Thursday, January 28, 2010

Spicy Stuffed Eggplant

I was REALLY nervous about this one because I've never made this before. Actually, I totally made up the recipe between a couple that looked good online. I also have never cooked eggplant before, so the whole experience was a wonderful adventure. I also have to admit that since I've moved to South Korea I haven't bought measuring spoons or cups, so my measurements are good guesses! I know Julia wouldn't approve of that, but so far, it has worked for me.

Ingredients: (Servings 5)

5 medium sized eggplants
1/2 red pepper (finely chopped)
1/2 yellow pepper (finely chopped)
1/2 yellow onion (finely chopped)
8-10 sliced grape tomatoes
4-5 finely slice cloves of garlic
4-5 bread sticks (I couldn't find bread crumbs, so I made my own)
1 cup of shredded gruyere cheese
5 small slices of gruyere cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of Parsley
1-1.5 tablespoons of Chili Pepper Flakes
Sprinkling of Salt, Basil, Black Pepper, Oregano
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

Preheat oven at 350
Slice the Eggplants in half and cut out the center to make room for the stuffing.
I threw out the inside because of the amount of ingredients I was going to add to the inside, but if you purchased large eggplants, you may have room to keep some of the eggplant for the stuffing.
Line the surface of the baking pan with a light layer of olive oil and placed the eggplant shells inside (cut out side facing up)
Lightly salt the inside of the eggplant

After slicing the onion and garlic, heat together in a frying pan with olive oil until tender. (If you kept some eggplant, you'll also place this in the frying pan)
In another bowl, combine, 1 cup gruyere cheese, .5 cup parmesan cheese, 2-3 crumbled bread sticks, parsley, chili pepper flakes, red and yellow peppers. Mix well.
Once the onion and garlic is tender, you may add that combination to the bowl.
Again, mix well.

Stuff eggplants with the contents of the bowl.
Bake for 20 minutes.

Change oven to Broil
Combine the rest of the parmesan cheese, 1 crumbled breadstick, sprinkle of salt, black pepper, oregano, and basil into a small bowl.
Sprinkle the combination on top of the baked stuffed eggplant
Layer tomato slices nicely in a line on top of each stuffed eggplant
Place three small slices of gruyere cheese evenly over each piece of eggplant.
Broil until cheese has melted

You are now ready to serve!

Recipe done by: Elizabeth Hickey

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Seasoned Baked Chicken with Cowboy Caviar

Seasoned Baked Chicken:
1-2 cups of white rice
4-6 Chicken breasts
Sprinkle of Garlic and Herb seasoning
Brushing of Olive Oil
Cowboy Caviar:
1-2 red peppers
1-2 yellow peppers
1-2 green peppers
1 yellow onion
1 red onion
1-2 avocadoes
1 can of black beans
1 tablespoon of Sea Salt
1 small bottle of low fat Italian Dressing
Preheat oven at 400. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle each with a garlic/herb seasoning. Place in oven for 40 minutes.
While chicken is cooking you’ll cut all the peppers, onions, into small cube cuts. You will also want to cut the avocadoes in this manner, it keeps them green long and the caviar more appealing. Place the black beans into a strainer and rise before adding to the bowl. Once everything is in the bowl, add the Sea Salt and low fat Italian Dressing. Stir. Place in refrigerator until the Chicken is done.
Cook rice.
Once the chicken is done you can strain our some of the Italian Dressing or leave it, depending on how the juices have collected on the bottom. Slice the chicken into strips and place over a small bed of rice. Generously place the Cowboy Caviar over the Chicken Strips.
If you have left over Cowboy Caviar, the mix is also great with tortilla chips.
Cook Time: 40 min Total Time: 60 minutes
By: Elizabeth Hickey

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lemon Salmon/Medley and... Chai Tea!

Cooking for five! Wow, I really haven't done much of this. When I think about preparing food for many people, I think of the gatherings my family had where there was always an abundance of food. And on the opposite end, I have cooked for myself (and Jerry) for many years, making dishes for one or two. It is different, and wonderful to create for others to enjoy.
On the weekend I found a beautiful piece of salmon. I bought it with the intent to freeze most of it for another day. But when I opened my fridge on Monday evening, I saw it there and thought about my four lovely ladies. Although salmon is considered a fatty fish, it contains omega 3-fatty acids which help prevent future illnesses, boosts brain function and keeps our moods balanced. While I am trying to eat more vegetables and have a lower carb diet, I am not eliminating carbohydrates. :) I hope that once in a while it is ok for everybody too. To compliment the fish I made a grain dish with broccoli, carrots and green squash.

Home Made Chai Tea
Oh, how I love chai tea!
I love it even more when I can make it for myself. My house smells wonderful and I feel beautiful.
I was inspired this past Christmas when I spent some time with Jerry's sister in Nigeria. The season is called Harmattan and it is dry and dusty. We both had a sore throat. Her solution was to boil a pot of ginger tea. It did wonders for both of us!

Here are the directions for making your own chai tea:
-Boil at least 2 1/2 cups of water (I often make a double batch though :)
-Peel and grate fresh ginger. Reduce the water to a simmer and add ginger.
-Add cinnamon bark, cloves, and cardamon. Remember to take the seeds out of the pods.
-(For variety, you could also add a few black peppercorn, nutmeg or a star anise.)
-Allow the flavors to combine. As the water reduces, the flavors enhance.
-Steep a tea bag, discarding before it turns bitter. You can choose green, black, or red (rooibos).
-When you are ready to drink it you can sweeten it with honey, sugar or a natural sweetener like Stevia. In addition you can add soy milk or half a squeezed lemon. For variety, try it cold by pouring it over crushed ice.

Health Benefits:
*ginger-promotes energy circulation and digestion, as well as a remedy for colds
*Cinnamon-boosts brain and controls blood sugar
*cloves-a natural antiseptic and aphrodisiac :)
*cardamon-stimulates mind and heart creating joy
*rooibos-soothing and full of anti-oxidants

And the combination is sweet and loving.


Mixed Greens Salad and Raw "Cookie"

I made a big green salad with a variety of lettuce, spinach, and sprouts. I chopped, sliced and diced carrots, zucchini, and peppers. I grilled chicken and sprinkled dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. I dressed my own with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Yummy!

Raw "Cookie": In the search for better health, I became interested in incorporating more raw foods into my diet. Raw foods have been linked to numerous benefits including increased energy and better digestion as well as improving the immune system and weight loss/management.

In my food processor/blender attachment, I combined raisins, dried cranberries, almonds and pumpkin seeds. After, I rolled portions into balls and pressed them to make "cookies". On top I placed a square of delicious dark chocolate, given to me by Natasha.

Alternatives: You could use any sticky dried fruit (ie. dates), any seeds (ie. sunflower), any nuts (ie. walnuts). As a topper you could put sliced fruit like fresh apples. You could even make an open-faced "ice-cream" sandwich by mashing and freezing bananas then spooning them on top.

I've seen many health bars that have similar ingredients, but I think this is better because there are no preservatives and it is more cost effective. And, the best of all, the main ingredient is...LOVE! <3

Happy Raw Day!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Roasted Winter Squash with Salad in a Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette


3 medium sized pumpkin squash, also called winter squash
1 medium onion'
1 TBLSP. "Better than Boulion" chicken stock puree
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
2 TBLSP. olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
ground pepper to taste
1 tsp. nutmeg
Yellow curry to taste
5-6 cups water, depending on preferred consistency

Place squash on a large cookie sheet and roast on low heat for 20-30 minutes, until soft- you can also microwave for about 10 minutes, stopping half way through and turning the squash over. When the squash is very soft, cut through center and remove seed. (You can roast these if you are up to cleaning them!) Scoop out the squash meat from the shell. It should be soft- if not, it will need to roast longer.

While squash cooks, sautee onion and garlic with olive oil in a large soup pot.
Add squash to pot
Add 1/2 water, chicken stock, and bay leaf
Bring to a full boil, and reduce heat
Add all other seasonings EXCEPT curry
Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes
Remove bay leaf
Add soup to blender- careful not to over-fill. Blend in batches if necessary, separating the blended from the stock. You may need to add some water to the blender if soup is too thick.
Put all blended soups back in the soup pot
Add curry to taste

Allow soup to cool fully before closing in storeage containers.

Soup is best when served the next day.

Sundried Tomato vinaigrette:

2 halves of a Sundried Tomato
2 TBLSP. Balsamic Vinegar
1 TBLSP. water
3 TBLSP. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Ground pepper
1 tsp. Dijon grainy mustard
1 tsp honey

Boil sundried tomato in shallow water for 3-4 minutes; drain
Place tomato in small food pocessor with balsamic vinegar, water, mustard, pepper, and honey: blend until a rough puree
Add Olive Oil; blend until smooth

Serve on your favorite salad greens- excellent with feta!

The Beginning

We are the five lady chefs, all teaching together at a small International school in South Korea. Though we are all very different in nature, we share some things in common: we are health conscience food lovers who are always looking to improve ourselves whilst embarking upon new adventures. A brief look at how we spent our Christmas vacation illustrates our adventerous natures: Thailand, Cambodia, Nigeria and Wisconsin welcomed at least one amongst us (Thailand claimed more!) as we sought a little R&R.

At the turn of the new year and the start of a second school semester, Cheffette Natalie suggested that we start a "food swap." She had done this before with someone else, and really enjoyed the variety of healthy food and ease of an occasional meal delivered by a friend. It works like this: one day you cook for someone else, and then on another day they cook for you. I think she was a bit surprised when all four of us replied with a resounding "YES!" She asked that we all give a preferred day to cook along with any allergies or dietary restrictions. Responses came in with the over-all result showing that we all preferred healthy, low carb options with no pork and limited dairy. Deciding that we should test out cooking for the large group of five, we were all assigned a day to play the role of chef. We would evaluate the success at the end of the week and adjsut accordingly.

Week one turned out to be incredible! We all found that cooking for five made it easier to prepare some of those dishes that we wouldn't want to prepare for just one, and we had a healthy meal ready for us after a long day of work. Coming from a wide array of regions throughout the world, we have varied palates and vast knowledge of world foods, making our evening meals something of a gastronomical foray into another culture. Erin started the week off with roasted squash soup served with a baby greens andfeta salad drizzled with sundried tomato vinaigrette. Natasha shared an amazing avocado, peppers, and mixed greens/spinach salad with feta cheese followed up with chocolate covered dates stuffed with walnuts from Russia. To the table Maria brought a Thai influenced dish of glass noodles with shrimp and cashew nuts for the main course and Spanish olives with cheese to follow. A little Spanish explosion of cherry sweetness finished off her meal. Elizabeth treated us to an incredible grilled chicken topped with the all American "cowboy cavier, " the avocado, beans, and yellow peppers marinated in low-fat Italian dressing made this dish a staple item for the meal exchange program! Natalie tossed together a delightful harvest salad filled with dried berries, sunflower seeds and roasted turkey. Her dish was complemented by the exquisite blend of berries and dark chocolate in the "raw cookie" dessert that closed the meal.

Natalie sent out a follow-up email: "Was it a success? Do we want to continue?" Five exclamations of YES brought us into week two. Maria suggested that we start a Google doc to share recipes, and from that suggestion, the blog idea was born. Here you will find recipes, reflections, and anecdotes that narrate our journeys into our cupboards, where we pull out healthy ingredients, lovingly mixing them together to nurture our friends, strengthening our friendships.

We hope you enjoy some of the recipes we share, and that you will feel inspired to start a cooking circle of your own. Open that cupboard and share what's inside; you never know what will follow!

Bon Appetit!