Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First Time Quinoa

It snowed today! I was ecstatic for a bit--then I realized how unlikely it was for it to accumulate and I got over it.

I was right. The snow is gone and so is my happiness (not really though).

Anyways, I was quite productive yesterday and today. I interviewed people for a story I'm writing on gluten-free foods, finished my homework (for the day at least), caught up on reading (or some of it), and managed to stay up to date with the TV shows I currently watch. In lieu of this I decided I would make my first quinoa dish today.

I'm not going to lie, despite my newfound healthy approach to food, I was still skeptical about quinoa. Sure, it's been called a super food and what not, but for some reason I was not convinced. Now I am. Quinoa is tasty and nutritious. Woohoo right? Well, the only way to find out is to try it out.

This recipe is simple and delicious. Plus, there are tons of variations to it. Have it with mixed greens (like I did), as a side, or as a meal; substitute onions or tomatoes for the peppers or add sauteed tofu.

Bell Pepper Quinoa Salad (adapted from Epicurious)
Makes about 4 servings.
Active time: 15 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes

  • 1 1/4 cups quinoa
  • 3 bell peppers, quartered
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 6 cups mixed greens
  1. Cook quinoa according to package; or read a how to here.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, grill bell peppers on a sauce pan over high heat. Cook until both sides are slightly charred. If you have a grill, use that instead. Let peppers cool and slice into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Whisk together olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce and cumin in a large bowl. Add quinoa, peppers and cilantro and mix well. Add mixed greens and toss well. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar Night Stir Fry

It's Oscar night! Tonight is one of my favorite nights ever. Really though, since I was little I used to get very excited to see the Academy Awards. Of course, that's not to say that I was actually allowed to see them in full; either my curfew or my intolerance for long speeches would turn me away from the screen before the Best Picture award was handed out.

But not tonight. Tonight I get to see the whole thing--and I'm very excited about it.

My TV has been on since six p.m., I haven't been paying attention the whole time (I do have a life you know), but still, it's been on. I was watching the Red Carpet coverage while making and eating dinner--which by the way turned out to be delicious. Now I'm sitting here, after putting off finishing my work, and I'm enjoying every moment of it. Except for the speeches, that's what my laptop is here for.

Let's talk food. I went to Trader Joe's today to buy two things: oranges and greek yogurt. Instead, I left with a bag that almost too heavy for me to carry home. Needless to say, I had plenty of ingredients to make a yummy dish for dinner.

I chose a simple shrimp and cabbage stir fry and spruced it up with a leftover bell pepper (my current obsession). It was actually very good. Crisp, juicy, fresh and flavorful. Enjoy!

Shrimp Cabbage and Bell Pepper Stir Fry (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
Makes 4 servings
Active time: 25 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes.

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/4 lbs. frozen peeled deveined shrimp, thawed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 lb. Napa cabbage, about half a head, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  1. In a small bowl, combine egg white, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and stir until frothy. Place shrimp in a Ziploc bag and add marinade. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk remaining cornstarch and soy sauce with rice vinegar and hoisin sauce. Add chicken broth and set aside.
  3. Drain shrimp and set aside. Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add shallot, bell pepper and ginger and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add cabbage and continue cooking until cabbage is wilted and shrimp is cooked through, about 2 more minutes.
  4. Stir in hoisin sauce mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Serve over rice or udon noodles if desired.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

5-minute-cleanup Cod Packets

Ok so I've been pretty bad about blogging this past week. I feel like a slacker--and that's because I am. I have basically been eating salads, quesadillas and cereal at home, or ordering take out. Big whoop.

But after my very exciting trip to Whole Foods yesterday (now that my roommate has a ZipCard, she takes me anywhere I want--well almost anywhere) I decided to get back on track. Plus, eating cereal all day every day was getting pretty old.

Before I get to the recipe, I wanted to mention how crazy the weather has been in Boston. I know a lot of people are going to frown at me for complaining that it hasn't been cold enough, but truth is, I love cold. I love the snow, the crisp air, and the fresh smell that comes with a Beantown winter. This year all that has been scarce; especially the snow. So if I could wish for something right now, it would be snow. Lots and lots of snow.

Anyways, since today is the beginning of lent, I decided to make a fish dish. No meat right? Honestly, I had my eyes on this recipe from the moment I flipped through the magazine at Barnes and Nobles, but it was the ideal recipe for today.

It was very easy to make and the clean up is amazing; so simple, yet so tasty. Enjoy!

Cod Packets with Polenta & Mushrooms (adapted from Eating Well)
Makes about 4 servings
Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: 45 minutes.

  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 8 oz. sliced mixed mushrooms (I used the prepackaged ones from Whole Foods)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/3 cups cooked polenta (I bought mine at Whole Foods and made it as I was making the fish)
  • 4  5oz. cod fillets, skinned
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450F. Tear of 4 sheets of parchment paper, roughly 12 by 24 inches each. 
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add wine and stir until almost completely dissolved. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. 
  3. To make packets, fold a sheet of parchment paper in half lengthwise. Place 1/3 cup polenta on one side and flatten slightly. Season a cod fillet with salt and pepper and place over polenta. Divide mushroom mixture among the packets, spooning it over cod fillets. Close the packets by folding the paper over and sealing it with small, tight folds.
  4. Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for about 14 minutes, or until fish is cooked through (if unsure, check one packet before taking out all). Place packets on separate places and open by cutting an "x" through the middle, being careful not to burn yourself. Serve immediately.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day...

Ok, I admit it, I may not hate Valentine's Day that much anymore.

There, I said it. I know this post contradicts yesterday's, but I fell in love with the cupcakes I made today. So I am ready to take on tomorrow.

We (the TasteBUds staff) are having a bake cupcake sale to raise funds for what will hopefully be our first printed issue. It's exciting to imagine that in a months time I might have 500 copies of the magazine in my hands--fingers crossed and knock on wood.

Anyways, here is my contribution to the "great" day of Saint Valentine. These cupcakes really are delicious, I have made them several times and they are a hit. Plus, they are just so cute. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cupcakes (adapted from Epicurious)
Makes 48 cupcakes
Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: 50 minutes + cooling.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 oz. water
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 12-cupcake pans. 
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each one. 
  3. In a small bowl, make a paste using the cocoa and the food coloring. Add to the butter mixture and beat until well combined. Sift flour and salt into butter mixture, while beating on medium speed; beat until fully mixed. 
  4. One at a time, add the buttermilk, vanilla, and water. Beat on low-medium speed until combined.
  5. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Fold into the cake batter until incorporated; being careful not to over beat.
  6. Divide batter among cupcake tins, filling each about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Place tray over rack and cool for about 15 minutes; remove from tin and cool completely before icing.
Here is the delicious mascarpone icing that I topped them off with.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Another Valentine's Day

So Valentine's Day is coming up. Great. Woohoo, I'm so happy. Can't you feel it? Can't you feel my super duper bubbly excitement regarding this coming Tuesday?

Yeah, in case you missed it, I'm not a huge fan. I really have no reason for it, but I am not fond at all. Sure, I appreciate roses and chocolates and I would love to receive some this year--hint hint--but really, why not show your love for people every day?

Anyways, enough of that, let's talk food. I made my first batch of mini cupcakes yesterday: double chocolate with vanilla frosting.

I frosted most of them with plain Betty Crocker frosting--a very unusual thing considering I hate using store-bought things like that--and topped them with broken candy hearts (pun intended). They taste a lot like brownies, so make them and eat up! Enjoy.

Double Chocolate Mini Cupcakes (adapted from Epicurious)
Makes about 48 cupcakes.
Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: 50 minutes + cooling.

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (about 60% cacao)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well incorporated after each one.
  2. Beat in vanilla, half the flour mixture, and hot water. Add remaining flour mixture and beat until just blended. Let batter cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in chocolate chunks. Divide batter among cupcake pan, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way.
  4. Bake cupcakes until tester comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool cupcakes in pan over cooling rack.