Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I try to learn something new everyday. Today it was Patty Pan. Who knew?

Knowing how much I love garden veggies, I had a friend tell me that he had an abundance of Patty Pan, if I might want some.  Patty PanWha?  Well, I don't know where I have been, but I have never heard of it.  I was excited to get it and experiment with the Patty Pan! it is...

Patty Pan turns out to be a cute little squash that I just fell in love with.  The picture is a stack of them all washed and ready for cooking.  They are awesome for stuffing and baking.  I'm sure it would be great fried too.  I just went for the healthy approach because that is what I do. 

I decided to stuff my Patty Pan with a quinoa stuffing.  You could easily do rice or breadcrumbs, I just have a new addiction to quinoa.  :)  There were alot of different recipes, some called for boiling the squash first, and some called for roasting.  I decided to roast mine.  Although it took mine WAY longer than other recipes had read.  So, you may have to keep an eye on them while baking.  I will give my best directions, and the photos may help some. 

First, cut the tops off the squash but keep them for later.  Scoop the seeds and pulp out of the Patty Pan leaving about a half an inch or so of the flesh inside.  They will look something like this...

Place them in a roasting pan with about a half inch of water in the bottom.  Put them in the oven on 375 for about 30 minutes.  The recipes I looked at had said about 10 minutes, but I wanted mine to be pretty tender.  I just kept an eye on them and waited until they had a little softness to them.  You will cook them a little while longer after stuffing them, but you want them to be pretty done after this stage of cooking.

For the stuffing, I kept it healthy.  First I added 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet.  I sauteed 1/2 cup of onion and a cup of celery over medium heat for about 5 minutes.   Then I added 2 cups of cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup fresh parsley, a teaspoon of Greek seasoning and a teaspoon of roasted garlic powder to the onion mixture and cooked a few more minutes.  Finally, add a couple of dashes of red pepper flakes, sea salt and black pepper, and 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan and let it melt into the mixture. 

A few other ingredients that you could add to this would be shredded carrots, diced bell pepper, mushrooms or even some of your fave sausage, beef or chicken would be great!

To finish, you can use the same pan you used for roasting the squash earlier but drain the water and line the pan with foil.  Take each Patty Pan( I love the name), and fill it with the quinoa stuffing.  Place them back in the oven at 375 with their little lids just laying on the pan beside them.   Cook for about 20-30 minutes, you want them to be nice and warm inside.  Remove from the oven and put their stems back on for presentation and serve!   I just loved these!  

Remember..Love what you eat and eat what you love!  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Quinoa burgers...for our genes' sake.

Let's face it, we all have genes from our families that we wish we could maybe trade back in for some others.  Whether it be the big ears or ankles from my dad's side or the varicose veins from my mom, they are what make me who I am, so I try to make the best with what I have been given. 

If there were one thing I would like to give back though, it would be the hereditary high cholesterol.  Basically, no matter what I eat, it is gonna be there.  I can eat super healthy and still should be on medicine for it.  I have yet to get on meds, but now that I have turned 40, the fact that it runs in the 200's is becoming more ominous to me.

To offset the dangers, I do try to eat pretty well and exercise at least a few times a week.  One of the things that I have given up for my health is the "real" cheeseburger.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good greasy burger, but it just doesn't love me back one bit. 

Now that I know the consequences, I had just rather steer away from the 30 grams of fat in a cheeseburger and eat a homemade veggie burger with cheese, for just a few grams of fat.  Of course they are not the same, but with lettuce, tomato, pickle and mustard, I like it just about as good.   I know it sounds weird, but somehow just knowing it is healthy, makes it taste better to me.  :)

So I came up with some veggie patties that I can freeze and have whenever I crave one.   I cook them, let them cool, and wrap them first in wax paper, then in plastic wrap.  Just pop one in the microwave and defrost, top with cheese and your favorite toppings and a bun.  Good stuff.  And healthy.

Quinoa burgers:
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheese
big dash of garlic powder
1/2 cup finely diced onion
dash of red pepper flakes
1 cup bread crumbs
(optional, add shredded carrot if you like)

Mix all of the ingredients well. The mixture should be easily made into patties. I never really measure, so if the mixture seems to dry or wet, add a dash of milk or a little more cracker crumbs. Form mixture into 5 or 6 patties. Heat skillet over medium heat with just a little oil or butter (whatever is your fave). Cook the patties until browned well on both sides.  You can either eat them now or freeze them!

This is an open faced quinoa burger.  Sometimes I will save the extra calories and only use a bottom bun.  With less bread, you can taste the rest of the burger better anyway. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just in time for garden veggies!

Sunday is my fun cooking day.  I try to get a few ingredients in my head and pull together a recipe by looking at several recipes and combining them. 

I am super excited that the garden vegetables are starting to come in!  This Sunday, I had fresh zucchini from my parents' garden, white radishes from my mother-in-law's garden, and parsley from my garden.  I had also bought 2 kinds of grape tomatoes from Sam's, so I wanted a fresh salsa-like dish.  

I didn't measure these ingredients when I made the salsa, but I tried to write down about what I added. 

2 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup bell pepper
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup radishes
2 T brown sugar
3 T lime juice
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
handful of parsley finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
(you can also add a diced jalapeno if you like a little heat)

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, stir occasionally.  It is even better the next day.

I used this as a topping for our salads.  There was enough of the juice to act as a salad dressing, and it was super light and refreshing.   It can also be eaten by itself as a side dish or could be a topping for fish or chicken.

Love what you eat, eat what you love!   :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

My new obsession will be...grilled celery. Yep.

I had a friend mention grilling celery to me the other day.  Grill?  Celery?   To be honest, I just never thought it would taste right.   Well, it did.  

I actually didn't even like celery until a few years ago. I thought it tasted like dirt.  Finally I tried it with ranch dressing, and I guess the stars were aligned just right because now, I love celery.  It is strange to me how a food can grow on you and go from a disliked food to a loved food.  Ever had that happen?  One food I know will never make that change for me is HOMINYBLECH!   I will leave the hominy for someone else to love. 

As an added bonus, celery is super easy to prepare and grill.  First, I cut both ends and washed the stalks well.  I sprinkled the stalks with Cavendar's Greek Seasoning and Private Selection California Roasted Garlic Powder from Kroger.  I think the spice selection may be key here.  You can toss them with a little olive oil, or I actually just used olive oil spray and gave them a light coat.   Grill them over medium heat until they get kinda flimsy.  I would say I cooked them about 15 minutes total.  Flipping occasionally.  I made salmon with them, and looooved the whole meal. 

One note, celery can be pretty stringy, and I have heard some people actually pull the strings off their celery.  I cut mine into pieces after grilling and didn't even notice the stringy-ness. 

Love what you eat and eat what you love.   This photo makes me drool so bad.  :)'

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Colorful veggies packed with vitamins!

In keeping with my continued new ingredient experimentation, this week, I tried the fabulous BEET.   I have tried pickled beets in the past and never really cared for them.  But, I was intrigued by a recipe I came across that actually calls for roasting the beets.  I know beets are really good for you, so I thought I would try them.

After making this recipe, my personal evaluation of the beet is that it tastes VERY earthy.  Which is a good way of saying, it tastes like DIRT.  Ha!  But the funny thing is that I kinda liked them.  So, I guess that means I am weird, and I like dirt.  Oh well, I already knew I was kinda weird anyway, so I'm fine with that.

Turns out, this recipe is packed with vitamins and low in calories.  So if you are really hungry, this will make an excellent dish for you!   The recipe I got this from called these "Jeweled Vegetables".  I guess because the colors are very vibrant and pretty. They make a great side dish, or you can do like me and eat almost the whole dish by itself.  :/

Roasted Jeweled Carrots, Brussels and Beets
3 medium whole beets
16 oz brussel sprouts (I used frozen and thawed them a bit)
16 oz baby carrots
3 T olive oil
1 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes (add a little more if you like spicy)
2 T minced garlic
A few dashes of Greek or your fave seasoning salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Wash beets, put them in an oven safe dish and tightly cover with foil.   Cook for 30 minutes.  In the meantime, cut the baby carrots and brussel sprouts in half.  In another oven safe dish, toss them well with the olive oil, garlic, salt, and peppers and a few dashes of seasoning salt (I love Cavendar's Greek seasoning).  After the beets have cooked for 30 minutes, add this dish to the oven and all for 45 more minutes.  Directions will continue below pic...

This is what the carrots and brussels look like before roasting. 

Remove the beets from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes until they can be handled.  Peel the beets and cut them into 1" cubes.   Remove the other veggies from the oven and toss the beets in with them.  Season with a little more salt and pepper if needed. 

I hope you enjoy these veggies as much as I did!   Because you should always... Love what you eat and eat what you love!   :)