The recipe that will make my name

September 12th, 2011

Check this out:

It’s a screencap from Boston.com last night. I came up with my “Easy Greek Casserole” recipe nearly four years ago, and every now and then, it shoots back into prominence. I’m glad it did: it’s a terrific recipe to add to your repertoire now that fall is here.

For those of you who haven’t tried it yet, here is Miss Conduct’s Famous Easy Greek Casserole:

I make this in an 8X8 pan, and it’s enough for two lunches for two, or dinner and maybe one serving left over, so expand accordingly if you’re cooking for more people. Absolutely none of the amounts are exact, because that’s just not how I roll.

1-1.5 cups cooked brown rice or other whole grain (quinoa is good)
1 T olive oil
1 small onion
1 bulb garlic, chopped, or one tablespoon minced garlic from a jar
1 bag baby spinach
herbs
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half, or one can diced tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 block firm tofu, drained & pressed
sliced black olives (optional)

Cook rice or other grain. Preheat oven to 375. Heat olive oil in skillet and add onion and garlic. Wash the spinach and squeeze dry. When the onion has become limp and tractable, add the spinach and whatever herbs you like (I use dill, oregano, basil, black pepper; there’s enough salt in the feta so’s you don’t need any of that). While that cooks, spray the pan with non-stick spray (it’s okay if you forget, which I do about half the time) and spread the rice or other grain evenly across the bottom. When the spinach mixture is just barely cooked, put that on top. Put the tomatoes on top of that, cover in foil, and bake for about 20 minutes.

Squeeze the tofu between your fingers and into a bowl. Add feta cheese. Mix together until it’s all just crumbly white stuff. Remove the casserole and add the feta cheese & tofu topping. Add sliced olives on top, and bake uncovered until topping browns, about 15 more minutes.

So tasty, and so nutritious! Also so sloppy. If you like your casserole servings to have neat edges and structural integrity, add a beaten egg or two somewhere, probably in the spinach.

This is good with steamed broccoli with some Cavender’s Greek Seasoning on top.

And a bonus one-pot dinner I came up with last week. Behold, Miss Conduct’s Vaguely African Stew:

1 cup brown rice or other grain (I used a Trader Joe’s grain mix)
1 16-oz can crushed pineapple
4-5 large carrots, peeled & diced
1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Thai Lime & Chili Cashews

Squeeze out as much of the juice as possible from the pineapple, and use that to cook the grain in. Peel and dice carrots while grain is cooking. Add carrots and cashews to pot shortly before grain is done cooking, and mix in the rest of the pineapple afterward.

I added some red pepper flakes to this as well, since we like the spicy. This isn’t quite right for dinner (too heavy for a side dish, not heavy enough for an entree) but it’s a great brown-bag option, as it’s tasty, nutritious, and not too sloppy to eat in front of a computer.

Pickled cauliflower

August 1st, 2011

Here’s a recipe I came up with this weekend for a tasty and unusual snack:

1 head cauliflower
1 c water
1 c cider vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 c sugar
1 T mustard seeds
1/2 t turmeric (optional)
dash of salt

Cut the cauliflower into florets. Blanch in boiling water for about 30 seconds and drain. Mix water, vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, turmeric, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes. Pour the mixture over the cauliflower florets and let it cool. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Then enjoy the sweet, pungent, slightly spicy snack!

I want to eat this NOW

April 5th, 2010

I’m a fan of “Trader Joe’s Fan” (repetitive though that may be) on Facebook, and the following most awesome-sounding recipe was posted:

Harvest Grains with Spinach and Cherry

This filling side provides plenty of whole grains and antioxidants in a simple, versatile dish. The cherries add a bright zing of flavor and plump while cooking. Add grilled salmon, shrimp or chicken alongside for a quick entree. Serve cool in warmer months.

1 Lb bag Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains (Israeli-style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa)
3 cups prepackaged fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup Trader joes’ Dried Pitted Tart Montmorency Cherries
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
Bring 3.5 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add grains, olive oil and garlic. Bring back to a boil. Stir in cherries, add spinach to the top of the pot to steam. Cover and simmer under low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, mix evenly and serve immediately. Makes about 6 cups.

How great does that sound? I wouldn’t think you’d necessarily need a meat to go with it, either; I bet with some slivered almonds in there, you’d have enough protein for a good vegetarian meal.

More stuff I can eat! (… and that you’ll want to!)

February 25th, 2010

As I mentioned earlier, some of my friends have been great about coming through with flavorful but not acidic recipes for me from their own cuisine. I was under the impression that Filipino food is spicy, but perhaps that is only because my Filipina friend — a Fabulous Bureaucrat on sabbatical — is spicy! Anyway, she sent me these terrific-sounding dishes. I haven’t tried them yet, but with this rainy weekend coming, I am thinking that they sound like the ultimate in comfort food.

Chicken Adobo

This is the most traditional Filipino dish. My mother always added potatoes, when it doesn’t have them, it’s just not adobo to me. From what I read on the internet, it seems like there are endless varieties of this dish, including some that are made with fish, squid, green beans or sweet potatoes!

3 lbs of chicken , cut up
3-4 potatoes, cut into 8ths (peeled or not)
1/2 cup of soy sauce
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 or 2 HEADS (yes, heads) of garlic, minced*
2 bay leaves
1 or 2 tsp of ground pepper
salt to taste
(3/4 cup of water if you like more sauce)

Prep chicken & potatoes. I take the skins off both, but you don’t have to. Place chicken & potatoes in a large pot. Cover with the rest of the ingredients except water. It is better if
you let this marinate for at least 1/2 hour, turning the chicken around in the broth.

After marinating, add the water & bring pot to a boil, then turn down to simmer until chicken & potatoes are tender, about 1/2 hour. Serve over hot rice. This dish is way better the next day & is easily doubled. Serves 6.

*Given the way she emphasized that, I guess my friend doesn’t know my own cooking habits! I always use a full head of garlic.

Arroz Caldo Con Pollo
Rice Chicken Soup

This is a restorative soup given to people who have been ill or just given birth. It is good any time & wicked easy to make.

3 TBL veggie oil (I use olive)
1/2 cup chopped onions (I use the bottom of the scallions)
2 TBL minced garlic
8 1/2 inch slices of ginger

2 1/2 to 3 1/2 lbs of chicken (I use legs & thighs, no skin)
4 TBL of patis (fish sauce) or 2 TBL of salt (Not both!)
6 cups of water
2 cups uncooked rice
1/4 cup chopped scallion greens
1/4 tsp of ground pepper

In a large pot, heat the oil & saute the onion, garlic & ginger until the onions are transparent.

Add the chicken, patis/salt. Cover & simmer for 5 minutes.

Add water & rice. let boil then turn down to low. Stir often to prevent sticking, about 25 minutes or until rice is tender.

Now, you can fish the honking big pieces of ginger out now, if you are serving it to others, or you can just fish them out when you are eating it. My mom uses ginger powder ’cause people hate the fishing out part, but I think it tastes different.

Add the scallion tops & pepper just before serving. Serves 6 to 8, or makes a lot of yummy leftovers

Potato-stuffed bell peppers

January 25th, 2010

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, hasn’t it? This one was sent to me by a Bosnian friend when I had to stop eating spices, tomatoes, etc. It’s kind of surprising, but very good — I’ve made it several times already. Here, somewhat edited for your ease of reading, is J’s Recipe for Potato-Stuffed Bell Peppers:

Ingredients
1. Bell peppers. stuffable. and by stuffable i mean no funky shapes.
2. potatoes (didn’t see that coming did you). any kind. really.
3. onion (if you like)
4. salt
5. oil
6. SOUR CREAM.

preheat the oven to 350 at some point during this process.

1. get some bell peppers. pick your colour. if you’re not afraid of sweetness go for the orange or yellow. otherwise do red or green or hell, mix it up. make one of each and pick your favorite.

2. potatoes! peel them (google it) and then cut them into little squares. how little? this little. left over potatoes are not a big deal, i’ll tell you what to do with those at the end.

3. if you like onion, peel one that’s smaller then a bell pepper and grate it. then squeeze the grated bits to drain them (this is fun and not at all gross). then put those… on the side somewhere… the onion is a nice addition but won’t make or break the dish. [Note from Robin: I usually also season the potatoes with paprika and dill.]

4. drain the potatoes. then add oil, salt, and drained grated onion if you like, mix it all together and then stuff the peppers. when you stuff them, stuff them loosely – you don’t need to shove the potatoes in there. but fill up the peppers and then place them on the side in an oiled baking pan. your hands will get oily, so rub the pepper before putting it down in the pan. if you have any extra potatoes just spill them around the peppers. they get all nice and crunchy and i like them.

5. bake for about an hour.

6. when you put the peppers in your plate and cut them all up and stuff… douse them in SOUR CREAM. this is the most important part. SOUR CREAM. ok… maybe not… some people would disagree with me, but that’s because they are FOOLS.

I was able to get J to agree that Greek yogurt was an acceptable variant for SOUR CREAM, but she’s right, that is the part that makes the dish. (My easy tzatziki is also good.)

This is also good with pine nuts served on the side for those who would like to add them.

Ugly wintry mix

December 10th, 2009

… is pretty much what the weather was in the Boston/Cambridge metro area yesterday. Thoroughly disgusting mishmosh of snow, rain, sleet, and mud. But the phrase stuck in my head, and made me think: hey, that’s a pretty good name for a drink. “I’ll have an Ugly Wintry Mix, please.”

So that’s your challenge! Come up with the Ugly Wintry Mix cocktail! It should

1) Resemble an ugly wintry mix, and
2) Be suitable for drinking on a day when the weather is an ugly wintry mix.

This is just for fun, not necessarily a contest … but if anyone comes up with something I really like, I’ll send you one of the last remaining author copies of Mind Over Manners that I’ve got lying around here!

Get mixin’!

Easy Greek casserole — now with pictures!

November 19th, 2009

Longtime readers may remember my Easy Greek casserole recipe. Melissa at Better Bag of Groceries blogged it today, along with pictures! Her version looks even tastier than mine …

Speaking of cold-weather comfort food …

October 18th, 2009

These recipes in today’s Globe magazine for vegetable enchiladas sound delicious.

Cold weather comfort food?

October 16th, 2009

I am crazy busy over the next few days (and then leaving for a vacation in ITALY!) so I’m going to do that classic “blogger punt,” and ask you all a question:

Now that it’s winter again (*sob*) what’s your favorite, easy, cold-weather comfort food? (Or warm drink.) Share your recipes in comments!

Here’s one of mine, that I posted before–but I made it again last night and it’s so good. If you missed it the first time, or never tried it, you simply must.

PseudoNachos

Cooked brown rice, whole-wheat couscous, or quinoa
1 bell pepper (any color) chopped and seeded
1 can or 1/2 bag frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 to 1 cup thinly sliced or grated cheddar cheese
1 16-oz jar salsa
Sour cream or Greek yogurt

Cook rice or couscous according to directions. Heat pepper and corn in a skillet until corn is heated through and peppers are tender yet crispy, like an Auden poem. Add beans and cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Add salsa and cook until bubbling, stirring all the while.

Serve over rice or couscous, with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt on top. If you make couscous or quinoa,* the whole thing can be done in about 15 minutes.

*Or if, like me, you always keep some form of cooked grain in your refrigerator. This is the biggest tip I could offer for easy, healthy eating. (I started doing it this summer.) Cooked grains are like the plain black trousers of food: perfect as a base for anything. If you have a few cups of brown rice, say, in your fridge, you always have a meal: eat it hot or cold with milk/soy milk, nuts, and some honey for breakfast; add Greek yogurt and salsa for a quick snack; mix with chopped tofu and sriracha for lunch; heat up with some vegetables and a couple of Trader Joe’s chicken sausages, sliced, for dinner; boil some frozen vegetables with a cube or two of chicken bouillon and throw in a handful of rice and voila, soup.

What’s your favorite cold weather comfort food? Or, what tricks have you figured out for healthy eating on the go?

Easy tzatziki

July 28th, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any recipes, hasn’t it? Here’s one that Mr. Improbable and I have been more or less living on this summer. If you, too, find it hard to eat in hot weather, this is a good one for you. As usual, all amounts are subjective:

1 cup plain yogurt (we prefer Fage’s full-fat)
1/2 cucumber
1 pressed garlic clove or about 1/2 tsp juice from a jar of minced garlic if you’re lazy like me
1 t olive oil
1 t lemon juice

Grate the cucumber into a bowl using a cheese grater (the finer the grater, the better). You can peel it or not; I usually get one of those long European cucumbers that come in their own special condoms (what is up with that?) and don’t peel it. If you get one that’s all waxed and all, peel it. (Okay, why are cucumbers either in a condom or waxed? I don’t even want to think about this.)

Squeeze excess cucumber juice out of shredded cucumber.

Mix all ingredients together. You can also add dill and black pepper if you like that.

This is great plain, with rice or potatoes, as a topping for salmon or a dip for vegetables.