Winter Cole Slaw

cole slaw 2 OK.  Yes.  I have posted my recipe for cole slaw before.  I just had to do it again because delicious fresh cabbages  literally abound at local farmer’s markets right now!  The high vitamin C and sulphur content in cabbage gives it strong detoxification properties.  High in vitamins and fiber, low in cost and de-lish make it a winter winner at our house.  This recipes forgoes the all-too-common-and-very-unhealthy ingredient of mayonnaise.  Fear not! After you taste this cole slaw you’ll never reach for a jar of that white stuff again.

Ingredients: 1/2 head cabbage (green, red or a combination), chopped; 1-2 carrots, shredded; few slender pieces red onion (don’t need to much); 1/4 cup cider vinegar; 1/4 cup olive oil; 2 tbsp sugar; few dashes salt and pepper

Directions: While you are prepping the veggies, bring the vinegar, olive oil and seasonings to a boil on the stove top.  With the sugar in there this will happen in about 2 minutes, maybe less.  Mix your now kinda-syrupy and warm vinaigrette and pour it over the top of your naked veggies.  Toss all this yummy stuff together and you’re pretty much there, my friend.

Kinda important tip: This recipe tastes great after hanging out in the fridge over night.  This month’s photo includes a double batch of the recipe above.  Why?  Because it gets even better after a few more days… leftovers = YES!!

Not as important tip: I usually give a big batch a stir after several hours to make sure all the vinegar-oil mixture doesn’t rest on the bottom.  Pairs well with chicken, burgers, tastes great on tacos–have fun!
Final thought.  Still with me?  Doesn’t this salad look absolutely gorgeous!?  OK.  Now go get something else done.  Seriously.

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Texas Caviar

Texas caviar OK.  So seriously: how beautiful is this salad!?

I LOVE this photo.  Texas caviar, as it is called, has been around for a while.  I’ve had it before .  Actually my friend Shandy makes a mean one and she sent me the recipe but I couldn’t find the dang thing so I got on line and found multiple methods of creating this delicious, nutritious, gorgeous–and VEGAN– salad.

I’ll get Shandy’s recipe one of these days but it actually helped to look around in blog-recipe-land because it quickly became clear to me that there are so many variations of this delight, I am pretty much always assured to have something on hand that will work.  Whew!  What a relief as I really liked it and look forward to making it again.  Rhea, my 9 year old gobbled her bowl of Texas Caviar right up.  Josie and Gray were not as excited but with the right motivation rose to the occasion.  (I served this with some tortilla chips on the side and let them scoop some of the salad up–I tell ya: we have so much fun at our house!)

Michelle’s Texas Caviar

Ingredients: 1 cup of shelled and cooked edamame, 1 cup cooked corn, 1 can black beans drained, one can pinto beans drained and rinsed, 1 diced bell pepper, 1/4 cup diced red onion (I soaked mine in ice water for 5 minutes to take the “bite” out), juice of one fresh lime (ream that little guy and get every last drop out!), 3 tbsp. olive oil, 1-2 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp. cumin, dash of sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: mix it up and eat it!

Tips: The key to the flavor situation is the lime juice and cumin.  LOVE that combo.  Depending on how much juice you get from your lime–and then how much flavor that juice has–you may need more or less vinegar.

Other ingredients that I could have also added include, but are certainly not limited to: cucumber, jicama, tomatoes, diced carrots–heck the list goes on and one.  I will try to get some jicama in there next time as it seems like it’d soak up all those flavors real nice.

Acknowledgement: pretty much every recipe for Texas Caviar that I found that was actually made by what appeared to be a real Texan contained black eyed peas.  Being a Minnesota transplant currently residing in Pasadena, CA, I, uh, didn’t have those on hand… sorry!  Go Lone Star State!

Coocoo for Couscous!

couscous w pomegranite How, exactly, do you spell “Coocoo” anyway?

Never mind.  Today’s post is in honor of the fabulosa Meal Planning 101 workshop I taught two nights ago in my cozy living room.  Together with Ana, Jackie, Denise and Rebecca (hi mamas!) a productive evening of learning, laughing and–of course–eating was had!

I found this recipe online (and then modified it, what a shock) when I realized I had a half of a pomegranate that I needed to use up.  This fruit is beautiful and grows literally in many So-Cal folks’ backyards, although mine was purchased from the farmers market.  Takes a little work to get these glorious seeds freed from their fruit-home, but if you ask my girls, it’s tooootally worth it.

Michelle’s Citrus Couscous Salad

Ingredients: 1 cup couscous, veg or chicken stock, several fresh mint leaves, 2 fresh oranges, fresh pomegranate seeds (about a 1/2 cup if you can swing it), 1-2 tbsp. white wine vinegar, 1-2 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: Prepare couscous according to package directions.  You don’t have to use stock, but I like it better than water.  When done, add diced mint (start with a little), pomegranate seeds, vinegar and olive oil.  Squeeze your oranges and get some ‘a that juice in there (can use regular OJ too.)  The original recipe called for one orange, and maybe mine were a little bland but I needed two to get that sweet zing that I was wantin’.  Also add the vinegar and oil carefully.  You’d be surprised how much vinegars can vary so it’s better to hit with just one tbsp. and then add more if you need it.  There’s no going back if you add too much.  Serve chilled/room temp.

What I like about this salad: It’s so pretty!  Also it was easy-tasty-healthy, which, if you know me at all, are my three favorite food adjectives.   The I didn’t use as much mint as the original recipe suggested.  I like fresh mint, but it can be overpowering if one is not careful.  Oh.  The original recipe also called for green onion, which I didn’t have.  I had planned to add a bit of chopped white or red onion, but decided it wasn’t needed.  I promised my workshop girlfriends that I’d post this for them as they were my officially samplers two nights ago.  Thanks ladies!

Check me out on Hometown Pasadena till next Tuesday if you’re in the mood for more online recipe-a-la-MIchelle fun.  And I mean really, who couldn’t use a little more of that?

En honor de Dia de los Muertos: que tengan muy buenas memorias de todos que ya han pasado.

I Couldn’t “BEET” This One

beets

OK, so Jennifer got me.  This Once Upon a Chef inspiration really got me with her balsamic glazed roasted beets.

Developing one’s personal arsenal of recipes rarely begins from scratch.  These days it’s just too easy to see what all the other foodies are up to out there!

Usually I make a new recipe by following the prescribed rules (OK, yes, mostly following the rules.)  It just makes sense and there’s almost a sense of ‘honoring’ the original creator–although as most recipes have been borrowed and tweaked from hand to hand who knows where it really all began?

But I have my own take on kitchen concoctions and love to play around with possibilities… I enjoy adding more of this or substituting that to see if I can “Michelle-ize” the recipe.  Hey, we all get our kicks in different ways…

This recipe for beets, however–as many simple recipes are–is absolutely perfecto as-is.  I would not change one single solitary thing.

I made it.  We ate it.  We wanted more.

Also, as Jennifer states on her blog, the glaze is actually good enough to drink.  My girls greedily scooped it up with their spoons and slurped down every last drop.

Balsamic Glazed Roasted Beets

Ingredients: Approx. 6 med. beets, salt, olive oil, maple syrup and any balsamic vinegar (don’t go fancy-vinegar here, doesn’t matter)

Directions: Clean, peel (if you like) and cube the beets.  Place on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil/sprinkle with salt.  Roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes or until beets are cooked.

As beets are finishing up, heat 1/3 cup vinegar and 1 tbsp. maple syrup on stove top.  Stir constantly as it will heat quickly and you don’t want to burn the sugars.

When the beets are done, simply pour glaze over the top and dig in.

Tips: I used golden beets because that’s what I had.  Although my five-year-old son swears he can tell the difference between red or yellow beets, the rest of the family agrees we cannot.  We don’t argue with Grayson though.  It’s not worth it.

Nutrition info if ya wanna know: Besides magnesium, calcium and iron, beets contain significant amounts of folic acid which helps in the production of new cells.  Beets have also been linked to prevention of cancer, especially colon cancer.

(Also, my girls would like me to point out that it’s very exciting–after eating red beets–to see that your pee has turned pink.  Hey, like I said, we all get our kicks in different ways.)

SLAW

slaw

I’ve a confession to make.  Lately I’ve been a little OCD about cole slaw.  I know, right?  Of all things…

Since my “mouthy no worky” due to illness early this month, I’ve been slowly regaining my sense of taste.  For a few weeks now, even though my tongue is regaining a purpose in life, I’ve been desperate for foods that tasted like the good ‘ol days.

Enter: vinegar.  So I got a hankerin’ for some slaw one day and this idea turned in a two week long mission to find the perfect cole slaw recipe.  I decided that when I developed the recipe I liked, I’d post about it.

My friends, that day has come.

Michelle’s (and Mike, my girlfriend Lisa and daughter Josie’s) Fave Cole Slaw

Ingredients: 1/2 head cabbage, chopped; 2 carrots, shredded; few slender pieces red onion (don’t need to much); 1/4 cup cider vinegar; 1/4 cup olive oil; 2 tsp sugar; few dashes salt; dash pepper

Directions: While you are prepping the veggies, bring the vinegar, olive oil and seasonings to a boil on the stove top.  With the sugar in there this will happen in about 2 mins, maybe less.  Mix your now kinda-syrupy and warm vinaigrette and pour it over the top of your naked veggies.  Toss all this yummy stuff together and let it sit for a few hours before serving.  That’s it!

Tips: I like unfiltered cider vinegar (but then I’ve been working on jump starting  my taste buds so it could just be me.)  I played around with several cole slaw recipes before I deduced this one.  I don’t mind the mayonnaise type slaws, but they are so darn unhealthy that I figured I’d put my energy into the vinegar based kind.

The real secret with this recipe lies in the heating of the dressing before putting it on the veggies.  It doesn’t blanch the cabbage, per se, but the heat does do a little voo-doo which is nice.  Plus, heating dissolves the sugar and makes for a nice light syrup.

This recipe is pretty mild, actually, but makes for a great side dish for BBQ chicken, tacos, ribs, sandwiches.   I like this slaw because it’s easy-tasty-healthy (my three fave food adjectives!)

There are fancier concoctions that yield some nicely complex slaw situations, but for the effort, cost and taste, this  simple slaw recipe gets my vote.

Finally (seriously, how much can a person say about cabbage!?) I never knew how darn healthy cabbage is for ya!  It’s loaded with fiber, vitamin C, E, calcium, serves as a blood detoxifier… plus it’s cheap as heck and literally lasts for weeks in the fridge.  No wonder it’s such a big staple for so many cultures world wide.

OK.  I’m done.

Savory Crock Pot Ribs

crockpot ribs

Well you had to know this was coming.  I mean come on.  What kind of winter menu doesn’t include at least a few crock pot recipes?  Certainly not a menu from a born and bred Midwesterner!

I actually have two crock pots, thankyouverymuch.  One is a 4 quart (pictured here) and the other is about twice the size.  Sometimes I use them both at the same time and I don’t even have to defend myself because that is perfectly OK.

Crock pots/slow cookers have a reputation as being rather unsophisticated.  To this notion I say “pish-posh!”  Actually these gadgets are the hippest cooking tool in town as they allow on-the-go meal planners to prep in advance, walk away for many hours and then come back to a delicious meal and a kitchen that smells like heaven.  Cutting edge, baby.  That’s me.

One of my fave blogs is Crockpot 365 (featured along the sidebar to your right.)  Stephanie Odea has come a long way (I remember when her blog was ad. free) and business endeavors.  She totally cracks me up and tell me this: How can you not appreciate someone with an “unusual obsession with her crockpot but is OK with that?”

I like Stephanie’s recipes because she uses normal ingredients and always gives her family’s (and often friends’) honest verdicts of whatever she “crocked.”  Stephanie is also a believer in substituting or simply leaving out ingredients that she doesn’t have on hand (Amen sista!)

I do step away from some of the “not quite food” items that Crockpot 365 recipes list at times (condensed soups, soda, sometimes sauces) but as Stephanie would approve, I simply substitute or delete completely and happily get on with my life.

Today I am sharing one of my pork ribs recipes (not from Crockpot 365.)  I really should have called this recipe “This One Time” because I don’t really use a single recipe when I make ribs in the crock pot.  We like ours flavored with something sweet (honey, brown sugar) something tangy (balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, orange juice) and something salty (soy sauce, salt)  Feel free to put on your “Stephanie” and substitute away.  You can also check out Crockpot 365 for more delicious crocky fun.

AND… I’ll be Michelle-izing one Stephanie’s posts for my Feb. 26  Hometown Pasadena Mangiamo Post.  It’ll be tangy.  It’ll be easy.  It’ll be yum-ola.

But for now, I give you…

“This Time” Slow Cooker Ribs

Ingredients: 2 lbs. baby back pork short ribs, 3 garlic cloves, 1/4 chopped onion, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce, 1/3 cup honey, few dashes pepper, sliced oranges on top.

Directions: mix liquids (including honey) and drizzle over meat.  Add rest of ingredients placing the oranges last on top.  The liquid didn’t cover all the meat, so part way through I flipped the ribs over.  Not necessary; just tried it.  Cook in a 4 quart crock pot on low for 4-6 hours or until done.  Serve with rice which is perfect for the extra broth.  Yum!

Note: I don’t always use oranges, but my mom’s tree is still producing prolifically so I pretty much don’t make anything around her without them these days…

The “Joye” of Cooking

teriyaki chicken

So I’ve been sorta-kinda posting on MWF (OK, technically this is only my second week with that schedule, but must we split hairs?)   Today, in case you’re not aware, is Thursday, but last night my girlfriend, Joye, found out about a chicken dish I was preparing.  She said it sound delicious and couldn’t wait to see the recipe.

Apparently flattery will get you everywhere with me ‘cuz here you go (Joye!)

Michelle’s  Very Own Hawaiian-Teriyaki Chicken

Ingredients:
Whole cut-up (organic if you like) chicken
1 can crushed pineapple in juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
tsp. garlic powder

Directions:
Set oven at 350 degrees.  Pour soy sauce and garlic powder in the bottom of a baking pan.  Place chicken upside down to coat with sauce/powder mixture and then flip over.  Pour pineapple over chicken.  Add a shake of garlic powder over top.  Crumble brown sugar over top of pineapple and then drizzle with vinegar.  Bake uncovered for one hour or until done.   Broil top for a couple of minutes to create a nice crusted glaze over top of chicken.

Tips: you can use whatever chicken you have around (thighs, breasts, whatever.)  Brown sugar, soy sauce and vinegar measurements can be adjusted for smaller quantities, in fact I don’t even measure, just sorta eye-ball and pour until it looks right.  You want about a quarter inch of liquid in the pan when it cooks.  Add a dash of orange (or pineapple) juice if there isn’t enough.  The sauce from the meat tastes super-yum over steamed brown rice…  Oh, and you can substitute cubed or round-cut pineapple, just drain some of the extra juice before pouring.

Bonus Tip: The best thing about this recipe is that I always have the ingredients on hand and can whip it up in a NY minute.  And, yes, the title of this post was a no-brainer. 🙂

p.s. (geeze, shut up already, Michelle!) this recipe is also posted on the “meat” section of my recipe page.  OK.  I’m done.  For real.