Friday, November 30, 2012

Sauteed Snap and Snow Peas with Cashews

This is a really tasty, easy stir-fry (which I never make enough of!) recipe I found in Vegetarian Times.  I have been getting that magazine for so many years and even though I find myself oohing and aahing over so many of the pictures and recipes, I find that I rarely actually make any of the recipes, which drives my husband crazy.  After all, my hundreds of cookbooks are taking up so darn much space, I should be doing something with them, right??  Anyway, so I had several of these ingredients on hand already and it was a snap to come together.  Simple and tasty over some steamed rice.  Since my Hubbs isn't the biggest fan of brown rice, we did white rice.  I loved the idea of the cashews in the stir-fry, because I always see recipes and items on menus with cashews in them, but never think to order them or make them, not sure why, but I just never do.  Try this simple, quick, veggie-full dinner and have lots of time to do other things - like baking, what I'm doing now!  Yum!

Sauteed Snap and Snow Peas with Cashews:

So pretty, right?

Serves 4

1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons arrowroot
1/4 teaspoon sriracha
2 pinches black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, julienned, about 1 cup
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned, about 1 cup
1 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
8 oz. sugar snap peas
8 oz. snow pea pods
8 green onions, cut into 1" pieces

Steamed white or brown rice to serve

1.  Whisk together the tamari, toasted sesame oil, arrowroot, sriracha, black pepper, sea salt and 1/2 cup filtered water into a small bowl.  Set aside.
2.  Heat the olive oil in a wok over high heat and add the onion, pepper, cashews and ginger.  Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, or until the onion and cashews begin to brown.
3.  Add the snap peas and stir-fry for one minute. 
4.  Add the snow peas and green onions.  Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
5.  Add the sauce mixture and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously, until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables are well coated with the sauce. 
6.  Serve over white or brown rice with additional tamari, if desired. 

Close Up of the Tastiness!  I loved the cashews!



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Giant Colorful Salad & a Ridiculous Amount of Pies

Sometimes I just don't have the energy.  For anything, especially cooking.  This past week has been completely insane at work.  My department is severely understaffed and cannot seem to retain the final person that will make everyones' lives easier.  Because of that, I was forced to make the pies for Thanksgiving all alone - one person preparing 210 standard size pies by themselves in three days.  Yes, 3 days, 30 hours, with only a small 2-rack half-sheet convection oven that cooks 200 degrees too hot and an ancient 2-rack full-sheet conventional oven that requires constant turning of the pans in order to not burn whatever is cooking inside.  This all amounted to a grand total of 5 pies cooked per hour.  Do the math - it was an impossible feat that almost killed me.  Because on top of making all the pies, I had to do inventory, ordering, covering breaks and all the rest of the stuff I usually do, all while getting over a terrible cold.  Very not cool.  Seriously.  It had me reevaluating how much longer I intent to stay working at this place.  February 1st will be one year, and that's what I was shooting for, but we'll see.  I still have to take my vacation, which was approved over a month ago, but was not able to be taken because of being so understaffed.  Sigh. 

Anyway, done with all this complaining.  All this means is that I had zero time or energy to focus on cooking anything, and since I was recovering from a terrible bout of fever and sore throat, I didn't have a strong appetite at all.  So a simple salad drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice, and sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper was all it took for me.  I had a package of heirloom cherry tomatoes that needed to be used up in the fridge, and I love cherry tomatoes, just not the weird explosion they make in your mouth when you eat them, so I cut them all in half (my one weird picky habit), added some julienned carrots and used my simple dressing.  Simple, stress free, easy.  Let's hope the next couple weeks heading to Christmas are less stressful.  *Fingers crossed*

My gorgeous simple, colorful salad

Mixed Green Salad

Mixed Greens
Julienned Carrots
Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, halved
Dressing as desired.

Toss all ingredients together, add dressing and toss to coat.  That's it.  Eat.  Feel happy, light and stress free.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Spicy Black Bean & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I love me some stuffed peppers!  I ate these many times growing up and have thought about them over the years, but it never really went beyond simply thinking about them.  They were naturally meat filled (beef), so I couldn't get over thinking about using a soy substitute, but that didn't really sound all that appetizing to me.  I love beans (hubbs loves beans) and I love love quinoa (hubbs tolerates it but says it's too vegan - insert roll of eyes), so I thought about doing a black bean, quinoa stuffed pepper.  To keep it from being bland, I added some ground chipotle pepper powder and some other tasty peppers and they turned out amazingly!  So yummy and the pepper texture was just as I remembered it as a kid - firm enough to hold up, yet soft enough to be cut with a fork. 

They were really great and pretty quick, since I have been in the habit lately of cooking beans in large batches and freezing them in bags or plastic containers, then thawing them as I need them. I usually put 1-2 cups of cooked, drained beans in plastic bags, label them and freeze them flat.  Sometimes I will reserve the cooking liquid and place some beans in plastic deli containers, label and freeze them as well.  I use these for cooking Dominican beans.  Using the cooking liquid is the secret to having a thick sauce with the beans, and it gives them a lot of flavor as well.  Not to mention when the hubbs gets hungry and wants beans, all I have to do is thaw out the beans, add my seasoning, simmer and we have dinner in the amount of time it takes for the rice to cook.  Easy and delish!


The uncooked peppers stuffed with the quinoa/bean mix

Serves: 4-5

4 assorted color peppers, top removed and all insides taken out
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked black  beans
3 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons boullion powder
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 small red onion, small diced, about 1/2 cup
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pepper tops, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and small diced
Fire roasted tomatoes with chipotles, to top peppers

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place an 8" square baking pan on the stove and fill with 1/2" water.  Set aside until ready to  use.
2.  In a medium saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and allow it to become hot.  Add the shredded carrots, onion, garlic cloves, tops of peppers and jalapeno pepper.  Saute, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes, or until softened.
3.  In  the meantime, in a large mixing bowl, add the cooked quinoa and black  beans, the chipotles in adobo sauce, the spices (onion and garlic powder, black and cayenne peppers and boullion powder).  Add the cooked veggies and stir the mixture to coat. 
4.  Taste - it should taste a bit on the over-spicy side, but that's ok - it will mellow as it cooks.
5.  Fill the peppers with the stuffing, pressing down firmly to ensure the filling will not come out as it cooks.  Place the stuffed peppers into the prepared baking pan.  If the peppers have a tendency to tip over, prop them up with the other peppers.
6.  Cover the peppers with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. 
7.  After the 35 minutes, remove the foil and top each pepper with a couple tablespoons of the fire roasted chipotle tomatoes. 
8.  Return the peppers to the oven without the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.
9.  Allow the peppers to cool for at least 10 minutes, then serve. 

Topped with fire roasted tomatoes

Dinner - stuffed pepper and a simple mixed green salad