Coconut Margarita

Coconut Margarita

I added a little cream of coconut to a Margarita and fell in love with the results. OMG, why have I not done this sooner?

Margaritas are notoriously high in calories. Some can go as high as 600 calories per drink. Yikes! Triple sec and cream of coconut can add a lot of calories to a drink. By using only a small amount of triple sec and cream of coconut and by not adding sugar (or using a drink mix…which I would never do anyways), I was able to get this Coconut Margarita to come in at 172 calories.

Coconut Margarita

1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) triple sec
1 heaping teaspoon cream of coconut (like Coco Lopez)
juice of 1/2 lime

Shake ingredients together with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a glass and serve with a wedge of lime.


Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup

Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup

It’s not the prettiest soup, but it is loaded with flavor. I omitted the traditional tofu (and pork) and then added cabbage, carrots, and bamboo shoots to this vegetarian version of Hot and Sour Soup. It’s a delicious and filling soup and it only comes in at around 59 calories per 1 cup serving.

Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup

Dried shiitake mushrooms and black fungus are some of my favorite ingredients found in an Asian market. They are essential for this soup. Yet another reason to visit an Asian market. Go.

Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup

6 dried shiitake mushrooms
handful of dried black fungus (also know as wood ear mushrooms)
3 cups hot water
8 cups vegetable broth
2 cups thinly shredded cabbage (green, Savoy, or Napa)
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 5 ounce can bamboo shoots, drained and julienned
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1 teaspoon sambal olek or sriracha
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons water
2 eggs, lightly beaten

In separate bowls, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water and the dried black fungus in 1 cup of hot water until soft, 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove the stems from the shiitakes and discard. Slice the rehydrated mushrooms thinly and return to the soaking liquid. Set aside. Thinly slice the rehydrated black fungus. I find it easier to stack a few pieces, roll them up, and then slice with a very sharp knife. Add the sliced shiitakes and their soaking liquid, as well as the sliced black fungus to a soup pot. Discard the black fungus soaking liquid.

Add the vegetable broth to the soup pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the shredded cabbage, julienned carrot and bamboo shoots, minced garlic and ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, sambal olek (or sriracha), sesame oil, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until the cabbage is tender, 10 minutes.

Stir in the cornstarch/water slurry and cook until the soup slightly thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and then slowly add the beaten eggs in a thin stream while stirring the soup. Serve immediately.


Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits

I made this for dinner last night. It was easy and very flavorful.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits 2

Despite having been in South Carolina for 5 years, I’m still not completely gaga for grits. They taste boring. The addition of cheese and roasted poblanos definitely make grits more exciting for the taste buds.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits 3

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Cheesy Poblano Grits
Makes 4 servings

For the grits:
2 poblanos chiles/peppers
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup grits (not the quick cooking kind)
4 ounces Monterrey jack (or pepper jack) cheese, shredded

For the shrimp:
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime

To roast the poblano chiles:
Preheat broiler to high. Place the poblano chiles on a baking sheet and broil, turning every 5 minutes until each side is blackened and charred. Alternatively, if you have a gas stove, you can char the peppers over a flame, using tongs to turn them. Place the roasted poblanos in a large bowl and cover with foil. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel the skin off the chiles, cut in half lengthwise, discard seeds and membranes, and chop.

For the grits:
Bring the water, milk, salt, and butter to a boil. Gradually whisk in the grits. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring often, for 15 – 20 minutes, or until desired consistency. Stir in the chopped roasted poblanos and shredded cheese and take off the heat.

For the shrimp:
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook 2 – 3 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the garlic and cook another minute, or until the shrimp are completely cooked through. Add the cilantro and lime juice and serve over the grits.


Peach and Blueberry Crumble

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

I picked up 3 pounds of locally grown South Carolina peaches this week at Aldi for only $1.38! I used some of those peaches and some blueberries from our blueberry bush to make this crumble. We ate the crumble with a dollop of whipped cream, but vanilla ice cream or even just a splash of cream is delicious too.

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

4 peaches
1/2 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter (or substitute coconut oil)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit. Slice or chop the peaches and place in a small baking dish. Add the blueberries to the peaches and sprinkle with the sugar (you can skip the sugar or adjust the amount to suit your taste) and gently stir to combine.

In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, sliced almonds, and brown sugar. Work the butter into the mixture with a fork, pastry cutter, or your hands. Spread evenly over the fruit in the baking dish. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 


Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

After hearing about my eggplant dilemma, my friend, Donna, directed me to this recipe for Baba Ganoush. I am a big fan of Mediterranean food, but surprisingly, had never had Baba Ganoush. I simplified the recipe a bit and it turned out well. I included it as part of a mezze-type-thing with fresh pita bread, kalamata olives, hummus, sliced grilled zucchini and fresh tomatoes with balsamic glaze, and sweet mini peppers. There was also a salad of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet onions, and bell peppers. I intended to add feta to the table, but totally forgot. I served Vinho Verde, a young, light, and slightly bubbly Portuguese wine with our meal.

Baba Ganoush

1 large Italian eggplant
1/4 tahini (plus more, if needed)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (plus more, if needed)
pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Using a fork, pierce the eggplants all over. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 1 hour, turning half-way through cooking. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Cut off the ends of the eggplants and discard. Peel off the skin. Use a spoon to scrape off any flesh left on the backside of the peel. Place the eggplant flesh in a large bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant.

Add the 1/4 cup tahini, garlic, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.

Spread into a serving dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Serve with pita bread.


Cucumber Gin and Tonic

Cucumber Gin and Tonic

This is a very refreshing cocktail. The cucumber slices and celery bitters add vegetal flavors that really enhance the classic Gin and Tonic. I found celery bitters at a local liquor store, but you can buy them online too.

Cucumber Gin and Tonic

Cucumber Gin and Tonic

1 1/2 ounces gin (I like navy-strength gin)
4 cucumber slices (plus another for garnish)
2 – 3 dashes celery bitters (optional)
ice
4 ounces tonic water
lime wedge (plus another for garnish)

Combine the gin, cucumber slices, and celery bitters. Add ice and then top with the tonic water. Squeeze a wedge of lime in the drink. Garnish with a cucumber slice and a lime wedge.


Kale and Posole Soup

Kale and Posole Soup

This is one of my favorite soups. I make it often.  If I happen to have some poblanos in the fridge, I will chop one up and add it to this soup to kick up the spice level a bit.

Kale and Posole Soup

1 tablespoon oil (I use canola mostly)
1 medium onion, chopped
6 medium cloves garlic, minced
8 – 10 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch kale, cleaned, ribs removed, and chopped
1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed and minced
1 15.5 ounce can hominy, drained
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes and their juices
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Sauté the onion over medium heat until soft, add the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute. Add remaining ingredients, except the zucchini and cilantro. Bring the soup to a boil on high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered. Add the zucchini ands simmer another 5 minutes. Add the cilantro and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4


Greek Tomato, Cucumber, and Chickpea Breakfast Salad

Greek Cucumber and Chickpea Breakfast Salad

Cooking Light and Saveur are my two favorite cooking magazines. I love Saveur for the beautiful pictures and articles on global cuisine, as well as, the ethnic recipes. Their recipes tend to be a bit more time-consuming and better for special occasions. On the other hand, Cooking Light has easy, healthier, everyday recipes that tend to utilize lots of fruits and veggies. Their recipes are great for day-to-day cooking.

Recently, I found a recipe for Greek Cucumber and Chickpea Breakfast Salad in the June 2015 issue of Cooking Light. I prefer savory foods for breakfast, so this salad was right up my alley.  I adapted it a bit to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand, like fresh grape and yellow cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from my garden and sweet onions and purple bell peppers from my CSA box. The result was delicious! I ate it with a small bowl of vegetable soup and was quite satisfied. You can find the original recipe in Cooking Light here.

Greek Cucumber and Chickpea Breakfast Salad 2

Greek Tomato, Cucumber, and Chickpea Breakfast Salad

1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup drained canned chickpeas
6 – 8 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 small bell pepper (your choice of color)
1/4 small sweet onion (or to taste)
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced (I used a pickling type cucumber)
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a fork or whisk. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, olives, bell pepper, and sweet onion; toss to combine. Arrange cucumber slices on a plate or in a bowl and top with the tomato and chickpea mixture. Top with the feta cheese.


Baked Eggplant “Meatballs”

Baked Eggplant Meatballs

I’ve gotten sooo many eggplants from my CSA the past four or five weeks.  I have made Eggplant Stroganoff, oven-fried eggplant, Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry, Eggplant Parmesan, Roasted Ratatouille, eggplant chips, and Baba Ganoush. Even after all of that, I still had 7 (!) eggplants in my fridge. Honestly, at this point, I’m not that gung-ho about eating more eggplant, but I don’t want them to go to waste either.

This recipe uses 4 eggplants (yay!) and turned out better than I expected. My hubby even liked them. On their own, they were a little bland for my taste and when I make them again, I will be a little more liberal with the salt and maybe even add a dried Italian herb blend and/or fresh basil to the mix. They were great with spaghetti sauce.

This recipe made 50 “meatballs” and can easily be halved. I froze a bunch of the “meatballs” for future meals. I was thinking they may be good for a vegetarian taco filling or for “meatball” subs.

These Eggplant “Meatballs” were great on top of spaghetti. I also tried them on top of spaghetti squash. This is a great option for a low-calorie meal. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash, 1/2 a cup of spaghetti sauce, and 3 Eggplant “Meatballs” comes in under 200 calories. I joked that it tasted like “I’d rather be fat” but seriously, it wasn’t bad at all.

Eggplant Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

Baked Eggplant “Meatballs”

4 medium (Italian) eggplants (or 2 large)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup oat bran
1 – 1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
salt and pepper, to taste
cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Using a fork, pierce the eggplants all over. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Cut off the ends of the eggplants and discard. Peel off the skin. Use a spoon to scrape off any flesh left on the backside of the peel. Place the eggplant flesh in a large bowl. Using a potato masher or hand-held blender, mash the eggplant.

Eggplant Mash

Add the eggs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and oat bran to the mashed eggplant; mixing well. Season with salt and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs a 1/2 cup at a time. How much you will use will depend on how wet the mixture is. The mixture needs to be able to hold together when you roll it into balls. I ended up using the full 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs. There is a chance you will need more.

Take about a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Place on the baking sheet. Continue to roll out eggplant balls until all of the mixture has been used. Lightly spray the eggplant “meatballs” with cooking spray and place in the oven.

Uncooked Eggplant Meatballs

Bake in a 375° oven for 35 to 45 minutes, turning after the first 20 minutes, until golden.

Eggplant Meatballs


Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein

Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein

I had a couple of spaghetti squash from my CSA box and decided to use one to make a recipe for Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein that I had found on Pinterest. I can’t believe how well it turned out! It was amazing! And I love that spaghetti squash only has about 42 calories per cup. How can something so delicious have so few calories? I got two more spaghetti squash in this week’s CSA box and I will definitely be using them for Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein in the coming weeks.

Here is where I found the recipe for Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein.

I pretty much followed her recipe except that I didn’t use a coleslaw mix. I thinly sliced a quarter of a head of cabbage and julienned two carrots instead. I also slivered the onion instead of dicing it.