Tag Archives: Broccoli

Easy Shrimp & Green Bean Stir Fry

3 Feb

I rarely eat seafood, and I even more rarely cook it myself. But I was inspired the other night to try something new, so I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up some shrimp. And after reading the grossly-named but helpful book Gutbliss, I have been making efforts toward “clean eating.” According to the book, this means no dairy, gluten, sugar, artificial sweetener, soy, or alcohol. I did a 10-day cleanse and since then have been at least trying to consider clean food for a good portion of my meals. (It’s really hard for me to keep away from cheese and chocolate though!)

All this to say that in searching for a recipe for dinner, I wanted something that fit the bill for both clean eating and a quick weeknight meal. I’ve found that Asian-inspired stir fries are the best bet here.

stir fry 1

The BF and I both enjoyed this stir fry and agreed we should add it to our weeknight repertoire. It was not extremely flavorful, though I’m sure if you wanted it to be more so, you could easily add more garlic, ginger, and/or oyster/fish sauce. But I personally liked that there was enough of those flavors to be noticeable but not so much that you couldn’t still taste the natural flavor of the shrimp and vegetables.

Stir fries are the best because they’re so easily customizable, so if you’d rather have all broccoli and no green beans, or if you want to leave out the ginger, then just do your thing, you know?

FYI, this recipe made about 3 large portions for us — one dinner for the two of us and one leftover lunch portion for me.

IMG_3070

Easy Shrimp & Green Bean Stir Fry adapted from Food & Wine

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 green onion, chopped small
1/2 pound shrimp
1/2 pound green beans
1/2 head of broccoli, chopped
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Chop vegetables and prepare all ingredients before you begin cooking.

Heat a saute pan until very hot. Add the vegetable oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds.

Add the shrimp and a pinch of salt. Stir-fry until the shrimp are just beginning to turn pink, about 30 seconds. Add the green beans and 2 tablespoons of the stock and stir-fry until the beans soften slightly, about 3 minutes.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of stock along with the oyster sauce and a generous pinch of pepper. Stir-fry until the shrimp are cooked through and the beans are crisp-tender, about 3 more minutes. Serve immediately.

IMG_3073

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from Twelve O Eight
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows Wild
Wonderfully Creative Wednesday from All She Cooks
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
Full Plate Thursday from Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove

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So-Called Pizza Puffs

21 Jan

So-called? Yes, so-called. Because I’m not sure these puffs deserve the name of “pizza.” They certainly didn’t taste like pizza. They tasted kind of like little bread muffins. Which I guess is what they are.

Look at that puff!

On principle, I don’t believe in taking a healthy recipe and making it healthy. I don’t think that ever turns out well. I’d rather just eat a small amount of the unhealthy thing every now and then. I don’t need to stuff myself full of bland fat-free mac-and-cheese or one-point Weight Watchers “desserts.” And don’t EVEN get me started on frozen yogurt, because I can’t tell you how angry I am that I can’t find a dang ice cream store anymore while there’s bland frozen yogurt bars on every street corner. All those exciting neon colors are false advertising, in my opinion.

I guess my issue is that I’m terrible at denying myself anything, but I’m pretty fantastic at portion control, IMHO. I guess most people have the opposite problem. But since I don’t, I’m going to continue buying the Double Stuf Oreos, but only eat 2 (okay, 3) after dinner tonight. I’ve never been the person who accidentally eats the whole bag.

The point here is that this recipe is way too healthy to be called Pizza Puffs. Puffs, sure, no problem. But pizza? You can barely taste the cheese, it’s whole wheat, AND there’s vegetables in it. That’s 3 things that would never be true about any pizza I’d eat.

So why I am sharing it? Well for one, I’m not arrogant enough to believe that everyone thinks the same way I do, and I imagine many people might appreciate this recipe. But also, I think my poor reaction to this recipe was one of expectations. I was expecting pizza, and upon not tasting pizza, I was mightily disappointed. But if they were called Whole Wheat Puffs with Marinara Dipping Sauce, then I think I’d be pretty happy.

So go ahead and make this recipe. They’re great for a snack or for serving at a party. They’re also great on the side of an Italian meal. Maybe I’ll make them again. Or maybe I’ll make real Pizza Puffs.

"Pizza" Puffs

Whole Wheat Pizza Puffs adapted from Cooking With My Kid

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup lowfat or skim milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup shredded mozarella cheese
1 cup broccoli
1/2 marinara sauce, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan.

Blanch the broccoli: Boil for about 2 minutes and then remove and immediately place in a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds. Remove from water. Chop finely. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Whisk in the milk and beaten egg. Stir in the mozzarella and broccoli. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve with warm marinara sauce.

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

31 May

The final broccoli dish I prepared is this Broccoli Cheddar Soup, perfect timing since broccoli season in North Carolina technically ends today. (Procrastinate? Me? Only all of the times.) This recipe also requires the use of a food processor or a blender, but if you haven’t bought a food processor yet, go get one. They’re amazing. Also, advance apologies here: I could have sworn I took pictures of this process, and now I can’t find them anywhere. Who knows where in the black hole of the interwebs they ended up? I do have a picture of the final product though. Read on!

I started off sauteing half a chopped red onion in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat, and then set that aside. Then I made a roux by whisking together 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup flour over medium heat for a few minutes. Then, as I whisked, I added 2 cups half-and-half and then 1 cup chicken broth and 1 cup beef broth. (The original recipe called for 2 cups chicken broth, but I had some leftover beef broth from another recipe, so I just mixed that in. If you need a vegetarian soup, just use a strongly flavored vegetable broth.) Once all this was together, I turned the heat down to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Now for the veggies. I added in 3 cups chopped broccoli,  1 cup shredded carrots1 cup shredded red cabbage, and the cooked onions. I continued cooking everything over low heat for about 20 minutes. I added in a little bit of salt and pepper, and then 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

The soup was fairly thick by this point. I poured it in batches into the food processor (or you could use a blender), and after blending each batch, returned it to the pot over low heat. Once all the soup was back in the pot, I stirred in 3 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese – about half white cheddar and half regular cheddar, since that’s what I had in the fridge. And that was that! I had a bit for dinner, and then saved half for lunch the next day and half for the freezer for later.

Soup's on!

How Sue Sees It:

I think this would make a great side dish, but it wasn’t really good enough to satisfy me for a main dish. The original recipe claimed to be just like Panera Bread, which was just not true. I know I didn’t follow it exactly, but there’s no way that beef instead of chicken broth and a handful of cabbage made that much of a difference. It just wasn’t cheesy or creamy enough. I kind of figure that to get even more cheese flavor, this would have to be extremely unhealthy. And if it’s going to be that unhealthy, I shouldn’t eat it very often, so instead of trying to make it myself, I’ll probably just go to Panera when I need to satisfy my cheesy craving. So honestly, even though this soup was decent, I probably won’t be making it again.

If you do try to make it yourself, I recommend steaming the vegetables separately beforehand. I’m not sure the vegetables cooked well enough — the soup ended up with a slightly grainy texture.

Broccoli Brownies

20 May

Sounds disgusting, right? But much like the spinach cupcakes, they were actually pretty good! Since I committed to creating one meal and one dessert for each seasonal crop in North Carolina this year, I was again at a bit of a loss for broccoli. I Googled “broccoli dessert” and had very little success with fitting results. A search for “Broccoli cake” turned out a little better. My favorite result was this Broccoli Forest Cake, which I may have to try out one day. But from reading the recipes, I wasn’t quite convinced that any of my findings would be sweet enough if I truly focused on the broccoli.  So instead I decided to pull another Jessica Seinfeld and just hide that broccoli in a delicious dessert. Brownies it is.

Fresh Broccoli

I started off by pureeing fresh broccoli florets in my food processor (best kitchen purchase EVER). It resulted in a consistency kind of between powder and sand. I pureed enough to make 3/4 to 1 cup broccoli and set it aside. I preheated the oven to 350 F and got to work on my batter.

About to get processed

In a large bowl, I whisked together the dry ingredients: 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Dry Ingredients

In a separate bowl, I combined 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. I stirred it by hand till it was just blended.

Ew, Wet Ingredients

Then I slowly added the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring by hand till it was just blended. Last, I stirred in the chopped broccoli and 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips.

Broccoli & Chocolate

Broccoli Brownie Batter

I greased an 8×8 pan and poured the batter in evenly. I baked the brownies for about 25-30 minutes. When you poke it, the brownies should indent just slightly. I let it cool in the pan before I cut it into slices.

Broccoli Brownies

How Sue Sees It:

  • Since the broccoli was pureed super fine, these look like normal brownies. You can’t see any green at all, just chocolate. Perfect!
  • Everyone who actually tasted them really liked them. I’d say about half of my tasters thought they were good and didn’t have any comment at all. The other half thought they were good, but did ask something like, “Hmm… this is good, but what is that?” They couldn’t quite place what they were tasting, but they did like them.
  • For a couple people, including my 16-year-old drama queen of a sister, the thought of broccoli was too much of a barrier. She ate the first half of it just fine and told me it was delicious, but when I told her there was broccoli in there, she refused to eat the rest. My brother was a similar story. I think they were being babies, but it was a good lesson: just don’t mention the broccoli at all.
  • Definitely take the time to completely puree the broccoli. If you don’t have a food processor, go get one. I got mine at Walmart for 30 bucks. The broccoli is pureed so small that you can’t taste or see it. It barely alters the flavor, and it doesn’t affect the texture at all.
  • I thought they were very tasty, especially with the chocolate chips added in for good measure. I just tasted chocolate. But similar to the spinach cupcakes, though they tasted relatively normal, they did have a bit of a funky smell to them. Store them in an airtight container to keep them moist, but open the container and let them air out a bit for a few minutes before you serve them. If someone gets a whiff of these as soon as you open the container, they may not be willing to taste them.
  • A perfect dessert for picky kids and spouses who aren’t getting enough vegetables in their diet!
  • If you would rather incorporate zucchini instead of broccoli, follow the same method, but increase the amount of flour to 1 cup to balance out the extra water content.

Dee Dee’s Broccoli Casserole

8 May

My mom is affectionately known as Aunt Dee Dee or just Dee Dee to all of her nieces and nephews. She is the fun, crazy aunt who not only lets you throw a ball in the house, but is often the one to initiate and participate in said indoors throwing game. I was jealous of my cousins as a teenager because at that age, I thought my mom was a way cooler aunt than mom. But now I have a little more perspective (and a little less attitude), and I more remember all the fun and crazy projects my mom cooked up over the years, which now loom much larger than the fights and arguments we were having when I was in high school. For example, my Double Dare birthday party was the coolest party of the 4th grade, complete with pie-throwing contests, tricycle races, and a relay race that involved massive amounts of butter, popcorn, Jell-o, and a Slip ‘N’ Slide.

My mom is also a pretty amazing chef, and it’s humbling to think back over the years at how she taught herself new skills in the kitchen. When my siblings were very young (before I was around) and our family didn’t have a lot of money, they ate a lot of casseroles, soups, and one-pot meals. They were classic, homey meals that were cheap and easy to put together, perfect for a mom working crazy hours with 2 small kids. But by the time I came along, my parents were a little more settled. My mom left work to stay at home with us, and our meals became more complex, fresh, and nutritious. By the time my little sisters were in the picture, the family was eating ethnic foods like Indian and Japanese, and our meals had a lot more fresh produce and a lot less cream of mushroom soup.

I think this trend is very interesting from a sociological standpoint, but I also think that from a personal view, I became very used to learning about food and trying new things. Now my mom and I swap ideas for new foods, new recipes, and how to use the massive quantities of rosemary she gets from the rosemary bush in her backyard big enough to hide two toddlers in (speaking from experience). I regularly call her for advice (“Mom, 10 people are showing up for dinner in 20 minutes, and I ran out of ___. What should I do!?” or “Mom, this chicken I just cooked is, like, gray… If I eat it, will it kill me?”), and I give her tips I pick up from health food nuts and farmers’ markets in my more liberal small town. My goal one day is to be able to take a quick glance into a pantry or refrigerator and put together a dinner plan, just like I’ve seen her do a million times. I’m not that comfortable or familiar yet with food, ingredients, and recipes, but I think I’m getting there.

When I was staring at the broccoli – this month’s seasonal produce – and trying to figure out what to do with it, I could not stop thinking about broccoli casserole. This is a huge throwback dish, something my mom made relatively regularly when I was a kid. I loved it so much, I think I even requested it as part of my birthday dinner one year. But as I explained above, our family has trended over time toward more nutritious foods, so this is a dish that my mom no longer makes or eats. It’s very unhealthy, especially since I only want it if she agrees to my request for extra cheese. Every year at Thanksgiving she proposes leaving it out, and every year my siblings, cousins, and I demand that we have it. It’s a Thanksgiving staple that I generally only have once a year. So she agrees to its presence at our Thanksgiving table, but one of us has to make it ourselves. It’s a very simple recipe that can be made in 15 minutes or less. So here it is… Dee Dee’s Broccoli Casserole.

Start with 1 bag frozen broccoli. Thaw it completely (on the counter or in the microwave) and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Spread it in the bottom of a glass casserole dish. Top with a layer of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Broccoli and cheeseSpread a layer of cream of mushroom soup over top the cheese.

Cream of Mushroom SoupAnd now spread another layer of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese. Cover with plastic wrap, cut a slit in the center, and cook it in the microwave on high for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the broccoli is cooked.

More CheeseI hadn’t made this in a long time, but I knew the cheese was the most important part, so I just kept adding some. I wasn’t sure how much was necessary. When I pulled it out of the microwave, it really just looked like a dish of cheese with a few broccoli bumps. I realized I went a little overboard, but obviously it was good because I tried to take a picture a few minutes later, but people were already digging in!

Broccoli Casserole

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Seasonal Ingredient: Broccoli (end of April-May)

2 May

Broccoli is a rather short-lived crop in North Carolina, so when I checked my produce schedule and realized I only had a month to profile these tiny trees, I decided I better get crackin’. I researched broccoli a little bit, and I found out that it is a cruciferous vegetable What does this mean? I have no idea. But I do know that broccoli is super healthy! Check this out:

Broccoli Nutrient Chart

Vitamin C and Vitamin K are off the chart!

I never really thought much about how cooking style affects the nutrients of what you eat. But this is apparently a big deal when it comes to broccoli. Here’s the gist: you shouldn’t boil broccoli because it will lose all its nutrients and basically become pointless. Stir-frying and microwaving are not fantastic options, but aren’t terrible. The best way to prepare broccoli is to steam it. This website gives a lot of information on why this is the case, and why the other methods suck, but that’s the most important part. Read here for basic preparation of broccoli.

a.k.a. Tiny Trees

When I was a kid, I didn’t understand why the standard sitcom punchline for which food kids hate was broccoli. I didn’t think broccoli was so bad. As an adult, I now realize this is because my mom only ever served broccoli completely smothered with cheese. Delicious! I now eat broccoli prepared in more ways than just cheese-drenched, though that is my favorite. Check out there delicious broccoli recipes:

Sorry none of my broccoli recipes are super healthy. But there were just too good to pass up. Okay fine, here’s a healthy recipe for you: Chop up some broccoli, separating the tree part (floret) from the trunk part (stem). Throw the stems into your steamer or steam pot and steam for 2 minutes. Then throw in the florets and steam for 5 more minutes. Serve immediately as is, or garnished with dressing, herbs, or some such. So easy!