Who is Bia?

My name is Brenda. I am a wife and an aunt-turned-mom of an amazing 13 year old. My passion for cooking and recipe creating developed as an adventure in finding healthy alternatives to the foods I don't want to live without! I am an advocate for local farming and my recipes are inspired by what is in season. I strive for my ingredients to be from a mother or from the ground and minimally processed. Please try my recipes, critique them, and share them! Just stay home and cook tonight!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Soup Marathon Day 5!

So today will be the last day in the soup marathon. Will I still create soups? Heavens yes! Today for lunch I was craving curry. Now if you don't like curry, this soup is not for you! If you love curry like me...oh this soup is for you! So here is my Curried Acorn Squash Chowder!
Looks amazing don't it? :)
1 large acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tbsp EVOO
1 yellow onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp ground curry powder
1 tsp ground chili powder
1 dried Thai chili pod (leave whole)
1-13.5 oz can of light coconut milk
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Red pepper flakes (depending on desired heat level)

Preheat oven to 400. Place the 1 inch cubes of acorn squash on a cookie sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and add salt, pepper, and some red pepper flakes (depending on desired heat level). Roast in oven until squash is softened and edges are starting to brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile in a pot sauté onion, garlic, celery, and butter until veggies are softened and onions are transparent. When squash is done, add to onion mixture in the pot and add the dried Thai chili pepper, curry powder, chili powder, salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for about a minute. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 8-10 minutes on medium low. Remove Thai chili pepper. Adjust salt and red pepper flake to desired taste.

Garnish with scallion, Thai basil, and cilantro! Enjoy!

Soup Marathon Day #4

Todays Soup: Phở!

For those who are saying to themselves, "What in the world is Pho?" Well let me give you a quick run down! Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup, usually served with beef (phở bò) or chicken (phở gà). The soup includes noodles made from rice and is often served with Vietnamese basil, mint leaves, lime, and bean sprouts that are added to the soup by the person who is dining. Got it? Ok, here is how I made mine:

1 jalapeno, stem removed and cut in half
1 onion, quartered
1 inch piece of peeled sliced into a few pieces
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
8 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
1 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
¼ tsp ground star anise
1 tsp soy sauce
1 package of extra firm tofu, diced into bite sized pieces.
1 large package of clear rice Asian noodles

Simmer jalapeno, onion, ginger, and garlic until softened. Then add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a steady simmer (about med-high) and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove and discard all the veggies in the broth. Add tofu and noodles and cook until noodles are done and tofu is cooked through.
Now if you have never had Pho, here is what you do: You not only have the soup, but you have the garnished and flavor enhancements on the side that you add in before you eat.

Typical pho sides are:
Bean Sprouts
Thai Basil (not sweet basil, they are totally different!) We found some at Market of Choice off Willamette in Eugene (for you locals)
Lime wedges (for the fresh juice)
Sliced Jalapenos
Asian Chili paste, or shiracha
Enjoy! :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Soup Marathon Day #3!

What is a soup marathon without beef stew? If you recall, my goal for this week was all my soups to be vegetarian. So how can I get a stew to taste like beef, but have none in it? By playing! So I used my imagination and combined red wine, worceshire sauce, and rosemary for the beef flavor and mushrooms for the beef feel! Here is what came of it: Non Beef Burgandy Stew!

1 Dozen small potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
5 large carrots, sliced
4 large celery stalks, sliced
2-8oz. Packages of baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
3 chopped cloves of garlic
1 sprig of rosemary, removed from woody stem and chopped
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP freshly ground black pepper
2 TBSP chopped, flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup flour and 2 TBSP flour divided
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup dry, red wine
2 hot cups water
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup milk
Salt to taste

Combine all the vegetables and herbs in a large crock pot, minus the mushrooms. Toss the quartered mushrooms with the 1/3 cup of flour before adding to the pot. Mixture will look like this:

Combine the tomato paste and the 2 cups hot water and whisk until chunks are gone. Add tomato paste mixture, wine, and stock to the crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. After the 4 hours of cooking time, whisk together the remaining 2 TBSP of flour and the 1 cup of milk. Add to stew and cook on low for another hour. Salt to taste and serve. (Don’t add salt until cooking process is over. Slow cooking with salt can make the dish too salty in the end.)

So we discovered that this stew tastes amazing, but it is so rich! We don't really eat rich food often, so this was a bit much for us. If you love rich food, this is the stew for you. Also, if you want to meat it up, replace the mushrooms with stew meat and use beef stock. If you don't like cooking with wine, replace wine with either vegetable or beef stock. The wine gives the stew it's color and "ping" though.

Make it. Critique it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Soup Marathon Day #2

So I had this wild idea: Why not make a soup that tastes like jalapeno poppers! Then the brainstorming began and thoughts about how to make it not 10,000 calories. Well, I thought what about making it potato based? So thats the direction I started to take. So this is what I cam up with: Jalapeno Potato Soup. It was amazingly good and nasal-clearing spicy!

So here is the process!
10    jalapenos, roasted then puréed
8-10 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 cups of hot water, divided (from boiled potatoes)
8oz package of Cream cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar
½ cups vegetable stock
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Roast whole jalapeños in an oven preheated to 425 until they are softened and the skin is charred a bit.

Meanwhile peel and boil potatoes until fork tender. To evenly cook potatoes, cut them equal size and cover them with cold water. This allows them to remain the same temperature the entire cooking time. When they are done, remove the potatoes from water with slotted spoon, you want to save the water. Add potatoes to food processor and puree, adding hot water from pot to keep loose, about 1 and ½ cups.
 During this stage add the kosher salt, white pepper, and garlic cloves and puree until no chunks remain. Mixture will look like this:
Add potato mixture back to soup pot, keeping it warm. Next, remove jalapenos from oven and cut stem off. I left the seeds, but if you want it less spicy, cut open and remove seeds and ribs. Add peppers to food processor and puree with the remaining ½ cup of hot water. Until no chunks remain.
Will look like this:
Add jalapeno mixture to potatoes and stir in remaining ingredients. Cook until cream cheese and cheddar have melted. Top with croutons!

Try it.
Make it.
Critique it!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Soup Marathon Day 1!

The Fall season is upon us! I love the rain, the cold not so much! The first thing that I crave when it rains is coffee...LOTS of coffee! The second thing I crave is soup! Some brainstorming has been happening between my husband and me about a dream/adventure in the future. In the process of this discussion I decided to try out some soup recipes to make that dream more possible (can't really go into detail about the dream yet hehe). I decided to try a soup everyday this week, ones that I will create each day, from scratch. They may turn out, they may not. Either way I will share the journey here! They will also each be vegetarian!

So tonight I went with a Lemon Thyme Rice soup.

Here is the process:
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 chopped carrots
4-5 Stalks of celery with leafy parts (see note below)
zest of 1 lemon
1 TBSP fresh thyme
1 TBSP lemon herb seasoning
1 cup of uncooked, brown basmati rice
1- 14.5 can of vegetable stock
3 cans (the empty vegetable stock can) hot water
2 TBSP chopped flat leaf parsley
juice of 1 lemon
Parmesan cheese (for topping)

In a large pot heat the EVOO. Add chopped vegetables and thyme and cook until softened. Add lemon herb seasoning and rice and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Looks like this:

Add in vegetable stock and water and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. When at a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-high and cook until rice is cooked. Before serving, add parsley and lemon juice and top with Parmesan cheese!
If you notice, salt wasn't added to this soup. Lemon touches the same part of your tongue as salt, so it is perfect without it!

Here is your note:
Don't be afraid of the leafy and center parts of celery! They have the most flavor! I used the stalks in the celery heart for this recipe!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Game Day Grubbin!

First off, let me say GO DUCKS!!! What a beating they layed down today!

Nothing beats food and football with my family! I have lived the last 14 years in Southern California, 900 miles away from my family and my hometown! Only a handful of times have I been able to watch an Oregon Duck game with them in those 14 years. Now that I have moved back to Eugene, I can watch them all with my family. So with a full house today, I made them some yummy food. On todays menu we had 3-cheese stuffed Anahiem peppers and grilled BBQ Chicken Pizzas on whole wheat crust!

Lets begin with the stuffed Anahiems! These were so amazing! If you recall my previous post, I shared about the peppers I picked from a garden my husband found of craigs list. Today half of them were stuffed and eaten up in less than 20 minutes! Here is how you make them!

15 medium/large Anahiem peppers
1 cup of cream cheese
1 12oz package of Queso Fresco
1-1/2 cup of grated Montery Jack Cheese (divided in half)

Begin by cutting a section out of the top of each pepper. Remove the ribs and seeds. We all found that we missed the heat from the ribs and seed, so if you like it spicy, leave them! Next time I will! Your peppers will look like this:
Next prepare the filling. In a food processor or by hand, combine all the remaining ingredients, minus 3/4 cup of the Montery Jack cheese. Stuff each pepper with the mixture.
When all the peppers are stuffed, place them on a baking sheet and top with the remaining Montery Jack cheese.
Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes and then broil for another 3 or until tops are browned!
Along with the peppers, we also had BBQ chicken pizzas cooked on the grill! For these I made the Food Processor pizza dough recipe I normally use, (You can find it here) but switched it up with whole wheat flour instead of white. It held up so nicely on the grill. Our toppings included BBQ chicken, tomatoes, spinach, cilantro, and cheese. They were amazing!
These pizzas got great reviews from my family, which mean the world to me! It was a pretty amazing day, Ducks won, great food, and my amazing family!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Farming on CraigsList!

I don't know if you are aware of this, but one of the best ways to find good, local produce is on CraigsList! My husband looks on the Farm/Garden section on CraigsList everyday and often he finds great deals. This morning he found a posting offering amazing deals on tomatoes and peppers! We drove over, took less than 10 minutes, and picked all of this for a little over $10!

Yes, I said a little over $10! Giant Anaheims were 8 for $1 and giant green peppers were 3 for $1. Notice some of those peppers are "Big Jims" which I have never seen in a store! Here is a "Big Jim"

I also picked up some tomatoes at $.70 a pound! Even heirlooms at $.70!!!!!
So I have planned for these treasures to make queso fresco/jack cheese stuffed Anahiems and black bean and rice stuffed green peppers! I will also chop and freeze the remaining greens and can the remaining Anahiems! Those recipies will come later! Thank you to Mrs. Etta Ingles for planting an amazing garden! If you live in the area, hit her up!

From Farm to Table

A few weeks ago my husband, my mom, my kid, and my niece took a trip to Detering Orchards in Harrisburg, Oregon. We picked green beans, zucchini, and peas.
They have an amazing selection of in season produce at amazing prices! That day I got about 5 pounds of green beans, two large bags of white, orange, and purple carrots, and nearly 10 pounds of zuchinni, and two giant heads of lettuce for $13! So with all fresh ingredients I made this delicious side dish of spicy carrots, peas, and zuchinni!
There are so many amazing farms here in Lane County! Summer has been amazing, although many crops are late this season! I am so excited for all that Fall crops will bring! Go visit a farm near you! Click here to find one: http://smallfarms.wsu.edu/farms/locate_search.asp
Spicy Carrot and Pea Mix:
1 cup of fresh peas
2 medium zuchinnis
4-5 large carrots (look for a variety of colors)
1-2 tbsp of spicy sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp EVOO
Salt and Pepper
Toss all the veggies together in the EVOO and saute until tender over medium-high heat. When veggies begin to soften, add the chilli sauce. And cook until desired firmness. Adjust the chili sauce to fit your heat prefrences. We like it hot! :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Outside-In Buffalo Chicken Breast

Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Panko Bread Crumbs
Red Hot brand buffalo wing sauce
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Blue Cheese Crumbles

I did not supply measurements on this recipe, because it all depends on how many servings you are making. Just eyeball it!

First of all take your chicken breasts and put them in a large Ziploc bag or between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound them flat. Lay them out flat when done and sprinkle about 1-2 TBSP of the blue cheese crumbles and then roll it up. Secure with a toothpick.
Now set up a little breading station. Bread chicken in this order: flour, egg, and then bread crumbs. Place in a skillet of HOT EVOO seam side down and brown lightly. Transfer browned chicken to a baking sheet and coat in the Red Hot Buffalo Sauce. Bake chicken in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Eat alongside some slices celery.

For us the blue cheese inside was enough, but a little dollop of homemade blue cheese on top was yummy too.

Blue Cheese Dressing
Blue cheese crumbles
Fat free sour cream
Salt and pepper
Celery seed

Combine in food processor or blender until desired consistency and taste!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lentil, Bean, and Meatball Soup

I love, love, love fall!!! Today it was finally cool here in Southern California!! Perfect day for a nice bowl of hot soup! Here is my latest creation:

Bean and Meatball Soup

3 cups Dried Bean and Lentil mix (found in the bulk section of most health food stores)
4 cups Vegetable Stock
Celery Hearts
Roma Tomatoes
White Onion
Fresh Garlic
Pinch white pepper
2 Bay Leaves
Fresh chopped parsley
Salt and fresh cracked black Pepper
Water (enough to make 1 inch fluid above everything)

Soak beans for a couple hours and then drain. Add all the ingredients together and bring to a boil. Reduce to a slow simmer.

Lean ground beef (I use 7% fat)
¼ red onion finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
Fresh cilantro and mint leaves (as much as you like)
1 egg

Combine all the ingredients well and form into ¾-1 inch meatballs. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and add to soup pot when beans are beginning to get soft, but still have bite. Continue simmering soup on low until beans are done. Salt to taste and remove bay leaves.