood mix and cook another 10 minutes or until water has been absorbed.
  9. Enjoy with Spanish wine, sangria or just pick your poison!

I have to say that while this wasn’t the best paella I’d ever eaten in my entire life; it was incredibly flavorful and delicious. I will add it into my meal rotation until I have perfected it. I’m thinking next time that a bit of cumin will enhance the smoky flavor and fresh seafood will take this dish to the next level.

How do you make your paella?

Sweet & Savory Bulgur Salad

I am not one of those people who hate salad. Whether it is the lettuce and dressing variety or the pasta variety, I love a good salad. In fact I am such a salad lover that I don’t need lettuce or pasta, and often I forego both when I’m feeling adventurous or simply tired of them.

I don’t look at a bowl of arugula and tomatoes and see some restrictive diet food…unless of course you try to feed me iceberg lettuce. Contrary to what some of my dear friends believe, iceberg lettuce is crap. Sure it has almost no calories, but it also has almost no nutrients and if I’m gonna nosh on salad then I’d like some nutrients to go with my leafy greens. Continue reading Sweet & Savory Bulgur Salad

Dirty Rice & Beans

When I was younger I guess I was like most kids and teens, equating good food with, what I now know is unhealthy crap. As such whenever there was a dish that contained both beans and rice—and no meat—I looked at it as Third World food. I would turn my nose up at it and once I got my first job at White Castle I’d use my own money to buy food I found more palatable.

These days as meat makes a more infrequent appearance in my meals, not to mention time spent in Louisiana and Los Angeles, I’ve learned to appreciate the subtle nuances of rice and bean dishes. Whether it’s dirty rice or Mexican style rice & beans I’ve discovered how delicious and healthy beans can be. Continue reading Dirty Rice & Beans

Mediterranean Sardines & Herbed Bulgur

In my recently rediscovered love of all things whole fish I decided to give sardines a try. I mean, I’ve had sardines before but usually of the canned and packed in oil variety, but I’ve never had the actual fish in all its bony glory. So when I spotted these babies in the frozen section—not fresh but since I’ve no experience with them I figured it was good enough—I snatched’em right up. Continue reading Mediterranean Sardines & Herbed Bulgur