Tuesday, June 24, 2014

All-Veggie, Longboard of Lentilicious. Unique Serving Dishes Up Your Game

How you serve a dish can make a big difference in presentation. This looks magnificent and tastes amazing. When you put lentil soup in to a bowl you don't get to see all the yummy ingredients until you spoon them up, and even then, it's just a spoonful. With this dish you get to see every bite. It's hearty, healthy and all there for you to appreciate the view. A lot went in to this dish that you can't see. My friend Larry is a chile master. He sent me some of his New Mexican chilies and gourmet special blends and that's where this started. I sampled his Peppahead brand of Unique New Mexico Chile Caribe, a delicious medium hot blend of chile flakes from Southern New Mexico. They are all natural with no salt or preservatives. A big pow of wow to say the least.

I also included curry, a splash of red wine vinegar, green tea, tomato sauce, a splash of worcestershire sauce, and a squeeze of mustard. All that went perfectly with this mix of lentils, mushrooms, fresh red pepper, carrots and onions simmered in about three cups of water. This is just a few ladles of the soup without a lot of the broth. I then garnish with a little black pepper and dried green tea.

My first taste of all this was truly divine! I ate about half of it and put the rest in the fridge. Then I got hungry a little later and thought hmmm...wonder how this would taste as a sandwich. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! I used a whole wheat bun with some mixed greens, a thin squeeze of mustard, three pickles and a very thin spread of mayo on the bun. This was more than wonderful. An amazing blend of flavors that made two delicious meals. I can think of all kinds of other ways to use this fusion of fantastic.

TIP: When making a sandwich, drain off the broth or you'll get wet bread. Pairing this with grill roasted corn on the cob would be a nice touch.

All veggie lentil soup in a long serving dish

Lentil sandwich on whole wheat with mixed greens

Link to Larry. www.peppahead.com

Peppahead, is all about flavor and sensation. Here to delight cooks and chile pepper fans with a unique selection of regional chile powders, delicious spice blends and rubs. Chiles are from Mild to MIGHTY HOT. Plus the popular "Chile Peppers" Calendar with beautiful chile photos and tasty recipes. Many recipes feature his chile products.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Plating a Fresh, Delicious, Summertime Salad

Plating a summertime salad fresh ingredients small plate
How much time does it take to make something look delicious? Salad ingredients are beautiful on their own, but it only takes a few seconds to bring it to the next level. Arranging things in an artful way makes your plate more appetizing, and is part of the fun of serving it to yourself or your guests. You don't need to pile up your plate. Just a few ingredients placed nicely go a long way. This is a bed of romaine with a little sliced chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, and a small dollop of fat free cottage cheese. No dressing needed. It's fresh satisfaction all around. So, the next time you make a salad—enjoy arranging your plate instead of tossing it all together.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chicken Breast with Spicy Sauce and Mozzarella String Cheese

Nothing fancy here, although it tastes fancy. A chicken breast without any toppings can be a bit bland and every once and awhile you want to spice it up. This serving is made with mozzarella string cheese pulled in to thin strips and a nice spicy tomato sauce.

Pepper is my favorite spice along with red chile flakes, and this is no exception. You can eat it as is, pair it with a salad, some veggies or a few fresh heirloom tomato slices. Pick a variety of different colors on your tomatoes for extra appeal. Putting the tomato slices down first makes a nice presentation of fresh first, and then you have the warm, gooey goodness of cheesy chicken to satisfy. Cheese sticks are not low in salt, they come in at about 200 mg. of sodium, so keep it light and use only half if you want to cut back on the salt. The spicy sauce and cheesy topping is pure heaven on the flavoricious side. String cheese does not melt quickly, so bump your oven up to broil for a minute or so to get the nice bubbly browning.

Chicken Breast with Spicy Sauce and Mozzarella String Cheese

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mexitalia Meals, Munchies and More

Do you have your favorite kind of flavors? Sometimes you like more than one and want to mix it up. I happen to like Mexican and Italian flavors; not exclusively, but I do like them a lot. That's where Mexitalia comes in. This is a simple meal combining the best of both. I used low salt basil tomato as the base sauce adding both four cheese mex-mix and Parmesan with mushrooms, red peppers and broccolini. Tortilla wraps work with so many things, and they are a staple in my kitchen. I only eat bread on occasion, but having these whole wheat tortillas makes for a filling but light ingredient. A little more sodium than a slice of bread, but this 8" round easily serves two, or four as an appetizer. Having one slice with a small side salad is a good choice. Each quarter slice comes in at 70 mg of sodium, not including toppings. Depending on the toppings you choose and the amount, it is still a fairly low salt, low calorie flavor feast.

Mexitalia Munch

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Fried Egg on Crispy Potatoes with Red Peppers

I've mentioned a number of times how handy it is to have a cooked baked potato in the fridge. I also almost always have chopped red pepper and eggs available. This is a super quick meal solution any time of day. I sliced up the potato in to small pieces and then crisped them up in a pan; made a fried egg and tossed on a few red peppers. With these few ingredients you have a very inexpensive, healthy and tasty meal in minutes. No salt, just pepper and chile flakes for seasoning.

Fried Egg on Crispy Potatoes with Red Peppers

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Toaster Oven Cooking

I visited a dear friend this past weekend in her new home. It was stunning in every way, although quite small. The kitchen was actually behind double doors and completely out of sight. It was unusual to be in a place where the kitchen was not on display. Studios can be a challenge design wise, but this was so amazingly well done with every high end detail you can imagine...still, I don't think I've ever seen a place with no kitchen revealed. Even with these new tiny, tiny houses, the kitchen is built in. Her kitchen did have a stove but I suggested perhaps she get a toaster oven. They are energy efficient and can do just about everything a full size oven can do...except you don't have the advantage of using larger pans. The space is limited and most don't have double racks. I'm not a fan of counter appliances, but when the stove went out and I needed something quick to cook with, a toaster oven was the answer. Now, I cook many things in the toaster oven. As mentioned, it is energy efficient, so why fire up the big oven. In reality, it actually cuts down on the per-serving cost. Most home cooks don't consider the cost of the electricity, water and clean up in their meal prep and present.

Here is a simple serving of a toaster oven pork chop topped with asparagus. This serving checks in at about $2.50 and was perfectly delicious. So, if you have a small space or just want to save some money, get a toaster oven. In my opinion, this rivals any restaurant and I did not have to spend a fortune to enjoy it.

Toaster oven baked pork chop with asparagus

Monday, June 2, 2014

Stuffed Ham Roll-Ups On Toast with Asparagus and Mixed Greens

I had some fresh asparagus that I wanted to eat before it went bad but did not know what to make with it. I did not want a big dinner and I could have just eaten it plain but I thought, hmm...what else could I do? There was some cooked ham in the fridge so I decided to cut up the asparagus and roll it in to the thin slice with some feta, pepper and mustard. Next I made a piece of toast, put it on a small bed of mixed greens, and topped it all off with a few green peppercorns, two whole spears of asparagus and a couple of tomato pieces. A thin drizzle of Italian dressing and it was complete in less than 5 quick minutes. The asparagus was already steamed. Totally unplanned, and I have never made this before, but it was quite a nice plate. It's funny how ideas just come together. In this case, it was almost like someone else had planned it, and I just put it together. Cooking is like that; a little of this, a little of that, and there you have it.

I would have preferred prosciutto to make this a bit more elegant and it's a classic match with asparagus, but this worked out just fine. This is a less expensive version. One piece of ham cut in half is considerably less than prosciutto. I also would use a whole seed, or course ground dijon and a tad of balsamic. What you would add is completely up to you. There are lots of things you can roll into this idea. And, if you want to go veggie, some nori would be a great alternative to the ham. This is a basic meal idea that would be good any time of day. A bit of a salt splurge, and deli meat is not a regular on my list, but every once and awhile things like this taste yummy to me, and yummy is good.

Ham roll up with asparagus, feta and mustard

Stuffed ham roll-ups on toast with asparagus and mixed greens