Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Thai Curry Rice and Mushrooms

Okay, so...MMMMM!!!

No cheese. No bacon. No avocado. No wine. Yet I stand firmly behind my "MMMMM!" How is this possible?! Just check out the recipe below to see why. This is actually my first attempt at a Thai dish, and I'm excited about how well this vegan dish turned out. No one else tasted it, unfortunately, but I'm confident someone who appreciates Thai food would give me at least a B.

Here are the substitutions I made: instead of oyster mushrooms I used a blend of oyster, crimini and porcini mushrooms, because it's all I could find. I also wasn't able to track down Thai basil, so I just regular basil (and less than was called for, at that. I was afraid the regular basil might not translate as intended).

It took about an hour and a half to prepare, but nothing was complicated at all. The strongest flavor was mushroom, followed by jalapeño then ginger. And, actually, the ginger flavor didn't bother me, which was surprising to me. I'm not generally a ginger fan, but it worked so well here.

Here's the recipe, straight from Food & Wine Magazine. I halved everything, by the way. Enjoy!

4 large bell peppers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or grapeseed oil
2 medium shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup long-grain white rice
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 large jalapeño, finely chopped with seeds
3/4 pound oyster mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups chopped spinach
1/4 cup chopped Thai basil, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Slice the tops off the peppers and cut the tops into 1/4-inch dice; discard the cores and stems. Boil the hollowed out peppers until just tender, 4 minutes. Using tongs, carefully transfer the peppers to paper towels to drain, cut side down. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water.

In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and garlic, season with salt and cook over moderate heat until softened, 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until toasted, 4 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, ginger, curry paste and the 1 1/2 cups of reserved pepper water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the liquid is absorbed, 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the diced bell pepper tops and the jalapeño and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until tender, 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cover and cook, stirring a few times, until tender, 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are browned, 4 minutes longer. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 minute.

Add the vegetable mixture to the rice and stir in the basil and lemon juice. Season with salt. Fill the peppers with the rice mixture and set them in a shallow glass or ceramic baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, until the rice filling is heated through. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Thank you to the "How Sweet It Is" blog for this fabulous recipe. I have very little to say about this process or these cookies. They were easy to make and tasted perfect. I even used low-fat peanut butter lessen the calorie blow a smidge and you'd never know.

Yum, yum and yum. (That was also the reaction I got from my Sweeney Todd castmates, who ate all two dozen cookies. Oh, that reminds me: this made more than 18 cookies for me; maybe the recipe-creator and I have a different versions of golf-ball sized dough rounds.) Make them.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta

Posting two days in a row--look out, Y'all: I'm on FIYAH!

Since I had about 3 pounds of ground beef I needed to use up, I decided to make 2/3 of it into taco/burrito meat for meals later this week. Then to figure out what to do with the last pound, I Googled "ground beef recipe" and eventually stumbled upon this recipe for Bacon Cheeseburger Macaroni. It looked harmless, and I had almost all the ingredients in my fridge/pantry already. Plus, it involved bacon.

Of course, I have a confession. Shall we all say it together, since I'm sure it's no surprise? "I didn't follow the recipe exactly." I didn't measure one thing. I eyeballed all of it, except for when it came to the condensed cheese soup, because it called for one can. Kinda hard to mess THAT up! The recipe doesn't specify, but I used red onion, because I like colorful dishes. And even though bell peppers don't generally end up on cheeseburgers, I added them anyway, because I know the mister loves them. I also used gemelli (twisty) pasta, not macaroni.

One thing I'd like to point out is that the recipe claims a 15 minute cook time. That will only happen if 3 burners are going at the same time. That would mean the pasta would be boiling, the bacon would be frying and the meat/onions would be cooking all at the same time. I didn't do it that way, and it ended up taking me about 30 minutes, because I cooked the pasta and the bacon first, then started the rest.

I am a fan of all the ingredients in this dish so this was a lot of fun for my tongue. I'm also a sauce girl, so using a little less evaporated milk than was called for made it nice and thick. I didn't substitute any lower fat ingredients, but I'm sure it would work just fine to use low fat milk/cheese/soup and maybe ground turkey.

To sum up, this recipe is simple and has good flavors. It got even better when I added a little black pepper. I will definitely make this again--maybe even as written next time! Nah...probably not. ;^}

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Bread

I'm baaaaack!

And since I took last month off to deal with some stress, I decided this month will be "Whatever the Heck Looks Good to Me Month" (because it takes the pressure off of trying to keep with a theme, and I don't care to have any extra pressure from something that's supposed to be fun)! Enter Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Bread.

There is nothing extravagant about this recipe. The instructions are simple. The taste is fantastic, especially with just a little butter. My only regret is that I didn't have the optional "Sugar, Chocolate and Coffee Bean Grinder" topping from Trader Joe's. But mine didn't have it. :^{ So I used some Sugar in the Raw.

This is a very dense bread, which is why I love it. It is also VERY messy. I made a loaf with the intention of slicing it thin and serving it to my cast mates. (More on that here!) Instead, I had to slice it thick and then slice those in half lengthwise, so that the pieces didn't fall apart. I also think the raw sugar on top made it a little more difficult to slice, since it crunchied up the surface. But, I take comfort in the fact that my end result looks much the same as the original. Score! And whatever way you slice it, I highly recommend making this, at least once. (Definitely passes as dessert, though!)