Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Grilled Farmer's Market Sandwiches

I sure love the summer. Ahh... the sun warmly beaming through the windows making the couch have hot spots, the noise of crickets and cicadas making melodies in the trees, bike rides, floating in a pool while soaking up rays and drinking iced coffee, and of course.. grilling! I found this recipe in Cooking Light. And I'm sure glad I came across it. I made it one afternoon for lunch and used the leftovers for a sandwich the next day. Everyone at work was jealous. Oops. 
Grilled Farmer's Market Sandwich

2 T. olive oil, divided
8 slices eggplant, 1/2" thick (I used yellow squash)
2 slices red onion, 1/2" thick 
1 Lg zucchini, sliced in long 1/2" rectangles
2 t. fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 t. black pepper
1/8 t. salt
1 T. white balsamic vinegar (I used regular)
4 slices of hearty bread like ciabatta (I used Italian)
Cooking Spray
4 slices provolone cheese (I used nutritional yeast)
2 tomatoes, sliced
8 basil leaves

Preheat grill on medium-high.
Brush veggies lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. 

Combine 1 T. oil with vinegar in a bowl. Brush mixture on one side of bread slices. 

Place veggies on grill rack or foil, coated with cooking spray and grill for 4-6 minutes on each side, or til tender.  Place bread, vinegar side down on grill; grill 2 minutes. Remove from grill.

Layer sandwiches: cheese, eggplant, tomato, basil, zucchini, onion, eggplant, tomato, basil and finish with cheese again and top with other bread slice. Place sandwich on grill for 2 minutes or until heated/cheese melts. 

I love this sandwich. It was so tasty and easy! Plus you can use anything you have on hand. Swap vinegars, veggies, "cheeses", herbs, etc. 

One thing I've enjoyed this summer is going to one of our favorite diners for a delicious breakfast or brunch. It's called The Coffeepot. The waitstaff and owners make you feel at home. They have the best toast made with homemade bread, fresh brewed iced tea, best american fried potatoes, and other amazing options. They even offer cage-free eggs. My mom took me there for lunch on my 27th birthday a couple weeks ago. 
We sat outside. It was a beautifully lovely day.
My mom surprised me with a decorated livingroom
Super fun surprise birthday package I got in the mail from my friend Sara! 
My mom makes everything so special. I'm so blessed! I got another surprise in the mail from my sister! 
I hope you are all enjoying your summers. Fall is coming some soon.. 
Feel free to suggest some recipes:) 
Chef Teebs

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mixed Vegetable Kootu

I don't know about you, but I love trying new flavors and ingredients. In the last several years curry has become one of my favorites. This recipe seemed like it would be similar to a curry-kind-of-dish, but with a different twist. I wasn't able to find all the ingredients so I'll share what I did differently. I found this recipe in Cooking Light.

Mixed Vegetable Kootu
 Serves 6 

1 C. firmly packed cilantro leaves
1/2 C. fresh/frozen grated unsweetened coconut* (I omitted)
1/2 C. coconut milk
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 serrano chili, stemmed and seeded
1 T. ground coriander
1 t. cayenne pepper
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4" slices 
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4" rounds
1/2 head medium cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 lb. green beans
2 T. coconut oil
1 t. mustard seeds
8 curry leaves, optional (I used basil)

Puree cilantro, coconut, coconut milk, garlic, serrano and spices in a food processor until mixture forms a smooth paste. Set aside. 

Place carrots and sweet potato in a large skillet, and cover with 1 C. water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook 2 minutes. Add cauliflower, cover skillet and simmer 2 minutes. Add green beans, cover and cook 2 more, or until vegetables are just tender. Stir in cilantro paste and season with salt & pepper, if needed. Cover and keep warm. 

Meanwhile, heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and cover. Cook 30 seconds or until sizzling subsides, then stir in curry leaves, if using. Stir mustard seeds and curry leaves into vegetables. Serve hot or at room temperature. 

*If you can only find dried unsweetened coconut, soak it in hot water for 15 minutes and drain before using. Unsweetened coconut is hard to find. After I making this I finally found some dried coconut at grocery store that has a huge ethnic and organic section.
I use this in almost all my cooking
Green beans from the garden:)
 I enjoyed the different flavor mixture. It was a very mild flavor. I could taste the garlic and coconut hints. It was a nice change. I would make it again. Maybe switch some things up differently. I like my food pretty flavorful. I served this with Ina Garten's hummus recipe (my favorite!) along with toasted pita bread. 
 I'm excited to try some new recipes!! I'm going to be cooking a lot more. So stay tuned!

God bless you all,

Chef Teebs

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Light, refreshing Pita Bread Salad alongside a Baked Potato Bar? Yes please!

Years ago I went to my friend Sara's house and she made the cutest dinner. We each got 1-2 baked potatoes depending on its size and on the table laid all kinds of toppings to make it a delicious meal! She used bacon bits, sour cream or ranch dressing, broccoli, .. it's hard to remember all she used actually. Since then I've been wanting to make it again. I thought a fresh summer salad would go along great with it. I had a recipe for a Pita Bread Salad that sounded nice and summery. My mom said it was one of her favorite meals that I've made. She's already made the vinaigrette recipe since. Try it out before summer is over!

Pita Bread Salad

2-4 Pitas(I use whole wheat), cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 C. extra virgin olive oil
3 T. fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, chopped
salt & pepper
2 small cucumbers, peeled and chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced (or 1/4 of an onion)
1/4 C. flat leaf parsley, chopped 
1/4 C. fresh mint, chopped
1 small head romaine lettuce, washed and torn into pieces

Preheat oven 350. Transfer pitas to a baking sheet; bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Stir in cucumbers, tomatoes, bell pepper, scallions, parsley, mint and pitas. Add the lettuce and toss. 
 For the baked potato I would say be as creative as possible! I baked the potatoes like normal and prepared the following toppings: steamed broccoli, heated black beans, sauteed onions until golden, and fresh chopped chives from the garden. I also served vegan cheese and sour cream on the side. 
Dad getting ice for dinner
 The best word to describe this meal is Fresh. Delicious, healthy and easy! I love how versatile it is. You can add more veggies like roasted red peppers, mushrooms, chickpeas, spinach, arugula, shredded carrot, parsley, vegan "bacon" bits, hot sauce, bbq sauce,... yum! Get creative and please share tips! And most of all have fun!

Chef Teebs  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Barcelona: One Day in One Unique Looking City!

Jackie and I arrived by plane through Ryan Air. It's a really great airline with affordable flights. Just be sure you follow the luggage restrictions and arrive on time and you should be fine! There's even a fun surprise when you land... they played this hilarious audio over the speakers of clapping because we arrived!! It was great. We found a place to stay for the night on AirBnb.com. We also used that website to book our flat in Paris and a bed and breakfast in Venice. I highly recommend the website! You can get a very affordable place to stay in almost any city. You can also open up your own home to others. 
Old school elevator in the apartment!
It was such a unique experience to stay with a real Spanish family. The woman who we stayed with was a hospitable hostess. She went out of her way to surprise me with steamed soy milk to serve with the coffee she prepared for us along with delicious croissants. She also came along with us and showed us all the cool sites we wanted to see and ended the night with paella at a restaurant in Las Ramblas. 
La Pedrera by Gaudi
Inside La Pedrera
La Sagrada Familia by Gaudi
Vegetable Paella (it was okay)
Our new friend, Jeremias
 Since we only had one day there we didn't get to see as much as we may have wanted to. I would like to warn you about the pick pockets. It's really bad. Even the locals grip their purses tightly as they walk around. I didn't see this anywhere else on our vacation. Just a heads up. 
We had to catch an early flight to head back to the USA, so we stopped for one last brew on our way... We were so excited to see our families! 
 I'm home safe and sound. Ready to get back in the kitchen and whip up meals! I hope you enjoyed this European journey. My hope is that it brought inspiration, desire for adventure, appreciation for free bathrooms and water (it did me!), awe of God's amazing creation, and of course an appetite for different cuisines!

Recipes are coming, get ready!

Chef Teebs

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rome: Amazing History, Delicious Pizza, Interesting Experiences

After a 6 hour overnight train ride of sitting in the aisles, we finally arrived in Rome. Italy's transport went on strike that day and our only option was a full train. I couldn't even sleep. Exhausted beyond care we spent 70on a taxi to get to our Hostel. But don't worry, it got better. 
The Hostel where we stayed is called Plus Camping Roma. There are some ups and downs to it.  
Pros: Great price, Staff available to help answer questions, Shuttle to popular sites, Other young people to meet, Restaurant with pretty tasty cheap food, Supermarket, Laundry mat, Nice clean bathrooms & Showers, Swimming pool, Bus stop very close, free Wifi & an internet room with computers to use with a fee. 
Cons: College party atmosphere, Not real family friendly (yet there were families there), location is about 30 minutes away from down town, wifi connection is terrible
We stayed in the tents
Restaurant at Hostel
Dinner first night at the Hostel, pasta and flatbread
 We headed out to ancient Rome the next day. In the Colosseum, it was surreal walking around the very place that countless people were killed for entertainment's sake, including martyrs. Hard to believe I was really there, walking through the Roman Forum, streets thousands of years old, getting just a sample of what Rome may have been like when Apostle Paul was there. Amazing.
Do yourself a favor and don't eat at the stands right outside of the touristy sites. This is what we got when we asked for "pizza" (tasted like a pudgy pie)
This statue was just recently found buried nearby
After a long day of walking and seeing the unbelievable sites, we rested our tired legs at Pizzeria Nuovo Mondo. There were a few vegetarian options. We went with an eggplant, pepper and spinach pizza on a very crispy crust. DELICIOUS! The waiter was a young guy, very kind and working hard to be attentive to each table in the busy, family-packed restaurant. We sat there, enjoying the locals sitting at large tables with their families, each with their own pizza, some folding large pieces in half, laughing and chatting, enjoying each other's company. So refreshing. I love the culture. The whole menu was in italian. Always a good sign. 
Marco (the waiter) and I
Day Two: Vatican City.. We attempted to see everything, waited in line for a 30 minutes or so. It led us to St. Peter's Basilica. Everything else was closed because it's Sunday. So be aware of that. Afterwards we visited breath-taking Trevi Fountain, got dinner and did some shopping. 
As I was looking for a place I had read about online, I stumbled upon this unique restaurant/museum called Museo Atelier Canova-Tadolini. Loaded with statues (even surrounding the tables), gold-cushioned chairs, & fancy decor... this restaurant is classy! It is definitely very pricey, but not unusually pricey for a nice restaurant. The food tasted very fresh and was presented elegantly. I loved it! I had a hard time deciding what to eat because there were several dishes to choose between that sounded so good. I had a salad and ravioli. We had to order a cappuccino for dessert because I had read that Rome is known for the best. It was an excellent capp but I would have enjoyed it so much more if it was soy or rice milk. I really don't like the taste of milk. When asked for the leftovers "to-go"  they put it in a cute reusable cloth bag! I would definitely recommend this restaurant! It was a great time. 

We had fun, enjoyed amazing food, found neat gifts for family, and most of all were amazed by ancient Rome. We were now ready to head out to Barcelona for one last adventure before returning to the States... 

Chef Teebs