Isa’s Babushka Borscht

I enjoy Isa from Isa Does It. She throws in little slices of humor and tips for lazy cooks. Plus, she has a deep connection with her heritage, which I appreciate and relate to.

This particular recipe is a vegan alternative to borscht and I’m guessing it comes from her grandmother since babushka means grandmother or elderly woman in Russian. I do know at the very least that her ancestors are Russian and that she loves imagining them eating and preparing this dish. As I like to do with my own ancestors whenever I make pasta.

What you’ll need

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound of red beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 chunks
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • several pinches of ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • cashew cream (optional)
  • fresh dill, for garnish

Before I lay down the cooking steps, let me side track into how to make the cashew cream.

It’s simple, but it takes some planning ahead. All you do is take one cup of cashews and soak them in water for two hours. Drain the water and place the nuts in a blender with 1 1/2 cups of water. Blend until it’s smooth and creamy. Isa also notes you can spice it up with salt and lemon juice if you desire.

If you are not vegan, however, a friend of mine who spent some time in Russia likes to make his borscht with sour cream. I have yet to try his borscht recipe, but I have to admit that I wasn’t feeling the cashew cream. If you are a corrupted animal product dairy lover like myself, you also might find it preferable.

The first step, beyond the cream, is to pre-heat the oil in your largest soup pot. Saute the onion with some salt for about 5-7 minutes. The onions should be slightly soft and translucent in color. Add the garlic next, and cook for only 30 seconds.

Now we will add just about all the remaining ingredients. The lemon juice, dill, and cream are the only ingredients left out at this time.

Cover the pot and allow it to boil. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat, leave the lid slightly ajar, and simmer for about 35 minutes or until the beets are tender.

Once the beets have been tendered, add the lemon juice and then serve individually with garnished cream and dill.

My final results turned out ok. Like I said earlier, I wasn’t too happy with the cashew cream. I think I would have preferred a dairy product of some sort. I made her cashew cream for another recipe, however, and thought it was delicious. It’s possible I didn’t blend well enough this time or maybe the cashews were fresher the first time I made it.

Other than that, I found this soup to not only be healthy, but full-filling. Beets aren’t magical fruits, but they are magical vegetables with numerous health benefits.

Which is probably why I want to corrupt this soup with sour cream. Without sour cream, it’s just too good for me and I don’t deserve it unless I knock it down a peg.

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Mile-High, Southwest, Western, Denver Omelet

This omelet is brought to you by Cook This, Not That and its official name is Mile-High omelet aka Denver Omelet aka Western omelet aka Southwest Omelet.

Why there are so many names for this omelet? I do not know, but every diner I’ve been to flip-flops on what to call it. My best guess is that some diners are jealous of Denver. The Western and Southwest omelets don’t even want to acknowledge that it’s a Denver thing and the Mile-High ones are trying to be sneaky about it. I imagine a conversation between a Denver citizen and a Mile-High omelet diner goes like this, “So…why didn’t you just name it a Denver omelet?”

“Oh, but we DID! We named it Mile-High because you are the Mile-High City!!!”

“……some people might not know that though. I feel like you’re trying to trick me.”

Mile-High Diner stammers and flashes fake smiles to hide their infinite and envious jealousy. They make up some lame excuse so they don’t look bad and Denver is annoyed, but Denver is used to it. Denver’s motto is “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

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Denver doesn’t have time for Mile-High games

Anyway, some people say to make an omelet you’ve gotta break some eggs. That is true. In my case you break a lot of eggs and brutally murder two omelets. “Third time’s a charm” has been proven to also be a true statement.

What you’ll need (For 4 Servings)

  • 1/4 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 oz cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 oz smoked ham, cubed or sliced into thin strips
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup of shredded sharp Cheddar

The first step is to heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute the bell pepper, mushrooms, and onions for 7 minutes. The vegetables should soften up and be lightly browned. When this happens, add the ham and cook for a minute. Season with salt and pepper to your liking once the ham is cooked.

You are now ready to break some eggs!

Break the eggs into a bowl and add the milk. Whisk this mixture until it’s slightly frothy and season with a bit of salt. (If you are just making an omelet for yourself, I like to use only two eggs and I just splash a bit of milk)

Now here comes the challenging part, making an omelet that doesn’t fall apart. The best advice is to use a skillet that is as non-stick as possible. Heat that skillet over medium heat with a dash of olive oil. Swirl the oil in the pan so that it can act as extra non-stick protection. Then pour one-quarter of the eggs in the pan. As they cook, take a wooden spoon and scrape the outer edges. This is to even out the eggs as well as a check to see how settled the omelet is. When the eggs are almost fully cooked, you will add one-quarter of your filling and one-quarter of the cheese on one half of your eggs.

Here comes the other hard part. Take a spatula and carefully fold over the empty side of your omelet. My best advice to accomplish this is to use the wooden spoon and the spatula. You can also tilt your pan as you lift the empty side of your omelet.

Once flipped, I like to let it cook a little more so the cheese is a melted, gooey deliciousness but feel free to take it off for consumption as soon as possible.

I’m not sure what to say about the taste. It’s your standard omelet and I love omelets so that’s my lazy way of saying that it’s good. Whether you successfully flipped your omelet or not, the final taste will be rewarding.

I did get super excited about that final omelet though. I still haven’t mastered omelet cooking, but I love to eat them, no matter what they are called.

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Shrimp on a Stick with Mango and Avocado

This delightful recipe is brought to you by Cooking Light and probably the grill company Weber. I’m basing this on the fact there’s an ad for it right next to the recipe. I do recommend having a grill if you want to make this, but it can be done without.

I have proof. There are pictures. They are at the end. You have to read to the end. If you ignore me and scroll down a demon troll will steal your breath while you sleep.

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The real cause of sleep apnea!

What you’ll need.

  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of finely grated carrot
  • 1 tablespoon of thinly sliced serrano chile
  • 36 large shrimp (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 ripe unpeeled avocados, halved
  • 2 peeled mangoes, each cut into 6 wedges
  • 12 lime wedges
  • 6 large Bibb lettuce leaves
  • Cilantro (optional)

The fist step is making your marinating sauce. To do so, combine the first five ingredients in a bowl. Take out about 3/4 a cup of this mixture for a later use and add the carrot and chili into the remaining mixture.

Now we will prepare our shrimp. You can buy unpeeled shrimp or you can be lazy and get pre-cooked and peeled shrimp. I was lazy and got frozen peeled shrimp from Trader Joes and I regret nothing!

If you get unpeeled shrimp, after you peel you’ll want to butterfly the shrimp by cutting the backside of the shrimp so that it will flare out when cooked. Be careful when cutting. The goal isn’t to cut all the way through, but to let it air out so to speak. It’s like when you cook something in a pot and maybe you have the lid on, but you prop it up a little so it doesn’t overcook.

That’s the best way I can describe it in cooking terms.

The other term would be it’s like when you are a troll and are trying to steal little Drew Barrymore’s breath while she sleeps.  You don’t want to steal all of her breath, because than you’ll run out of oxygen supply. Just take a little and try to avoid that cat. He’s got his eye on you afterall.

Once these steps are complete, you’ll marinate the shrimp in the 3/4 cup juice mix for an hour in the fridge.

When the hour is up, remove the shrimp from the sauce but don’t throw the sauce out! That sauce is not ready to quit you just yet.

Prepare the grill for medium-high heat while you cook the sauce that won’t quit in a pan. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for five minutes.

You should now be ready to grill your shrimp! Do so by placing as many as you like on your skewers. The cookbook said three for a 12inch if you need rules, but I chose to ignore that.

Grill the shrimp for 2 1/2 minutes on each side. While they grill, bast frequently with the sauce that won’t quit, which will finally make it quit by the way.

You are now ready to grill the avocado and mango. The first step in doing so is to cut 3 avocado halves in half. Take one half for grilling and for the other, dice into cubes.

Before you know it, the sauce that won’t quit rises from the ashes and begs you to brush it all over your avocado and mango wedges. Comply and than grill with limes wedges for 2 minutes on each side.

We are now almost to the end! The end consists of placing one lettuce leaf on each serving plate. On top of the lettuce, place two mango slices, 2 lime wedges, one avocado wedge, and two skewers. Garnish with the diced avocado and cilantro.

The final step is to serve with the carrot sauce from the beginning and enjoy!

I was pleased with this recipe. I would make it again if I owned a grill. It’s too messy, hot, and frustrating to try to do in an oven.

The sauce is a refreshing crisp and citrus flavor. The avocado and mangoes are delicious and pair well with the shrimp.

I could just eat the diced avocado on it’s own though.

I recommend trying this in the summertime with a nice glass of white wine or if you are classy like I am, a lemon shandy. What is grilling without some kind of beer beverage anyway?

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Tumato Salad or The Salad that Stole My Heart

This salad. Oh my god this salad! I know it’s a basic thing for white girls to love salad, but I’ll have you know that I’ve always been desperately in love with chicken parmesan, pizza, burritos, and chips and salsa. It’s a toxic unhealthy orgy.

I think this Tomato and Tuna Salad from Classic Pasta at Home is the one for me though. It’s not overbearing, it’s filling, and it’s lean. I will miss my toxic orgy, but this salad will make up for it with devotion.

I’m not fooling anyone am I? I’m going to end up cheating on this salad the second pizza winks at me. The goddamn bastard knows he has me in his clutches!

Ok, so my bad humor aside, this salad truly is one of the best tuna salads I’ve had. Before I tackled this recipe, I’ve tried my hand at creating my own tuna salad recipe. It’s always good, but a meh good. It doesn’t really knock your socks and boots off. I think the key thing it was missing that I learned from this recipe is the white wine vinegar and basil. Those were the two major ingredients I was missing in my own concoction anyway.

What you’ll need to make this is, 2 large seeded and chopped tomatoes, 1/2 lb of tuna (I used Genova Yellowfin Tuna and I highly recommend it), 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of minced red onion, 2 teaspoons of capers, 2 cloves of minced garlic, salt, white wine vinegar to taste, around 12 basil leaves torn into small pieces, 1 heart butter lettuce, 2 hard boiled eggs quartered, and 12 black  Mediterranean olives.

To assemble the salad you will combine the tomatoes, tuna, oil, onion, capers, and garlic in a large bowl. I do not like capers and therefore omitted them, just so you know. Toss this mix and season with salt and vinegar. Toss again. Salads really like to be tossed apparently.

Once the salad is satisfied with your tossing, you will add the basil.

The final step is to divide your lettuce into 4 servings. In other words get 4 salad plates and make sure each has an equal amount of lettuce. Once that step is done, do the same with the tuna mixture as well as the olives and egg.

As you can see by my photo below, I just halved the eggs. I didn’t see the point in quartering them since I just made this salad for myself. I also bought California black olives, because I just wrote black olives on my grocery list.

Do you guys think I’ll ever get this lesson about details? I sure hope so.

I do prefer Mediterranean olives to black olives and I do think this salad would have been even better if it weren’t for my mistake. In the end, it wasn’t much of a deterrent to my enjoyment of this salad though. I look forward to making it again and this is a recipe I’ve bookmarked for the future.

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Run away salad! I’ll just hurt you!