Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday’s Side Dish: Sour Broccoli Rapini

A nourishing accompaniment at dinner time

The Mixed Stew Crew likes preparing this unadulterated veggie dish. The blanching enhances the fresh and green flavor of broccoli rapini. Here is our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
3-4 quarts water
1 medium-sized bowl
1 stock pot
2-3 bunches broccoli rapini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 colander or large strainer
3 tablespoons datu puti or cider vinegar
Pinch of salt

Cooking and Directions:

Fill stock pot with water. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat. Add broccoli rapini to hot water. Stir well so that leaves submerge and blanch for 3-5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and use colander to drain broccoli rapini. Then pour broccoli rapini into bowl. Add vinegar and salt. Then toss well. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday’s Helping: Broccoli Rapini (or Raab)

A very distant relative to the familiar bunch
Though this leafy green has broccoli in its name, it’s not closely related to that heady vegetable. Broccoli rapini (or raab) originated in China and the Mediterranean. This is one of the most widely-used food items around the world and it’s growing in popularity within the United States. Look for Broccoli rapini in Italian and Chinese dishes. The plant is closely related to turnips and the leaves resemble turnip greens but food experts believe that broccoli rapini evolved from a wild herb. Peak season for this vegetable is early spring. Expect a strong green flavor and taste similar to mustard greens. We blanched the broccoli rapini in our penne dish to lessen its strong green or bitter flavors. Select broccoli rapini bunches with light green leaves with crisp and strong leaves. Avoid bunches with wilted, water-damaged, or discolored leaves. This ingredient is a good source of potassium and vitamin A.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday’s Cupful: Background on Penne

Another pasta that's totally tubular
The Mixed Stew likes penne-shaped pasta for its versatility in many dishes. Penne pasta originated in Southern Italy in the region known as Campania. Look for (penne lisce) smooth penne and (penne rigate) penne with ridges. The hollow tubes and jagged diagonal or angular edges help to better hold sauces and marinara. Penne is the Latin plural for penna, which means “quill” or “feather.” We also like using penne in cold pasta salads or even baked pasta casseroles.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Spicy Shrimp Penne

A seafood pasta to toss about

The basic ingredients are what make this a satisfying menu item. We combined broccoli rapini, al dente penne, shrimp, and parmesan cheese for a flavorful bite in every forkful of this pasta dish. Here is our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 large frying pan or wok
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb penne, cooked until al dente and drained
2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
2 bunches broccoli rapini, blanched and cut into bite-sized pieces
½ tablespoon hot chili paste or red pepper flakes
Pinch of Salt

Cooking and Directions:

Heat pan on medium-high heat. Add oil, garlic, salt, and onion. Sauté ingredients until onion turns translucent. Pour in shrimp and cook for 8- 10 minutes or until pink. Be careful not to overcook. Remove shrimp from pan. Next, pour in cooked penne, chili paste (or red pepper flakes), and blanched broccoli rapini into hot pan. Toss well and let ingredients cook for another five minutes. Return shrimp to pan and toss well, again. Finally, sprinkle with parmesan and mix well. Serve immediately.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday's Last Spoonful: Food Surfing

Another triple dip

Food Surfing will feature fun food links from around the Blogosphere, including leads to hardcover helpers. These recommended links may give you other interesting ideas for making your life taste better.

The Mixed Stew crew likes hunting through cookbooks for a good recipe or three. We recommend Eat What You Love for health conscious cooks and food lovers.

Squeamish About Sushi is a fun and informative book about Japanese Cuisine. Look out for this book that’s a primer for much more than California rolls. The colorful and charming illustrations also make this book a hit with The Mixed Stew crew.

Would you like to give up eating out for two years? Cathy Erway did just that and tells her story in The Art of Eating In.

Note: If you order via the links above, The Mixed Stew creators will get a tiny referral fee.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday’s Side Dish: Baked Beets and Sweet Potatoes

A roasted root veggie delight

Tired of your regular sweet potato casserole? This dish combines the natural sweetness of beets and sweet potatoes. Best of all, it's easy! Baked beets provide a crisp tartness that’s a tasty mismatch with the softly cooked sweet potatoes. Here is our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 casserole dish
1 medium-sized bowl
3 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 medium beets (we used 5-6 small ones), quartered
2 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
Pinch of salt

Cooking and Directions:

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Combine ingredients in bowl and toss well. Pour ingredients into casserole dish. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until potatoes are tender, which can be checked by piercing with a toothpick.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday’s Helping: Healthier Pancakes

Indulge yourself with a beneficial twist

The Mixed Stew suggests taking this popular breakfast staple and making them more nutritious. For example, add sweet potatoes to give the cakes some fiber oomph. Or, add a tablespoon or two of crushed nuts or whole-grain granola to give every bite more crunch and nutty flavors. Also, take a hint from blueberry pancakes and try mixing in other fruits, such as chopped bananas, sliced raspberries, or crushed peaches into your regular pancake batter. Tossing in a tablespoon or two of flaxseed, wheat germ, or flaxseed oil also creates a healthier bit of pancake in every bite.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday’s Cupful: Pancakes

History of the flat cake
Breakfast and pancakes go together like summer and ice cream. Pancakes are round shaped, flat, and thin cakes (mostly made from similar ingredients to quick breads) that are quickly cooked on a well-greased and hot fry pan or griddle. The three main ingredients in almost all pancake batters are eggs, flour, and milk. A cook must also flip the pancake half-way through the cooking process. One tip: Wait for bubbles to start showing on the top surface.

Archeologists have found evidence that early versions of today’s pancakes were one of the foods dating back to cave dwellers. Currently, regional variations exist depending on the geographical location and country. Germans like making pancakes with potatoes while Frenchmen enjoy their rather large and nearly paper thin crepes. Meanwhile, American pancakes usually contain a rising agent, such as buttermilk or baking powder.

The toppings for pancakes and whether or not pancakes are suitable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner varies. Maple syrup, pancake syrup, butter, fruit, jam, and even whipped cream get served with hotcakes in American eateries. Also, look out for IHOP that serves pancake fare round the clock.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Sweet Potato Pancake

Healthy infusion to breakfast treat

These pancakes provide an easy and fun breakfast food that reminds us of Mom’s cooking. Look for the yellow tint that’s a trademark of most food items that contain sweet potatoes. The tubers also lend more nutrition and their natural sweetness to every serving. Here’s our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 fork
1 spatula
2 medium-sized bowls
1 large bowl
1 griddle or fry pan
Non-stick Cooking Spray
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup butter, melted
1 lb. cooked sweet potato, peeled and mashed

Cooking and Directions:

Combine eggs, milk, sweet potato, and melted butter in one bowl. Mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in another bowl. Mix well. Then thoroughly mix ingredients together in large bowl. Heat griddle or fry pan on medium-high heat and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Drop batter by the spoonful onto heated surface. Cook until golden brown. Turn once with spatula when batter begins to bubble.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Food Surfing

A wave for seafood lovers

Food Surfing will feature fun food links from around the Blogosphere and Internet. These recommended links may give you other interesting ideas for making your life taste better.

Feeling experimental this Lenten season and tired of the mystery fish meat in store-bought fish sticks? Here’s an Eating Well recipe for homemade fish sticks.

Alton Brown, of The Food Network, provides his recipe and twist on classic Fish and Chips with his rendition -- called Chips and Fish.

Finally, features four different versions of the tartar sauce that can go with your fish.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday’s Side Dish: Packaged Pink Salmon Steaks

A quick fish option in a pinch

The Mixed Stew recently spotted this food item next to the canned tuna at the supermarket. Vacuum-packed seafood doesn’t appeal to you? These precooked and seasoned salmon fillets come in Teriyaki and Lemon & Dill flavors. We recommend packing these Bumble Bee salmon fillets for lunch at the workplace, especially if you're giving up meat one day a week. Also, dice one or two of these fillets into a veggie salad or creamy pasta for a quick meal. Each package costs $ 2.99 and contains a 4oz. serving of nutritious salmon that’s just right and loaded with flavor.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday’s Helping: Water Chestnuts

Crunchy product from aqua plants
Water chestnuts aren’t nuts at all. This food item may be sampled in Chinese dishes. They’re the fruit of a plant that grows underwater and in marshes throughout Southeast Asia. They get their name because of their resemblance in coloring and appearance compared to real chestnuts. Expect a crisp texture and slightly earthy or woodsy flavor from this ingredient. Chinese have cultivated water chestnuts for centuries. The edible portion takes 7 months to mature. Select fresh water chestnuts that are firm to the touch with no blemishes. Look for fresh water chestnuts in your local Asian foods mart. Meanwhile, we’ve spotted canned water chestnuts in the International foods aisle of many major grocery stores. Water chestnuts are a good source of fiber and potassium, which helps the body maintain a healthy Ph balance.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday’s Cupful: Boston Bibb Lettuce

A green beauty that’s a natural wrap
This particular type of lettuce has a lot of green flavor without a hint of bitterness. Look for the loosely packed leaves that form a green rosette. Use the naturally curly leaves to cradle and wrap almost any savory filling or stuffing. Many chefs consider this a gourmet member of the lettuce family. We also suggest making little salad rolls that can be held in your hands. Iceberg lettuce may be too crisp to make a neat wrap. Look year-round for Boston bibb lettuce in most major supermarkets. John Bibb developed this special lettuce in Kentucky back in 1865. This lettuce is a good source of vitamin C and folic acid, which helps the human body build new cells.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Tuna Fish Lettuce Rolls

An alternative meal this Lenten season

This dish is a hit for those of you that get tired of mayo-laden tuna fish salad. We combined canned tuna with crisp water chestnuts, onion, pepper, and other yummy ingredients to make this tangy tuna fish salad that goes well wrapped in leaves of fresh Boston “Bibb” lettuce. It’s a refreshing and diet-conscious spin for canned tuna. Here’s the recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 medium-sized bowl
Plastic Wrap
2 (5 oz) cans of tuna, drained
1 red onion, diced small
6-8 Boston “Bibb” Lettuce leaves
1 garlic clove, minced small
1 red banana pepper, chopped into bite-size pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
½ cup water chestnuts, chopped
Pinches of salt and black pepper

Preparation and Directions:

Combine all ingredients (besides lettuce leaves) in bowl. Mix well. Chill seasoned filling in fridge overnight. Place spoonfuls of tuna mix in center of open-faced lettuce leaves. Wrap like a burrito and serve.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Field Trip

Chapala Restaurant: Burtonsville, Md.
The Mixed Stew crew is happy that we found this Tex-Mex and Salvadorean restaurant. Expect a warm and casual dining experience if you happen to visit Chapala Restaurant. Menu items are reasonably priced with ample portions. We recommend the Picadera Platter ($13.95) with flavorful barbecue pork ribs, grilled shrimp, and crispy pork chicharon. You can eat this large and spicy appetizer as a meal for one but it’s large enough to feed two people. The Ceviche Mixto ($11.50) had fresh shrimp and seafood in a delicate but tangy citrus dressing. All the dinner platters come with charros beans, pico de gallo, and Mexican rice. We also had the Plato Chapala ($9.95), which comes with a crispy beef taco, cheesy beef enchilada, and pork tamales. Also, make sure to save room for dessert with Tres Leches among their sweet treats. The Mixed Stew likes the “comfort food” quality of the fare served at Chapala Restaurant.

15530-B Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, MD 20866
(301) 421-0924 Fax: (301) 476-9434

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday’s Side Dish: Chocolate Cheerios

An adult cereal with a kid twist
Have you sampled this exciting flavor of General Mills brand Cheerios breakfast cereal? This nutritious and tasty cereal has become a favorite of the Mixed Stew crew. We also like the fact that it has all the health benefits of regular Cheerios. If you have those occasional chocolate bar cravings, you can have a bowl of this cocoa spiked cereal instead. The box says, “Made with Real Cocoa” and “May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease.” That’s an ultra tempting and satisfying combo that hits the spot. We’re definitely gonna try making marshmallow treats with this food item at a later date.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday’s Helping: Splenda

A sweet alternative to regular sugar

This dietary alternative to regular sugar has exploded in popularity since it was first introduced to the U.S. consumers by McNeil Nutritionals LLC in 1999. Look for Splenda in nifty light yellow packaging at most major supermarkets. Meanwhile, many fine restaurants have joined in and now provide their patrons with packets of Splenda on their dining room tables. Sucralose is the generic name for this low calorie sweetening agent that’s also derived from sugar. British scientists invented this sweetener in 1976 and the FDA approved it in 1998. The Mixed Stew thinks that no more than two small packets are plenty for sweetening a tall glass of iced tea. Also look for packages of granulated Splenda and Splenda for baking and cooking.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday’s Cupful: Nutella Ferrero

A luxurious chocolate spread

The Mixed Stew admits to overlooking this food item. Look for Nutella in store shelves next to the jars of jams and peanut butter. Expect a smooth, nutty, and milk chocolate taste in every spoonful of this unbelievable sandwich spread that actually contains skim milk. Pietro Ferrero invented this yummy confection in Italy during WWII to extend the supply of chocolate, which was being rationed. The addition of hazelnuts provides a flavor twist that complements the sweet milk chocolate. We suggest serving this food item as dip for cookies or fresh fruits. Cooks can also make chocolatey smores with a dollop or two of this hazelnut cocoa spread.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

A sweet delight that’s slimming

This recipe is a spin on rich and decadent chocolate mousse. The Mixed Stew substituted soft tofu for fat-laden heavy cream and Splenda for carb-loaded sugar in our rendition. Here’s our version:

What you will need:

1 spatula
Food processor
1/3 cup Splenda (sugar substitute)
1/3 cup Nutella Ferrero Hazelnut Spread w/ Skim Milk & Cocoa
1 (20 oz) package soft (or silken) tofu
½ cup evaporated milk
whipped topping

Preparation and Directions:

Place tofu, milk, hazelnut spread, and Splenda in food processor. Pulse and process until ingredients combine into a smooth mousse consistency. Place in fridge for at least 2 hours to set. Serve with whipped topping and garnish with chocolate shavings or chocolate flavored Cheerios. Store in the fridge and keep chilled for one to two weeks.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday's Last Spoonful: Food Surfing

A high-tide for Mardi Gras

Food Surfing will feature fun food links from around the Blogosphere and Internet. These recommended links may give you other interesting ideas for making your life taste better.

Fat Tuesday and Lent are right around the corner. Time to get in the mood and celebrate Mardi Gras in style. offers info on the traditions that make this a significant occasion.

You’ve never made a King’s Cake? This site provides a recipe and the background story for the festive yellow, green, and purple cake.

Let Rachael Ray help you observe Ash Wednesday with her family friendly meals, such as New England Pasta Bake, that don’t include meat.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday’s Side Dish: Instant Udon

A quick fix to a specific craving

Do you ever get cravings for Japanese udon (noodle soup) and don’t feel like going out to a restaurant? The Mixed Stew crew bought this package of CJ brand instant Katsuo Udon (noodle soup w/ pork cutlet) for $6.99 at H Mart. We found it in the chilled noodle section so it is fresher than dried packages. Each bag contains ingredients and fixings for two servings. Expect a tasty broth with thick and hearty noodles, which are defining and hearty elements in authentic Katsuo Udon. We recommend adding some sliced green onion, a poached egg, and or pieces of artificial crab to give each serving more oomph. Follow the cooking directions, which are in English on the back side of the glossy packages.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday’s Helping: Curry Powder

A little jar of many ingredients
Look for jars or packages of curry powder at your local Asian foods store or H Mart. A little goes a long way since curry powder usually contains different pungent dry spices and seasonings, such as turmeric, curry leaves, cardamom, cassia, and ginger. Expect a brownish green appearance to this granulated spice mix. We suggest adding this spicy ingredient to your favorite BBQ dry rub recipe for ribs or chicken. Otherwise, shake a bit of this pungent powder on steamed shrimp instead of regular seafood seasoning for a tasty change and kick in every mouthful. You should also try sprinkling in a teaspoon of curry powder into your traditional breading or coating recipes for fried chicken or fried fish. Can you think of other ways to use this pungent seasoning?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday's Cupful: Background on curry

Tasty renditions around the globe
The name identifies several spicy and well-seasoned dishes that originate in Southeast Asia—especially East India. Most recipes contain three major seasonings: cumin, coriander, and cumin. A full range of other ingredients and spices vary from one country to another. Chefs can compare “curry” to using the word “soup” or “stew” in Western cooking. Curry lovers might be surprised that no specific ingredient turns a pot full of ingredients into curry.

The name comes from the Tamil (an East Indian language) word for sauce but is now understood to mean seasoned meat or vegetables with or without a sauce. Southern East Indians like making curries that are side dishes to be eaten with a main meat or seafood dish. Other East Indians make curries that combine meat, fish, spices, ghee, and yogurt. Expect this style of curry to be served with rice or flatbread in the Subcontinent.

Chinese-style curries are made with different meats, fish, and vegetables in a relatively mild flavored sauce (compared to other Asian curries) that’s usually more watery than other Asian curries. Curry noodles or Singapore noodles are also a common menu item in China.

Japanese-style curry or kare was introduced by the British during the Meiji era (1868-1912). The Japanese like making curry that consists of meat along with carrots, potatoes and celery in a pot. Look for curry and rice on menus of some Japanese restaurants. Meanwhile, also look for different color Thai curries (red, yellow, and green) that contain lots of hot chili pepper, pungent herbs, and spices. Remember that there are several Thai curries that don’t call for coconut milk.