Vegetarian Rice Pilaf

Rice is such a good item to have on hand, especially when you live a little farther from the grocery store then you would like…..It can be transformed into just about anything! For some, rice even visits the dessert category, blech, the very thought of rice pudding gives me a chill. It’s just so….so…ewwwww…..it takes a strong person to be able to down that mushy-gushy goo. In my book, rice should be a main or side dish, NOT a dessert. And who eats raisins with rice anyway? Vegetarian Rice Pilaf is an light, easy, and delicious side that pairs well with seafood, poultry, red meat, and is even good as a main dish! Not to mention that it provides you with an ample serving of veggies and grains to end the day right. This episode of Delicious Food 101 features The Chef, Queenbee, and La Critico.

The Chef: “Queenbee, how do you like the rice pilaf?” Queenbee: “I do not usually enjoy rice dishes, but this one is really good.” The Chef: “I shall consider this as high praise.” 

The Chef: “La Critico, do you enjoy rice dishes?” La Critico: “Well they’re better than some things.”  The Chef: “Ummm…okay?” La Critico: “Did you make us some corn cupcakes?” The Chef; “I made cornbread.” La Critico: “(tasting it) Well this is some pretty good mash.” The Chef: “I can always count on you for objective criticism at the highest level.” 

The Ingredients: 2 cups whole grain brown rice, 1 large zucchini, 1 cup of matchstick carrots or 1 cup of grated carrots, 1/4 to 1/2 of a yellow onion, 1 cup halved green beans (fresh or canned), 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1 chicken tomato bouillon, 2 tbsp. butter.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the bouillon and rice. Cook for fifteen to twenty minutes. Melt butter in a large saucepan, add the onion, cook until translucent. Grate the zucchini while the onion cooks. Add the cooked rice, carrots, zucchini, and green beans to the saucepan. Stir well. Add the spices, mixing as you go. Turn the heat to low and let sit until you are ready to serve.

Who knew that a rice dish could be so colorful?

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Caramelized Vegetable Macaroni Salad

Now that summer is officially here, everyone is taking over the outdoors, enjoying nature to the fullest. After a long day of summer play, no one wants to come home and sweat over a hot stove….sooooo…why not put together a simply delicious pasta salad before you leave, and come home to a ready made, cool, flavorful dinner that everyone loves? As my family is still on the go, moving into a new place and all that jazz, these types of quick, delicious meals are so handy right now. In short, Caramelized Vegetable Macaroni Salad is light, fresh, and packed with nutrition. This episode of Delicious Food 101 features The Chef and La Critico.

The Chef: “La Critico, what do you think of this pasta salad?” La Critico: “Well it’s real good I guess.” The Chef: “Well I try.” La Critico: “I wouldn’t eat anything but pasta if I had the choice.” The Chef: “Same here, but that would not bode well towards a healthy lifestyle.” 

The Ingredients: 1 lb. macaroni noodles, 1 large tomato, 4-6 green onions or 1/2 yellow onion, 1/2 cup mayonnaise or sour cream, 2 tbsp. sriracha ranch dressing, 1 tbsp. spicy brown mustard, italian seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic, 2 tbsp. butter.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the noodles and butter. Now, this is very important: DO. NOT. OVERCOOK THE NOODLES. They must be al dente or the salad will be ruined. While the noodles are boiling, dice the tomato and whichever onion you choose. If using yellow onion, caramelize in butter for ten minutes, adding the tomato to the pan during the last few minutes. If using green onions, saute the green onions and tomato in butter for five minutes. Mix together the cooked vegetables and pasta, then add all remaining ingredients. Refrigerate the pasta salad until you are ready to serve it. Enjoy!

This is the version that has yellow onion, and boy was it good! There was not a noodle left when dinner was over…..

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Herby Breaded Tilapia

Let me start out by saying that I have not been a fan of tilapia in the past, but that. has all. changed. This pan fried, breaded, seasoned tilapia is tender, flaky, moist, flavorful, delectable, restaurant-grade, and generally amazing. Oh, and it was cooked by El Gastronomo. He is the fish and seafood expert, and knows how to make southern food gourmet style. Pair this moist fish with a few hush puppies, tender, buttered corn on the cob, and apple bran muffins, and you’ll have a knock your socks off meal sure to impress your family and friends. This episode of Delicious Food 101 features The Chef, El Gastronomo, and Queenbee. Now for a few words on frying safety with El Gastronomo.

The Chef: “El Gastronomo, it has been some time since you have made your presence known on this website, but you sure know how to make a comeback! Anyway, ya got any tips on frying safety” El Gastronomo: “When frying fish it is always prudent to flip it away from you so that you will not be splattered with hot oil. Also, remember to keep all flammable materials away from the gas flame (as he sets an oven mitt on fire). The Chef: “Your oven mitt is on fire.” El Gastronomo: “Yikes! (extinguishes fire under running water). The Chef: “And this, chefs, is why we should always pay attention to food safety tips.” 

We turn to Queenbee for objective criticism.

The Chef: “Queenbee, you being a expert in the southern food category, please tell us what you thought of this dish.” Queenbee: “I thought it was amazingly delicious and extremely flavorful.” The Chef: “Well, that says it all, doesn’t it?”

The Ingredients: 8 tilapia fillets, 2 cups onion flavored hush puppy mix, 1 cup water, 1 egg, 4 cups chicken broth, 1 tsp. italian seasoning, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. rosemary, 1 tsp. poultry seasoning, 1 tsp. garlic powder.

Heat the chicken broth in a small pot with the spices until it comes to a simmer, turn off the heat and let sit until the the liquid is still. Add the fish fillets and let them marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, mix together the hush puppy mix, water, and egg. Add 1/4 cup more of water if the mix is too dry. When the tilapia fillets are done marinating, remove them from the marinade, allow to drain, and halve each one. Preheat your skillet to medium high heat, add one to two inches of olive oil. Cook the breaded fillets two at a time when the oil is hot. Fry until deep golden brown, this should take about three minutes on each side. Serves 8 to 10 people.

Garden Fresh Pot Pie

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Garden Fresh Pot Pie is similar to my Harvest Vegetable Pot Pie recipe, but different in that it contains fresh vegetables rather than canned. I will admit that this version is more time-consuming, but it is SO worth it! On a side note, you may have noticed that my most recent posts have been short and to the point, and that lately I have not been able to post at all. This is because my family is in the process of moving out of state. As we all know, moving a large family and all of our stuff out of state is very time-consuming, leaving little to no time for hobbies and extravagant cooking. Anyway, enough about me, back to the recipe. Fresh vegetables are an essential component in this dish, not only are they better for you, but they have a distinct flavor that canning takes away. While I am not in any way opposed to using canned vegetables, I do prefer to use fresh if they are available. So if you have a little extra time and access to fresh veggies, go wild and make this veggie-packed dish that is sure to be a comforting, satisfying meal for your friends and family.

The Ingredients: 1 lb. baby carrots, 1 large yellow squash, 1 large zucchini, 1/2 yellow onion, 14 oz. can green beans, 1 family size can condensed chicken soup, 1 can refrigerated jumbo crescent roll dough, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2-3 tbsp. melted butter.

Dice carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, and onion. Bring the vegetables to a boil in a large pot of water for fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, halve the beans. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drain the cooked vegetables and add them, the beans, the chicken soup, and the spices to a large casserole pan. Stir well. Top with the crescent rolls, brush with the melted butter and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

The good thing about pot pie is that it is attractive, and it feeds a crowd.;)

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Skinny Baked Potato Soup

Doesn’t everyone love those creamy, smooth, delicious soups that they serve in restaurants? You know, those ones that usually contain half and half or heavy cream….While they are delicious, those of us with sensitive stomachs have not been able to enjoy said delicacies. Until now. I decided it was time for me to post a dairy-free soup recipe that lactose tolerants and lactose intolerants alike will love. Coconut milk, whether it be in a can or a carton, is sweeping the nation as a substitute for many milk products. It is absolutely delicious in soup as it is naturally creamy and smooth, creating the perfect consistency and texture. Skinny Baked Potato Soup is the perfect choice for those of us who have longed to experience rich foods but have been held back by our traitorous digestive systems. This episode of Delicious Food 101 features The Chef (who else?), Queenbee, Friar Tyst, The Health Inspector, and La Critico.

The Chef: “Queenbee, lover of potatoes, expert on potato soups, what dost thou think of this delicacy?” Queenbee: “It was very good, well-flavored and soothing to the taste buds.” The Chef: “I will consider this high praise from an expert such as yourself.”

The Chef: “Friar Tyst, do elaborate.” Friar Tyst: “I thought it was kinda soupy.” The Chef: “Hmm, anything else?” Friar Tyst: “I thought it kinda tasted like soup.” The Chef: “Thank you for your detailed comments sir.”

The Chef: “Mr. Health Inspector, your assessment of today’s specialty?” The Health Inspector: “I find that the onion flavor greatly added to it.” The Chef: “Well onions often do.” The Health Inspector: “You also seem to be practicing cleaner kitchen methods.” The Chef: “I am!?” 

The Chef: “And last but not least, La Critico, your thoughts?” La Critico: “The soup was really good but it would be better with peanuts.” The Chef: “That’s…..certainly something to consider…” La Critico: “Cinnamon, that’s just the thing.” The Chef: “Let’s not get carried away.” La Critico: “But what you need is cinnamon.” The Chef: “Cinnamon belongs in the world of baking, NOT cooking.” La Critico: “Well I don’t know about that.”

The Ingredients: 8-9 red potatoes, 4 cups vegetable broth, 8 0z.  coconut milk, 1 medium yellow onion, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 2-3 tbsp. sour cream, 1 large vegetable bouillon (optional, if you don’t have vegetable broth, dissolve the bouillon in 4 cups of water), 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. parsley flakes.

Peel and dice the potatoes. Add the potatoes, vegetable broth, and spices to a large soup pot. Bring this to a rolling boil for fifteen to twenty minutes. Puree the soup in three batches in your blender or food processor. Add the pureed soup back the the pot with the coconut milk, sour cream, and cheese. Stir well. Let sit for ten to fifteen minutes over medium heat before serving.

Sigh, simple deliciousness, comforting thoughts, warmth for the soul, all in one picture.

ttrsup

 

Garden Vegetable Quiche

Eggy, cheesy, full of veggies, warm, hearty, and good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I give you simple and delectable quiche! As I was looking through my recipe index, I realized that I have never posted any quiche recipes! A travesty! We have always loved quiche, but unfortunately we only make it every once in a while as it uses quite a few eggs, and we all know that eggs are overpriced….however, we made it this week, and it was delicious! Every time we make it I am reminded how easy quiche is to make, the only hard part is waiting for it to cook, especially if you are hungry.;) It is always surprising how much sauteed vegetables enhance the flavor of baked eggs. I guarantee that you will want to make this recipe again and again. Quiche works great as a dainty, elegant dish to serve at an afternoon luncheon or tea party. That being said, I won’t delay any longer in telling you how to make it.

The Ingredients: 4 carrots, 2 zucchini, 2 bell peppers, 1/3 of a yellow onion, 8 brown eggs, 2 refrigerated pie crusts (the kind that comes in the long box), 1 cup of grated Colby cheese, 1/2 tsp. garlic, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. parsley flakes,  1/2 tsp. salt.

Dice the vegetables and saute them for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Place the pie crusts into two standard pie pans, trimming off the excess as needed. Beat the eggs and spices in a large bowl until smooth. Add half of the beaten eggs and half of the sauteed vegetables to each pie pan. Top each quiche with half of the cheese. Gently press the cheese just below the surface of the egg mixture. Bake at 365 degrees for 40 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, cover the quiche with foil, and bake for an additional fifteen to twenty minutes. Serve while warm. If you do not wish to make two quiches, just half this recipe.:)

As you can see, we have one X-large deep dish pie pan rather than two small ones. Quiche always seems to taste better in deep dish form.:P Isn’t it beautiful?

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Spring Chicken Pasta with Veggies

It’s springtime, the birds are singing, the sun is shining, a gentle breeze is blowing, bringing with it the scent of daily fresh-cut grass and constantly running sprinklers that ruin our fence….and I’m dreaming of a light and scrumptious pasta dish containing Farfalle pasta, a cheesy sauce, fresh veggies….and chicken. Let’s just stop here and talk about Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta, I LOVE this stuff! It has such an intriguing shape and neutral flavor that you can tailor any way you wish. In the past I have used it to make Crock-Pot Bowtie Lasagna, which is delicious of course, and by the way that needs an updated picture because the current one looks kind of weird…… But then I thought, wouldn’t Farfalle be good with….ALFREDO SAUCE??? So I made it, and I ate it, and it was good……and that ladies and gentleman is my relationship with pasta dishes. So now that I have described this dish with drama and flair, let’s talk about how to make it.

The Ingredients: 12 oz. Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta, 1 small can Four cheese Alfredo sauce, 1 small can Homestyle alfredo sauce, 1 8-10 oz. can condensed chicken soup, 1 soup can of water, 4-6 chicken frozen chicken strips, 1 large or two small zucchini, 3 carrots, 1/2 cup minced yellow onion, 1 large or two small bell peppers, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/2 tsp. no salt seasoning, 1/2 tsp. garlic.

Dice the vegetables (mince the onion, this is crucial!:)) and saute them in the large skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil for ten to twelve minutes, adding the onion and spices during the last five minutes or so. Meanwhile, boil the pasta and heat up the chicken in your oven at 375 degrees for that same amount of time. Turn your crock-pot on high. When the vegetables are cooked, add the chicken soup, 1 soup can of water, and alfredo sauce to your crock-pot, mixing until the chicken soup has dissolved. Now chop the chicken into bite size pieces and add it and the cooked vegetables to the crock-pot, mixing until just combined. Let sit for five minutes, then add the pasta. Mix well, turn the crock-pot to keep warm, and serve whenever you wish. You do not have to use a crock-pot for this recipe, it is just the only piece of our cooking equipment big enough to serve this dish in. That being said, this dish feeds a crowd! It would be great for a party or when you have people over for dinner.

Smooth, creamy, delicious…..need I say more?

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