Sunday, May 25, 2008

Catch-Up: Part Two

Green Smoothie

In the spirit of being a joiner I present my favorite green smoothie (these measurements are approximate):

1 whole small orange, peeled and cut in half
1/4 c hemp milk (optional)
1/3-1/2 banana (depends on size of fruit)
2 big handfuls fresh baby spinach
1/3 c frozen pineapple
1/3 c frozen mango
1/2 c frozen strawberries
1/4-1/2 c water
2-4 tbsp raw organic hemp powder

Place in blender in order listed and whirl about 30 seconds, until pretty well blended. Stop blender and add:
2 more handfuls baby spinach (optional if you are a green smoothie virgin).
Blend another 45 seconds or so until completely smooth. If you have a Blendtech I actually use the "whole juice" button for this and not the "smoothie" button, I think it works much better. If you don't have a high powered blender your results will not be as smooth. It does taste rather "green" but not unpleasantly so. If you are a sissy you can start with less spinach and work your way up - but you won't get the vibrant green color if you don't put much in. If it's the green color that's putting you off swap out the pineapple and mango for a cup of mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries). It will be deep purple and you won't see a bit of green. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of agave as the berries have less sugar than the tropical fruit; I also like this version with a splash of vanilla.
I figure I get about 1/4 pound of spinach in me this way. I've started buying it at the warehouse stores like Costco and Sam's (organic!) because I'm going through so much! This is gluten and soy free and if you omit the hemp milk (or make your own) it is totally raw. And totally yum!

More Gratuitous Pictures of Obscene Quantities of Boysenberries. Again, Jealously is a Completely Understandable Reaction ...

Super Veggie Stir-Fry with Broiled Tofu

For the Tofu:
1/4 c soy sauce
splash mirin
squirt of sriracha
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 block extra firm tofu, cut into medium triangles (about 12)

Place first 5 ingredients into a quart size plastic bag and smush around to mix. Add tofu, seal, and shake to coat. Set aside for at least 1/2 hour, or up to overnight. When ready to cook put your oven on broil and cover a baking sheet with aluminium foil (trust me - saves your pan and makes clean up a breeze). Spray with non-stick cooking spray and place tofu slices on sheet, not touching. Broil 3-5 minutes until good and browned. Flip and broil on other side another 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

For the Stir Fry:
1/2 lg sweet onion, sliced
1 lg carrot, sliced lengthwise into large sticks
1 red bell pepper, " " " " "
1 c lg white mushrooms, sliced
1 handful green beans, cut in half
1 sm head broccoli, cut into florets
1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into long strips
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
soy sauce, 1 turn of pan
mirin, 1/2 turn of pan
sriracha, couple squirts
hoisin, couple squirts
toasted sesame oil, small splash

Stir frying is extremely quick and requires your almost constant attention once you begin so it is most important that you have all the veggies chopped and ready to go (I loaded them up on 2 plates to maximize efficiency) and all your sauce components next to the stove and lids off.

Heat your largest skillet over high heat until good and hot. Spray with non-stick spray and add onions, carrots, and bell pepper. Toss almost constantly until you start seeing some color on the veggies and they begin to soften. Remove to plate, respray pan, and added mushrooms. You can leave these alone for a minute to develop some color. Stir/flip mushrooms and continue to cook until they shrink and brown. Remove to plate with first veggies. Respray pan and add green beans, cook stirring constantly until spotty brown and bright green. Add broccoli and cook 1 minute more then add zucchini. Cook, tossing constantly 1 minute more. Add in onions, carrots, peppers, and mushrooms and toss to incorporate evenly. Add tofu and toss to combine. Make a small space in the middle of the pan and add garlic and ginger. Add soy sauce, mirin, sriracha, hoisin, and sesame oil and stir quickly to incorporate all sauce ingredients. Cook 1 minute more just to coat all pan contents evenly and allow sauce to thicken slightly. You don't want the veggies to over cook!
Serve immediately with brown rice. Serves 2-4.

Surprisingly Unhealthy Veggie Dinner ... aka Veggies and Earth Balance
This was last night's dinner. It was very delicious, and entirely less healthy than a plate of veggies should be.
For the Broccoli:
Preheat oven to 500. Line a sheet pan with foil, spray with non-stick spray and spread a head of broccoli cut into bite size florets evenly on pan. Spray again with non-stick spray, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast 10-15 minutes. You want the tops to be deep brown but the stems to still be a bit al dente.
For the Zucchini:
Just a couple table spoons of Earth Balance melted in a pan over high heat, add squash and cooked until well browned on each side, salt and pepper to taste. I did this in two batches so there was only one layer of zucchini in the pan at a time for even, quick cooking. The high heat allows for the great color and texture without over cooking the zucchini.
For the Peas:
Melt a tablespoon of Earth Balance in a skillet, dump in 1/3 bag frozen peas and cook tossing occasionally until warmed through. Salt and pepper to taste.

The Corn (aka the Crowning Glory of the Meal)
This is my absolute most favorite way to eat corn. B said he liked this, not once, but 3 times while eating dinner.
I cut the kernels off 5 ears of corn, but you can also use a 16oz bag of frozen corn.
Melt a couple tablespoons of Earth Balance in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn, sprinkle with salt, stir lightly and then leave it alone! When it starts smelling toasty (a couple minutes) stir thoroughly, scrapping the bottom of the pan well and then leave it alone! You are going to do this several times. You want the corn to look like the picture and that takes at least 20 minutes. You will likely have to add another tablespoon or two of Earth Balance after 5-10 minutes if the corn is looking dry. After about 15 minutes add fresh ground pepper and then taste the corn and add more salt if needed (it probably will - corn is a salt hore). If it still tastes kind of flat, or like nothing in particular add a couple pinches of sugar (yes sugar) and stir well.
Serve and enjoy. Mmmmmmmm.

I Buy Love with Cupcakes
B and I hosted a party for 50 guests for B's grandpa's 90th birthday a few months back. As a stand of defiance to the fact that no one in his family would tell me what kind of cake they wanted I made 5 different kinds of cupcakes instead of one large cake. It worked out really well. All the cupcakes were from VCTOtW, but I changed the carrot cupcake recipe significantly, so I'll post that soon.

From top left, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, mint chocolate cupcakes with mint buttercream and ganache drizzle, coconut cupcake with coconut frosting and toasted coconut, and chocolate stout cupcakes with chocolate buttercream.
The fifth cupcake was a freaking delicious key lime cupcake with key lime pudding center and key lime glaze. It was the Orange Pudding cupcake recipe, but substitute lime juice and lime zest for all things orange and omit the orange extract. And no frosting, just a simple glaze of confectioners sugar, lime juice, and lime zest.
My dad, who adores all things lime, was over the moon for these.
TIP: that recipe lists tapioca starch as the first choice for the pudding. I do not recommend you use it. I made the pudding with it and we discarded it because it was the consistency of snot. As a rule I avoid serving snot to my guests, so I had to redo it. (However if you need a good snotty recipe for say, Halloween, this is definitely the way to go!)

All done for now! Peace.

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