Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Grilled Portabella Mushrooms

Nothing says summer like cracking out the grill and throwing some meat on it, am I right? Unless of course you're a vegetarian (or wanna-be vegetarian, or just trying to eat less meat). Any way you slice it, grilled food is pretty much amazing. Meat, fish, vegetables, even fruit (what?!)....all delicious once grilled properly.

Recently I've had a hankering for grilled portabella mushrooms. I have no idea what started this strange craving for grilled giant shrooms, only that they needed to happen.....and soon, or the entire world would implode.

We couldn't choose one way to eat them, so we made two varieties and decided they were both mouth watering and could be eaten on their own, in a burger or on a salad.

This is an unbelievably simple recipe that's WOW factor really comes from the drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette over the portabella's when served. Don't bypass the vinaigrette, you might cry a little if you do.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Yield: 1 cup+ of vinaigrette

  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 TBSP mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced.
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil


Combine all ingredients and whisk to combine. Stir well before serving. 

Stuffed Blue Cheese Grilled Portabellas

Yield: 4 mushroom caps

  • 4 Tbsp blue cheese
  • 4 portabella mushroom caps


Brush or wash the mushrooms, remove and discard stems, scrape out the dark gills if desired (we did not do this, as we would then have to stuff far too much blue cheese into the mushrooms). Take about 1 Tbsp blue cheese and stuff the indentation where the stem of the mushroom was. Repeat with all mushrooms.  Cook over hot grill, approximately 10 minutes. 

Serve immediately with a drizzle of above balsamic vinaigrette.

Notes:  I mentioned we made this two ways, but only gave you a recipe for one mushroom. False promises! Actually, the second way we made it was to follow the directions above until the blue cheese stuffing part. Keep them plain and pop them on the grill. Still delicious! Your taste buds will thank me. :)

Everyone Wants To Be the Best Ever

Have you ever noticed that if you google (when did google become a verb?!?) "recipe for the best _________ ever," you get about a bajillion results of people claiming they have the absolute best recipe for said item?

Have you ever been lured in by one of those recipes thinking, you has the qualities for the best recipe ever, perhaps it could be, just perhaps. Then you make it really is just is plain awful. Yeah, I've been there. I don't really trust people who claim they have the best of anything anymore, which is why I'm not going to tell you that this french toast recipe I'm about to bequeath to you is the best ever.

Instead I'm just going to tell you that it's pretty flipping fantastic and that you should probably try it because you're missing out on life if you don't. You don't want to miss out on life. That will make you a sad, sad panda.

It Could Be the Best French Toast Ever but I'm Not One to Make that Decision For You

Like the mug?
Get your own here! (but you know, with own cutesy names)

Yield: Serves 3-4

  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup half and half (may substitute milk)
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice and/or 1 teaspoon orange zest (both optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract  
  • 4 tablespoons butter for greasing the pan (or butter substitute...or oil)
  • 8-9 thick slices of day old challah bread 
  • Powdered sugar and maple syrup for serving


Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, orange and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well with a fork or whisk. Pour into a shallow casserole dish for dipping the bread.

Heat 1 tablespoon shortening, oil or butter in nonstick skillet over medium heat, for every 2-3 slices of bread. (If using butter, be careful not to burn it, and try melting it on a lower heat.) Use remaining shortening, oil or butter for remaining bread.

Dip bread slices into egg mixture one at a time, coating on all sides and place bread in hot skillet.  Sprinkle extra cinnamon on top of bread if desired. Cook 2-3 minutes over medium heat, on each side, or until lightly browned. Repeat for remaining bread slices.

Top with powdered sugar and maple syrup, or fresh fruit. 

Notes: I definitely used skim milk, both orange juice and orange zest and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I also used sourdough from our local bakery because that's what we had and it was amazing. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Chickpea Summer Salad

I hate summer potlucks when you're expected to bring a side.

I'm not good with healthy sides. I do desserts. The issue with this is that I really don't want to turn on the oven in the summer either because it's damn hot. This presents a problem.

A few years ago were at Geeky Dude's sister's house, (Garden Goddess for future reference) for a weekend of gardening and partying when we came across a delicious chickpea salad from a local co-op that we fell in love with.

Sadly, Garden Goddess lives in another state and this co-op does not exist where we live, so we went home sad and pouty because we could not buy the tastiness that was this delicious salad side-dish. While we don't have the amazing reverse-engineering tasting powers of Garden Goddess, it did occur to us after the fact that we could just copy down the ingredients list and experiment with quantities until it tasted right.

So we did this and now we have a pretty amazing summer side-dish that we can not only make for ourselves, but bring to potlucks, picnics, or as this past week may have had it, our neighborhood's annual block party.

It's super tasty, healthy and gluten free. You should make it, and then thank me when you're utterly and totally addicted.

Chickpea Salad

Yield: A little over 3 qts

  • 3 cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of scallions
  • 4 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1-2 Tbsp tumeric
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • cayenne pepper


Drain and rinse garbanzo beans and place in large bowl. Chop all veggies and mix with garbanzo beans. Add enough olive oil to just coat all items in bowl. Add tahini, honey, turmeric, parsley and mix well. Add enough lemon juice so that the sauce is thin and pools slightly on the bottom of the bowl. Mix well. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and mix well.

Salad should be yellow-orange in color. 

Notes: My zucchinis were teeny tiny, so I used two. Also we like ours to have a bit of a kick so we add quite a bit of cayenne, but if you aren't into spice, just a bit of a sprinkle should be adequate to add to the flavor of the dish. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Quinoa Fried "Rice"

I know I know, I went away and you didn't hear anything from me for ages. I'm sorry. Life got REALLY busy and I wasn't cooking or baking or really doing anything but living, breathing, eating anything but WEDDING. 

Holy ridiculous amounts of stress. Let's just stray away from the topic of food for a minute and talk about wedding planning. It doesn't matter how much you have planned, or how many people help you, the week of your wedding, you're going to lose your ever-loving-mind.

Thank goodness for my amazing friends, family and now husband. They all were instrumental in making sure I ate something every once in awhile, didn't find out that the staff was late to set up the tables and deliver the chairs for the reception, and made sure that every detail was exactly how my husband (that still sounds so funny!) and I envisioned it. 

I adore all these people and because of them I have an amazing day to look back on.

Geeky Dude and Me On Our Wedding Day

Now, onwards to the foodstuffs!

There's a lot of hubub about this quinoa stuff....but what is quinoa exactly? Touted as the newest superfood it's often confused as a grain, however it is actually a seed that is grain-like. Confusing, right? Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) comes from the Andes Mountains of South America. It was one of the three staple foods of the Inca civilization along with corn and potatoes. 

The Quinoa Plant
Quinoa contains more protein than any grain; an average of 16.2 percent (though some varieties of quinoa are more than 20 percent protein).  To compare, rice has 7.5 percent, millet 9.9 percent and wheat 14 percent.  Quinoa's protein is a complete protein, with an essential amino acid balance close to the ideal (similar to milk).  It is also high in lysine, methionine and cysthine. 

Prepping Quinoa After It's Been Removed From the Plant

Amazingly Delicious Quinoa Fried Rice
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 to 20 minutes

2 T sesame oil
1 t minced garlic
1 t minced ginger
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 cup shredded carrot
3 to 4 cups cooked quinoa
2 T mirin (rice wine vinegar)
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
3 eggs
salt + pepper, to taste
extra soy sauce + Sriracha, to taste
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic and ginger in sesame oil for 1 minute. Add vegetables and cook until thawed, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add quinoa, soy sauce and mirin. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until quinoa has absorbed the liquid.
In the middle of your saucepan, push fried quinoa to the side to create a hole. Crack eggs inside the hole and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Gently mix the quinoa and eggs. Let cook for an additional minute. Mix again. Repeat until egg is completely cooked. Season with salt + pepper.

To serve, portion quinoa fried rice into two bowls and top with Sriracha, if desired.
Makes 4 servings
***Adaptations*** Always add snap peas because snap peas in a stir-fry are amazing. Also, I generally garnish with bean sprouts because they're crunchy and delicious. 

PLEASE NOTE: This is COOKED quinoa. Do not use dry quinoa when making this recipe! It won't taste right (dry and gross!) and you'll have too much quiona.