Monday, March 26, 2012

Spicy Mango

I just love a good spicy meal. This weekend I ventured to the huge Asian market looking for some good foods to try. I walked into the chili sauce aisle and was in heaven. There must have been about twenty different ones to choose from. I settled on chile habanero. I also picked up some mature coconuts, researched how to crack them open and went to work. This was fun and I shredded the meat in my food processor to try making coconut butter but this did not work. It's bugging me I can't figure out why. 

While I was out shopping I had yogurt working in the warm oven. I was so pleased when I got home and it had worked! Tastes great too!

Homemade Yogurt

1/2 gallon of organic milk
1/4 C organic plain Greek yogurt

1. Heat the milk slowly in a large heavy saucepan to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. 
2. Remove from heat and cool to 100-110 F.
3. In a seperate bowl, thin the yogurt with some of the warm milk.
4. Pour thinned yogurt into the milk and whisk to combine thoroughly.
5. Transfer this mixture to a contianer, cover and wrap in a towel to insulate. 
6. Place in a warm over set to about 110-115 F so that the fermenting yogurt can maintain a temperature of about 100-110 F. 
7. Have a thermometer hanging in the oven so you can periodically check the temperature. Leave alone for 8 hours.*
8. Remove from oven and refrigerate!**

*I read that if you jiggle or disturb the yogurt while it's fermenting, it won't allow the bacteria to grow and turn the milk into yogurt.

**You have the option of straining the whey (liquid) from the solid yogurt portion through cheesecloth if you want a thicker consistency. 

Also at the store I picked up my first mango since last summer. Mango is my FAVorite fruit! For dinner I decided to make a mango salsa to put on my chicken tacos. 

Mango Salsa

1 mango, cubed
Tomato, chopped
garlic clove, minced
shot of chile habanero sauce
lime juice
s + p

Combine all and let mingle for 20 minutes before serving!

I layered two corn tortillas, refried beans, pulled chicken breast and topped it with the salsa. Simple and delicious dinner that was so quick!

A little something I learned-- 
At first these last two pictures look the same. If you look more closely, at the cilantro leaves in particular, the top ones are much lighter and have less shadowing. This is because I used something called a light bounce to reflect the light coming from the window, back onto the food. In this picture, sunlight is coming from the right side, and the light bounce (just a white foam board) was placed on the left to reflect the light back. Pretty neat, huh??


Friday, March 16, 2012

Stuffed Food > Unstuffed Food

Think for a minute. Name one food that tastes awful when stuffed with another food. . . . . . . .

I'm waiting . . . . . .

Okay time is up. I knew you couldn't think of one.
Because there are none.

Let's take a moment now to reflect:

  1. Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup (or a Reece's Cup for you who have yet to meet the amazingness that is the line of Justin's products). Chocolate stuffed with peanut butter. THE single most tasty combo humanly possible. Maybe I'm just a little biased though, but no matter.
  2. What about a steak? Stuffed with crab meat?? YES please. 
  3. Meatballs? With a melty cheesy center?? Mmhmmm.
  4. And I suppose I won't neglect to mention turkey, stuffed with...stuffing??!? Winner. 

Four examples are enough, and I also can't think of anymore ATM.

Today it's all about a stuffed pepper. Oozing with cheese.

The recipe that follows is from memory. When I get going in the kitchen, I just throw stuff together, and definitely don't write down amounts. Below I have approximated.

Also, everything is better with spice. And lots of it. If you're a wimp, omit the cayenne and substitute the habanero pepper cheese for a plain, boring cheese with no character.

Spicy Stuffed Pepper
((serves 1))

2 T dry millet (or other grain: rice, quinoa, bulgar)
1 large garlic clove
1/4 c kidney beans*
1/2 T tomato paste
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t chipotle chili powder
1/2 t smoked paprika
S+P to taste 
1 ounce of habanero pepper cheese (YUMMM)
1/3 c frozen yellow corn
1/4 c green pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, whole
Pepitas for garnish (and crunch!)

1. Soak, rinse and cook millet. I added the minced garlic to the millet while it was cooking along with S+P.
2. While millet is cooking: drain kidney beans, reserving the liquid. Mash half with the tomato paste and seasonings until smooth-ish. Add some of the bean liquid if needed to loosen.
3. Grate the cheese and mix most of it (reserve some for topping) with the corn, green pepper, kidney bean mash and whole kidney beans and cooked millet. Mix only until combined so you don't lose the integrity of the vegetable's shape. We're going for texture here!
4. Cut and trim the red pepper into a bowl shape for filling and STUFF it.
5. Bake on tin foil (can get messy) in a 350 F oven for about 20 minutes.
6. During the last 5 or so minutes, sprinkle with cheese and pepitas. Pop back into oven until cheese it melted and pepitas are toasted.
7. Plate up and devour!

*I cooked my own from dry, in the crockpot and added crushed garlic clove, bay leaves and S + P to the cooking water.

You could CERtainly serve this up with a salad, but lets be honest, that's unlikely. And this is plenty filling alone. Actually, I would suggest serving alongside ice cream. heheh. But only after you have recovered from the stuffed pepper induce coma.

What have I said about texture in the past?!! IT IS EVERYTHING. This was so perfect. The pepper cooked slightly, still with some firmness, the sweet bite of the corn, creaminess of the kidney beans, the melty and crunchy topping of the cheese and pepitas. Couldn't have been better. Can beat the color combo either. Red + green +yellow. Yep!

Speaking of ice cream, I've had my eye on some So Delicious coconut ice cream for the last several months (feels like eternity). I leave on the hunt for this deliciousness, no pun intended.

(insert witty remark here like Jennifer does)