Category Archives: Side dishes

The Art of Ethiopian: Part 4 – Cheese, Greens, & Injera

 

This is the fourth and final post in my Art of Ethiopian Cuisine post series. From a 100%-not-Ethiopian-American, I must say this all tasted really dang good. And it doesn’t take too much hands-on work time. If I had had a real Ethiopian over to try it, I’m not sure what their opinion would be. But if you want the “Americanized” easy version, these recipes are sure to do the trick!


The Art of Ethiopian Cuisine: Part 1 – Beef & Pork
The Art of Ethiopian Cuisine: Part 2 – Chicken & Fish
The Art of Ethiopian Cuisine: Part 3 – Potatoes & Lentils
The Art of Ethiopian Cuisine: Part 4 – Cheese, Greens, & Injera

Ayib

The cheese is called “Iab or Ayib” and is like a cottage cheese/ricotta hybrid. You usually need it to temper the heat in these types of dishes, but my recipes leave out the Berberi spices you will notice. If you like super hot foods, feel free to pick some up and sprinkle it into all these stews. Because I don’t have hours or days to make it the proper way, THIS recipe from Whats4Eats comes close to approximating Iab.  

Ingredients (Ayib):

  • 1 cup large curd cottage cheese
  • 2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Sprinkle sea salt

Step 1: Rinse the cottage cheese in cold water and let it drain. Press dry with paper towels if you like. I tried that and the towel got cheese curds stuck all over it so try at your own risk.

Step 2: In a bowl, mix the cheese curds, yogurt, lemon juice, and salt. Refrigerate until serving.

Gomen Wat

The greens are called “Gomen Wat” (guess Wat…again) and the recipe I used is based off the one HERE on my trusty AllRecipes site. I didn’t have collard greens, so I used what I had, which was kale. I bet you could use spinach instead as well, any leafy green will do.

Ingredients (Gomen Wat):

  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 2 cups water/stock
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Sea salt
Step 1: Put the greens, spices, and liquids in a small crock pot. Cook on low for 1-3 hours. 

Make sure to stir every now and then. The greens will wilt and take up less room. I like my greens extra tangy to counteract the bitter. I also sprinkle them with a healthy dose of fresh coarse ground sea salt. Keep on low until you serve.


Injera

And of course, the cornerstone of the meal, that which holds it all together and is both plate and utensil, the Injera bread. Usually it is made from pure Teff flour and allowed to ferment and rise for three days. I unfortunately had neither the grain nor the time. So I based mine off this cheat recipe HERE from Whats4Eats, which does not need either. It rather ingeniously uses club soda and lemon for both the bubbles and the tang.

Ingredients (Injera):

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups club soda

As you can see, I had lemon-lime club soda so at first I didn’t use the lemon juice. Several other recipes I found also use vinegar if you don’t have lemon.

Step 1: Combine all ingredients and stir just until all flour is incorporated. The club soda will bubble quite a bit. 

Step 2: On a hot, sprayed griddle, pour about 1/2 cup of batter. 

Step 3: Typically injera is only cooked on one side, but I found that this better was just thick and pancake-y enough that I had to let it mostly cook, then flip for a final minute or two. There were still bubbles, which approximates injera.

However the consensus was that this dough was thicker and sweeter than usual. So these are the Americanized Ethiopian pancake version of injera. And actually some said they prefer it, so perhaps this is a better way to ease an American palate into ethnic cuisine.And this was the final meal.

Ground beef, pork, chicken, fish, lentils, potatoes, greens, cheese and my injera pancakes. You of course don’t have to cook all these at the same time, but I encourage you to at least make some injera and try one or two stews. You may find that you crave the flavors of Ethiopia from now on! And by cooking all this at home, you control the ingredients, so this meal turns out to be quite healthy, and very filling.


What’s your favorite ethnic cuisine?

 

Simple sauteed power greens

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One of the things I like best about growing up is changing tastes. When I was little, I had an on-off relationships with most vegetables, notably mushrooms. I loved them one week, and hated them the next. With growing up comes changing ideas of what tastes good, and I love it. I can be more creative, try different ingredients and recipes, and cook things that are good for me at which I would have turned up my nose years ago.
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One of those things is kale. Since I worked on a CSA farm and tried Kale Chips for the first time, I have been looking for more ways to use this power green more often. One excellent option is in soup, like the Olive Garden copycat of Zuppa Toscana I made. Delicious and packed with healthy ingredients.
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So as I had recently purchased more kale at Sprouts Farmers Market, along with some golden beets and fresh garlic heads, I decided to try another kale classic: Italian Sauteed Greens. I’m sure this is yet another popular side dish with a long and debated over past. But basically it’s garlic and olive oil with various greens sauteed lightly, and usually a tangy dressing like vinegar or lemon juice added. Also it is sometimes spicy, but since I’m a wuss I did not add hot peppers or hot pepper flakes. Feel free to if you love heartburn.
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Ingredients:
1 bunch kale, cut into small strips
1 bunch beet leaves, in small strips
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
1/4 cup sour liquid (I used banana pepper liquid and 3 tbsp lemon juice, you can also use any type of vinegar)
Sprinkle of sea salt
3-4 banana pepper or hot pepper rings

Step 1: Dice up your garlic into bits. You can use a garlic press or chopper if you want.

Step 2: Saute the garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil 4-5 minutes, you should be able to smell it.

Step 3: Cut the greens into thin strips. Add to the pan, and cover tightly. Let it steam in the garlic oil for 10-15 minutes, or until fully wilted.

These greens were so vibrant and lovely even before cooking! All that heart-healthy nutrient-packed deliciousness…

Step 4: Add your sour notes, lemon juice and banana peppers. Stir, cover, and saute another 5-10 minutes.

Banana pepper rings are a new love of mine. I put them on tuna sandwiches, on pizza, into my greens… they’re awesome. And lemon juice is a necessity for life.

Step 5: Once wilted and everything is combined, move to plate and garnish as you like.

I added a little sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese and some sea salt. It was the most perfect balance, and the tart juices took away a lot of the harsh bitterness most people don’t like about greens.

These greens were tangy and delicious, and if you enjoy spicy food would go great with some hot peppers.  I also had some cottage cheese on the side, to complete a whole, light lunch. It’s filling without feeling stuffed, and ridiculously good for you.

Mmmmmm…

What’s your favorite way to cook greens?

Thanksgiving Meal Under $20

 

The time of giving thanks is approaching! Everyone knows the beloved American holiday featuring a rather large, ugly bird. Kids drawn pictures of feathered Native Americans and buckle-hatted Pilgrims gathered around the cornucopia and a turkey drawn from your hand’s outline. 


But like most American holidays the original meaning has become commercialized and veered a bit from the original. The first Thanksgiving meal happened in fall of 1621, sometime between mid-September and mid-November. It was to give thanks for a successful harvest, and the Pilgrims joined the local Wampanoag tribe to eat fowl, fish and deer, and probably local plants like berries, plums and boiled pumpkin. 

After that, it was not immediately a national holiday. That didn’t happen until George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 1789, a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer” in honor of our new nation and brand new Constitution. Even then the holiday was not a set annual day. During Lincoln’s presidency, when he needed a way to unite the states, he turned to Sarah Josepha Hale, writer of the famous “Mary Had a Little Lamb” rhyme. She thought the holiday would be a way to infuse the nation with hope and belief in itself and the Constitution. Thus Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November a national holiday.

FDR caused a bit of a ruckus when he tried to change the date, causing TWO Thanksgivings in 1939 and 1940. Sounds awesome, two days of paid vacation, stuffing yourself and football right? Not so much, because some states kept the traditional date while others followed the President. Thus it caused some familiar discord as people had different days off, schools had to reschedule tests and vacations, and it sure is lucky airplanes weren’t around yet, because that would have caused a lot of date-change booking fees. Congress finally got around to making it into law that the fourth Thursday of November was the official and forever Thanksgiving Day.

If you’re heading into T-Day with a lot of things to be thankful for, but a large bank balance isn’t one of them, fear not. You can still have a stellar feast, and for less than an Andrew Jackson. 

 

Now, for the remainder of this post I will make a few assumptions. Don’t be offended if they don’t apply to you. Adjust the advice accordingly.

1. You will be feeding 2-4 people.
2. You want turkey and not a ham.
3. You want the most “traditional” American dishes.
4. You have twenty dollars.
5. You have basic cooking equipment and knowledge.
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Ok, so for the “traditional” American feast, the most common dishes are:
*The Turkey
*Stuffing
*Mashed Potatoes
*Green Bean Casserole
*Cranberry Sauce
*Pumpkin Pie
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That’s what we need to make, as inexpensively as possible. If those don’t sound right or aren’t quite what you want, try here for thousands more Thanksgiving day recipes. 
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*The Turkey (free – $7)
Here we have a few options. You aren’t likely to find a whole bird under $20. There are a few ways around it. Some stores run specials leading up to T-day such that you purchase a certain amount of groceries and get a free bird. If you had planned spending $100 in groceries into your budget anyways, pick up that free bird! If not, you still have choices. One option is to purchase only turkey drumsticks rather than the whole bird. I just saw these at a store, four drums for $5-7. Your other option is to purchase mini hens/ducks or a whole chicken. If the people you’re cooking for won’t care what type of fowl they eat, this can get you a bird for $4-7 as well.

*Stuffing ($1 – $3)
If you’re good with boxed types, keep an eye on sales. These can be picked up for $1 or less per box, and you’ll probably need at least two. If you want to make your own, you’ll need a loaf of stale bread, 2 cups stock, seasoning, and 1 cup diced & sauteed celery/carrot/onion. all together the ingredients shouldn’t cost more than $3. Mix it all and bake at 350 inside the bird or in a casserole dish for 30-40 minutes.

*Mashed Potatoes ($1 – $3)
Again, if you don’t mind the boxed stuff, I’ve seen this at the dollar store as well as on sale for $1 or less. To make your own, peel and dice about a pound of potatoes per person. Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain and put back into the pot. Mash or use a hand blender. Add in garlic salt, butter, sour cream, and/or milk to your desired taste and consistency.

*Green Bean Casserole ($2)
A good old stand by favorite, this is nothing more than a can of cut green beans mixed with a can of cream of mushroom sauce. If you’ve been good about sales you should be able to get at least two cans of each for less than $2. You can also be fancy and use a pound or two of fresh green beans, cleaned and boiled. The fanciest is to add some french friend onions or crushed potato chips on top.

*Cranberry Sauce ($1 – $2)
Buy a can of this jello like fruity goop for $1 or less, it will probably not all be eaten. Or you can get yourself a bag of fresh cranberries on sale. Mix 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and the cranberries in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about ten minutes, or until cranberries burst. At this point you can add anything you like, such as cinnamon or nutmeg, chopped almonds or pecans, orange zest or blueberries or raisins. Cool and then put in the refrigerator until served.
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*Pumpkin Pie ($1 – $3)
If you get lucky and find a frozen or fresh pie on sale you like, go for it. However if you want the homemade touch, take 1 can pumpkin puree, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 2 eggs, and pumpkin pie spice (or combination cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice) and a pie crust. Mix all ingredients and pour into the crust. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake another 30-45 minutes, until set.
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Total: $6 – $20
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So you see you can indeed enjoy an all-American thankful feast for under $20. Also of note, there are lots of things that go on deep sale during the holidays that you use other times of the year. If you’re an avid baker and find a 4 for $1 sale on condensed milk, snap that up! If celery is .50 per pound, buy a whole bunch and freeze some for soup, or use it at Christmas. Especially if you have a big freezer, when the birds left are taking up space the day after Thanksgiving, head to the grocery store after your Black Friday shopping for steep discounts on fowl, and freeze it for Christmas or any time of the year. Happy bargain-hunting!
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If you have any budget-friendly holiday tips, please share!
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Picnic favorite: 9-layer Taco Dip

 

I’m going to a park to play volleyball with some friends, and we will grill and have a picnic afterwards. Everyone brings something to share. I wanted to make something different from your typical hot dogs and chips type food, and anything taco-related is always a hit, so this is what I came up with. Since I already had the majority of ingredients, only needed to buy the lettuce and tomato, this was super cheap. Even if I had to re-buy everything, for a party of 10 or so people this is a cheap side/dip. It is nearly filling enough to count as a meal!

Ingredients.
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup taco seasoning
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
1 can refried beans
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/2 ripe tomato
1/4 head of lettuce, shredded (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup sliced black olives

Step 1: Brown the ground beef in a skillet. While cooking, layer the cream cheese on the bottom of an 8×8 pan with a spoon.

Step 2: Spread the sour cream on top of the cream cheese. Now you have 2 layers of cheesy goodness to build your mexi-masterpiece on top of.

Step 3: Open the refried beans and mix it up in the can. You can heat this first, I just scooped it right out of the can and layered it on.

That’s 3 if you’re counting.

Step 3: Once beef is cooked, add the taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water and cook until the water boils off. The beef should now smell tangy and reminiscent of Taco Bell. Pour that over the beans and spread evenly.

Step 4: Add as much salsa as you like on top of the beef. I just put about 1/4 cup since I’m adding real tomato as well.

Step 5: Add a healthy handful of shredded cheddar or whatever type of cheese you like. We’re up to 6 layers now…

Step 6: Cut the lettuce into small strips and cover the cheese with crunchy green goodness.

Step 7: Dice up a big fresh red tomato into small chunks and add those on top.

Step 8: Sprinkle the sliced black olives on top to complete the pretty picture.

And there you have it, 9 layers of tasty chip-ready dip! You can of course omit any layers you don’t particularly like, and it’s also an option to toss this in the oven or microwave for a few minutes after the cheese layer to warm up the meat/beans/cheeses before topping with the fresh veggies if you like it warm.

Easy side dish: Oven-Roasted Vegetables

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This is seriously one of the best side dishes ever! You can use literally any vegetable you have on hand, it takes only a few minutes, and it is super healthy AND tasty. I could eat oven-roasted veggies with every meal and not get tired of it.
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Ingredients:
1 baking potato, diced
1/2 onion, cut into strips
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
1/2 yellow squash, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
Nature’s Seasoning
Garlic salt
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Step 1: Dice up your veggies. This is the only work you have to do.
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Step 2: Coat your veggies in olive oil, put into an oven-safe pan.
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Step 3: Sprinkle with seasonings. Bake at 350 for ~20 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.
You could use any kind of potato here, add broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, parsnips, bok choi, kale, mushrooms, eggplant, the list goes on and on. Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker Cheddar Broccoli Rice

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This is a super easy side dish, requiring only a few hours in a crock pot. It goes well with most anything. The end result is creamy, cheesy, and delicious.
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Ingredients:
1 cup rice
2 cups broccoli
1 full bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup water

Step 1: Pour 1 cup rice into crock pot. Add 1 1/2 cups water.
Step 2: Add as much broccoli as you want, I put in about 2 cups pieces.
Step 3: Cover with shredded cheese.
Step 4: Cook on high 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until rice is fully cooked and cheese is melted.

Makes about 5 cups, enough for 3-6 sides depending on what else is in the meal. You can cut down the amount of cheese here for less fat, or add in a can of cream of chicken soup for extra creaminess.

Radish, onion & herb cheese dip

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Sadly I don’t remember where the inspiration for this dip came from, but I read on another blog about putting fresh raw radishes into a dip, and decided to make my own version based on what I had in my house.
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Dip:
1 package cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup radishes, diced very small
1/4 cup red onion, diced small
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried onion
~1/2 tbsp sea salt

Step 1: Mix room temperature cream cheese and sour cream in a bowl until blended. The dip should be spreadable but a spoon could stand up in it.

Step 2: Add in all the other ingredients, and mix well. Serve with whatever crackers you like. This was a hit at a small gathering I had!

Addictive farm fresh dip!

Kohl-slaw!

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I work on a CSA farm (http://www.facebook.com/schoonerfarms) and this week we harvested a TON of radishes, red, pink, and French breakfast, plus I got a spare kohlrabi. I’ve never had kohlrabi before, so I googled recipes, and found this gem on the goodbowl.com which makes a coleslaw from kohlrabi, turnips, and radishes. I still had some turnips left from 2 weeks ago too. I decided while making it to make it a little more colorful, so I threw in some carrot and cucumber too!
Slaw:
1 cup shredded kohlrabi
1/2 cup shredded radish
1/2 cup shredded turnip
1/3 cucumber, shredded
1/2 large carrot, shredded
Dressing:
1/4 cup miracle whip
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp mustard
pinch black pepper

Shredding the kohlrabi was a bit difficult, I did not know how stringy the interior was. Maybe mine was too young or too old, or I should have cooked it first?

Step 1: Put all shredded vegetables in a large bowl.

Step 2: Mix all ingredients of the dressing, and pour over veggies. Mix well. That’s it!

This makes about 4 small servings. Refrigerate before serving. The dressing is deliciously tangy, and it’s a good mix of textures. It only gets better as you let it sit. It would be a great side dish to take to a picnic or party, with fresh spring flavors. Very healthy, and vegetarian.

Bonus: My tomato plants that I’ve been growing in pots outside for months have produced their first tiny ripe tomatoes! They were amazing, and tasted like my childhood. =)

Homemade Chipotle

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage
Chipotle is one of my absolute favorite “fast food” places for several reasons. They encourage responsible practices, local and healthy food, quality, plus it is just dang delicious. However, even the best intentioned company makes some compromises to be large scale, and I always prefer making food myself so I know what’s in it and can control the portions. Plus, though $6.95 seems pretty cheap, more than once a month or so isn’t practical. 
Therefore, I decided to make my own version of my favorite, the chicken burrito bowl. A website called Chipotlefan.com has recipes for several Chipotle favorites. I used their recipe for the chicken marinade, with a few variations of my own. Then I made my own version of the fresh tomato and corn salsas based on memory, and the cilantro lime rice. Try it yourself, it isn’t exact, but it is close and Delicious!
 
Chipotle Chicken:

1 (7 ounce) can chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (remove chipotle peppers, skim out seeds)
2 tsp fresh ground ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tbsp powdered garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 quarter red onion
1/4 cup oil (canola/vegetable/olive)
Boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders

 
Step 1: Mix all marinade ingredients in a blender/food processor. Add oil until it’s slightly pourable. 
Step 2: Poke holes in chicken, and pour marinade over chicken. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour up to 24 hours. The best way to cook the chicken is to grill it, but you can cook it in a frying pan with a weight on top as well.
 Chicken sitting in marinade
Spiced Pinto Beans:

1 can pinto or kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup water
3-5 bay leaves
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder

Step 1: Drain and rinse the beans, pour into a pot. Add spices, simmer on very low for 10-60 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the beans don’t stick.

 Seasoned beans

You can add a bit of bacon here too, if you have it and like that kind of thing. Chipotle has changed their recipe to make it vegetarian, so no bacon included.
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Cilantro-Lime Rice:

1 cup rice
1 1/2 cup water or chicken bouillon
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
Sea salt
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Step 1: Boil the rice or prepare as directed. 

Step 2: When cooked, add the cilantro, salt and juices, fluff with a fork.

The rice magic makers. Lemon juice, lime juice, and chopped fresh cilantro.

 

Finished rice, ready to be mixed
Corn Salsa:
1/2 cup corn
1/4 red bell pepper
Pinch fresh cilantro
Splash lemon juice
1/8 red onion
Step 1: Blacken the corn in a skillet or grill. 
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Step 2: Dice the pepper & onion, add to the corn with the cilantro and lemon, mix well. 
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For extra spice, take one of the chipotle peppers from the adobo sauce and dice it up to add, or use a fresh seeded jalapeno.
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Fresh Tomato Salsa:
1 large tomato, diced
1/8 red onion, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
Handful fresh cilantro
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
Sea salt
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Step 1: Mix the diced tomato, onion, pepper, cilantro and juices. Add a grind or two of salt to taste. 
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Refrigerate both salsas until ready to serve.
Chicken after grilling and dicing, salsas ready to go.

 

 Beans and rice, ready for assembly.

 

Finished plate. Can make it into a burrito, tacos, or a bowl.

I tore up a few large romaine leaves and put the rice, beans, chicken and both salsas on, with a sprinkle of cheese on top. It was deliciously fresh tasting! It is on the spicy side, so if that’s not for you then dial down the seasonings and forget about the chipotle peppers in adobo. For vegetarians, ditch the chicken and marinate some tofu, add some guacamole, or other grilled veggies. Enjoy!

This recipe submitted to the May 2014 “Cooking with Herbs” challenge!

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Picnic potato salad

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I have a picnic coming up this weekend, and I also am in the middle of a 2-week spending fast (meaning I can’t spend anything) so I had to come up with something that I already had all the ingredients to in my house. After asking friends for ideas and some searching on Allrecipes.com, I decided on potato salad.
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I personally don’t even like it much, but I’ve never made it and it seemed easy. Plus I had all the ingredients already. Once made, I tried it, and it was actually pretty darn good. Maybe it will change my mind about potato salads.

Ingredients:
about 5 cups peeled, diced potatoes
3 hard boiled eggs
1/3 c lemon juice
1/4 c oil
1 1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tbsp ground mustard
1/2 c Miracle Whip
1/4 c Ranch
2 ribs celery, diced
1/2 med onion, diced
1/2 c shredded carrot
1 tbsp salad seasoning

Step 2: Peel and dice the potatoes. Then boil them in a large pot while you dice up the rest of the vegetables. Once the potatoes are soft, drain. Mix all the liquids and spices in a large pot.

Step 2: Put the potatoes in with the Miracle Whip, Ranch, spices, etc and mix well to coat. Add the other diced vegetables and the diced hard boiled eggs. Mix well.

Step 3: Put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Hopefully everyone at the picnic will like it!

Finished product.