Caribbean Coconut Rice

 

My family and I were lucky enough to go to Costa Rica over the summer.  It was an amazing place: full of friendly people, interesting adventures, beautiful plants, unique animals and tasty food.

One of our most memorable meals was in Playa Flamingo at a beach restaurant called Coco Loco, which we found on our Fodor’s Guide (yes, I still enjoy travel books).  (Trip Advisor Reviews).  We had the place and the beach to ourselves (probably because a storm was heading our way).  There was something for everyone.  My son had their signature dish of seafood mixed with rice and vegetables and cooked in a whole coconut.  My daughter had a wonderful salad, which included palm nuts (new to us). And my husband and I enjoyed the freshest fish tacos ever.  But it was our side dishes of coconut rice that had us discussing how we would replicate as soon as we got home.  It was very simple but so flavorful and delicious.

 

My son initiated finding a recipe and making it once we got home.  The Costa Rican version had a mixture of brown and jasmine rice, which we haven’t perfected.  But this is what we’ve been making from Vegetarian Times and substituting Earth Balance “butter” to make vegan so my daughter could enjoy too.  Amazing how it brings our thoughts back to that amazing beach….

Caribbean Coconut Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. grated lime zest
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4cup toasted shredded, unsweetened coconut, optional

Preparation

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, and cinnamon stick, and sauté 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in rice, and sauté 2 minutes, or until rice grains are opaque. Add coconut milk, sugar, salt, lime zest, white pepper, and 3/4 cup water, and bring to a simmer. Stir once, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes. Fluff rice with fork, cover, and let rest 5 minutes. Garnish with toasted coconut, if using.

 

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Peas and Thank You – New Family Meatless Cookbook Review and Give Away

Sarah Matheny, author of the popular blog, Peas and Thank You has written a new cookbook, Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love, after changing her family’s diet to one without meat products.  She has an easy and witty style about her writing and this book is peppered with food photos as well as her little “peas” (aka girls) enjoying her recipes.  This book has stories, tips and recipes from a mainstream family that takes on a not-so mainstream diet.

 

This book is a good one for those looking to make a diet switch and eat less animal products, as well as someone just looking for new meatless ideas.  I know I am.  Sarah has recipes from morning to night.  There are fruit smoothies for breakfast, sandwiches and salads (Hugh Jass Salad is just for mom) for lunch and hot meals (curry, jambalaya) for dinner.  Plus a few retooled desserts without the use of dairy (carrot cupakes).

 

My family made the homestyle chocolate chips cookies with sea salt, the thai veggie burgers and the homestyle spaghetti sauce.  While the cookies were good, I did notice they were missing something…butter.  But good to have a vegan recipe for such a popular treat.  Also the veggie burgers were good, but needed some sauce to lend moisture.  Luckily Sarah has a versatile almond ginger recipes that did the trick for me.  The spaghetti sauce was rich and easy (see below).  We used it on pasta as well as sauce for homemade pizza.

Review

Pros: good variety of meatless dishes, some simple and quick, fun writing style, good photos, nutritional info on each recipe, pea points on each recipe give helpful hints

Cons: some dishes require special ingredients (tempeh, non dairy cream cheese) that may be hard for some to find, some recipes are time consuming and need many ingredients

Give Away!

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Sarah’s new cookbook, Peas and Thank You, please send a comment on this post, with the name of your family’s favorite meatless recipe.  One winner will be chosen at random on Thurs. November 10, 2011 and notified via email.

 

Homestyle Spaghetti Sauce, pg. 142 from Peas and Thank You

It’s almost as easy as opening a jar, both with the added joy, if you wish, of letting it simmer for hours, rubbing garlic behind your ears, smearing a few splatters on your apron and bringing your thumb and teo fingers together to emphasize, “Now attsa some tasty sauce!”  You’d be right.

2 14.5 ounce cans organic diced tomatoes

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1/3 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup fresh basil

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender ot food porcessor and blend until smooth.  Pour sauce into a large saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

 

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Meatless Meal Ideas with Part Time Vegan Cookbook Review

Part Time Vegan…Aren’t We All?  There’s a new cookbook I received called The Part Time Vegan: 201 Yummy Recipes That Put the Fun in Flexitarian by Cherise Grifoni.   Some people get so freaked out about veganism.  There’s always someone who thinks vegans are hippies or just unhealthy/picky
eaters.  Sure they can be.  But like this cookbook title infers:  we’re all part time vegans at different time of the day.  Did you eat an apple with peanut butter for a snack?  That was vegan.  Ever had grilled vegetables with balsamic and olive oil dressing?  That was a vegan meal.  So really whether we adopt an entire vegan diet or not, at some point you’re likely to eat a vegan meal or two.  Thus this book is for everyone.  Whether you’re looking for more meatless Monday dinner ideas,  cooking for a vegan guest or simply looking for more healthy ideas, The Part Time Vegan has tasty recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts.

 

My family made a few things as soon as I received this cookbook.  One night it was a total vegan meal with Cashew Cream of Asparagus Soup, Orange and Raisin Curried Couscous and Vegan Pigs in a Blanket.  O.K the soup wasn’t a family favorite.  But mostly due to the texture – which was too crunchy.  I must admit too, the color isn’t very appetizing (see below)  Next time I would process the cashews to a powder for a less grainy consistency.  But the flavor was good.  Everyone loved the couscous.  I think the orange juice really made it and I will certainly make that again.  And finally with the Vegan Pigs in a Blanket, my kids discovered vegan dogs.  I had never tried these.  My kids aren’t huge hot dog eaters and they know that hot dogs are usually made with cheap, random parts (yes, I tell the truth) and thus a bit scary.  But I didn’t have anything bad to say about these and my kids thought they tasted like “regular” hot dogs.  Who knew?
The favorite recipe was the Blueberry Muffins that I brought to my son’s baseball game to share for “snack”.  These were a huge hit.  The kids loved them.  Parents were surprised when I told them they were vegan and I was asked for the recipe a few times.  Although they do have more sugar than I would normally put in a muffin, so just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean low sugar and fat.

asparagus soup
Vegan Dog Blanket
Blueberry Muffins

Review

Pros: Lots of creative and tasty recipes.  Easy to follow recipes.  Good opening chapter about veganism and some of the less familiar ingredients.

Cons:  Pictures would be nice, as would nutritional info.
Heavy on sugar for some baked goods.

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Zuckerberg’s New Deal – If You Don’t Kill It, Don’t Eat It

First, let me tell you I am not a Facebook fan.  Just too much info for me.  I provide enough here.  You don’t want to know more and I don’t want to read more.  Anyways….

 

I am a fan of Mark Zuckerberg’s new eating program and that is to take responsibility for your food and know where it comes from.  Here’s what he said

“This year, my personal challenge is around being thankful for the food I have  to eat. I think many people forget that a living being has to die for you to eat  meat, so my goal revolves around not letting myself forget that and being  thankful for what I have. This year I’ve basically become a vegetarian since the  only meat I’m eating is from animals I’ve killed myself. So far, this has been a  good experience. I’m eating a lot healthier foods and I’ve learned a lot about  sustainable farming and raising of animals.

“I started thinking about this last year when I had a pig roast at my house.  A bunch of people told me that even though they loved eating pork, they really  didn’t want to think about the fact that the pig used to be alive. That just  seemed irresponsible to me. I don’t have an issue with anything people choose to  eat, but I do think they should take responsibility and be thankful for what  they eat rather than trying to ignore where it came from.”

Read more:  Zuckerberg eating meat he kills | San Francisco Business Times

This isn’t new, but it is brave.  Shows like “Kill It, Cook It, Eat It” show gueling tests of raising, killing and eating animals.  Some can do it, while others can’t.  Michael Pollen researched and wrote about the various ways animals are raised and killed for your dinner table in the Omnivore’s Dilemma.  He too killed his own meal.  But Mark Zuckerberg is commiting himself to eating only meat from animals he personally kills for an entire year.  It’s an interesting choice and responsibility and I’m sure one where most would quickly become vegetarian.

Coincidentally here’s the conversation my daughter and I had when she was being tucked in last night:

“I don’t want to eat animals.”  she said.

“That’s fine.  It shouldn’t be too hard for you.  We’re eating more vegetarian and vegan meals like Aunt Christy, and if you don’t want to eat meat when we’re having it, that’s fine.  But you also need to know what you won’t be able to eat”, I said.

“Like what?  I already don’t eat chicken and steak.  And I only like vegan hot dogs,” she proclaimed.

“What about bacon?” I asked.

“Bacon comes from an animal?  Which one?” she asked.

I answered, “A pig”.

She started laughing in disbelief.  Then said “Turkey bacon comes from a pig?!”

I then laughed and said, “Turkey bacon comes from a turkey.  But bacon you like in a restaurant comes from a pig.”

“Oh, ” she said.

The conversation ended there.  She doesn’t have bacon often, but she does like it.  Not sure what will happen next.  We had chicken left-overs and grilled veggies turned into burritos tonight for dinner.  She skipped meat and went bean, veggies and cheese only.  I’ll keep you posted on her eating habits.

And I’m sure Mr. Zuckerman will too.

(Funny it was a pig that got both my daughter and Zuckerman thinking…but in opposite directions)

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Which Came First…The Dye or the Stickers? With Deviled Egg Recipe

Last year I dyed Easter eggs with natural dyes.  I was so excited and felt so green, as I boiled onion skins, tumeric, greens and blueberry juice for my hard boiled eggs.  The thing was I was lonely.  This is because it takes so long for the color to appear (some over 30 minutes) and needs to be done over a hot stove.  I thought the eggs came out lovely and like real hen eggs (pastel yellow, purple and green), but my kids lost patience and interest.  Most families are used to the plopping the egg into the fake dye and getting instant color…bright color.  My kids were dissappointed last year and the grandparents answered their call for “the fast, bright colors” this year by sending a princess dye kit and a star wars dye kit.  The farthest thing from natural you could get.  Luckily the kids arranged the dyed eggs in my real nests for photos, and skipped the yoda and tiara stickers.  So the eggs weren’t “natural and green”, but my family had fun and they still became yummy delived eggs.

I decided to try a new deviled egg recipe which incorporated fresh crab.  I’ve had the recipe cut out for some time and never made it (I do that a lot).  My husband and I loved them, but my kids not so much.  They wanted the “regular” ones.  I guess you never know how your crowd will react when messing with a holiday.  Oh well, there were more for my husband and I.  Happy Easter.

Crab Deviled Eggs, Inspired by MarketBar Restaurant in San Francisco

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled

2 cups spinach leaves, well rinsed

4 ounces fresh lump crab meat

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon white ine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon suagr

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon finely ground pepper

Place wet spinach in a small saute pan and saute over medium heat until wilted.  Press out liquid with a tea towel and chop.  Set aside.

Cut hardboiled eggs lenghtwise and keeping white intact, carefully remove the yolk with a small spoon.  Mash the yolks in a bowl with a fork.

Add remaining ingredients (including spinach) to egg yolks and mix well.  Adjust seasoning.

Spoon heaping teasoonfuls of egg/crab mixture into hollowed egg whites.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Vegetarian Cookbook Review with Cheese Fondue Recipe

When I was offered a look at the new cookbook, The Vegetarian Slow Cooker: Over 200 Delicious Recipes by Judith Finlayson, I was intrigued.  As you may know I’ve been toying with the idea of purchasing a slow cooker.  Read about my hesitations in my blog.  My family is also doing Meatless Mondays and I am always looking for new vegetarian dishes.  And my sister is vegan and while many of the recipes use dairy, there are some which note how to make them vegan, which I find helpful.  Anyways the cookbook arrived and the recipes looked great.  I wanted of course to make something, but still am not sure I want another appliance (especially to store).  The great thing is, I can and have made some of these recipes without a slow cooker with great results.  Of course some dishes (those with beans) need extra work (soaking) not required of the slow cooker, but it can be done.  Also some of the dishes can be cooked in a braising pot for a few hours (which I already have) – but no I wouldn’t leave the house.  The convenience isn’t there without the slow cooker.   The author does give info about various slow cookers and use, which is helpful if I do buy.

So while I didn’t buy a slow cooker I did buy a retro 70’s fondue pot.  Why?  Because it is lovely and orange.  Seriously my friend put a photo of this fondue pot on her blog and I immediately bought it on Etsy.  Who knew Etsy had kitchenware?  I’m in trouble now.  I’ve had it over a month and it’s only been a display item on the open shelf in the kitchen.  The slow cooker wouldn’t have such a prominent place.  Not sure what I was waiting for to use it.  However the perfect opportunity came with the arrival of the The Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  There are some inspiring dishes that are from all kinds of food flavors and origins and then I saw the section on fondues.  One in particular is a new favorite at my house… Kid’s Fondue.  This is like a bowl full of rich gooey pizza.  I am not kidding.  So while the recipe said to cook in the slow cooker for 1 hour, I simply heated and cooked low on the stove and then poured it into my fondue pot.  Super simple.  My family loved it.  My son was quite skeptical at first.  He likes fondue and is not a huge tomato lover.  When he saw it he said he wasn’t going to eat it.  However after dipping a piece of baguette and red pepper he exclaimed “This is the best fondue I’ve ever had!” 

And really I think the whole book is straight forward and pretty simple.  It may end up putting me over the top to buy a slow cooker…  But for now I’m enjoying the book without it.  I think making a recipe your own is what cooking is all about, and me wanting to use the book not as intended means the book is interesting.  So whether you are vegetarian or not, or have a slow cooker or not you can make this book yours too.  Here’s the recipe…

Kid’s Favorite Fondue

(page 108, The Vegetarian Slow Cooker)

Need: small (max 1/2 quart slow cooker)

fondue forks

1 can 28 ounces tomatoes (I used Pomi)

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

sliced baguette, celery sticks andsliced red pepper to serve and dip

Process tomatoes with juice.  Transfer to cooker.  Add spices and cook on high for 1 hour, until hot and bubbly. (I used a pan on the stovepot on low for about 30 minutes)

Add cheese in handfuls, stirring to combine.

Reduce heat to low and serve.  Dip bread and/or veggies into fondue.

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