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Please Help! What is your favorite waffle topping?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This Saturday morning I am going to be making waffles out as Seaside, Florida (this is where The Truman Show was filmed). Here's the deal, there is this chick, Jen, who owns a juice bar in an Airstream trailer, called Raw & Juicy & they are celebrating their 1-year anniversary this Saturday. During the summer she normally has a farmers market set up around the trailer, along with other vendors who sell things likes sprouts, handmade bags, baked goods, preserves, eggs, etc. This week for the celebration Jen wanted to have fresh waffles, so she called me! I am really excited about it!

Here is my quandary, I eat waffles the plain old way, with butter & syrup. I don't add any toppings, I am a purist if you will. So, my question is: What do you eat on your waffles? I don't want to take a whole ton of toppings, maybe just three or so. Please help me figure out the most popular toppings for waffles! Inquiring minds want to know! Thanks!

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posted by Jamie the Foodie
7:55 AM


Ole'--Quick & easy Mexican dinner

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Last night I didn't get home from my parents' house until after 7:00, Sean wasn't home from school yet & I wanted to cook a quick dinner. I decided on the way home to make some Mexican food. About a year ago when I learned about the evils of hydrogenated oil, I went on a mission to find a whole wheat/grain tortilla without any hydrogenated oil. What I found was Tam-X-icos; they are in the refrigerated section at the grocery along with the dairy products. I know, I know, I should just make my own, my mother-in-law does, but that takes more planning ahead than I normally do.

Typically when we have Mexican food, I make Spanish brown rice, refried beans, and then the entire array of fillings: lettuce-finely shredded, diced tomatoes, sliced black olives, sauteed onions & peppers (if I have a pepper on hand--not something I keep stocked), sometimes lentils, homemade salsa & guacamole. This is all quite time consuming & then a lot of clean-up because everything has to go in it's own bowl & then to the table for assembly. Last week I didn't have a lot of ingredients or time, so I decided to make quesadillas. That's when I discovered that my George Foreman grill is a great tool for making quesadillas.

I use the beans like cheese, to hold it all together. I spread refried beans on the entire tortilla & then on one side I add spinach, chopped cilantro, tomatoes & sauteed onions & fold it (for Sean's I actually make him a whole one using 2 tortillas). Into the Foreman grill it goes, no worrying about it burning or sticking; while they cook, I can clean up. Sorry this is not my best picture, but is the best picture I had of last night's meal...we were hungry!

Last night I served plain brown rice with our quesadillas; I topped mine with salsa & guacamole. I used 3 cans of tomatoes in the salsa & it was completely gone by the end of dinner--Sean was hungry when he got home from school! I only had one avocado, so the guacamole was...not enough!

We have recently started getting together once a month with 2 other couples & we rotate houses; everyone just brings appetizers & beverages. Now, they request my salsa. But I have a confession, it's not my recipe, it's Sean's. When I make it, it's my salsa, but I have to give credit where credit is due & that goes to my sweet thang, who happens to be an incredible cook. This is one of those recipes that has no exact measurements, you just taste & go. I'll call it Dietrich Salsa since I have added my own touches to it; 2 additions I made last night & man, it was great salsa!

Dietrich Salsa

1 can rotel tomatoes (I use mild, but I don't like things too spicy)
2 cans diced tomatoes (or if tomatoes are plentiful, tasty & cheap, use fresh)
3/4 bunch of cilantro (that is of a large bunch, add more or less to taste)
1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded
1/2 medium onion
lime juice

Using a blender (or a food processor, if like me, you don't currently own a blender--mine broke--so sad), puree the can of rotel tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, onion, lime juice (start with about 1/4 c. & add according to your taste), a couple dashes of cumin (you really should not be able to taste the cumin) & a generous amount of salt. Puree until smooth. Add the 2 cans of diced tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, and pulse until they are mixed in well, but not smooth, you want it to be chunky.

This is delicious & is my most requested party food; people ask for it all the time. Now for the guacamole...again, it's not really about measurements, just the right ingredients & your taste preference.

Jamie's Great Guacamole
(Not too clever, huh? It's a rainy day, what can I say, I am not too sharp this afternoon!

homemade salsa (see above, 2-3 T. per avocado)
grated onion (I use a small grater, 1/2-1 T. per avocado)
lime juice (I have no idea, I measure using the cap on the bottle, about 1/2-1 capful per avocado)
cumin (just a dash, again, not so you can taste it)
salt (be generous)

In a bowl, mash the avocado with a fork, just a little. Add all other ingredients & mash until well incorporated, but not completely smooth. Taste & adjust seasonings accordingly. The onion is the most important part of this recipe, without it or without enough, it just doesn't do the guacamole justice.

A nicer chain/franchise Mexican restaurant opened just near my house a couple of years back. Everyone was raving about how great the food was, especially the guacamole; they make it table-side. Well, Sean & I went to try it out. We paid the ridiculous $9.00 for our table-side made guacamole & I have to honestly say, this recipe is better! I am usually pretty humble about my cooking, but mine is better than theirs. Okay, I am done being arrogant! I hope you give my (our) salsa & (my) guacamole a try--if you do, let me know how you like it! Enjoy!

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posted by Jamie the Foodie
12:18 PM


General Tso's Tofu

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I have a huge file saved in my "favorites" of recipes I want to try & another named "tried & true" of ones that are keepers. Night before last I was starving, which is a bad thing to be that hungry & have nothing cooked. I have been wanting to make something like the tofu lettuce wraps from PF Changs, but I didn't have any lettuce. But that thought process made me hungry for Asian food. I was looking through my "to try" file & came across a recipe for General Tso's Tofu on VegWeb.com. (They call it General Tao's Tofu.) I read some of the reviews & decided to give it a shot...with modifications.

First off, I started a pot of brown rice. I decided not to fry the tofu, too messy & I just wanted it to be a little healthier. So I cut extra firm tofu into thin strips & baked them in the oven sprinkled with some garlic powder & white pepper at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, flipped them & cooked an additional 10 minutes. Next I blanched my broccoli. Sean & I have tried so many times to make stir-fry & it never comes out as good as when you order it from a Chinese or Thai restaurant. We have discovered that the secret is to blanch your vegetables & then throw them into the stir-fry just to warm & coat them. I know this is not the method they use in the restaurants, but it works at the Dietrich house! So I brought a pot of water to a boil, threw my broccoli in for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, drained it & immediately put it into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Next I sauteed an onion that I had chopped into a large dice; in the same skillet with the onion I made a double batch of the sauce. The changes I made were: I used lite soy sauce; I reduced the sugar by half & the sugar I did use was turbinado, plus I used Stevia to sweeten it to my liking; I didn't have any sherry, so I didn't add it; and I used arrowroot to thicken instead of cornstarch, but I didn't double that, just added a little extra than called for (when you make this substitution you need to use more arrowroot--3 t. arrowroot for every 2 t. cornstarch).

I added the broccoli & tofu & stirred to coat really well & served over brown rice. It was delcious! Sean doesn't love ginger, so he thought it was a bit too ginger-y, (and I don't even think I used the full amount, I was just eyeballing it). But I thought it was fabulous & will be making in often! The addition of cabbage or mushrooms or whatever vegetables you like in your stir-fry would be good, too. However, do note, the only things I added to a DOUBLE recipe of the sauce was a package of tofu, an onion & a head of broccoli, if you add even more vegetables, you will definitely need to triple or quadrouple the sauce. It was a bit spicy, my nose was running, (but I am a whimp when it comes to spicy foods), but you can adjust the crushed red pepper to your taste. Enjoy!

Addendum: I made this again tonight with cabbage & carrots. I didn't have any more fresh ginger, so I used dried & less of it (to make Sean happy) & it turned out great! I ate it over brown rice & loved it...I actually have another little plate in the kitchen right now waiting for me.

I have one question, though...does anyone else find that if you cook more than the smallest serving of brown rice (I think it says it serves 5, it's 1 cup of raw rice), do you find that it gets sticky? If I ever use the chart & make a double batch, the consistency isn't nearly as good as just a single batch. Just wondering if it's just me or if other have the same problem.

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posted by Jamie the Foodie
11:51 AM


Bragging Rights

Monday, March 16, 2009

This short little entry isn't about food at all (this will probably the first & only time you don't even see a picture of food or mention of food). Tonight I am going to brag about my husband, Sean. I have been tempted to give him a "name" like other bloggers do, there are many I have thought of..."Red-beard" as my Daddy calls him; "The Hippie"; "The Vegan"-being that he is vegan & I am not; however, in my blogs I just call him "Sean", in real life I call him "Bay". I digress--what's new?

Sean & I just returned from a long weekend at Lake Martin in Alabama. More on that later. On Friday he was at his keyboard practicing away & I was sitting on the couch reading a magazine. In the magazine was a calendar which reminded me that today was THE DAY! You see, Sean is a jazz pianist & is currently in college at Northwest Florida State College near where we live. He recently submitted a CD of his playing to be considered for the Kathleen T. & Philip B. Phillips Jazz Piano Competition in Pensacola, Florida. Players from really prestigious music schools like Berkley & Julliard enter; only 5 participants are chosen. The deadline was March 6 with the promise that if you are chosen you would be notified by March 13.

So, as I sat on the couch & had the realization that today was THE DAY (March 13), I got very nervous & anxious. I didn't want to mention it to Sean, I didn't want him to be nervous, too; it's bad enough for one of us to be nervous. Instead, I suggested we get dressed & go to the little boutique grocery store, Katherine's. As I was getting ready, Sean's phone starts ringing & the caller ID says "UWF", that stands for University of West Florida, the college that hosts the competition; I start yelling for Sean that UWF was calling! Needless to say, my talented husband has been chosen to compete in the Phillips Jazz Piano Competition on April 3! Only 5 were chosen & Sean was one of them! I am so proud & wanted to share our news with all who are willing to read my oh-so-(too)-detailed blogs!

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posted by Jamie the Foodie
11:18 PM


For the record...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Just to clarify, I am a vegetarian (there are so many classifications, it does not actually matter to me what type I am) married to a vegan. I work as a personal chef. I do cook meat for my clients, please do not flame me for this statement. I would love to cook without meat if the area that I live in supported it; unfortunately, it does not. I must earn a living; I know there are those out there who would argue with me that I should get into another line of work, DON'T! I do not want to discuss my values versus yours. This is my life & I will live it in a manner that I am comfortable with. All of this is to clarify for any potential clients who ended up on blog via my website, that most of the content of my blog is about vegan cooking. However, I do cook meat & cook it quite well; please do not let my vegan ramblings throw you off. And for my vegan friends, I hope this has not offended any of you; I am currently looking for a local source to purchase hormone/steroid-free, ethically raised meat to use in my business.

Now, let's get on with it! Yesterday my mother-in-law, Sue, came over for a visit & to see some of the ultra-tight budget redecorating we have been doing...think classic southern antiques meet the Brady Bunch! I'll save that for another day. I had soaked some pinto beans, so when Sue called to say she was coming over, I put them on to boil. Since she has issues with wheat, I decided a good dish to cook would be a rendition of red beans & rice.

Anyhow, I cooked those darn beans for what seemed like forever & I will have to honestly say, they didn't get quite as soft as I would have liked. I would have cooked them in the pressure cooker...but, just last week I burned some beans in it & I have to ask, have you ever burned beans in a pressure cooker? If not, let me tell you, it smells strangely like marijuana. No matter how much I have scrubbed that pot (no pun intended), it still smells like, ummm, well...pot! Okay, enough of that, because my mother will end up reading this & calling me up & in her oh-so-southern drawl saying, "Now, Jamie, how on earth do you know what marijuana smells like?" Anyhow, I better get back on track before I get in trouble! In the mean time I put some brown rice on to cook. I don't have exact measurements, but a loose recipe follows. What I ended up with was delicious & I have eaten it two more times since, it will end up being three times if I don't get this typed & get into the kitchen to cook dinner.

All in all it was a fun day, we got to visit with my mother-in-law who completely missed the idea that we liked that our $5 chairs (yes, that was for the pair, not each!) are Brady Bunch gold & that we don't mind that they are severely worn & that we were trying to match them with the couch we inherited from my parents who had it since before I was born (I believe I have blogged about this before) & that by recovering our Brady Bunch chairs they would no longer match the 70's couch we have....we are trying to tie our hand-me-downs together! Sue loves to sew & wanted to recover everything in our house yesterday! I say all of this tongue-in-cheek. I have heard horror stories from other women about their mother-in-laws; I am happy to say that mine is wonderful & when we get tired of our Brady Bunch chairs (which may be sooner than later!), then she will gladly help us recover them!

Jamie's Pinto Beans & Rice
1-2 C. pinto beans soaked overnight (or any bean of your choice)
3 bay leaves
1 onion, diced
3 celery stalks, small chop
6 cloves, minced
olive oil
6 oz. tomato paste
1 T. (or more) vegetable base
1 C. TVP
onion powder
garlic powder
black pepper
white pepper
ground thyme
dash of liquid smoke
dash of turbinado sugar
brown rice, cooked

Cook beans with bay leaves & any leaves you may trim off the celery.

Saute the celery & onion in olive oil until translucent; add the garlic & saute, don't burn garlic. Add tomato paste, vegetable base, seasonings & about 2 cups of water. To this add your drained, cooked beans & TVP. Add more water to obtain desired consistency...the TVP will absorb a lot of your liquid. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Serve over brown rice.

Please forgive the lack of measurements of the recipe, I just typed it from memory, which was just a little of this & a shake of that. Enjoy!

Oh, one more random item to note. I was reading tons of great blogs today all about vegan food & I came across a link on someone else's page to a blog called "One Frugal Foodie". Well, those are two of my favorite things! Food & frugality! Of course I had to check it out & when I did, I came across a gigantic giveaway! So, check it out & enter to win...really, by me telling you this only diminishes my chances of winning, EXCEPT for the fact that I get entered again just for linking her site here! Good luck & if you win, remember who told you about the giveaway--share the goodies!

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posted by Jamie the Foodie
1:51 PM