Tuesday, March 31, 2015

SUPER Greens (my favorite salad mix)

March 30, 2015 3:07pm. @FoodNetwork started following me (@tastykaitis) on Twitter!!!!!! 

I can't even explain how SUPER I feel writing this! Food Network is like... my LIFE! I've seen just about every episode of every show, buy the magazines when I have the cash to spare, and am constantly on the site to see what's new and find some recipes to veganize for me and you.  I've dreamt my whole life to have my own show on the Food Network! (Ask my parents... I used to talk through my steps in the kitchen with everything from making cereal to veggie chowder!  ... I may or may not still do it -- and yes I'm almost 27!) :-D

While I took some time to reflect on the excitement of my day... I wanted to make sure I remembered every detail... I realized that I spent the morning prepping my homemade salad bar, complete with my SUPER Greens Salad Mix!!! 

I'm sure I'm not the only one who goes to the grocery store salad bar more than 2xs a week. I know I'm not! I see the same people 4-7 times a week at the salad bar! But do you know how expensive it really is?! Food Network Magazine did an "In the Know" article back in 2011 (yup, this one stuck with me!) called Shop the Salad Bar. It showed just how much your average grocery store marks-up the items on a salad bar (at $5.99/lb... Whole Foods- near me at least is $8.99/lb) is MIND BLOWING!!!!  The mark-up on chickpeas... 386%!!!! (and that article was from 2011... who knows if this has gone up over the past few years!)

The thing that SUCKS is that the items that are the most bargain items on the bar... tend to be the ones that aren't vegan/vegetarian friendly.  
Like Bacon.......................... And Cheese! :-(  (See all the findings here from the article here: Salad Bar Math

So... I started making my own salad bar at home! One day(more like an hour depending on how many veggies you have)+Veggies+mandoline= Salad Bar for the WEEK! For less than it would cost you to buy your salad for the week. Plus you get to decide what you put on your salad... you don't fall subject to the sadness that ensues when the grocery store swaps out one of your favorites for... Hard Boiled Eggs (Bleccchhhh!)
Grape Tomatoes, Red Bell Pepper, Fennel, Onion, Celery, Cucumber, Mushrooms and Carrots (Not Pictured: Peas, Baby
Corn, Microgreens, Beets, Kalamata Olives, Hummus, Quinoa, Farro, Wheatberries, Kamut, Harissa, etc!)
I'm sharing with you my "recipe" for SUPER Greens. What makes them super? Well... It's a mix of 4 of the Top 10 Most Nutrient Dense Foods (see: Dr.Fuhrman's List Explained for details) and it's chopped up so that you can enjoy the benefits of being about to eat lots of greens and actually feel full until dinner. 

1 pkg Baby Spinach & Arugula
8 leaves Kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (I like Lacinto best)
16 Brussel Sprouts, sliced about 1/8" (use a mandoline for uniformity)

Dump all of the spinach and arugula into a huge mixing bowl. Add in sliced sprouts and chopped kale. 
With the leaves all still intact, the mix is pretty voluminous... But wait... I'm going to fit it all back into the spinach/arugula
Take a pizza cutter and cut the greens by rolling the cutter throughout the bowl over and over until everything is chopped and mixing into itself.

You'll notice that the mix takes up a lot less of the bowl... Scoop it out and store the mix back into the package for the spinach and arugula.  What was once full is now...

Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Now for the Veggies: 
I used my mandoline for all my veggies except tomatoes (mostly bc I love tomatoes and nothing beats biting into a juicy tomato!)

Store water dense veggies in water (celery, cucumber, carrots... think of what veggies sit in water on the salad bar) in the fridge. I don't put my onions in water because it tends to leach the onion flavor. 

With everything else stick them in a tupperware in the fridge. When you have everything on hand, already prepped, tossing a salad together is a cinch!(pun ABSOLUTELY intended) 

With all the nutrients you get from these SUPER Greens and from raw veggies in general... You can have a SUPER day like me!!!* 

*Results not guaranteed :-)

I feel as though this post needs to be dedicated to a friend of mine from college... Not necessarily because he loves salad, but because he is known to most as SUPER Mario! :-) "This just in... You're Super!!!" hehehe

Tater Tots

Today, March 31st, is a great day.  Why you ask...? IT'S TATER DAY!!!!! That's right a national food holiday dedicated to my absolute favorite tuber! 

I did a little research hoping to find out the origin of Tater Day, thinking it may have a ties in Ireland or something cool like that... Well, no ties in Ireland BUT it appears it may be linked to a festival back in 1842 in my favorite state, Kentucky!!! The Tater Day festival was started as a celebration of spring and was an event where people would trade sweet potato "slips" (seeds).  It is THE oldest continuous trade day in US History. The festival is a 3 day affair with dates that range from March 28-April 6.  This year the sweet potato focused festival celebrates it's 159th year on March 6th. 

It's no secret that I love potatoes... I mean come on, who doesn't?! Well, I have to admit, I buy a lot of frozen tater tots. But without deep frying them in oil, I can't get them super crispy in the oven. Plus, with all the additives and preservatives, it doesn't make me feel too good about stuffing my face with them! 
So as some of you may know March is "March Madness" here in the US. It's a big college basketball tournament and bars are frequented in order for spectators to be able to catch every game. Which got me thinking... What would happen if you crossed french fries with onion rings? You'd either get onion straws or breaded potatoes... YAHTZEE!!! I found some mini potatoes at the grocery store and knew they could be breaded and BAKED to crispy perfection using a breading technique popular on onion rings! And did I mention, there's no oil?! *unless you want it... But its not necessary.
This is brilliant! With mini potatoes, there is no need to shred or boil them before they are baked into the most perfect, soft and buttery on the inside, SUPER crunchy outside tots! Napoleon Dynamite would be so proud! :-) 
Here's what I used, look at those mini taters!  Using Cajun seasoning adds a sneaky kick!

1 bag mini potatoes (I think it's 1-lb?)
2 cups All Purpose Flour
4 1/2 tsp kosher salt (divided, 2tsp and 2 1/2 tsp)
2 tsp Cajun seasoning (opt. but it definitely adds extra flavor)
1 cup Non-Dairy Milk
1 TBS White Vinegar
1 TBS Egg Replacer Powder (don't add water!!!) 
2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Place parchment paper onto 2 baking sheets and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, 1 tsp cajun seasoning and 2 teaspoons salt. In another bowl, whisk together the vinegar, milk and egg replacer. 

In another bowl (yeah yeah... this isn't a 1 pot meal sorry), combine the panko, and remaining 2 teaspoons salt and teaspoon of cajun seasoning.

Rinse the potatoes in cool water making sure they are completely wet.  Lightly dredge the potatoes in the flour mixture so that every centimeter is covered.  Shake off extra flour and then drop into the milk mix. Roll in panko, pressing to ensure the potato is fully coated.

Arrange on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer with a little space between each potato. Then place in the oven. Cook until golden brown, 14 to 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, flip over each potato to ensure even crisping and browning.

Sprinkle with a little extra salt when they come out of the oven and serve. 

**If you'd like to use oil, add 3 TBS olive oil to the panko before coating... Don't want to use that much oil? Spray crusted potatoes with olive oil before putting them in the oven. 

These tots are so ridiculously crunchy! ANNNND best part, if you make lots they can be refrigerated AND reheated in the microwave for a few seconds all while retaining their crispy coating!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

National Nutrition Month: Mushroom Filling for Ravioli/Tortellini

This month is National Nutrition Month® which was started by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as an annual campaign to educate and inform everyone about nutrition.  This year the theme of National Nutrition Month ® is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”.  

In my opinion (and I know there’s a lot of talk about this as well) one of the healthiest things you can do is eat more veggies.  Check out meatlessmonday.com to read about the benefits that eating veg once a week can provide!

But, going meatless doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste or go hungry! 

If you follow my blog you’d know that I received a 3-piece pasta attachment for my Kitchen-Aid for Christmas and it has been an adventure to knock out different types of noodles, pasta and even dumplings with it! Well this recipe has been a long time coming and finally I have the chance to not only sit down and relax, but to also to have enough peace to be able to string words together to create sentences. 

My most recent creation with my pasta attachment: Tortellini and Ravioli! 

I based the filling for these off of my "Grown-up Mac No Cheese" recipe. Mushrooms and some cashew cream make for a meaty and creamy filling that is sure to satisfy everyone on your Meatless Monday. There are so many ways to top the tortellini or ravioli... I'll give you a couple ideas at the end of the recipe, which starts now!!

1 recipe of pasta dough

2 1/2 cups mushrooms finely chopped (Equal to about 8 oz of whole mushrooms)
1 cup finely chopped onion 
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water
Salt and Pepper

Make pasta dough and let it rest.

In the meantime, sauté the mushrooms, onion, and garlic in the olive oil until the most of the water has evaporated.

In a blender, purée the raw cashews and water until smooth.  Be careful not to blend for too long or the mixture will be too thick!

Pour cashew cream into mushroom mixture and cook on medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the cashew cream thickens enough to just start to hold the mixture together. (about 5 minutes) 

Transfer into a bowl and let it cool while you prep the pasta.

Roll out pasta dough in sheets (I rolled mine out to a 5 on my pasta sheeter). 

For Tortellini: Take a sheet of pasta dough rolled out to the 5 setting and cut into 2"x2" squares.  Put a teaspoon of mushroom filling in the center of the square. Fold corner D to corner A (see diagram at the left). Make sure when sealing, you seal pasta as close to filling as possible so there is no air inside the pasta! Use a little bit of water if the pasta isn't sticking enough.
To fold the into the tortellini shape, wrap corners B and C around your finger.  Fold A down to the center of the filling on the opposite side from where you've wrapped B&C together.  

Cook in boiling water for about 4 minutes or until they float to the top. 

For Ravioli: (without pan)  After you have rolled the pasta out into sheets, cut the sheet into an even amount of squares. Using a teaspoon fill the center of half with the filling. Brush around the filling with a little water and place the remaining squares on top. Press down around the seal to push out any air bubbles.
(with pan) Flour pan heavily lay one sheet of pasta on pan. Press into indentations slightly and place a teaspoon into the indentations and lay another sheet of pasta on top. Use a rolling pin to seal the ravioli and turn out of the pan.

Cook in boiling water for about 5 minutes or until they float to the top.

**Tortellini and Ravioli can also be frozen! Before cooking, place on a sheet pan and freeze. Store in a freezer container for up to three months. Cook until the float to the top.

For toppings, a simple red sauce is always nice. Or try something different, like tossing in garlic infused olive oil with halved cherry tomatoes and some chopped basil. Or maybe some olive oil and Earth Balance with garlic, shallots, peas, and sherry. 

Try it, let me know how eating meatless goes for you!

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