You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2010.

Origin date: January 16, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from my sister (of Chinese Bear fame) and after a few moments the underlying motivation for the call was revealed, “I really want cookies.” She wanted to bake a fresh batch of cookies from scratch and was looking for a recipe. I could totally sympathize with this notion. With all of the scariness of trans fats and the strange, un-pronounceable additions to the baked goods found in stores these days, the only way to go is to make the delectable treats yourself. But what recipe to use?

As a regular peruser of many different food blogs and admirer of many much more talented foodies, I knew just where to look for a reliable, fool-proof recipe. SmittenKitchen has been an early favorite food blog for me. When I was completely new to the whole concept of food blogging, I found this little gem almost by accident. I was looking for a recipe for ratatouille that looked like the dish in the movie ‘Ratatouille‘. The animated film had advisement from one of my favorite chefs, Thomas Keller. He actually just whipped up a ratatouille recipe for the producers in his restaurant kitchen and then they used the finished product as a model for the dish in the film. SmittenKitchen had a great adaptation of the ratatouille recipe. Anyway, I’m getting way off topic…

I searched SmittenKitchen and sure enough, I found this great Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

My sister brought over these delicious, milk chocolate chips that were gigantic! They were almost too sweet for this recipe but ‘too sweet’ is easily over-looked for such an occasion. We began our toiling in the kitchen as my roommate looked on in anticipation.


My sister always has a knack for suggesting activities that sound like a hassle at first but she is the model of persistence, or obnoxious depending on the tone. At first, I had a knee-jerk reaction: “You want to make cookies now? But its getting late.” Her response: “Getting late? What are you a senior citizen?” How do you argue with such a challenge? She pushes, none too gently, for these activities and it always seems to work out for the better in the end. This instance was no exception to her, somewhat pushy, talents of persuasion.



After all our hard work, which was REALLY not that hard, we had these amazing cookies that we ate warm out of the oven and that filled my little apartment with the most heavenly aroma of vanilla, chocolate and brown sugar. We curled up on my couch and watched Gene Kelly strut his stuff in ‘
Singing in the Rain‘, with a cookie in each hand and blanket wrapped around us.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, my sister is BRILLIANT! I definitely suggest you spring an Impromptu cookie night on your sibling/ loved one/ friend/ roommate. And DON’T TAKE ‘NO’ FOR AN ANSWER! It was the perfect end to a hectic Wednesday night. I’ve already got plans for another Impromptu cookie night that involves Vanilla Almond cookies and maybe It Happened One Night. You in?

Here is that Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe one more time, courtesy of SmittenKitchen.com.

Origin date: January 5, 2010

I have been psyching myself out for this entry. I have been trying to prepare myself for all of the stuff I want to include on this entry. It’s going to be recipe heavy and light on the photos. Fewer photos because I am such a bad photographer and heavy on the recipes because this is a whole MEAL we are talking about folks!

I’ve been entertaining a new companion currently and as a special event, such as New Years was quickly approaching, I felt that some meager flexing of my cooking skills was in order. Okay, so I am making this a bigger deal than it was. The meal is not even close to the most complicated stuff that I’ve made but the feature is one of my most favorite comfort food dishes. Roasted eggplant tossed with pasta, tomato sauce and fresh basil. *sigh*. And for the protein freak in me, I cooked up some spicy Italian chicken sausage to serve over the top.

I made this dish all summer long thanks to a scrappy little eggplant plant that flourished in my humble little garden. It was small, but boy did it sprout an amazing amount of vegetables! I also had a basil plant that, surprisingly, has survived in my cave of an apartment and was a welcome addition to the meal. So, without further delay, the final meal of 2009.

We also had a whole bulb of roasted garlic that served as butter for our tuscan bread. A really great salad with baby greens, spinach, dried cranberries, bell peppers, sunflower kernels and some homemade balsamic vinaigrette. The Best Broccoli of your life, and one of my favorite Italian red wines.

It was a really great meal and the company wasn’t that bad either….

So, I want to share the recipes of the evening and I hope they are as delicious, satisfying and comforting for you as they are to me. Definitely share this meal with others, as it will win you praise, garner you new friendships and secure connections. Well, it should at least get you a hug or two!

Roasted Eggplant Pasta

I used my favorite jarred pasta sauce because the sauce that I had made with my own tomatoes over the summer ended up with freezer burn. 😦

1 large eggplant, cut into large cubes

3 Tbsp good olive oil

1/2 lb. fettuccine or linguine pasta

Salt and Pepper

Your favorite jarred pasta sauce

1-2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, torn

Olive oil for tossing pasta in

Preheat oven to 375 F

Toss eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper, roast in oven until edges begin to crisp. About 30 mins.

10 minutes before eggplant is done, toss pasta into well-salted, boiling water to cook. Heat your pasta sauce in a saucepan just before serving.

Drain pasta, toss pasta with a little good olive oil. Add roasted eggplant, pasta sauce, toss and serve with freshly shaved parmesan cheese.

Just too easy and way too good!

Roasted Garlic Bulb

1 to 3 whole bulbs of garlic

Good Olive oil

Aluminum Foil

Preheat oven to 375 F

Cut off the top , maybe, 1/3 or 1/4 of the bulb so that you can see the individual cloves. Place bulb on a square of foil, cut side up. Drizzle with good olive oil. Wrap up bulb securely. Repeat with additional bulbs. Place on a cookie sheet or in an oven proof dish. Roast in oven for 45 mins. to an hour.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Carefully unwrap each bulb. Be careful because these little bundles are angry pockets of steam on the inside!

The garlic cloves will be soft and fragrant. You can just pop out a few cloves and toss them with your pasta or spread it over bread like butter.

It’s betta than butta, baby!

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1/2 cup good olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste.

Put all ingredients into a tightly seal-able container, shake, shake, shake. Taste and adjust flavor as desired. Store in refrigerator for up to a month.

The recipe for “The Best Broccoli of your Life” can be found here.

Hopefully this dinner will do all the things that I promised and more! Happy New Year!


Origin date: December 30, 2009

I figured that I should post something about the past holiday before another holiday presents itself.

Earlier on Christmas day, my dad gave my sister and I little figurines of teddy bears dressed in Chinese garb. He said ” So that you don’t forget where you come from.” My sister (who is actually pretty brilliant) stared down at the little bear with a puzzled look on her face. After a few seconds she said “OH! It’s wearing Chinese clothes!” To which I responded ” Well, we didn’t come from bears…” Had to share that, I’m sure I’m going to catch shit for this later…. Love ya sis!

Well, we didn't come from bears...

For Christmas dinner, we all gathered at my mother’s house for a feast that only my mother has the vision for. If you’ve read the previous post about my mother and Thanksgiving you’ll understand that my mother re-fashions holidays and holiday meals into exotic culinary creations that top the old stand-bys. This Christmas dinner was pretty much on par with previous holiday feasts, it was phenomenally delicious.

So, here are a few more details about my mom: she laughs heartily at her own jokes, she loves hideous plastic table clothes with busy floral patters and she can cook you under the table…

sweater!

She made her famous Asian style turkey that is cooked with asian vegetables such as bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, and lotus roots, dates, asian spices and potatoes. We also had a huge platter of noodles stir fried with bok choy, red and green bell peppers. She also made a salad with wheat meat, and a soy ginger vinaigrette.

the spread
We all dug in and ate like fiends. My mother also served mung bean stuffed lotus roots and for dessert she served a sweet soup of coconut milk and sweet potatoes. It was decadent.

Here is my plate before…

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And my plate after….

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This may be a little belated but I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season and a very Merry Christmas! I hope your Christmas dinner was as good as mine, if not, next year just come over to my mom’s house. She’d love to gloat about her amazing food and share an a story or two with you (which she would laugh at and you’d laugh too but for different reasons).


Origin date: December 30, 2009

Continuing on the Mexico City journey, I bring you the vat of lovely things:

vat of beautiful things

You might not think the lovely things come in vat-like containers, but I offer proof right here. Right next door to the site of the mouth-watering tortas is a little cafe that offers “Argentine style meats”. The restaurant was open and airy and right next the sidewalk was a huge vat of golden brothy goodness, boiling away happily, taunting me with its alluring aromas. We walked up to the side of the vat and marveled in silence. One of the cooks came up to offer an explanation to the amazing sight before us.

He told us that they roasted beef and beef ‘parts’ (Warning was given in the last post about the possible exoticness of the food!). The meat was slowly roasted and then placed in this flavored broth to finish cooking. Along with the traditional (boring) cuts of beef, there was also tongue, foot, tail and ears. *Shutter*. I can smell the loveliness now….

all the good stuff

We chose what meat we wanted and they pointed us toward a stock of sauces, garnishes, and dressings. They chopped up the meat on a big wooden disk of a cutting board and placed the meat on fresh made flour tortillas and voila! We were in taco heaven.

little disc from heaven
I chose pickled onions, salsa fresca and a deeply smoky pepper sauce that caused my eyes to roll back with the first bite. The tortilla was soft and warm, the meat was fall-apart tender, the onions had a bite that caught me at the back of my jaw and made my mouth water. It was a good meal. To say the least.

You can actually get tacos similar to this here in my neck of the woods. BUT you can’t be a wuss about it. The only place to get tacos even remotely like the slices of heaven you see above is to visit your local taco stand. I can hear the groans now. “But they aren’t sanitary.” “People get sick off those.” Let me clear this up for you: this is all crap. These are hard working folks that make a living producing delicious foods for their customers. They are not about to ruin their source of income by being unsanitary. AND they have to abide by the same health codes as regular restaurants that create mediocre excuses for Mexican food. So, let go of the blanky and set up to order. Believe me, you will kick yourself for not doing it sooner.

bite from the disc from heaven

Aww yeah… I remember that bite.

Mmmmmmm......

 

 

Origin date: December 20, 2009

I recently had the opportunity to travel to the gigantic metropolis of Mexico City for a beautiful wedding. The couple getting married are beautiful as well and I wish them the best on their new adventure together. But this trip also afforded me a unique opportunity to have some of the most amazing food I have ever experienced – ever. This trip was taken some months ago and because I was so apathetic about starting this blog, the pictures sat on my hard drive for months. So, for the next few entries I will show you what I shoved in my face. And yes, some of it will be a little…. well, exotic to some. Hey, if you know me you’ll know that if something looks good to me I’ll eat it. Even if I know what it is.

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This is the Zocalo or the main square in the center of Mexico City, it is the second largest square after Tiananmen Square in Beijing. But enough about the square – this is a food blog darn it!

What’s great about Mexico City is that there is food everywhere. And its really good food. And its cheap. And did I mention its is really good? I ate delicious, diverse, authentic food every single day and didn’t spend more than $3 per meal. With the exception of some touristy destinations that I kinda got roped into.

One of my favorite discoveries were tortas. They are sandwiches that were stuffed with all sorts of tasty grilled and roasted meats, piled high with tomatoes, avocados and onions. The specialty of Mexico City was Al Pastor. Its usually pork that has been roasted with pineapple juices, its savory and sweet and oh so delectable. Here are some sexy photos of my tortas:

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Ohhhhh they were so good. Warm crusty bread, melted cheese, savory pork, ripe tomatoes and avocados…let me just wipe the drool off my chin.

We stayed at the grooms apartment which was in a really trendy neighborhood with tree lined streets and little cafes everywhere. This torta place was around the corner and the sandwiches were about $1.50 a piece. I was in heaven. I ate tortas for breakfast 2 days in a row. I also got a photo of the mastermind at the local torta stand.

Master of the tortaduck in for some delicious

Along with my morning torta I also discovered Jugos. There was a Jugos stand directly outside of the torta stand – very smart business arrangement. Jugos are freshly made juices from ALL different kinds of fruits and being in Mexico, there were an amazing selection of fruits. The Jugos stand had your typical fruits that you would find at your local grocery store but it also had fresh papaya, guava, passion fruit and one little round fruit that won my heart forever. A woman in front of me ordered a drink that had orange juice, a generous dollop of honey and 3 to 4 little, golden, round fruits.

fruuu-its

Masters of the Jugos
With the assistance of a translator, I found out that these little fruits were called guayaba. The fruit is citrusy and with a sugary touch. Mixed with the orange and honey, it’s like gold in a cup.

ambrosia

I had two of these beautifully delicious drinks the first day in Mexico City and when I got back to Salt Lake I searched high and low at several Latino markets before I found the precious little fruits. I bought a jar of honey and oranges from the same Latino market and took it home to try to recreate the liquid gold. But alas, it just was not the same…. tear.

So on my first day in Mexico City I was already in love with the food. And one HUGE point of clarification.There is nearly no such thing as authentic Mexican food here in my city. That’s right folks, not that crap hole in the wall La Puente or its equally evil twin La Frontera, absolutely not Cafe Rio, nothing with ‘Taco’ in its name and even my beloved Mi Ranchito became suspect. The food in Mexico was so beyond anything I had ever had back home. I have found a few little Latino run restaurants that offer very similar faire but its just not the same. Its almost like you need to be in the city to get the flavors right.

This is my first installment of my eating adventures in Mexico and I will continue to post more. It pains me a bit to do this because I miss the food so dearly…. so dearly. Until next time, I leave you with one of the best breakfasts of my life:

Breakfast of champions

Origin date: December 13, 2009

To be totally honest and fair, this is a post with a different motive than usual. I am posting right now in an effort to take my mind off the events of the past week. And believe me, it has been an eventful week. The range of emotions has really run the gamut this week. My heart hurts and sits and waits for a friend to feel better. I am hoping that when she emerges, she realizes what an amazing, beautiful woman she is and she is emboldened by her war wounds. She only deserves the best and I want her to know it.

I also sit and wait for another friend to heal through a tough time and hope that he realizes how much people love and value him. But he’s in good hands, he has a mother bear to look out for him. She’s my insides, and I know she will be the best support he could have.

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On a lighter note….please let there be one. Elation has been an emotion that has come up A LOT this week but I have to reign it in. My face was sore from smiling earlier this week and I’ve done more talking this week in a 2 day span than I have in the last month. And if you know me, you’ll know I am just that side of chatty. Talk has covered everything from Brie sandwiches, strangers living in crawl spaces above closets, and the reconciling of the soul with the necessity of money. Who knew I had such a great memory? It certainly has served me well.
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I think of all of the times that things have not gone the way we’ve wanted it to. The disappointment and heartbreak of watching your friends go through the same thing. It seems so much worse, at least for me. I have a horrible need to try to fix it, find any solution to the problem. Solutions could range from a plate full or freshly made scones or a baseball bat – I’m a bit protective of my friends. I tend to stick with food as a soother because the latter generally doesn’t end well. So, what would I do if I could have all of those mentioned above in my living room right now? I’d served them a steaming bowl of the following, hoping the bright color would cheer them up, offer comforting words and/or maybe reflect on the soul being able to rise above basest of necessities.

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Yellow Pepper Soup

1 tbsp olive oil

2 large yellow peppers

2 large leeks, halved lengthwise, sliced thin

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp turmeric

3 springs flat leave parsley or 1 tsp of dried parsley

3 sprigs of thyme or 1 tsp of dried thyme

1 bay leaf

2 medium russet potatoes, cubed

4 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over med-low heat. Added peppers, leeks, garlic, salt, turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 mins.

Tie parsley and thyme sprigs together with kitchen twine. Add to saucepan with water, potatoes and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until potato is very tender, about 20 mins. If using dried herbs, just add directly to saucepan.

Discard herb bundle and bay leaf. Puree soup in a blender or a hand-held immersion blender. If using a standing blender, puree in small batches and crack the lid to allow steam to escape while you blend. Return to pot and reheat. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

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I’d serve it with a grilled cheese sandwich and maybe a hug or two….

comfort food

Origin date: December 12, 2009

The rumble from my tummy that is. Fore-warning: my camera konked out after the 3 pictures and thus the majority of these photos were taken on a cell phone. Stupid camera!!!

So, I promised a conclusion in the last entry about my journey to the heart of south Philly. A magical shangra-la of narrow, twisting streets, dark alleys and smart talkin’ folk. Out of the darkness on a frigidly cold night you come upon the grande maisons of Cheesesteak: Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. The rivalry is long and legendary and my collegue and I ventured forth in our swanky Lincoln Towncar, through the streets in search of Cheesesteak magic.

Our first stop was at Pat’s King of Steaks. There was a large panel that displayed the correct way to order a cheesesteak. I ordered a Cheesesteak Wit Whiz, translation: with grilled onions and cheez whiz. That’s right folks, for an authentic Philadelphia Cheesesteak it should come slathered with neon orange Cheez Whiz.

Pat' King of Steaks

Here's the beef Despite my initial aversion to rubbery, neon, cheese food product being slathered on by something resembling a paint bucket and stirring stick, the sandwich was amazing….*drool*. It was freezing in Philadelphia that night and both restaurants only offer outdoor seating. It didn’t matter. The sandwich was steaming in my hands and once I had a bite, the cold was gone. It could have been 20 degrees below and a polar bear could have been eying me hungrily, I would have gone right on eating my precious sandwich.

mmm.... cheesesteak *drool*

I apologize for the photo quality, this was right before the camera went ka-put.

I got a few pointers from a Philadelphian I had met at a party right before I left about what to look for in a great Philly Cheesesteak. Thin sliced beef, Cheez Whiz, and it HAS to be on an Italian roll that is crisp on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. This sandwich was pretty much all of those things. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. (Imagine Homer Simpson with donuts.)

The exterior is modest, with stainless steel paneling and worn, faded pictures of celebrities and politicians that have visited the hallowed ground. Picnic tables line the outside and looming in the distance is the neon monster.

working man's dinner

Having just destroyed a Pat’s Philly Cheesesteak, I was feeling a bit full. Well, duh – just look at the size of that thing! I was teetering on just leaving and not trying a Geno’s sandwich but my collegue would hear nothing of it. “We’re here,” he said “This is what you came for, when will you be here again?” Plus we had just had a really frustrating drive all over downtown Philadelphia trying the find these places. P.S. Mapquest blows goats.

We stood on the corner,staring at the Las Vegas Casino-looking monstrosity across the street and I said “You’re right! Thanks for not letting me give up in my dream!” and we trotted across the asphalt, bound for Geno’s Steaks.

Viva la Geno'swell-lit

We decided to split a Cheesesteak Wit Whiz so that we wouldn’t throw up in the Towncar later.

The menu at Geno’s was much smaller. Pat’s offered many variations of Cheesesteaks, including a Pizza Cheesesteak, Roast Pork and Hotdogs. Geno’s only had two options on their menu: Cheesesteaks and Steak sandwiches. We got our sandwich and sat down on the cold picnic tables that you see above. It was a lot colder on the Geno’s side of the intersection.

geno's goods

The sandwich was really good. And it was steaming happily in my hands, just as the other had.

So what was the verdict? How did each sandwich compare? You’ll have to wait until the next…..

Just kidding. I don’t think I could drag out this Philly cheesesteak thing much longer anyway!

Although the meat at Geno’s was more tender and had really good flavor, the sandwich was soggy. It dripped profusely while I tried to eat it (in a very ladylike fashion, I might add) and the bread began to fall apart at the seam because of all of the moisture.

Overall, I like Pat’s sandwich a little better. The bread was soft but had an initial crunch as you bit into it, the meat had good flavor and it wasn’t so wet that it turned the Cheez Whiz into soup that gathered in the bottom of your sandwich wrapper.

So there you have it folks, next time you’re in the city of brotherly love go for a Pat’s sandwich instead. Although I wouldn’t blame you for hitting both spots, they are legends after all. Oh, and don’t forget the good stuff:

end of the processed cheese rainbow

Origin date: December 8, 2009

I was in Philadelphia this past weekend and so, of course, one of my goals was to have a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. And not just any sandwich – a sandwich from one of the oldest rivalries in the city of brotherly love. I was going to go to Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks and see who was better. Let the battle begin…

There are 2 Cheesesteak stands that are right across the street from each other and even though they serve similar faire, they couldn’t be more different from each other.

Pat’s King of Steaks was founded in 1930 by a man named Pat Olivieri. Originally the owner of a hot dog stand, its said that he just wanted to try something new. He sliced up some beef, tossed it on his hotdog grill, dressed it with onions and put it all on an Italian roll. With the later addition of cheese as a customer request, that is essentially how the Philly Cheesesteak was born according to the folks over at Pat’s.

Pat’s also has instructions on how to properly order a cheesesteak. They also have a very large menu which is really just different variations of the classic Philadelphia Cheesesteak. They also do some amazing looking cheese fries as well.

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Pat’s claims to be the originator of the Cheesesteak and the best in town.

But you might miss Pat’s unassuming exterior and be lulled across the street to a striking display of neon and orange brick. Enter the competitor to the King of Steaks: Geno’s steaks:

WAY showier, with the flashing and the bright colors. When I stopped to ask for directions to Geno’s I was greeted with a smirk, “Go down this street, make a left, go 5 or 6 blocks and you can’t miss it. If you do well… there’s nothin’ anyone can help ya with.” It glows brightly into the cold night and tempts diners with its Vegas-like exterior.

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Geno’s was started in 1966, so they don’t claim to be the original but they do claim to be the best. They offer only one thing on their sandwich menu: Cheesesteaks. You have a choice of 3 cheeses: Cheese Whiz (that’s right folks, Cheese Whiz), Provolone, and American. They also offer cheese fries and -get ready for it- Freedom Fries. You eyes will want to drift over that one more time in disbelief. Freedom Fries.

As for who won the battle….

That will be the next post when I get my photos from my coworker’s phone. My camera’s battery died right after the 3 photo of my Pat’s Cheesesteak. Guess you’ll  have to tune in next time for the results of the triumphant battle….. *smirk*.

Origin date: December 3, 2009

I am shocked by how many people don’t know who the Frugal Gourmet is! Jeff Smith? Thin man with white hair, a beard and a pinstripe apron? Didn’t anyone else watch PBS when they were a kid?!

That was one of my after school rituals. Come home, kick my shoes off, watch the early afternoon cartoons and Punky Brewster and then settle in for another episode of the Frugal Gourmet. He had a really jolly voice that tended to crack when he got excited about something he was cooking. He had so much knowledge about food, its origins, who ate what and why. I used to sit and wish I had a pin striped apron too.

He had such a great flair as he went on and on about wine and sauerkraut. His hands flourished in the air over a boiling pot, all the while making exotic looking dishes that he claimed were economic miracles for the dinner table. Well, I guess his recipes weren’t super exotic, but they were to my 7 year-old mind. My mom would watch with me sometimes and giggle to herself when he made Asian dishes. I actually understand why she was giggling now, but my mom thinks that everything she cooks is the best.

Jeffsmith

He brought new dishes and words into my mind and told me endless facts about cooking technique, the origins of soba noodles and the magnificent superiority of fresh ground pepper to that other stuff. His recipes were suitable for a formal table as well as a busy weekday night dinner with a real American family.

When I was mulling over what my blog entries should consist of, I kept coming back to the word frugal. It seemed to mean so much more than just saving a buck here or there. The word meant economic savvy. It meant intelligent, thoughtful regard for the what your income could provide you and how to maximize it in a way that never left you wanting. It was so much more than just being cheap, it was being cheap in an elegant way. That’s what I want to aim for.

So, as a small homage to one of the earliest influences to my interest in cooking and cuisine, I dub this blog The Frugal Jumei (Ju-may).

Origin date: December 1, 2009

Now that I have shown you the wonders of the Food Co-op, lets get cookin’ with it!! Broccoli was one of the items in this month’s order as well as red bell peppers. So in addition to the best broccoli of your life (see previous post), I had some red bell peppers for dinner too! I love the smell of red bell peppers, before you even slice them open you can already taste them.

Red bell peppers are just green bell peppers that have been allowed to fully ripen. They have a much sweeter taste and are easier to digest than green bell peppers. Red bell peppers are also full of vitamins A and C which are powerful antioxidants, and there has been a ton of talk about antioxidants. Many drinks and bottled, sweetened teas tout that they contain them but the best way for your body to absorb them is through natural foods and not artificially flavored drinks.

One of my favorite way to prepared them is stuffed with left-over rice, veggie crumbles (wheat meat) or ground beef, with sauteed veggies and baked with melted cheese on top….. *drool*. There are a plethora of stuffed pepper recipes out there, definitely feel free to mix and match and add anything you like. The recipe I use is a recipe I found online. I added a few things according to my mood that day or what veggies I have left in the fridge.

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This recipe can be tailored to what ever your tastes and is a very effective left-over manager. One stuffed pepper can act as a complete meal too. It has veggies, protein, grains and cheese (!) I like to throw in a palmful of sunflower kernels. The kernels add a beautiful, nutty crunch and provides potassium, magnesium and ‘good fats’ that reduce cholesterol.

Yeah, it was a pretty good dinner….

IMG_7093Roasted Red Bell Peppers

1 lbs. ground beef or veggie crumbles, browned and fat poured off

1 cup prepared long grain rice (brown rice is my favorite in this recipe)

4 large sweet red bell peppers

3 Tbsp of butter

1 medium onion chopped

1/3 cup celery, finely diced

1/3 cup carrots, finely diced

1/2 cup sunflower kernels or shelled seeds

1/4 cup of freshly minced parsley or 2 Tbsp of dried parsley

1 tsp dried oregano

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup freshly shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, colby jack or monterrey jack works well)

Preheat oven to 400 F

Cut peppers in half. Remove seeds and white membrane. Quick boil the peppers in boiling, salted water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve 1/3 cup boiling liquid. Arrange cutside up in a lightly oiled baking dish.

In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Added onion celery, carrot, and sunflower kernels. Saute until onion is tender.

Remove from heat and stir in rice. Add parsley, eggs, oregano, black pepper, rice and ground beef or veggie crumbles. Stir to combine and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon filling into pepper halves and sprinkle cheese on top. Pour reserved boiling liquid into the bottom of the baking dish.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for a couple of minutes (the inside is always super hot). Serve and enjoy!