Monday, January 28, 2013

Experiment #9: Soba Noodle Salad

Another day of staring into my pantry and trying to use items that I purchased and have just been sitting there.  Today's Iron Chef Challenge was Soba Noodles.

I had a package of Hakubaku Organic Soba authentic Japanese buckwheat noodles in the pantry and fortunately it had a recipe to try on the back.  I left out the smoked salmon, which seemed weird to me and added a bell pepper to add more vegetables.

Cucumber, Bell Pepper and Soba Noodle Salad
Serves 3 to 4

9.5 oz. Hokubaku Soba Noodles
1/2 cucumber, deseeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon freshly ginger, finely grated
1 scant tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Tamari

In a bowl, make the dressing by whisking together lime juice, sesame oil, ginger, sugar, and tamari.

Cook Soba noodles according to package directions and drain.  (It took 4 minutes in boiling water.)

In a large bowl, combine noodles, cucumber, red bell pepper, green onions, and cilantro.  Pour dressing over the noodles and vegetables and toss.  Serve warm or cold.

I really enjoyed this fairly quick meal.  It was a light meal that was easy to make.  I would definitely make this recipe again, but I might need to add more dressing for my taste to the amount of noodles.  I might double it next time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Experiment #8: Mediterranean Lentil Barley Salad

I had an urge for a healthy meal today and I remembered that I had a recipe for a Mediterranean Lentil Salad.

The recipe is from a free newsletter from New Leaf Community Markets called Flavor from November 2012.   The recipe itself is from Stephanie Richardson, of San Jose who adapted it from a blog called Kalyn's Kitchen.

I adapted it from what I had on hand but mostly stayed true to the recipe.

Mediterranean Lentil Salad
Serves 6

1/2 cup organic bulk green lentils
1/2 cup organic bulk pearl barley
1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onion chopped
1/2 cup Belfiore feta cheese, small diced (or crumbled)
1 red bell pepper chopped
10 kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 medium cucumber, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon simply organic italian salad dressing mix (updated March 1)
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil

1. Combine the lentils and barley with 2 cups of water in a medium sized pan and cook for 20 minutes until tender.  Drain and set aside; let cool for 20 minutes or more (I let them cool 10 minutes.)

2.  Mix together the lentils and barley with the italian seasoning, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic and olive oil tossing to coat.

3.  Add rest of ingredients, tomatoes, onion, feta, bell pepper, cucumber, and olives and gently combine.

The original recipe had 12 leaves of mint  for garnish, which I didn't have, but I think probably would have been a great addition.

It was a delicious success.  I will definitely make this recipe again.  Delightful mediterranean flavors and hearty healthy vegetarian.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Experiment #7: Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Sometimes you just need a treat and if you have the time it is great to make these cinnamon rolls.  It takes a day to make, but once you sink your teeth into these rolls you will thank me for it.

The recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart Recipe.  I use the recipe from the Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, but it is also online.  See link below.

The recipe is labeled Cinnamon Pecan Sticky buns, but I think they are decadent enough without the sticky part, so I leave those steps off this recipe.  I also make smaller more petite rolls.  I think making 12 rolls with 4 sticks of butter is a bit much.  Making them smaller makes them seem much more reasonable.

Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

  • 2 packages active dry yeast, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk, about 110 degrees
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar (reduced)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut in pieces, plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups pecan halves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar (reduced)
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1. In a small bowl, combine yeast and milk. Let stand until yeast is creamy, about 10 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture and eggs, and mix on low speed until completely combined, about 3 minutes.

2. Increase the speed to high and add butter, several pieces at a time. When all the butter has been added, continue mixing dough until it is smooth and shiny, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer dough to a parchment-lined 13-by-18-inch baking pan and use your hands to spread the dough out to fit the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

3. Generously butter one 12-cup 4-ounce-capacity muffin pans.

4.  Remove dough from the refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Roll out dough lengthwise, 1/4 inch thick by 15 inches long by 24 inches wide. Using a spatula, spread sour cream over the surface of dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Dust sour cream with cinnamon, and sprinkle with 2/3 cup brown sugar. Cover brown sugar with chopped pecans, and roll dough up lengthwise to form a roll about 24 inches long by 2 inches in diameter. 

5.  Using a sharp knife, slice dough into 1-inch-thick slices, and place in the prepared pan or pans, either cut side down, until every cup is filled. 
*In case you don't want lots of cinnamon rolls hanging around the house, you can place the uncooked cinnamon rolls on a cookie sheet to let freeze a bit, so they don't stick together and then place in a sealed container in the freezer and bake them when you want them.  I had great success with frozen rolls if you defrost in the fridge, take them out for 15 minutes.  Then you can proceed with the next instructions below.  

5.  Cover cinnamon rolls with parchment paper, and let rise in a warm place until they rise 1/4 inch above cups, 20 to 30 minutes.  Depending on how fast your oven preheats, preheat your oven to 350 degrees 15 minutes after you start to let the rolls rise.  

6.  Transfer cinnamon rolls to the oven, placing a cookie sheet on the rack below to catch any drips. Rotate the pans between the shelves to ensure even baking, until buns are dark golden brown, about 40 minutes.

7.  Remove the pans from the oven, and immediately turn buns out onto a second parchment-covered cookie sheet.  Place the cookie sheet on a wire rack to cool.
These cinnamon rolls are ridiculously good.  This recipe is a decadent treat that you can really impress people with and when you make your own cinnamon rolls, you can use the best ingredients.

Link to Martha Stewarts Cinnamon Pecan Sticky Buns:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Experiment #6: Rice Noodles with Vegetables

I was staring in my pantry today and did a little Iron Chef-esque challenge.  I've had these Stir-Fry Rice Noodles in there for a while, and I really should use them up.  Fortunately for me, there was a recipe on the back of the package.  I thought what the heck.  I'll try it.

Rice Noodles with Vegetables
From Thai Kitchen package of Stir-Fry Rice Noodles
14 pz. Package rice noodles
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 oz. tofu, cubed (I used organic sprouted tofu)
Mixed Vegetables, chopped ( I used green onion, chard, broccoli, carrot)
2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
4 Tbsp. Tamari
1 Tbsp. Sugar (optional)

1) Bring a pot of water to boil. Remove from heat and immerse package (14 oz.) of Stir-Fry Rice Noodles in hot water; let stand 8 to 10 minutes until noodles are soft but firm.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

2)  In a wok, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add tofu and brown.  Add vegetables and quickly cook for 5 to 10 minutes until desired doneness.

3)  Add softened noodles, fish sauce, tamari and sugar and stir-fry the noodles until they are tender and all ingredients are cooked.  (If the noodles are too firm, [which they were for me], add 1 tsp. of water as needed and continue to stir-fry until tender.)

Serves 4 to 8.

I thought this was a great quick, healthy meal and would definitely make it again.  I like to cook gluten-free, wheat free and egg free once in a while.  These noodles fit the bill!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Experiment #5: Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

We had a friend come over to watch some football today and I decided that we needed some snacks.  I've been eyeing this recipe for a while.  Another recipe that is adapted from the delicious living magazine from December 2011.  It seemed easy enough. So here it is.

Per my usual I reduced the sugar from the original recipe and I didn't have enough coconut so that was inadvertently reduced.

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (The original recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup shredded carrots (2 carrots)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup organic sugar
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dark chocolate
1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together flours, carrot, coconut, sugar, oats, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together water, oil, and vanilla.  Add wet mixture to dry.

Mix to combine.  Fold in the chocolate, pecans, and cranberries.

Scoop batter by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet.  I pat the cookies together to form a nicer looking mound as the shredded carrot tended to stick out.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden.  I found it hard to tell when these were done.  I broke a few in half to see if it was cooked through.

I really enjoyed these cookies.  Maybe a little too much!  Packed with a delicious variety of flavors, it will be a hit with friends and family.  They don't even have to know that these cookies are vegan.

Link to original recipe: