Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday's Helping: Healthy Bites

The Mixed Stew is going on hiatus from Aug 29 thru September 6. We hope everyone enjoys a week of veggie repeats until then and Happy Labor Day. The Mixed Stew will be back on September 6 with even more yummy posts.

Post from June 3, 2009

Top it off with veggies

This puts a twist into an ordinary meal. Add a little crunch to every spoonful of stew with fresh veggies. Chop cucumbers and carrots into small pieces for topping off bowls of stew. Fresh bean sprouts or chopped broccoli also might be to your liking. We like doing the same for a hearty dish of spaghetti. Add healthy bites to any hearty dish.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday's Cupful: Watermelon Granitas

The Mixed Stew is going on hiatus from Aug 29 thru September 6. We hope everyone enjoys a week of veggie repeats until then and Happy Labor Day. The Mixed Stew will be back on September 6 with even more yummy posts.

Post originally from August 19, 2010

A twist on a summer favorite by adding green tea

These watermelon granitas can be a delightful end to any summer meal. Serve these instead of fat-laden ice cream for a frozen treat that’s refreshing and light. The addition of green tea infused with honey also makes it more delish. Here is our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 large bowl
1 hand blender
1 metal fork
1 shallow pan
4 cups, iced green tea (add 3 tablespoons honey while brewing tea)
4 cups, ripe watermelon
½ cup sugar (or Splenda)

Preparation and Directions:

Combine green tea, watermelon, sugar (or Splenda) in large bowl. Pulse mixture with hand blender until pureed. Next, pour smooth mixture into pan. Freeze for 1 hour. Rake mixture with fork and freeze for another hour. Finally, rake one last time and serve in cups.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday's Bread Bowl: Barley Primavera

The Mixed Stew is going on hiatus from Aug 29 thru September 6. We hope everyone enjoys a week of veggie repeats until then and Happy Labor Day. The Mixed Stew will be back on September 6 with even more yummy posts.

Post originally from November 15, 2010

A comforting serving that subs for starch

We’re always on the lookout for different dishes that can substitute for carb-loaded potatoes, rice, or bread. Barley has so much nutritional value without the unnecessary carbohydrates. Corn, carrots, and bell pepper add nutrients, color, and veggie flavor. Finally, we added mild cheddar cheese that gives our rendition a comfort food texture. (For a richer, creamier barley, add some cream cheese -- whatever you think feels right -- to the recipe near the end where the cheddar cheese is added).

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 stock pot with lid
4 cups water
½ cup green onion, sliced
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1 cup pearl barley
½ cup carrots, diced
½ cup bell pepper, chopped
2 packets GOYA chicken bullion
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
¾ cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking and Directions:

Heat up pot on medium-high heat. Add oil, garlic, salt, pepper, shallot, and half the amount of green onion. Sautee until shallot turns translucent. Pour in 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Add bullion to boiling ingredients and mix well. Add the remaining 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Pour in barley and mix again before lowering heat to medium-low heat. Cover with lid and let barley cook for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally. Next, add bell pepper, carrots, corn, parsley, cheese, and remaining green onion. Mix well. Let ingredients cook and flavors blend for another 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday's Last Spoonful: Food Surfing

More info for vegans and vegetarians

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.

The Vegetarian Resource Group provides loads of facts and explanations on being vegetarian and vegan on its green site.

Look for fun veggie-conscious recipes, such as Deviled Tofu and Vegan Hamburger Helper on Fatfree Vegan Recipes.

VegWeb has discussion forums and articles that Vegetarians and Vegans may find invaluable.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday's Side Dish: Chinese Broccoli Stir-fry

A stripped down version of the original

We’ve left out the soy sauce and oyster sauce in this simple Chinese broccoli stir-fry. The coarse salt and minced garlic enhance the veggie flavors in this rendition. The secret is to let the chopped garlic fry for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the cut Chinese broccoli. Here’s the recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 bunch of Chinese broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 wok or fry-pan
1 garlic clove, chopped small
Pinch of coarsely ground salt

Cooking and Directions:

Heat up wok on medium-high heat. Add cooking oil. Wait until oil smokes a bit before tossing in salt and garlic. Stir well. Let garlic fry and become toasty. Add Chinese broccoli to wok. Toss well. Let greens cook for no longer than 4 to 6 minutes while constantly mixing. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday’s Helping: Vegan vs. Vegetarian

One’s a variation of the other
Do you get these terms mixed up? It boils down to one’s specific eating choices. A vegetarian restricts his or her diet to the consumption of all foods except meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. Vegetarians must augment their veggie-only diet with protein-rich foods, such as tofu and beans. Meanwhile, a vegan is a type of vegetarian that further restricts his or her diet to exclude animal byproducts, such as milk, eggs, honey, and butter. Vegans also live a “lifestyle” that avoids the use of wool, leather, and silk. Many vegans or vegetarians become that way out of respect for animals, animal rights, and the environment. The Vegetarian Society in the United Kingdom was established in 1847. This is environmental consciousness exercised with knife and fork.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday's Cupful: Stewed Tomatoes

A flavorful way to store ‘em up for winter
There’s nothing like fresh and ripe tomatoes, but stewed tomatoes can serve any family well since the process helps preserve and lengthen the shelf-life of regular tomatoes. If you’re summer garden provides an extra abundance of these red beauties, try stewing them for later use during the colder fall and winter months. Making homemade stewed tomatoes allows cooks to season batches to their specific liking or taste. We suggest adding fresh herbs and seasonings, such as chopped basil, minced garlic, or dried oregano. Also look for canned varieties at most major supermarkets.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Tomato and Coconut Milk Curry

Veggie entree or side to add some spice to life

Blending tomatoes with curried spices may be a bit too acidic for some appetites, but we added coconut milk to neutralize the acidity while enhancing the taste of the many other flavorful ingredients in this dish. Meanwhile, the coconut milk also adds a creamy texture to every spoonful. Here’s the recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 skillet or fry pan with lid
½ cup water
1 (13 oz) can coconut milk
3 teaspoons curry powder
½ yellow onion, chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes
1 garlic clove, chopped small
1 bunch fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1lb cooked potatoes, chopped into small cubes
Pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Cooking and Directions:

Heat pan with on medium-high heat. Add oil, garlic and onion. Sautee until onion turns translucent. Next, add water, potatoes, spinach, coconut milk, and stewed tomatoes. Stir well and let ingredients reach boiling point. Lower heat to medium-low and cover with lid. Let ingredients simmer for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday's Last Spoonful: Food Surfing

More recommended books for foodies

Food Surfing features 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 GUY FIERI Food for food lovers who crave sizzling eats, such as No Can Beats This Taquito, Chicken-Avocado Egg Rolls, and Tequila Turkey Fettucine.

Morgan Spurlock continues his comedic slam against Americans’ unhealthy relationship with fast food in Don’t Eat This Book.

What can you expect from the latest book in the Hungry Girl series? There’s more fun recipes, like PB & J Oatmeal Heaven, Classic Cheesesteak Salad, and BLT Pizza.

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

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday’s Side Dish: Sausage and beans go together, too

A meaty match with beans
The Mixed Stew crew still enjoys the combination of plain hotdog franks cut into bite-sized pieces and then simmered with regular canned baked beans as a simple lunch or dinner. We recommend serving this one-pot dish with steamed rice or potatoes. The tasty sauce of the canned beans works as a gravy that binds and provides flavor in every bite. Wanna kick it up a notch? Substitute hotdog franks for sliced andouille sausage, smoked kielbasa, or polish sausage. Also, add a tablespoon of brown sugar, molasses, or honey to sweeten. The salty cured sausage provides an appetizing, yet contradictory flavor component to the added sweetness.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday's Helping: Pinto Beans

Little protein powerhouses
Their name translates from Spanish into “painted.” Pinto beans really pack a nutritious and fat-free bite. Look for a speckled or spackled brown or reddish color that changes into a solid pink when cooked in different dishes. Fully cooked pinto beans have a creamy consistency on the inside that also adds heartiness to soups and stews. Consumers can find dried or canned pinto beans year around in most major grocery stores. Pinto beans are the most popular dried beans consumed in the United States. The Spanish discovered the ancestor of modern pinto beans in Peru during the 15th Century. Pinto beans provide a good source of protein, fiber and iron.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday’s Cupful: Pork Hocks

Get a kick out of this cut
Here’s another rustic cut that doesn’t get the attention of higher grade pork pieces. Pork hocks are cut near the pork shoulder, so expect tasty meat that just right for braising, stews, or soups. We suggest giving pork hocks at least 2 hours of prolonged cooking time in order for the meat to become more palatable and tender. Try seasoning larger pork hocks in your favorite marinade before individually wrapping each one in a banana leaf package. Next, slow bake the packages on a baking pan in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for three hours. Remove and let the wrapped pork hocks rest for another 15 minutes before serving. The banana leaf locks in juices and adds a slightly smoky mint flavor to the roasted pork.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Ham Hocks w/ Beans

Slow cooked comfort food

The Mixed Stew crew loves this meal for its simplicity and heartiness. The combination of smoked ham hocks with pinto beans is an all-American classic. We tweaked this Paula Dean’s recipe and made it our own. Here’s our rendition:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 pound dry pinto or roman beans
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound smoked ham hocks
1 pound coarse ground beef
5 cups water
1 onion, chopped
5 large cloves of garlic
1/2 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp kim chee sauce
1 fry pan to saute beef
1 large crockpot
2 large bowls to soak beans and hocks

Pre-prep: Follow directions on package to soak beans. Soak ham hocks in 5 cups water for at least two hours. You will reserve the liquid to use in crockpot.

Cooking and Directions:

When beans have soaked per instructions, you can prepare the meat. Heat up olive oil in pan. When oil is hot, add garlic cloves and a few pieces of onion to flavor. Then add coarse ground beef and brown in pan. Add dash of salt and black pepper. Once cooked, remove pan from heat.
Prepare ingredients for crockpot: Drain and add beans to pot, season with chili powder and dried oregano. Mix well. Add beef mixture. Toss in remaining onions and garlic. Add ham hocks and cover with liquid that hocks were soaking in. Hocks should be mostly immersed in liquid. Add kim chee sauce and a little more salt and pepper. Not too much because the beef already was seasoned and the hocks are salty too. Set crockpot to slow cook for 8 hours. Enjoy with brown rice!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Field Trip

Double T Diner: Catonsville, Md.
The retro styling of this restaurant chain makes customers travel through a time warp to the 1950s and 1960s. The Double T Diner serves up plenty of all-American fare and comfort food, such as homemade meatloaf, fried chicken, and roast turkey dinner. Platters come reasonably priced at $9.99 and up for a main dish, one side dish, and your choice of either a veggie salad or soup of the day. The Mixed Stew crew recommends the roast turkey (open-face) sandwich that comes with loads of gravy and a hefty scoop of mashed potatoes. Patrons can also order from the breakfast menu at midday and evening hours. Look for traditional breakfast fare, such as pancakes and omelets. We like the French toast made with thick Challah bread. Also, look for a variety of old-fashioned burgers, fries, and milkshakes. The Double T Diner is open 24 hours a day.

6300 Baltimore National Pike
Baltimore, MD 21228
410 – 744 - 4151

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday’s Side Dish: Japanese Rice Crackers

An Asian snack with a lot of crunch
Every country or ethnic cuisine tends to have its favorite snack or junk food. Japan is no different. Senbei (or sembei) is sold in stores and specialty markets throughout Japan. These Japanese-style rice crackers come flavored with different exotic spices, such as soy sauce, seaweed, wasabi, and sesame seeds. We spotted this canned senbei in the International foods section at Safeway supermarkets. The making of senbei dates back to the ninth century in Japan. Furthermore, the different types and shapes possess specific names. If you visit Japan, look for different quality grades of senbei that range from inexpensive to gourmet varieties.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday’s Helping: Got Rice Cakes?

A nifty stand-in
Again, their crunchy texture and indistinctive or bland flavor make rice cakes a versatile food item. Out of salad croutons? The Mixed Stew crew suggests simply crumbling up unflavored rice cakes into a veggie salad. If you wanna add more flavors to the salad, simply toss the rice cake “croutons” in a seasoning mix of garlic powder, dried oregano, and olive oil before adding them to the salad. Another idea is to add cinnamon or caramel flavored rice cake bits to your favorite cereal, granola, or fruit yogurt. Can you think of another use for rice cakes?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday's Cupful: Rice Cakes

More than bland patties
These round and flat food items are made from rice that’s been cooked, puffed, and dried. Expect a crunchy and crispy texture from rice cakes that’s also reminiscent of popcorn. Popular flavor varieties include plain (unflavored), cheddar cheese, cinnamon, and caramel. Their crackling texture also makes them natural substitutes for fat-laden potato chips, cheese curls, or even popcorn. Rice cakes make for light snacks that conveniently fit into sandwich bags, so you can easily toss a few into your packed lunches.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Chocolate Dipped Rice Cakes

A lighter and chocolicious alternative

These treats can satisfy those cravings for heavier sweet snacks or desserts. Rice cakes provide a hearty crunch. The process changes plain rice cakes into specially prepared confections. Here’s our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 medium-sized bowl
Wax paper
1 flat cookie sheet or cutting board
6 to 8 (4 oz) rice cakes, unflavored or apple cinnamon
8 ounces, chocolate chips

Preparation and Directions:

Place piece of wax paper over cookie sheet or cutting board. Pour chocolate chips into bowl. Place bowl in microwave and zap for 30 to 45 seconds or until chocolate melts. Stir well with wooden spoon. Next, carefully dip each rice cake into melted chocolate on one side. Position dipped rice cakes with chocolate side up on wax paper. Let rice cakes cool until chocolate hardens. You can serve these immediately and store leftover in an airtight container.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Field Trip

Pho Dat Thanh: Columbia, Md.

Entering this restaurant means the possibility of sampling dishes from more than just Vietnam. Customers can also order standard Chinese fare, such as Sesame Chicken ($10.50), Beef w/ Broccoli ($9.50), or Curry Shrimp ($11.95) at Pho Dat Thanh. The dining room has a bright, pleasant, and clean atmosphere. The Mixed Stew crew enjoyed their rendition of Beef Pho (regular at $5.75, large at $6.35). As expected, a heaping plate of fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil, hot pepper, and lime wedges arrived since we ordered soup. The Vietnamese Spring Rolls ($3.50) were fried crispy to a golden brown. We highly recommend their Shredded Crispy Beef ($11.95). If you have a craving for stir-fried noodles, the menu also includes Pad Thai ($10.25) and Singapore Noodles ($10.25).

9400 Snowden River Pkwy
Columbia, MD 21045
(410) 381-3839

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thursday’s Side Dish: Bacon With That Dessert

Salty sweet pork bliss
Remember those Vosges Haut Chocolat bars made from premium chocolate seasoned with bacon? Well, there’s a trend in cooking of adding or serving bacon with rich and sweet desserts. Dovetails in New York City, for example, serves a fancy bread pudding with 1 whole cup of rendered bacon flavor infused into its sauce. They’re using real bacon and forgetting the packaged bacon bits. Meanwhile, NPR recently featured an article with recipes for peanut-butter-maple bacon fudge and maple-apple-bacon cake with maple glaze. We suggest simply crumbling crispy cooked bacon over that rich piece or serving of your favorite decadent desert, such as set mousse or dark chocolate cake.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wednesday's Helping: Mayonnaise

A historic element to this character

This food ingredient can really add rich flavor and a creamy texture if spread on any savory sandwich. Mayonnaise was first served in France during the nineteenth century after the Duke of Richelieu defeated British invaders and forces at Port Mahon. Folklore asserts that the Duke’s cook prepared a victory feast and boasted of a new sauce made from a mixture of cream and eggs; however, he ran out of cream and substituted olive oil. The new sauce was called “Mahonnaise” to remember and recognize the Duke’s victory. Modern mayonnaise is known as an emulsion, which is a blend of two ingredients that normally resist mixing together. Oil and vinegar (or lemon juice) are the two main ingredients contained in mayonnaise. Egg yolks (or gelatin), an emulsifier, must be added in order to synthesize and stabilize the two other liquid ingredients to make mayonnaise. All ingredients must be mixed gradually while quickly blending. We suggest using a food processor kitchen mixer, or blender to make homemade mayonnaise. Food experts and gourmet cooks tend to think that homemade mayonnaise tastes far better than store-bought mayonnaise.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday’s Cupful: Lettuce Wedge

A geometric cut above the rest
Rustic presentation, ease of preparation, and healthier nutrition combine when making the lettuce wedge salad tasty and unique. We simply cut and quartered one iceberg lettuce head to create four yummy servings of our bacon lettuce wedge. A little can really go a long way whether you make it a light meal, a heavy snack, or a side salad. Try making a potluck course of tossed lettuce wedge salad by splitting one iceberg lettuce head into 8 smaller wedges or 16 bite-sized pieces. Can you think of alternatives for iceberg lettuce?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Bacon Lettuce Wedge

A refreshing hunk of summer to chew on

We like this alternative to more complex veggie dishes or salads since there’s no real fuss in preparing and serving this dish. In fact, the trick is to drizzle or pour the dressing on the plated ingredients so that there’s a feast for the eyes. Here’s our rendition of this old-standby.

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 medium-sized bowl
4 salad plates
1/2 cup mayonnaise
½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup ketchup
½ cup green onion, chopped small
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in 1/2
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
4 crispy fried bacon strips, crumbled
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped small
1 iceberg lettuce head, chilled and quartered
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch of salt and pepper

Preparation and Directions:

Combine mayo, vinegar, sugar, paprika, ketchup, salt and pepper in bowl. Mix well. Place individual lettuce wedges on salad plates. Top each wedge liberally with bacon, green onion, egg, cheese, and several tomatoes. Finally, drizzle mayo dressing and serve immediately.