Zoodles

Zoodles2Is it a poodle? Is it a noodle? It’s zucchini noodles!!!!! Or as many like to call them the famous zoodles—perfect for low carb or Paleolithic diets. These surprisingly tasty substitutes for noodles are quicker to cook and full of beneficial nutritional treats. From boring and bland to pizzazz and pop, zoodles add both flavor and color to any dish.

Zucchini provides only 17 calories per 100 g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. The peel is good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers. Zucchinis can be available all around the year, but they are at their best during late spring and summer seasons. In the stores, choose small to medium-sized zucchini featuring shiny, bright green skin, firm and heavy in hand. The best size for zucchini is 6 to 8 inches length and 2 inches or less in diameter. Some big sized varieties with marrow are specially grown for stuffing. Minor superficial scratches and mild bruises oftentimes seen on their surface are perfectly fine. Avoid overly mature, large zucchini with pitted skin, and those with flabby or spongy textured. Furthermore, avoid those with soft and wrinkled ends as they indicate old stock.

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Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. For this recipe, use fresher zucchini. Zucchini that has been sitting around becomes too watery and is hard to spiral/peel.
  2. You can use different tools to create zoodles: a sprialer or a ribbed peeler. I used a ribbed peeler.
  3. You can peel the skin off the zucchini, but my preference is to keep it on. It creates a nice contrasting light and dark green of color to the dish.
  4. Sauté the zucchini in a heated pan of olive oil or coconut oil. Start out with less oil than you think you’ll need because you can always add more in.
  5. Toss the zucchini a couple of times while cooking to keep it from burning and cooking through evenly.

ZoodlesZoodles trending popularity comes with the new wave of low carb dietary restrictions and healthier substitutions. Unlike heavy pastas, zoodles offer a low calorie, zero carb vegetable to your plate. Cooked properly, the zucchini turns a vibrant green that makes my heart melt and my mouth water. I love using fresh zucchini from the farmers market because the zucchini tends to be in better form. Whatever your reason, zoodles are a great way to enjoy vegetables and mix up your diet.

Leave a comment with your favorite zoodle addition: meat, sauce, pesto or more the options are endless. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes to try. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

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Curried Quinoa Stew

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Quinoa is thriving in the new year. People, like myself, are enjoying the seed that offers vast amount of protein per carbohydrate. It can run close in comparison to the textures of couscous or pearl barley and works as a gluten free, nutritional powerhouse. The addition of quinoa to stews works perfectly because the seed grows and cooks in a liquid base. So, jumping on the quinoa bandwagon, the curried quinoa stew delivers on all notes.

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Curry, is the generic English term primarily employed in Western culture to denote a wide variety of dishes whose origins are Southern and Southeastern Asian cuisines, as well as New World cuisines influenced by them such as Trinidadian, Mauritian or Fijian. In originaltraditional cuisines, the precise selection of spices for each dish is a matter of national or regional cultural tradition, religious practice and, to some extent, family preference. Curry powder, a commercially prepared mixture of spices, is largely a Western notion, dating to the 18th century. Such mixtures are commonly thought to have first been prepared by Indian merchants for sale to members of the British Colonial government and army returning to Britain. Curries may be either wet or dry. Wet curries contain significant amounts of sauce or gravy based on yogurt, coconut milk, legume purée (dal) or stock. Dry curries are cooked with very little liquid that is allowed to evaporate, leaving the other ingredients coated with the spice mixture. The main spices found in most South Asian curry powders are turmeric, coriander and cumin; a wide range of additional spices may be included depending on the geographic region.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used baby carrots in place of chopping a large carrot.
  2. Using fresh ginger is essential in curry related meals. It adds depth and a more authentic taste to the dish.
  3. I made my own curry powder. It is an equal mixture of turmeric, ground cumin, coriander and cayenne (optional).
  4. I used tomato sauce. I do not care for tomatoes and the sauce thickens the stew without leaving chunks.
  5. You can use vegetable broth for a vegetarian dish.
  6. I used white kidney beans in place of black beans. It was by random chance that I mixed the two cans up; however, I feel the kidney beans work better to balance the dish whereas black beans would overpower the flavors.
  7. The nut buttes add a depth of flavor to the dish and a creaminess to the soup. Also, it provides a hint of the end color.
  8. I nixed the cilantro because I do not care for the minty Mexican spice.
  9. Use a fair amount of spinach because it will wilt in the stew. Tearing it can be essential in dispersing the spinach evenly without spinach balls.
  10. I liked to cook my dish in my dutch oven. It works equally to a large pot, but the spices and flavors of curry will sink into the soul of your dutch oven: YUM!
  11. After adding the quinoa, stir the dish occasionally to keep it from burning. You will begin to notice that the stew becomes thicker as the quinoa absorbs the liquid while
    being tossed.
  12. Similar to the quinoa chili I have created in the past, you could substitute the carrots with sweet potatoes. Keep in mind that your nutritional information would then change as well since carrots are low in calories.

I have a knack for enjoying Indian dishes. Curry’s potent flavors and aroma are one of my favorite spices to work with. It can transform dishes into wonderful meals. I enjoy that curries and Indian dishes incorporate a vast amount of spices: meaning I can obtain flavor without calories. From the nuttiness of the peanut butter to the protein of the quinoa, my stomach was dancing after enjoying the meal. Eaten on a cold winter night or for an Indian flared party, the dish will wow friends and family alike.

Leave a comment with your favorite Indian recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne

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The few times I enjoy pasta I love to use pesto. From ordinary pesto to out of the box recipes, there are variations for all foodies. Roasted red pepper and basil pesto can compliment a volume of dishes. Pasta can be so bland, but elevate it with pesto; chicken can be boring, but change normal with pesto. I enjoy the added note of half and half to create a creamy texture. It softens the dish and creates a tasty dinner for friends and family.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Toasting your pine nuts accentuates their nutty flavor.roastedredpepperpestopenne2
  2. I used a fresh bell pepper. Char the pepper stovetop or broil it to produce a roasted, fresh flavor.
  3. Using fresh basil is the only way to make a pesto.
  4. Olive oil creates that creaminess ideal in pesto and facilitates cohesion among the ingredients.
  5. I used half and half, but you can use heavy cream or evaporated milk in exchange. The point is to add a creamy thickness to your sauce.
  6. I oven roasted a few chicken breasts in place of the rotisserie chicken. It is healthier because there is less butter, and you are using only white meat.
  7. Adding fresh basil on top of the finished dish enhances the brightness of the pesto.
  8. I topped the dish with sun-dried tomatoes; however, roasted or halved cherry tomatoes compliment the dish as well.
  9. I used a hand food processor leaving my pesto chunkier than normal.

I’m a huge fan of red bell peppers; I’m a huge fan of pesto; I’m a huge fan of splurging on pasta. This recipe delivers on all notes of flavor. With a few easy steps and ingredients, you can stretch your wallet without stretching your waistband. Enjoy a splurging pasta dish with the notes above and learn to love eating healthy.

Leave a comment with your favorite pesto recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Best of 2013

To ring in the New Year, I’m going to count down the top 10 recipes that you, the readers, enjoyed most. Go ahead and take time to check them out. You won’t be disappointed.  Ring in the New Year with a new recipe!

Here we go! The top 10 recipes are:

  1. Cauliflower Pizza
  2. Honey Roasted Chickpeas
  3. Pumpkin Pie
  4. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
  5. Pesto, Shrimp and Tomato Cauliflower Pizza
  6. Pumpkin Pie Spiced Popcorn with White Chocolate Drizzle
  7. Pumpkin Pecan Butter
  8. Rosemary Cornish Hens
  9. Oreo Truffles
  10. Gnocchi

Be sure to check out the above links to find you new year recipes.  My approach to making recipes even healthier will keep your New Year’s resolution in check.  Now, make a new resolution to check out these recipes and more to come. It looks like 2014 is going to be
pretty delicious.

Leave a message with your thoughts about my top ten. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Fava Bean Ravioli

favabeanravioli4We are getting downright crazy with this recipe.  It can tend to be a little more work than one might anticipate, so read the entire contents before deciding to attempt this fava bean ravioli.

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If you haven’t made your own pasta, then start by reading the link here on how to create your own pasta.  The main idea behind this ravioli is creating the stuffing, which means you can’t make boxed pasta.  Well you could, it just wouldn’t have the stuffing or awesome satisfaction of
pasta making.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. Fava beans are the beans
    inside edamame.
  2. No only do the beans need to be shelled from their pods, but they need to be shelled again after blanching from the thin layer that holds the bean together.
  3. The shelling process can be tedious and takes time, so make sure to give you plenty of time to complete this dish.
  4. It is important to shell the beans because it makes the dough less grainy and provides a smooth textural aspect to the dish, as would the garbanzo beans for making hummus.
  5. Save as many fava beans as you’d like to accompany the dish, but have enough to create a balanced filling.
  6. The filling ingredients can all be added to a food processor to blend.  Once blended it should easily mold into tiny balls between your hands.
  7. Lay one sheet of dough down placing the filling wide enough to give room for the ravioli. Then, place the second sheet on top to cover the filling.favabeanravioloi2
  8. You need to release all the air from the ravioli so that no water will penetrate the dough.  Start from one side to the other and be sure to smooth the ravioli.
  9. Be sure to pat the filling down slightly which will allow the dough to release more air.
  10. Cut them to shapes and set aside to dry out while you complete the
    ravioli making.
  11. Homemade ravioli will take ½ the time to cook than store bought.  It will change in color and float to the top when cooked through.
  12. Spoon them out carefully and add them to the pan with veggies.

The dish is decadent and filling.  You can make quite a bit of ravioli for large crowds or freeze some for later.  If you want to halve the filling, make half the amount of ravioli and use the rest of the dough for more types of pasta.  Since pasta takes more work to make you mine as well use all the dough while you’re in the process.

Now, you have the satisfaction of a great meal and healthier pasta that you accomplished in making.  Again, check out my pasta blog for tips and tricks.  If you want to skip the filling and pasta making, then substitute cheese ravioli in place and keep to the veggies.  You’ll still have a delicious meal and a majority of the flavors in place.

Leave a message below with your thoughts and ideas about other ravioli fillings.  Follow my Pinterest for more delicious recipes.  Be sure to check back next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Homemade Pasta

pastamaking2Making pasta was a process I never thought I would accomplish.  Watching cooking shows with chefs under extreme pressure botch their pasta, I was sure it would be too hard to ever achieve.  However, after visiting my sister I have a new found thought process into making pasta.  It’s called “TAKING YOUR TIME!”

Pasta can’t be rushed and jimmy rigged.  It needs time to sit and rest allowing that gluten to gather.  We used our pasta dough for fava bean ravioli, which will show up in another blog later this month.  But, the recipe for ravioli and other types of pasta can be the same.  We used the dough, explained today, for spaghetti you won’t forghetti, farfalle, and the ravioli.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. We used two types of flour: semolina and cake flour.  Semolina flour is used most oftenwhenmaking pasta.pastamaking3
  2. You can use any type of flour it will just affect your dough in various ways.  So, find the dough that works best for you and stick to it.
  3. Eggs are important as a binder for the flour in your dough.
  4. Mix the dough and then let is rest.  Resting is important!!!! The process allows for the gluten to begin forming.
  5. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape, often giving the final product achewy texture.
  6. Once the dough has sat, knead it.  You cannot over-knead the dough because you’ll just add more gluten to the dough.
    (That’s a good thing!)
  7. When done, the dough should be able to be cut without one seeing any gas bubbles or chambers in the dough.favabeanravioli5
  8. Section the dough into 4-8 sizeable pieces and begin the process of
    thinning it.
  9. The sections that are not being used need to be wrapped back up and covered with a wet cloth.  You don’t want your dough to become too dried out and hard.
  10. Start off on the 1 setting, folding it like an envelope after each time through, until you have a piece that has no cracks or tears.
  11. Slowly begin taking the pasta through one notch higher at a time.  Be sure to allow a little slack at the top to avoid rippling.
  12. I recommend not going higher than 5 or 6.  At this point the dough is not too thick for chewing purposes, but not too think that it begins to tear.

There are a dozen possibilities after making the dough. If making spaghetti, place the dough through a cutter and hang to dry; if making farfalle, cut to sizable pieces and begin folding it accordion stylealong the middle while spreading the sides wide; if making ravioli, place one piece atop the other after laying the filling in place.  There are a dozen possibilities after making the dough.  Be sure to let the pasta rest and harden before adding to boiling water (about one hour).

pastamakingBe sure to use the pasta you’ve made within the next 48 hours to prevent it from spoiling.  Any type of dough should be used quickly because of the egg components required for making them.  Impress your guests and dinner friends with an enjoyable dish that is easy to make.  After trying your hand at a few recipes, you’ll be a natural like my sister, Jp.  I believe a pasta maker was the best birthday gift I’ve gotten her.  If you plan on making pasta as much as she does, I suggest investing in a pasta machine to quicken the process; however, you can make it without the machine.  In replace of the machine you can roll the dough by hand and cut it to your desired width with a pasta cutter.

So many helpful tips to keep in mind, yet don’t be overwhelmed the process is easier than it sounds and you’ll manage to handle it like a pro.

Leave a comment below with the types of pasta you’ve decided to make.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes to try.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.