Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pasta-less Spaghetti Squash

I love Italian food.  Like majorly.  I could eat it for every meal.  But a ridiculous amount of pasta is not good for the waistline or the digestive system (for me).  I'm not going totally gluten-free, because I'm too much of a foodie for that.  But here is one excellent substitute for pasta -- spaghetti squash.  Matt and I love to put it with spaghetti sauces.  Light and tasty.  

This evening, though, I just have a small onion, some old parsley stems, a wrinkling orange bell pepper, and the basic garlic and lemon to accompany tonight's spaghetti squash.  This will be an excellent meal for two (maybe with leftovers, but we have a hard time monitoring our serving sizes with food like this, especially when it's mostly veggies and perhaps should not be monitored too closely in any case).


-1 spaghetti squash
-1 bell pepper (I recommend orange or red, as they are the tastiest)
-1 small onion
-1/2 bunch of parsley, or just the stems if you have them leftover from another dish, like I did.
-3 small cloves of garlic (or two large ones)
-1 tbsp vegetable oil
-1 tbsp lemon juice
-1/2 tsp thyme (optional)
-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
-olive oil to drizzle
-salt to taste


-Preheat the oven to 375ยบ
-Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise (This is not easy.  It will take perseverance and cautiousness so that you don't cut yourself.  Or you can get a husband/boyfriend to do it.  I prefer to do it myself.  It's character-building.)
-Scoop out all the seeds and string from the inside of the two halves.
-Lay the two halves, face down (with the shell side up) on a baking pan or sheet.  I have found it easier to line my glass pan with foil, for easier cleanup.
-Bake for about an hour.
-While that's cooking, chop up the onion, pepper, parsley, and garlic (mince as fine as you like).  
-Heat the vegetable oil in a pan and sautee the onion and pepper on medium heat with some parsley stems (parts that will need more time to soften) for about 3-5 minutes.

-Add the parsley and the minced garlic and continue to sautee on low for a few minutes.
-Add the salt, and thyme and red pepper (if you are using them) and continue to stir for about a minute
(I added about 1/4 tsp of salt)

-You can turn off the heat and let this sit until the squash is ready.
-When the squash is finished, take it out of the oven and carefully scrape out the squash (I use two forks -- one for holding the squash, one for scraping.  Cuz that thing is hot).  Add the squash to the pan with the vegetables and turn the heat back on low to warm everything while mixing the veggies with the squash.

-Add the lemon juice and a drizzle (about 1 tsp) of olive oil to the pan until combined
-Add more salt if needed, and a bit of black pepper if you like.
-Serve immediately and enjoy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Beef Sandwich with Horseradish

Brace yourselves.  This is no ordinary cut of beef.  I just made it sound that way to get you to read this post.  But you CAN do this.  Do not doubt yourselves.

Anyone every had langua at a Mexican restaurant?  It is the most delicious cut of beef I have ever had - so tender and juicy.  It's beef tongue.

And I'm not gonna lie.  When you buy it, it does look like a huge tongue.  Grossed me out at first.  I still refuse to touch it with my bare hands (I bought disposable gloves just for the few seconds when I have to touch it raw to rinse it.)  But trust me, you won't have to touch it for long.  And it is very much worth the disgust.  Also, if you are able to handle it, it will be very impressive to others who might think you have lost your mind but will still secretly admire you (albeit, from afar).

This weekend was the second time I made it.  Before, I had served it shredded over sweet potatoes, with sauteed vegetables and a mole sauce.  Yum.  This time, I decided to do a simple deli sandwich with horseradish sauce.


-One 3-5 pound beef tongue (I get it as big as is available)
-2 tsp salt
-One roma tomato
-fresh parsley
-lettuce or pita bread (I made lettuce wraps and Matt had pita sandwiches)

For the sauce:
-3 tbsp horseradish sauce (or just the horseradish, then add some mayo)
-1 tbsp lemon juice
-1 tbsp mayonnaise
-1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Game Plan:

-Get out your crock pot
-Rinse the beef tongue thoroughly (I suggest only touching it with one gloved hand, or two gloved hands)
-Place the beef tongue in the crock pot
-Cover with water
-Add spices as you desire.  I used garam masala, because I had it on hand and it smelled pretty good.  Cinnamon, ginger, all kinds of stuff in it.  If I had it to do over, I would have just used salt.  Or simpler spices.  Use any spices you desire.
-Put the lid on the crock pot and let it cook on low for at least 8-10 hours.  I usually let it cook during the day, but this weekend I let it cook overnight, for about 11 hours.
-Pour out some of the water, and fork the tongue onto a cutting board.
-Now comes the hard part...  Hold one side of the tongue with a fork, and use another fork in your other hand to take off the layer of skin that covers the meat.  I also take off any layers of fat on the back end of the tongue, whatever is covering the meat.  It should come off VERY easily at this point.

-Throw away the skin.
-Cut against the grain of the meat, or just pull it for shredded beef.
-Mix horseradish sauce, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and black pepper thoroughly until there are no lumps.
-Make sandwiches or wraps using the meat slices, diced tomato, parsley, and the sauce.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cleansing Vegetable Soup

Christmas is through, and Matt and I are several pounds heavier.  We have been gorging ourselves since pretty much Thanksgiving.  Not good.

So today I am making a cleansing soup full of fiber, and devoid of meat and wheat.  A perfect way to spend our first day back home.  I'm sure we can all use some cleansing.


1 1/2 cups dried lentils
3 parsnips (When the soup was complete, this was not my favorite part.  I would probably put carrots next time.  But Matt liked them in the soup.  I much prefer the taste of roasted parsnips to those in the soup.)
1 bunch green onions
3 celery stalks
1 bunch cilantro (for garnish)
2 eggplants
1 bunch of kale
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Chicken bouillon (or chicken stock, or vegetable stock if you prefer)
Splash of wine (I had some old wine in the fridge and thought, hey let's dump that in too)
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice (I prefer lime)
1/2 tsp black pepper, cracked
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil (fresh or dried)
1 tsp oregano (fresh or dried)
Vegetable oil (3 tbsp)
Drizzle of olive oil


Rinse the lentils with warm water several times.
Soak the lentils for at least 2 hours (up to overnight).  They can be soaking while you're chopping vegetables and preparing the first part of the soup
Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot on medium heat
Chop the green onions into small pieces (diced), stir
Peel and chop the parsnips into small, bite-size pieces (or smaller if you like), and add to the pot, stir
Chop the celery (including the leaves) and add to the pot.
       Note: Play it by ear.  I had to turn the stove to low heat because it was taking me a while to chop everything in each step.  Try your best to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Chop the eggplant, leaving the skin on, into bite-size pieces as well.  Stir into the mixture.
Optional: Chop the stems of the cilantro and add to the pot.
Drizzle with olive oil and stir for 5 minutes.  The parsnips should smell nice and sweet by now.

Drain the lentils that have been soaking, rinse them thoroughly again, and drain again.  Add them to the pot and stir a bit.
Add hot water from the sink until it covers the eggplant mixture.
Chop the kale and add it to the pot.  Add more hot water until the pot is almost full (see picture)

Add 2 tbsp of the bouillon and put the lid on the pot.  Bring the pot to a boil.

Taste the broth and add more bouillon if it is not flavorful enough.
Add the minced garlic and other herbs and seasonings at this time.

Turn the heat down and let the pot simmer with the lid on for an hour.
Taste the broth and add any desired seasoning (I just added a bit of salt)
Drizzle olive oil before serving.
Serve with chopped cilantro on top.  Enjoy!