Moving!!

Okay folks, for those of you who have been forced to follow my million blogs, good news for all of you! I’m condensing all my blogs into one mega-blog. Veggie recipes, writing, book reviews, medical musings, you name it, it’ll be there. I hope that you will all continue to visit and contribute. see you there!!

www.madetolovemagic.wordpress.com

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Balsamic Glazed Mushrooms

Here’s another recipe exchange find – courtesy of my old friend Hima.

These look like they could be incredibly versatile  – write in with your tweaks and modifications, folks!

Ingredients:

4 or 5 large portabella mushrooms
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper
rosemary
other spices of your liking

Method

1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Lay the mushrooms gills down and brush the tops with salt, pepper and the olive oil.

3. Flip over, and do the same but this time brush balsamic vinegar on them.

4. Take rosemary (dry or fresh) and dust over the gills of the mushrooms,
n.b. *the dry rosemary is more potent than the fresh*
5. Season to taste.
6. Put them in an oven for about 20 minutes at 300 degrees until they’re tender.
7. Serve w/ a dollop of Goat Cheese in the middle.
Hima’s serving suggestion:
“You can either slice them and serve them on a salad, on a sandwich or eat them alone.  I usually end up making these with a small side of wheat pasta tossed with olive oil and some fresh diced tomatoes, basil, pine nuts and parmesan.  It takes no time to prepare and it’s a super easy clean up.”
Readers: any other serving suggestions? what other spices and herbs would you try?

new look, new ideas!

if you’re a regular visitor to my understocked blog, you will have noticed the fresh new look. I feel apologetic about the fact that there are no enticing photographs here, which I hope to remedy soon. In the meantime, I do want to change up the look a little bit, and make it visually slightly more appealing.

Other features that are being added slowly but surely:

an actual about page
a “favorites” section with good links, references and tips
an “understocked-to-well-stocked” section with good serveware, ingredients, tabletop ideas, etc. (it’s basically a wish list!)

and more to come as I am further inspired.

As always, I am always open to guest posts and abundant commenting, so contribute away!

A Wonderful Tex-Mex Meal – Black Bean Chili and Cornbread with a Kick

Today’s back-to-my-roots meal at the understocked household was lovely! Inspired by Tex-Mex creations, the combination of a light black bean and corn chili with a heavy, moist firecracker cornbread was fabulous!

I’ll share one recipe today and save the other for another day  – I don’t want to overwhelm my fair readers!

Cornbread is quite a staple where I’m from, but isn’t something I grew up with. There are as many variations on cornbread as there are people down South, but I really enjoyed this take, a spicy bread with an almost cake-like texture, flecked with tender corn kernels and the orange and green of carrots and chili peppers.

I started off by infusing some butter with the red pepper flakes right in the dish I was eventually going to bake in, which gave me a nice, evenly browned spicy crust. The yogurt and milk made it rich and moist without having to use eggs or any oil or butter in the actual bread. Die-hard Southerners may not like the sweet nature of the bread, but you can omit the sugar and the bread will be just as good, in my opinion.

Egg-free Cornbread with a Kick

Ingredients

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat or white wheat flour
1/2 cup self-rising all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white, cane, or brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
1 cup yogurt (I used homemade whole milk yogurt, I’m sure you can substitute)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 can of kernel sweet corn
1 cup shredded carrots
1 chili pepper or jalapeno pepper
2 tbsp chopped pimiento olives
1 tsp crushed red peppers
sprinkling of feta cheese
sprinkling of Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses

Method

1. Combine the dry ingredients – the cornmeal, two flours, salt, sugar, and baking powder.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and add the butter and chili flakes to the dish you plan on baking in. Place this in the oven to infuse while you are preparing the batter.
3. In a separate dish, combine the yogurt, carrots and corn.
4. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, mixing well.
5. Add milk until it reaches a pourable consistency.
6. Chop up the olives, pimientos and pepper, and stir them, along with a bit of the Colby cheese, into the batter.
7. Pour the batter into your pan – after taking it out of the oven carefully, of course! – and spread the batter if you need to.
8. Sprinkle the top with the feta and the other cheeses.
9. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the edges are nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

This cornbread has a wonderful aroma and an awesome kick. It is also a great canvas for different flavor combinations.

If you want to go traditional with serving the bread, you can slather it with honey-butter. My opinion is that it might become a little too rich if you do that, but it’s an option. Other mix-ins may include sun dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers. The initial butter infusion is also a wonderful opportunity to pull in a variety of flavors, including basil, oregano, or sage. The adventurous palate may enjoy a hint of garlic, or a stir-in of dried cranberries.

What would you put in this cornbread to mix it up?

Carrot-Almond Bites

There were a couple of inspirations for today’s baking adventure, one of which was my brother’s gentle hint-dropping. I started out planning to make a carrot cake – banana bread hybrid, but ended up making some sort of cookie-muffin hybrid instead. I’m not 100% satisfied with it, but it’s pretty good. And it’s definitely not that bad for you.

Here was my inspiration, which led me to another, very similar recipe. I modified, basically based on what I have in my kitchen, and came up with a pretty decent result. Enough dillydallying, you say? Okay, here goes!

Ingredients:

1 cup quick oats
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 ripe, mashed banana
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup slivered almonds
a sprinkling of allspice
a sprinkling of nutmeg

Method

1. Combine the flour, oats, salt and baking powder together.

2. Melt the butter, and combine with sugar.

3. Stir the butter mixture into the flour-oats mixture.

4. Stir the banana and carrots into the mixture. Add the milk and oil and stir to combine.

5. Add the spices to taste and whip the whole thing together.

6. Combine with almonds.

7. Drop by the teaspoonful onto a buttered sheet or a cookie pan. These do rise so your drops can be small.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, or until you think they’re done! The color doesn’t change much, so you’ll have to gauge by texture.

Enjoy!!!

Some things that I might change if I made them again – A nut like pecan might work better than almonds. Also, I would shred my carrots smaller. I think cinnamon would be lovely, but I left it out because my mother doesn’t like cinnamon.

I do think I like baking with carrots and I will try that carrot loaf tomorrow. I’ll be sure to let you know what comes of it!

What would you do with this cookie-muffin-bite? How would you spice it up?

Egg-avoiders, heads up!

One of the biggest challenges I face as a vegetarian cook/baker/pseudochef is trying to find ways to substitute for eggs in recipes that are otherwise vegetarian-friendly. I’ve done extensive research (read: Googling) on the matter, and it turns out that eggs serve different purposes in different types of recipes. They may bind, leaven, or change the texture. So depending on that, and depending on how much you are willing to alter the taste of your dish, you can use different substitutes.

Most store-available “egg substitutes” are not actually substitutes – they use egg whites, which if you’re avoiding eggs for reasons of principle, are also a no-no. So what can you use? Since my usage of recipes that call for eggs is usually limited to baking of sweet treats, I tend to stick to the extra baking powder and some applesauce trick. I have also heard that yogurt, sour cream, and silken tofu can be used.

Here is a link my brother sent me – perhaps in the hope that I might be inspired to bake, thereby providing him with dessert. Regardless of the intentions, the link is great, and gives a pretty extensive listing.

I’d like to hear from you. What do you use to replace eggs in your cooking?

Four Cheese and Vegetable Lasagna

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

Okay so this is not an easy recipe, I agree. But it’s a lot of fun and I was very happy with the results. It’s actually been quite a while since I made it so you’ll have to bear with some vagueness. Also, this is NOT for people on diets. It’s creamy, rich, oozy, greasy, and everything else that a real heavy lasagna is supposed to be.

Ingredients:

1 lb Lasagne noodles
1/2 block Jarlsberg cheese
1/2 block Asiago cheese
1/2 block Mozzarella cheese
Ricotta cheese – I used half the tub.
Tomato sauce – I used Prego’s sundried tomato and basil version, but you can use whatever suits your fancy, or make your own!
Fresh basil – 1 bunch
1 bunch spinach
2-3 large beefsteak tomatoes
1 medium-sized zucchini
chili flakes to taste

Method:

1. Boil a pot of water with salt, a splash of olive oil, and a dash of oregano.
2. Once the water is at a rolling boil, cook the noodles, but only until al dente.
3. Lay them on foil so they do not stick.

4. Saute the spinach and zucchini together. Chop the tomatoes but keep them uncooked.
5. Stir the veggies into the tomato sauce, and mix it with a little water, enough to make the consistency less viscous.
6. Mix all the cheeses except the ricotta together. Mix the chili flakes into this mixture.
7. Line a 9×11 pan with the noodles.
8. Pour enough sauce on the noodles to cover them.
9. Add a layer of the cheese mixture.
10. Repeat layers of noodles, sauce, and cheese.

Bake for about 40 minutes covered with foil, and about 20 minutes uncovered,  until the cheese bubbles.

Enjoy, and try not to think about the calories!

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