12.27.11_Fresh Corn Soup with Roasted Corn Guacamole

Happy Holidays! Man has it been a busy couple of weeks! Phillip and I just moved into a new apartment right before Christmas so needless to say we've been all over the place. We finally got the chance to cook the first meal in our new apartment. One of the gifts Phillip got me for the holidays was an immersion blender so I wanted to make something that I could use the blender for. We decided on a soup and I thought a corn soup would be good since I had never made it. We found this recipe that they served with a roasted corn guacamole so I thought that would be perfect since in my mind I wanted to soup to be tex-mex-y.

This was the first meal where Phillip and I were actually able to cook together because our kitchen is finally big enough to have two people standing in it! To get the corn ready for the guacamole we added a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper to 2 cups of defrosted frozen corn. I spread the corn out evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet before putting the corn into a 450° oven for 20 minutes. Phillip decided he wanted to tackle the guacamole so he diced a tablespoon of red onion, a seeded jalapeno, and then zested and juiced a lime over an avocado before seasoning with salt and pepper.

Phillip zesting in the new kitchen!

While Phillip was dicing, I made the soup. All I had to do was defrost some frozen corn, then blend 3 cups of it. I then had to saute half a red onion, a clove of garlic, and a jalapeno after it was seeded. After the onions were translucent I blended the sauteed veggies and added it to the corn mixture. In a pot I combined the blended veggies and cooked them for a few minutes before adding in 1.5 cups of vegetable stock. The soup simmered for 15 minutes while we finished making the guacamole.

After the corn had roasted for 20 minutes we took it out and let it sit for a few minutes to let it cool before adding it to the guacamole Phillip had made.  After the guacamole was finished and the soup had simmered it was time to eat. We ladled the soup into our bowls before putting a large spoonful of the guac into the center of the bowl. I then drizzled some good olive oil (another gift for the holidays) over the soup. It was super tasty and as always incredibly easy. The recipe didn't make as much as I had expected. I would say it was closer to 4 servings but luckily we had refried beans on the side and extra guacamole to eat as sides.

12.14.11_Butternut Coconut Stew

A group of friends and I have started having a "dinner party" once a month. We rotate who hosts and use it as an opportunity to try new recipes that we've been wanting to try. I love butternut squash. And I love coconut. So when I saw this recipe I knew I definitely had to try it. The recipe also called for quinoa which I had never made before so I was excited to try something new.

I went to Safeway because they always sell peeled and diced butternut squash. Of course, it was a sale item this week so they were completely sold out. I was forced to buy a fresh butternut squash which, if you remember from my butternut squash risotto, is quite the process to peel. Once the squash was peeled and cubed, the process was significantly easier. I also decided to double the recipe since there would be five of us for dinner and I always like leftovers so there was a lot of stew!

While the 4 cups of squash were cooking in boiling water for about 15 minutes, I sauteed a large onion, a jalapeno, 4 tbs fresh ginger, and 4 cloves of garlic then seasoned with a little salt. After the squash was cooked I drained it, put it back in the pot, then added the sauteed onion mixture. I then added a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, a 28 oz can of drained and rinsed chickpeas, and then a cup of coconut milk. The recipe called for lite coconut milk which we could not find so we combined 1/2 cup of the coconut milk with 1/2 cup of water to thin it out a bit. I didn't want the coconut flavor to compeltely overpower the dish. After all the ingredients were combined I just had to bring the pot back up to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I waited until everyone had gotten to my apartment before I put the quinoa on. It was super simple. I just added 1.5 cups quinoa to 3 cups of water, brought to a boil, then covered and reduced to simmer for 15 minutes. Once the quinoa was cooked dinner was ready! I scooped a little bit of quinoa into everyone's bowls then laddled on the stew. It was super yummy and perfect for a cold winter day. My photographs came out terribly for some reason so if you want to see really amazing pictures of the stew, check out the original post I got the recipe from!

12.11.11_Spinach Stuffed Shells

A few months ago I made Giada's stuffed shells with arrabbiata sauce. The recipe was in one of the first cookbooks I ever received as a gift. They were super delicious but had pancetta in them. We were trying to figure out what we could make for dinner without having to buy a ton of ingredients and I noticed that we still had half of the jumbo shells left from the last time we made these. I decided we could make it vegetarian by leaving out the pancetta but I added spinach to make it a little more than just noodles, cheese and sauce.

After bringing water to a boil and dumping the remaining half of the box of jumbo shells, I sauteed a bag of spinach. I went ahead and used the entire bag because it wilts so much. I added some fresh grated nutmeg ("That little something that makes you go, hmm what is that?" - Rachael Ray), salt and pepper. I then let the spinach cool a bit while I mixed together the cheese mixture which consisted of:

15oz of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup of parmesan
2 egg yolks
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp of dried parsley 
1 tsp of dried basil
1 clove of garlic
Once the spinach had cooled, I added it to the mixture. I then drained the noodles and sprayed a baking dish with nonstick spray. I stuffed each shell with about a tablespoon of the cheese mixture then put them into the baking dish. After the shells were all stuffed, I poured some marinara sauce I had in the fridge over top of the shells. I used about 2 cups. The shells baked for 30 minutes in a 350°. The shells were super yummy and I even had leftovers to take for lunch the next day!

12.08.11_Pineapple Fried Rice

When I went to Thailand last year I think I ate fried rice more than anything while I was there. Since then I randomly crave Basil Fried Rice. A couple of months ago I made it and it came out really well, but it had chicken. I decided I would try to make Pineapple Fried Rice for a vegetarian version. I just googled pineapple fried rice and came across two different recipes that were very similar. I just randomly chose one of the recipes of the two and went for it.

I cooked jasmine rice while I chopped up 2 shallots, 3 cloves of garlic, and a green chili. While the rice was cooling, I sauteed the shallots, garlic, green chili, and a shredded carrot. Then I added an egg and basically scrambled it into the mix. Once the egg was cooked I dropped in the pineapple, added the rice and a mixture of soy sauce and curry powder. Once it was all mixed together I cooked the rice for a couple of minutes before garnishing the rice with some green onions for some color.

I chose to leave out the currants and the cashews to keep it simple. Apparently I was super out of it when I made this because I forgot to add the peas and coriander. I really wish I had a wok! I did 1.5x the amount of rice to have leftovers and folding all that rice into the mixture of vegetables, pineapples, and sauce was super difficult in a small saute pan. Other than the difficulties of mixing the rice and being a space cadette and leaving out two of the ingredients the rice came out good. Phillip really enjoyed it so that's always a good sign.

12.06.11_Chickpea Spinach Sliders

So I'm not sure why the recipe we found for these burgers was called Chickpea Spinach burgers. True, there are chickpeas and spinach in them, but that's only two of a long list of ingredients and they are probably two of the more subtle flavors in these burgers. I will say, however, that the name alone got me to try them. We decided to make sliders because our previous experience with "burgers" resulted in a mushy center (see Edamame Burgers, Falafel Burgers, and Ginormous Tofu Burgers) so we figured if we made them smaller that would be cute and practical.

The recipe called for:

-1 medium onion
-3 cloves garlic
-1 c. chickpeas
-3 c. packed spinach leaves
-1 carrot
-2 tbsp. soy sauce (I used Tamari instead)
-1 tsp. cumin
-2 tbsp. peanut butter
-1 tbsp. yeast
-1 tsp. sriracha hot sauce
-1/2 c. chickpea flour (I used whole wheat flour)

Cook the onions and garlic, then add the spinach and carrot until the spinach has wilted. In a large bowl, combine the cooked mixture and the remaining ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Then let the mixture cool. I went ahead and portioned out the mixture into patties and lined them up on a cutting board, because I figured they would cool faster individually then all together in one big bowl.

After the mixture has cooled some, form patties, and pan fry in some oil. I used olive oil and cooked each slider for 2-3 minutes per side. We served the sliders on potato slider rolls alongside, what else, french fries. The burgers were very flavorful. I tasted the peanut butter the most but it gave them a nice creamy texture. Phillip had an issue with the number of onions (considering he doesn't like onions) but overall they were tasty!