Recipe 8: Falafel Pitas with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

I didn't get my traditional Lebanese meal while in DC earlier this month, so I decided to try my hand at some semi-healthy falafel. This is based on a recipe published in Cooking Light. (Thanks for reminding me how I like that magazine MB!).

~ 1/4 cup minced red onion
~ 1 tsp ground cumin
~ 1/2 tsp paprika
~ 1/4 tsp black pepper
~ 1/8 tsp salt
~ 1 can chickpeas rinsed and drained
~ 1/4 cup bread crumbs
~ egg substitute equivalent to about 2 eggs
~ olive oil
~ wheat pitas
~ spinach
~ cucumber
~ 1/4 cup red onion
~ 1 tsp lemon juice
1/ Mix first 9 ingredients in food processor and process. Form into four patties. Heat about 1.5 tbl of oil to medium-high in a nonstick pan. Pan fry four about 4 minutes per side.

2/ Meanwhile mix chopped, peeled cucumber, 1/4 cup minced red onion, yogurt, and lemon juice in a small bowl.

3/Combine sauce, falafel patty, and spinach in 1/2 of a pita pocket.

This turned out OK, but was nothing to write home about. I felt like it was a little bland. I also think that I over processed it to the point that the beans were too broken down. I would recommend not overprocessing and using torn bread instead of breadcrumbs. However, I probably won't make this again but will rather try a similar recipe in the hopes of finding a super yummy falafel for at home.
I ate the falafel with spinach and tomatoes with some of the extra cucumber yogurt sauce. The yogurt sauce is similar to one that I often make for with my salmon. I brought a little something filling with my roasted greek potatoes - just potatoes, canola oil, lemon, and oregano. The sides were more yummy than the falafel -- that says it all.


Recipe 7: Vegetable Tian

Last night Sandy put on the 4th annual Turducken. It was great, as expected! She was able to sucker some folks into helping her since she lost her Turducken co-pilot when Jeff and Erin moved. For those who haven't heard of this phenomena -- Turducken is what happens when you stuff a turkey with a duck which is stuffed with a chicken. I decided to use my pretty new winter serving dish that Katie Grace gave me -- which meant using a 9x13 casserole. I decided to try a recipe I had always wanted to make from Barefoot Contessa's Barefoot in Paris -- Vegetable Tian. It just looks so pretty, I had to make it.

~ olive oil
~ 2 large yellow onions
~ 4-5 garlic cloves
~ 1 lb medium round potatoes (unpeeled)
~ 3/4 lb zucchini
~ 1 1/2 lb tomatoes
~ 1 tsp kosher salt
~ 1/2 tsp ground pepper
~ 1 tbl fresh thyme leaves plus extra springs
~ 2 oz grated gruyere cheese

1/ Preheat oven to 375F. Meanwhile, chop onions in half and slice. In medium pan, heat 2 tbl oil and cook onions over medium low until translucent ... about 12 minutes for me. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Spread onion mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 dish. It looks like too much at first, but as the onions loses their moisture the full two onions are definitely required.

2/ Slice the potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchinis to about 1/4 in. The closer in size they are in terms of thickness and diameter, the better the tian will look. Layer the veggies in the pan, alternating to make a pretty design - but only make one layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. Lay a few extra thyme springs on top. Drizzle with about 1 tbl of olive oil and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

3/ Uncover and remove the thyme springs. sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for another 30 minutes, until everything is browned and serve.

Amazing. It may not have looked quite as pretty as Ina Garden's Tian, but it still looked pretty darn fancy! I enjoyed the food, and got lots of compliments from fellow Turduckeners. The ultimate compliment was not bringing home any leftovers, although that my have been due to the size of the party more than anything else. I will definitely make this again so I can have a larger potion!! From the little bit that I ate, I highly recommend -- which I recommend everything we ate last night -- all my friends can cook!!


Recipe 6: Strawberry Napoleons

This morning I attended a baby shower for a coworker, and I was asked to bring a desert... Which made me rack my brain... It sounded like time for me to step up to the challenge. I found the recipe for these Napoleons which is published in Low Fat and Luscious Desserts. They are a lot healthier than traditional napleons (or mille-feuille). A napoleon is traditionally made of a puff pastry or some other pastry with a 'thousand layers' and a cream filling. This is a spin on that concept.

~ 1/4 cup sugar
~ 1 tsp ground cinnamon
~ 3 sheets thawed phyllo dough
~ butter flavored vegetable oil spray
~ 1 pint sliced strawberries
~ 2 cups powdered sugar
~ 2 cups thawed whipped topping
~ additional powdered sugar

1/ Preheat oven to 375. Stir together cinnamon and sugar.

2/ Lay 1 sheet phyllo on a piece of parchment paper. Spray lightly and evenly with oil spray. Sprinkle wit 1tbl of cinnamon mixture. Spray both sides of next sheet of phyllo with oil and stack atop previous piece. Spread 1 tbl. of cinnamon mixture. Repeat with final slice of phyllo.

3/ Cut in half using kitchen shears. Transfer phyllo and parchment paper to a baking sheet.

4/ Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until brown and crispy. Cut each rectangle into 6 pieces. Allow to cool fully.

5/ Combine strawberries and powdered sugar.

6/ Assemble by layering 1 layer of phyllo dough, 1/4 cup whipped topping, 1/4 cup strawberry mixture, and 1 layer of phyllo dough. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serves 6.

Awesome! I'm going to say that these went over pretty well at the shower since several people asked for the recipe. I did a double batch... and then i cut each 'batch' into more than 6 napoleons apiece. I loved the texture combination of the sweet and crunchy phyllo dough and with the cool whip. They were a little messy to put together, but definitely a keeper!!!
Next time I might chop the berries smaller and mix the berries and cool whip -- I think that might make it easer to put these together.


Recipe 5: Beef Barley Soup

~0.75-1 lb bottom round steak
~ 1 medium onion
~ 4 cups beef broth
~ 4 cups water
~ 1/2 cup pearl barley
~ 1 bay leaf
~ 3/4 tsp salt
~ 1/4 tsp pepper
~ 2 medium potatoes
~ 3 medium carrots
~ 3 medium stalks celery
~ 2 tsp thyme
~ 1/2 tsp salt

1/ Remove all visible fat from meat and cut into bite sized pieces. Heat dutch oven over medium heat. Spray with vegetable oil. Cook meat until brown.

2/ Add onions and cook to soften.

3/ Add beef broth, water, bay leaf, 3/4 tsp salt, pepper, and barley. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer for approx 1 hr until beef is tender.
4/ Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Simmer, partially covered for 20-25 minutes until vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf prior to serving.

Great! I definitely enjoyed this soup! At the kroger they didn't have a full lb of beef, so it might be a little better with a bit more beef. The thyme really came out and gave this the kick it needed (it was pretty blah and bland when i tasted before adding the veggies). However, it was still good. And, with all of the veggies and barley and potatoes it was pretty filling. The recipe said it made 6 servings -- and they are pretty good sized to say the least!
In case you didn't notice, I have a thing for soups. They are yummy and can be filling yet healthy if done properly. They are nice and easy to reheat as leftovers when I get home late or have post-work plans :) Plus they just make me feel all warm and fuzzy and happy inside.

On Hiatus

So I was on cooking hiatus last week (obviously) - I was in Washington DC! The first part of the week was spent with 10,000 transportation professionals discussing things that you never thought people cared about while the weekend was spent with my sister.

Being in DC meant that I was not cooking, but I did get some great food time in. This year we tried to exit the area around the hotel and eat somewhere other than Murphys. This post summarizes some of the culinary highlights of the week.

Kate and I ate brunch at Art and Soul, where Chef Art put his spin on home cooking. We enjoyed French Toast and some apple, frisse, and blue cheese hoe cakes!
I was also able to enjoy the 'crispy club' at Open City -- a delicious combo of roast turkey breast, white cheddar, tomatoes, and applewood smoked bacon wrapped up in a puff pasty (not exactly 100% healthy... I know, but nothing is when you are traveling) - aka 'the sandwich that started it all'. I discovered this sandwich last year and Kate created her own puff pastry sandwich based on it!

Lucy and I enjoyed a fancy pants dinner at Sequoia -- a pretty restaurant in Georgetown on the waterfront. I had the pan sauteed Atlantic flounder and some amazing corn and crab chowder with a bacon biscuit. The location was awesome and I understand it is a great place to hang out in the summer when you can be on the waterfront instead of watching the fountains covered with ice.

Kate brought Lucy, Lulu and I to Founding Farmers, a restaurant that I've heard RAVE reviews of. It's DC's greenest restaurant and everything is local or independently grown and sold rather than through huge mass market factories. LOVED IT! We had a salami, ricotta,and pesto flatbread that was to die for. Everyone's meal looked great... Lucy had a pork chop that looked more like a pig quarter while Lulu's scallops looked amazing. You MUST try it if you are in town!!
Kate and I also hit up Matchbox, an awesome little bistro that she introduced me to last year. Its a converted Chinese grocery that is teeny tiny -- matchbox size :) The specialty is pizza out of the brick oven, with lots of other yummies on the menu. We shared a pizza - half whit pizza with prosciutto and half chicken pesto -- we both liked the chicken pesto best.

We joined Kate's friend Kate for brunch on Saturday morning outside the Eastern Market at Le Pain Quotidien, which I believe translates to The Daily Bread (Help me here Abby). Everything looked amazing! I had a quiche Lorraine which was quite delish! (yes successful another foray into the egg world!) I would have happily eaten eight pounds of bread, nutella, and four fruit jam there if we weren't planning to head to the Market after brunch.

It was a great trip cullinarily! Back to the home cooking grind now!!

Recipe 4: White Bean and Chicken Sausage Soup

Prior to my trip I put together this soup.

~ Celery
~ Carrots
~ Yellow Onion
~ Garlic
~ White Beans
~ Chicken Sausage
~ Chicken Stock
~ Water
~ Brown Rice
~ I chopped and sauteed the celery, carrots, onions, and garlic in a bit of olive oil. The veggie mixture got added to the white beans in the bottom of my large oval crockpot. I sliced up the chicken and added it to the pot. I added chicken stock and water to cover the mixture. I cooked this up on low while at work. Once I got home I cooked up the brown rice and added it to the soup.

Eh.. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. I salted and peppered as desired, however it definitely needed more herbage. I had throught my chicken and apple sausage would provide plenty of flavor, however I was disappointed. So not great, but not so bad I wouldn't eat it again, it just needed some help.


Recipe 3: Veggie Frittata

For my next endeavor I decided to do some breakfast for dinner, or brinner as my friend Jane likes to call it! The veggie frittata here is based on a low fat frittata published by the Hungry Girl. Those of you who know me well know that this was a massive step up as I DESPISE eggs.

~1 1/2 cup egg substitute
~2 tbsp fat free non-dairy creamer
~2 slices mozzarella cheese
~1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
~1 portabella mushroom cap
~1 green pepper
~2-3 green onions
~ sliced grape tomatoes
~ 1-2 tbl Parmesan cheese
~ plain Greek style yogurt

1. Whisk egg substitute and non-dairy creamer. Chop mozzarella cheese into pieces. Mix mozzarella and cheddar cheese into egg mixture. Turn on Broiler

2. Heat up an oven safe pan to medium-high and soften the mushrooms, peppers, and onions. Cook for approx 5 minutes to soften. Add tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the egg mixture. Shake pan to spread eggs, mix to ensure that cheese is spread and eggs get up under your veggies. Cook for 2 more minutes

3. Place pan under broiler for approx 4 minutes until egg is puffed up and fully set.

4. Let cool and slice into quarters. Serve with a fat dollup of Greek yogurt or sour cream.


AWESOME. For a girl who doesn't really like eggs, this was great. The original recipe called for mushrooms, turkey bacon, and apples -- which also sounds good -- but this just spoke to me. I added some pepper and herbs to the egg mixture before added it to the pan. I loved all the veggies -- I knew I could probably eat half of it because it was so yummy, and it wouldn'tbe all that bad because it was all veggies. Definitely a winner -- I plan to do this low fat frittata again with other goodies in the middle!

My friends Amber and Kristen are the ones who introduced me to putting sour cream on frittata's. It totally makes it sooo much better! I highly recommend it.


Recipe 2: Zesty Lemon Tuna En Papillote

For recipe No. 2, I present you with a recipe I saw on 5 Ingredient Fix on the Food Network the other day. This recipe uses the traditional french method of cooking known as en papillote. It essentially translates as cooking 'in parchment'. In this method the moisture of the food in the paper is used to self-steam.

~ 1-2 Tuna Steaks
~ 2 Lemons
~ Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Zest the lemons and then slice them thinly. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place the lemons on the paper to form a bed of lemons. Place the tuna steaks atop the lemons. Top tuna with zest and salt and pepper to taste. Wrap up the paper into a tight envelope. Bake until fully cooked and tuna flakes with a fork. The recipe I followed said 18-20 minutes, but it was more like 30 for me.

Awesome! Absolutely Awesome! The tuna was infused with an intense lemony flavor. It was incredibly easy and incredibly good. The kitchen was filled with a wonderful lemony smell. Definitely a keeper!

On the food network they were using this tuna for a tuna salad - I plan to use the remainder of my supper for tuna salad later this week!

When I checked the recipe again I noticed that they suggested seasoning both sides of the tuna with salt and pepper. I would recommend doing that next time. I would also consider adding some other aromatic herbs.

Upon further research I found where they suggest that cooking in this method not be used for steaky seafood -- it takes longer to cook -- as I learned today. I still recommend it if you've got the time.

Last year one of my culinary goals was to cook more seafood for myself. I'm glad to say that i did cook fish a few times last year. I'm hoping to continue exploring seafood again this year. This tuna got the ball rolling!

Recipe 1: Black Bean Soup

~ 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
~ 1 can rotel
~ 1 can corn, drained and rinsed (or frozen corn)
~ shredded chicken
~ chicken stock

Combine all ingredients in your crockpot and cook on low until heated through. Once heated I took the imersion blender to it. You get a nice sort of purple-y soup!

Pretty good. We never ate beans growing up excepd canned baked beans. Since moving to the south and attempting to 'health up' I've developed a love relationship with beans. This was nice and easy, which is key - and full of that great soluble fiber. I always enjoy a recipe where I get to use my imersion blender. It doesn't look so pretty in the picture - sort of vomitish... It isn't quite so heinous looking in person. If you don't immerse it won't look nearly so heinous either.

If you aren't being calorie conservative I would reccomend enjoying this with some cheese, maybe a little sour cream, and some tortilla chips. It could also be made vegetarian by doubling up the bean content. Mmmm!

Next time I make this I plan to cut down on the broth and just smash some of the beans for thickening. I would have enjoyed the texture of the chicken vs. the corn vs. the tomatoes vs. the beans even if it meant not using the imersion. It had too much broth, so that it wouldn't thicken with a little bit of smashing.

The Challenge

I was presented with a challenge for 2010: Cook 100 new, predominantly healthy recipes over the course of the year. The challenge is right up my alley!

The challenge works out to approximately 2 items per week. I only see two potential issues: 1. when cooking for one, a recipe might actually feed me all week, and 2. too much travel could get in the way. I'll be sharing my recipes along this journey here rather than taking up so much space on Sunshine and Sarah. Once I hit my 100 recipes I'll keep on blogging away my 'Cooking with Sarah' exploits here.

Recipes you'll find here might come from my giant and underused collection of cookbooks, my favorite food bloggers, or I might just make something up. Feel free to send me recipes you think I would enjoy.

There are several of us participating in this challenge via blog or facebook. Feel free to join us, or at least comment away! Encouragement is always appreciated.