Tuesday, January 31, 2012

FREE COOKING: Spanish Frittata

Recently I watched yet another travel movie that made me go head of heels over this other destination: Spain!

It looks like a perfect package if you ask me. It seems like you get the best of all worlds, you have the beautiful old architecture that allows you to travel in time, you have new modern ones, and then you have amazing looking beaches! Check out more photos on the National Geographic site, they are mind blowing! I also remember a Spanish prof. I once had in college from Spain, telling me that their culinary is now at the top in Europe! Oh...and we can't forget about their Spanish guitar music, soooo enchanting!

This dish I'm sharing today did not come as a direct attempt to make a Spanish dish (perhaps subliminally after having watched the movie? hehe), but turned out that as I had the finished product at hand, I realized it was a lot similar to the Spanish Frittata dish. So that's what I'm calling it!

Spain Photos

Spain Photos

Pretty amazing, eh??? But now let's get started on that "Spanish Frittata!"

I started out with 6 eggs, garlic salt & black pepper to taste! Added to a bowl and beat a little by hand. Set it aside.

Chopped 1 onion, minced some garlic (go by your taste, as always, I like lots!), got some frozen red/green/orange/yellow bell pepper mix and chopped 1 tomato (large I should say!). Started stir-frying onions first, then added garlic, then frozen bell peppers and tomatoes. Let it cook until all water dried. Then added dried oregano, basil & thyme to taste! Used the Zesty Italian dipping oil for extra flavor [see here]. It's one of my favorite things in the kitchen now :)

Then added fresh chopped spinach, and let it cook a little. Cooks very fast!

Up to this point I was thinking about doing scrambled eggs, but this is where things changed a bit! 

Instead, I switched the veggies to a smaller skillet, added the lightly beaten eggs on top and some pieces of leftover chicken I had in the fridge (prepared with lime and smoked paprika), covered with lid and let it cook under medium heat.

Once eggs looked cooked, I decided to try something I've learned from watching Julia Child! [see here]

Transferred it to a baking dish, added some cheese on top and let it brown! Except I didn't add butter and oil to the cheese as she would tell you to "help" brown it...hehe.

Use a long spatula to first release eggs from bottom of skillet before transferring. In case it breaks, it doesn't matter, you can just fix it on top of the baking dish, and once cheese melt on top it will "glue" the parts back together!

I believe I placed under 400 F

While it's browning, how about some more of beautiful Spain???

Spain Photos

Spain Photos

Spain Photos

Spain Pictures

Spain Pictures

Spain Photos

Spain Pictures

Spain Photos

Amazing, isn't it?! 

So here comes the final product:

It turned out awesome!!! My husband could not stop raving about this dish. I only wish I could eat it sitting in one of these Spanish alleys bellow :)

Spain Photos

These photos of Spain are courtesy of TripAdvisor and National Geographic
Food ones are a courtesy of me :)

Apparently cheese will brown without adding extra butter or oil on top of it! 
Who would have thought, Julia Child?

Monday, January 30, 2012

CCC: Clementine Covered Chocolate!!!

We all heard of the popular strawberry covered chocolate before! If you happen to be a big fan of that (like me), wait until you try this!!! :D Totally AWESOME!

These clementines are a HUGE hit at our home right now. My daughter will eat these all day if I let her. She'll walk to the fridge and will keep trying to open the door. Our fridge door is not very heavy, so if she tries hard enough she usually can open it! Once she gets it open, she goes straight to the drawer where she finds the clementines, and grabs one and brings it to me.

The past few days I've been obsessed with eating chocolate! For "whatever" reason, this seems to always happen faithfully once a month! Almost in a cyclical manner, if you know what I mean! ;)   

So having had already plain "semi-sweet baking chocolate" (the only one I could find in my pantry) the night before, this time I decided to try something different! The amazing, refreshing, clementine, with some melted semi-sweet baking chocolate (which are vegan and cholesterol-free!). 

The only thing I could think of while eating these was: "how did I not think of this before?" I always loved orange flavored chocolate! What better than mixing the REAL THING with the other REAL THING? :)

So GOOD!!!! Now I just gotta remember chocolate, even cholesterol-free, is not sugar-free! So not something to eat all the time. BUT, my next endeavor is exploring sugar-free chocolate! The pure stuff! :) Will keep you updated on how that goes...

Until then, how about some sweetened CCC your way?!?!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

FREE COOKING: Hot Dog Brazilian Style

Hot Dog Brazilian Style!

I realized I have not done anything Brazilian here yet! Having been born and raised in Brazil until age 15, Brazilian cuisine has had a special place in my heart. I recently read in the book, Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right by Dr. Fuhrman MD, how we tend to crave and treasure in a special way the things we eat in our childhood. This has most certainly proven true in my life!

I often crave things from my childhood, and most recently I had been craving hot dogs! But not the ones you normally find here in the US: a hot dog bun with a plain hot dog in the middle, and packs of ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard on the side. Oh no, I've been craving some hot dog, Brazilian style! 

In Brazil whenever you go buy a hot dog or make it at home, it's definitely NOT like the traditional American hot dog! It's usually LOADED with stuff. From veggies, to cheese to potato shoestrings!

Since moving here to the US, I think I've done this only once, so it was definitely time to make it again!!!

I decided to take the route of making a tomato sauce for it! Some people will just use ketchup, but most Brazilians will make a tomato sauce to go with the hot dog. Some will even make a tomato sauce with ground beef. But I like it with just vegetables.

First I sauteed the vegetables. The traditional Brazilian way is that you always start (with most things you cook) sauteing the onions first with some oil until translucent, then you add minced garlic, after a few minutes of the garlic cooking you add the other ingredients-whatever it is you're cooking! 

In this case I added the frozen veggies I was using: corn, peas, bell peppers (red, yellow and orange). These are usually the preferred veggies for hot dog sauces.

 Once veggies were done (had sauteed until water dried out and veggies browned a little) I added the sliced hot dogs ( I left some whole aside) with the veggies. But then I changed my mind and decided to stir-fry them with that amazing zesty Italian dipping oil I always rave about![see here] :)  

So I removed the hot dogs from the skillet and added to this pan above so I could brown them a little.

Once hot dogs browned a little, I added them to the vegetables.

 Then I added the finely chopped tomatoes, and some chopped green pitted olives because Brazilians LOVE their olives!!! :) We put them in a lot of our dishes. Then just covered and let it cook a little under medium-low heat.

 Once tomatoes started to release water, I added tomato paste (1/2 small can), a few tbsp of ketchup, a little water and let it simmer a bit. Added some chipotle hot sauce and a little bit of garlic salt as well! My husband and I love spicy dishes, and chipotle sauce is a favorite here. Covered and let it simmer longer until sauce reached a thick and hearty consistency! Medium-low heat is good.

 Once sauce reached desired consistency, I turned heat off  and added some chopped fresh green onions! Fresh green onions, parsley and cilantro are also big in Brazilian cuisine. Here you could probably use any of these three or all three if you'd like! I just used green onions this time. I may have used some dried oregano, can't remember, but that would work well here too!

Got the whole wheat hot dog buns

Toast it, and then spread some Earth Balance on it. Most hot dogs and hamburgers in Brazil will have toasted bread with some butter on it!

These are some of the products I used for this meal.

Then you know what to do! Add the sauce and hot dog to the toasted, buttered hot dog bun :)


Oh and don't forget the mustard! You need mustard in a hot dog. As my husband said it, "mustard on a hot dog is like bike for the Chinese"! In Brazil people also add mayonnaise to it, but I usually skip that part.

 And to make this REAL Brazilian Style Hot Dog, you gotta add some shredded cheese on top (some add Parmesan), AND the one missing ingredient: crispy shoestring potatoes chips in the middle! Uhhmmmm....missed that crunchiness!!!

Uhmmm...Hot Dog Brazilian Style! Now to make your Brazilian experience complete, you gotta eat these in the company of some of your favorite people. In my case that is my super hubbah dubbah doo!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

100% Healthy Cherry & Peanut Butter Ice-cream (soft serve)

This by far has been my favorite homemade ice-cream! SO EASY!
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup of frozen dark pitted cherries
  • 1 Tbsp of peanut butter
  • A little bit of water or dairy-free milk (if you want to keep it Cholesterol-free) to help blend if you don't have a Vita Mix type of blender. The lesser the liquid, the more it will resemble ice-cream. You can also let it thaw just a little and avoid the liquid. 
*Food processors work great for this!

Blend all ingredients until it has the desired ice-cream consistency.

Soooooooo good!!! 
I'm craving some more already :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

FREE COOKING: Quinoa w/ Rattatouille

Eggplant has been one of my favorite vegetables for many years now. I simply love any dish with it. And this particular dish I believe is my favorite of all with eggplants. 

You can eat it warm or cold, and it's amazing! You can eat it with rice, quinoa or bread and it's sure to satisfy you. It's also VERY easy to make. 

This day I tried doing it two different ways, one batch I put in the oven and another I did in a non-stick skillet. I preferred the one in the skillet. The one in the oven got a little too dry for my taste! And that's the one I used in the photos. But you could do it whichever way you prefer.

I started this dish thinking of making a French Rattatouille recipe (yes...France again, but this will be my farewell to it, at least for now!), so I looked up recipes online and got all the ingredients. But I was not in the mood for preparing it exactly how the recipe called for, because it sounded too time consuming, with too many little steps, and I just wanted to toss it all in a pan and that be it!

And that is what I did! I simply chopped all the ingredients (large) and tossed in the skillet!

Ingredients I used:

  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Potato (used the colorful mini ones)
  • Tomatoe
  • Onions
  • Garlic (put whole, peeled)
  • Bell pepper (red, yellow, green)
  • Thyme (dried and fresh-b/c I had some)*
  • Rosemary (dried)*
  • Parsley
  • Black pepper and salt
  • Olive oil (lots of it!)
  • You can add a little bit of lemon juice to it too-totally optional!* 
*I would have added Kalamata olives if I had it, b/c I LOVE this dish with it! I think it makes it taste even better!* 

*Not part of the original recipe

If you're in the mood for some "real" French Ratatouille, here is where I got the original recipe that I didn't end up following: ratatouille

How to prepare is SUPER easy! I added a bunch of olive oil to all the cut up vegetables in a bowl, than added the salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Then dumped it all into the skillet and covered it until tender, then removed lid and let the water dry out and brown a little. Once done, I removed from heat and added fresh parsley and thyme.

If doing in the oven, just put in an oven proof dish and place in the oven under 375F. I think if you cover with foil first until the veggies are tender, then once tender you remove the foil and let it brown a little, this may take care of the dryness I mentioned earlier.

For the quinoa, I cooked as if I would rice (the Brazilian way). 
  • First washed/rinsed quinoa  
  • Then stir-fry some finely chopped onions and minced garlic with a little bit of oil.
  • Add rinsed quinoa and add salt of preference (I use a garlic salt). Let it stir-fry a little with the onion and garlic.
  • Finally add water (2 cups for each cup of quinoa)
  • Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer.

Turned out AMAZING! Definitely one of my favorite vegetable dishes, if not my very favorite!:)