Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cooking Machine

I've made a few recipes recently that we liked enough to blog about. I'll definitely be making these again soon.

First one... pot pies. I love pot pies but have an impossible time finding ones that are both vegetarian and not 100 grams of fat each. I had never attempted the creation of one myself, but felt that the fall weather we've been having was the perfect time.

I felt a bit like Sandra Lee of Semi-Homemade Cooking when making this meal because I used mostly store bought items to save time. The recipe follows the photo...
Using our Crate & Barrel ramekins I love so much, I made these. Here's the recipe:
Semi-Homemade Chicken & Veggie Pot Pies 
1 can of 8 low-fat croissants
- 1 breast cooked/chopped chicken
- 4 cups of cooked vegetables (I used 2 sliced carrots, chopped broccoli, diced green bell pepper and sauteed them with a touch of soy sauce/covered to steam the rest of the way)
- 1 can Cream of Potato soup (eliminates the need to cook potatoes, too!)
- Cheese of your choice. I used mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan
- Chives, pepper, salt, season to taste. I don't measure... I just throw in.

1. Preheat oven to whatever the croissant container tells you to. :) 350 degrees I believe.
2. Unravel croissants but do not separate. Leave as two long rectangles. Use a rolling pin to thin them out as much as possible. Cut your thinned dough into 8 squares total.
3. Line the bottoms of the ramekins with a square piece of dough in each. Cook for about 5 minutes until a hint of golden appears. This is done so the bottom does not stay soggy when you add ingredients and cook again.
4. In the meantime, cook veggies and chicken.
5. Mix veggies, chicken, can of soup, and just enough water to give a smooth but not soupy consistency (about 1/2-3/4 cup depending on how much of the other ingredients you've added). Add cheeses-- whatever amount you'd like. Eye-ball it. Heat in a saucepan altogether until cheese melts into mixture.
6. Spoon mixture into each ramekin (at this point the bottom dough is a bit cooked).
7. Use the remaining 4 squares of croissant dough and cover each top by pinching over just as you would in making an apple pie.
8. Bake until golden.

Yields 4, 10-ounce ramekins = 4 meals ... but in our case... 2 very, very full people who love croissants a whole lot. Haha.

The next recipe was born when my friend Liz asked me to make a "bean" salad to bring over for dinner at their house. Bean salad? I'd honestly never made one! She of course knew that I am a veggie and figured I would find this task easy. One would think. I quickly kicked into gear and wanted to use my absolute favorite new protein/grain, Quinoa. This stuff is delicious, versatile, and incredibly good for you. It tastes just like white rice and has an airy consistency. I am not a fan of brown rice and this far surpasses that and is still better for you! I found recipes on the internet for quinoa and black bean salads but wasn't entirely pleased with any of them. So... I used some of their ideas but made my own rendition.
Black Bean & Quinoa Salad
- 2 cans black beans, drained
- bell pepper, diced (any color--I used red)
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (Hint: I cook with 1 cube of boullion or some stock instead of plain water. It makes for a much tastier result)
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 bunch chopped green onions
- 1 cup sliced or chopped black olives
- 1 cup corn
- Chopped jalapeno pepper (I also added some of the jalapeno juice to the dressing)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped/minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon jalapeno juice (if using canned jalapenos, use jar juice-- or from peperoncinis jar)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Mix all ingredients & serve cold

That evening, we had a great dinner at the Allen's house. We brought our salad and they made beef cabernet burgers with ciabbata bread as the buns (toasted and delicious), homemade spicy black bean veggie burger for me (SO delicious and so thoughtful), and spicy sweet potatoes (I don't like sweet potatoes but these were not sweet and I actually enjoyed them!).

...and let's not forget to mention a Thanksgiving package that showed up at our doorstep this week! Ray's parents sent some Thanksgiving love from Maryland. Thank you, MD Wilsons!