Leftovers Cuisine: Second-Day Beef Stew with Quinoa and Beans

IMGP2033 What’s your leftovers attitude?

Mine is: leftovers are terrific opportunities to create a new, different, interesting, exciting dishes! Really. (Or, at the very least, no cooking the next night.)

For example, early this week, we returned from a week-long vacation in Jamaica (Sun! Sea! Sand! Piña Coladas!), and the spouse decided to make beef stew our first night home. It was basic: beef, potatoes, carrots, onions. After one dinner, we had about 1½ cups left—a slightly thick broth, dotted with a few pieces of beef, etc.

To be honest, it did look uninspiring, BUT…

Those Jamaican chefs had inspired me. They had raised leftovers + vegetables + mix-and-match beans to an art form. One night we had turkey as the main meat, the next day at lunch we had a tasty turkey stew with vegetables and two types of beans. Surely, I reasoned, this type of creation was in my cuisine skill set.

Their cooking also had a second appeal for me because it fit the flexible use-what-you-have-in-the-kitchen approach. My recipe uses tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa. Why? Yup, you guessed it.

The result was delicious and filling, plus the spouse liked it! And he doesn’t always go for my mixtures—unfortunately, his mother cooked basic (meat, potato, veg) and served basic (no mixing) and this has had a lingering effect.

If you try this recipe, please use it as a template rather than a fixed-in-stone culinary creation. Feel free to change ingredients, vary quantities, and use your favourite spices. Continue reading

Rutabaga and Pear Puree

IMGP1976Many eons ago the spouse read somewhere that you could add pears to a rutabaga to mellow its taste.

Since he is a pear aficionado and I am not, this purée became his dish to make and consume. I still found it too bitter.

So when he said he was going to make it for our Easter meal, I was somewhat less than enthusiastic. I think I shrugged.

Hence you can imagine how surprised I was to discover that this dish was light and delicious! What had changed? The spouse had used canned pears in water instead of real pears.

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GF Dieters: Please Be Cautious with this Cookbook!

Recently, I checked The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace out of the library. It is a newly published cookbook, and the title and claim—“80 low-carb recipes that offer solutions for celiac disease, diabetes, and weight loss”—sounded as if its recipes would be perfect for me and many of the readers of this blog.

The reality, however, doesn’t live up to the hyperbole, particularly if viewed through a Weight Watchers lens. If you’re a gluten-free dieter or a person with diabetic issues who has to keep your weight down, caution is in order. Here’s why.

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Happy Thanksgiving and Check It Out! (5)

First, to my American readers, may you have a wonderful holiday with lots of terrific food and great company!

For those of you dieters who aren’t American and for those you dieters who will have to return to real life tomorrow, here are  interesting recipes that focus on vegetables and beans plus an article about our food preferences.

The Carnivore’s Guide to Vegetables by cookbook writer, Marc Bittman. Bittman is great at providing a recipe and then showing different ways to alter to suit you, family preferences, what’s in your fridge and so on. Here are four recipes, each with variations.

40 Magnificent Mushroom Recipesat the Wise Bread web site, is a compilation of recipes and great ideas for using mushrooms—for example, Vegan Mushroom Risotto, Mushroom Paté, and Mushroom Tikka Masala. Yum!

Beans, beans, and beans! Martha Rose Shulman at the New York Time has two great-looking bean recipes: Three-Bean Soup and Rainbow Quinoa Salad With Fava Beans and Herbs. I haven’t had a chance to try them, but her recipes are always good and reliable.

Finding New Tricks To Get More Satisfaction Out Of Low-Fat Foods, an article from NPR that reports on an interesting study about the thickness and creaminess of foods and how they affect our taste buds and appetite.

 

Steamed Cauliflower: Variations

First of all: Many thanks to Jeff from jeffs kitchen for this post.

Jeff had read the cauliflower-tasting story from my post, Can Our Tastebuds Have Orgasms?, and clearly felt sorry for the spouse who ate the cauliflower I had served plain. Why plain? Because I thought that beautifully fresh cauliflower would taste great on its own.

And it did! To me, that is.

Anyway, Jeff wrote a great comment on that post with ideas for spicing up the cauliflower that I want to pass on to you.

Jeff steams his cauliflower whole, but you could also steam florets or roast them (see Roasted Veggies Redux) using these spices.

How to Steam a Cauliflower Whole

  1. Cut out the core from the bottom of the cauliflower.
  2. Place the head in a large cast-iron pot.
  3. Add about 1/2 inch of boiling water. (You can also add flavours to the water—see below.)
  4. Sprinkle spice generously over the cauliflower head (see possibilities below).
  5. Reduce heat so that the water is simmering.
  6. Cover pot and steam for 10-20 minutes. The amount of time will depend on the size of cauliflower and how soft you prefer it.

Jeff’s Spice Possibilities:

  • Allspice: Also add 1 tbsp. coconut milk to the boiling water.
  • Curry: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water.
  • Garam masala: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water.
  • A good quality paprika: Also add 1 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar to the boiling water. According to Jeff, “I’ve experimented with smoked paprika, and it tastes like I did it in a pot on a grill. The paprika adds a layer of flavor, and using smoked paprika adds yet another layer.”

I can think of other variations such as using cumin or fresh dill. Have you done something interesting with cauliflower that you’d like to share?

Creamy Tomato-Quinoa Soup

Remember when tomatoes tasted like tomatoes? No? Well…you may have to be of a certain age. Today, the only time tomatoes come close to tasting like the real thing is during the harvest season when field tomatoes are available.

FYI: According to a New York Times article, scientists have recently discovered “a genetic reason that diminishes a tomato’s flavor even if the fruit is picked ripe and coddled.” Briefly, producers, appealing to consumers who wanted lush red tomatoes, unwittingly bred in a mutation that reduces the sugars that contributed to the tomato taste. Sigh.

So…back in my kitchen where I’ve purchased baskets of field tomatoes whose lives will end in my soup pot.

In the early days of this blog, I posted a family favourite soup in which a small amount of peanut butter, rather than cream, was added to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes and make it okay for the lactose-intolerant. Now I’ve upgraded the original recipe by adding a dollop of cooked quinoa for some healthy protein and crunch.

This soup is creamy, rich, and delicious—hot or cold.

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Dieter’s Tomato-Tofu Sauce

Everything But the Kitchen Sink!

Everything But the Kitchen Sink!

Ubiquitous (being found everywhere) is not a word I get to use very often, although I really like the way it sounds: the tart, hard consonants b, q, t and the soft vowels.  The word reminds me of a crunchy, well-textured salad…but I digress. Ubiquitous is the perfect descriptor for tomato sauce, which is used in almost every North American kitchen.

In fact, prior to being a food refashionista, I always had jars of tomato sauce on hand. I used to make my own sauce back in the olden days when stores only stocked lousy-tasting canned sauces, but I had stopped because there was now such a good choice on the grocery shelves. Unfortunately, as we know, these choices are full of sugar, oils, and additives; healthy eating meant getting off the fast-food track and going back to basics.

So what makes this a dieter’s sauce? No meat, no oil, no sugar, no tomato paste—just tofu and loads of vegetables. And this is one of those recipes that invites variations, so have fun! 

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Dieter’s Potato and Broccoli Slaw Salad

This delicious, crunchy, and easy-to-make potato salad happened because of two things.

One: I was seduced into buying a large bag of small potatoes (no peeling, hurray!) at Costco—the place where you always buy more than you actually need. So…lots of potatoes in the fridge.

Two: I had a lightbulb moment that involved broccoli slaw. To date, potato salad has been out of my caloric reach, and I hadn’t been able to think of a vegetable to add that would be easy to prepare in a large quantity. Broccoli slaw to the rescue!

This salad is wide open to imaginative variation in quantity and type—from vegetables to spices. The basic issue is to have, at the very least, as much vegetable as potato. In this version, I had 4 cups of cooked potatoes and, after adding my vegetables, I ended up with 8 cups total.

Okay? Here’s how it goes…

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Plum Variations: Pudding ‘n’ Pie

Ah….the plums overfloweth the bins at food markets. I buy bags of fresh plums. I grab bags of discounted plums that are going to rack and ruin. I buy plums whether they’re black, red, blue, or yellow. And what do I do with all these plums?

One favourite recipe is a plum compote that I call Cinnamony Stewed Plums. No fuss and no peeling…just get rid of the pit and cook in some water for 10 minutes. This is delicious over yogurt or in a smoothie. It’s also a great dish to make with plums that aren’t as fresh as they could be.

I also want to tell you about two new plum variations of dishes that I’ve made in the past: Plum Quinoa Pudding and Crustless Plum Chia Pie.

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Tomato Quinoa Salad with Corn and Feta Cheese

Hi all! We are back from a two-week boat trip to the Thousand Islands. (Actually, there are 1800 islands, but that wouldn’t make a catchy enough phrase, I guess.) We had grandchildren aboard as second “mates,” i.e., minimal help, maximal eating. Couldn’t get a one o’ them ther kids to swab a deck!

Kitchen space on the Outrageous

As you may recall, I’ve described the boat galley as…well, somewhat restrictive. Here is a pix showing the total extent of its counter space with the fridge off to the left and stove to the right. The wooden board on the counter is the top to the garbage pail beneath. Clever, huh?

The galley is always fun for a while, and then, not surprisingly, I’m glad to return to my spacious, appliance-rich, air-conditioned kitchen.

This salad (both sweet and salty; soft and crunchy) happened because we stopped at a farmer’s market on the way home and bought big, delicious, juicy tomatoes. It makes a great side dish for dinner or main dish for lunch

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