Entries Tagged 'meals' ↓

Spinach, Grilled Beets & Feta Salad

Balsamic Dijon Dressing:

  • 1-2 TB Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 3T Olive Oil
  • A bit of lemon zest
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

- I just put it all in a jar and shook it up

  • Big ol’ bunch of fresh spinach, washed & dried (other greens could work too)
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced very thin
  • 1-2 oz feta cheese
  • Grilled beets (we had 3 small/med in the CSA box):

Peel & slice beets a little less than 1/2 inch thick, coat with olive oil ,sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Fire up the grill & cook on high about 3 minutes per side (I close the lid cuz our grill is a weakling)

Continue cooking until fairly soft then remove to a covered bowl and let steam on for another 10 minutes to get soft.

Combine all those things into one (if I may say so myself) kick ass salad – which I did share with my husband.

How to Make a Potluck Winner (aka Cheesy Veg Bake)

There is a bit of a background story on this one so scroll on down if you just want the recipe. Oh, and sorry I didn’t get photos like I planned :(

Since we joined our local Grange a few months ago one of the highlights has been the food at the pre-meeting potlucks (where all the real work gets done, btw). While I have always had a bit of performance anxiety around bringing something crowd worthy to communal food gatherings, these folks really raise the bar. I live in a community of exceptionally good cooks. With big gardens full of the freshest ingredients. It can be a little intimidating. Last time I brought what I thought was a lovely Caesar Pasta Salad, only to be a middling contender amongst half a dozen pasta salads. We brought home half the dish – which was darn tasty the next day, but still…

You see my goal is to bring home an empty container, and if I’m honest, I wouldn’t be upset if lack of getting seconds of my dish caused some mild grumpiness.

But on the flip side is my “Made Up Food” personality and the fact that I just can’t seem to bring myself to follow a recipe to the letter. Plus we really didn’t have the time or inclination to haul ourselves to the store. So what can be made with this week’s CSA veg?

I’ll be posting more about my methods, and asking for new ones soon, but suffice to say I did what I always do and scoured a bunch of recipes to steal bits from. I have come to believe that most vegetables taste best roasted, so instead of the common boiling, that’s what I did. It does take a bit more time and effort but I think it is the key for this dish. I hold up the fact that my big Pyrex casserole was squeaky clean before anyone had seconds. And it had some serious competition at what was the best potluck yet.

Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli & Potato Cheese Bake

  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 1 small head broccoli
  • 3-4 medium/small potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • fresh herbs or dried such as rosemary, thyme, basil and/or oregano
  • sprinkle of chili powder
  • salt and pepper

Clean and chop vegetables in bite size pieces, toss with olive oil, herbs & spices on lightly greased baking sheet and roast in 375 ° oven for 15 minutes, check and stir/flip pieces.

Roast for another 15- 20 minutes until browned and tender. When they are done transfer them to a casserole dish. I used a big 13 x 9 but you can do a thicker layer in a square or round if you increase the backing time.

Once they are on the final stage you can get busy with the
Cheese sauce

  •         2 tablespoons butter
  •         2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •         3/4 – 1 cup milk
    - OR -
  •         2/3 cup milk + 2 TBSP plain Yogurt ( because I ran out of milk, a happy accident)
  •         about 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (I added a bit of Parmesan)
  •         1 teaspoon good mustard
  •         1/2 tsp mustard powder (if you have it)
  •         chili powder ( I think about 1 tsp)
  •         cayenne pepper to taste
  •         salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter, and stir in flour. Gradually whisk in milk, and increase heat to medium. As the mixture thickens, whisk in the spices. Add the mustard and continue whisking until a thick sauce has formed, being careful not to allow the mixture to boil. Sprinkle in 2/3 of the cheese, and stir until melted.

Pour sauce over broccoli and cauliflower. Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, until bubbly and lightly brown. Sprinkle with remaining cheese during the final 10 minutes of cooking. This part only took 20 min + 5 for me since the big dish yielded a fairly thin layer. This also resulted in more cripsy bits per square inch, so that was a good thing.

There it is, a lick your plate clean potluck option. The only sad part of this story is that dear husband missed out on tasting the final product because he was too polite on the first round and it was gone by the time he went to refill his plate. Based on his dismay, I don’t think that’s going to happen next time.

 

Banana Blueberry Apple Coffee Cake

I have been making a bunch of crumbles and quick breads to use up some of the “on their way out” fruits that we have now that I am trying to up my fruit and veggie intake. Can’t seem to get through them fast enough and I figure this coffee cake has at least 1 tasty serving in it (along with the butter and sugar).

Made Up Coffee Cake

Preheat oven to 350° and butter 8 x8 casserole or other pan.

Bowl 1:

  • 2 apples, diced fairly small
  • handful frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • juice of 1/2 sweet lime (or lemon juice to prevent browning)
  • grate of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp sweet lime zest

Bowl 2:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 TBsp oil
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp yogurt
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract

Bowl 3:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1  tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • sprinkle salt
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • sprinkle nutmeg

Bowl 4 (topping):

  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • sprinkle each: ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg
  • small handful honey nut o’s cereal – pulverized
  • 2 Tbsp cold butter

Gently mix bowl one and set aside.
Beat bowl 2 until creamy
Stir together ingredients in bowl 3, add bowl 1 and bowl 2 and mix. Will be fairly stiff batter/dough.

Dump into pan and smooth out.

Crumble cold butter with dry ingredients in bowl 4 to make topping and sprinkle evenly over dough.

Bake about 30 minutes or until skewer in center comes out clean.

Let cool slightly before eating so as not to burn your tongue.

chili soup

I wanted to bring a hearty but not too spicy soup/stew type thing to a friend’s house for lunch today but didn’t have much in the house to work with – especially in the fresh vegetables department. So I concocted a chili type soup from what was around and it really came out well and was very satisfying.

• 1 can tomatoes
• 1 large sweet potato diced into 1 cup water
• 1 cup beef bouillon

Simmer until sweet potato is soft -puree with a hand blender if desired

Fry up in a bit of oil or beef drippings
• 1 rib celery finely diced
• 1 bell pepper diced
• 3 small green onions (since that’s all i had – I would add half an onion diced if I’d had it)
• 1 hot chili pepper very finely diced
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp chili powder
Add
• 1 can great northern beans
Add veggie bean mixture to stock with one small can tomato paste

Brown & Add > 1lb ground beef – browned last because I needed it to thaw. You could cook first remove beef to side and use drippings to saute veggies.

Cook soup until thick and yummy

I think this would be tasty with cilantro lime and sour cream

Now *That’s* what we’re talking about! T-day cranberry style

photo courtesy cc license Andrew YeeI stumbled across this made-up-food style non-recipe on Wonkette (careful, it’s an irreverent & sometimes potty mouth blog) that has all the hallmarks of Made Up Food – unpretentious, simple, easy and what sounds like gourmet level delicious. So – check out the full post or get the highlights in the heavily excerpted portion below.

There are many recipes you can find “on the Internet” for fresh cranberry sauce, but you don’t need to do that anymore. Just send this one to your xBox or whatever and be DONE, done with the search for the ideal cranberry relish recipe.

THE THINGS YOU NEED:
When you’re at the store, get two sacks of fresh cranberries from the produce section. They are like, a pound each. This will be plenty for eight or so people. Did your relatives refuse to use any kind of birth control, producing a larger family of say, 16 people? Just double the recipe, meaning buy two of whatever, and use twice as much, in the recipe. And “double the recipe” does not mean set the oven to 700 degrees instead of 350. Jesus.

If for some reason you don’t have some basic cane sugar and a decent bottle of bourbon at home, purchase these things in whatever respectable quantity, so next time (Friday morning) you’ll have this stuff handy.
Oranges. Buy some of them.

NOW: Either right now or tomorrow or 30 minutes before carving time — IT DOES NOT MATTER — you wash the cranberries. (The thing that looks like a ’50s space helmet, it is called the colander, fill it with the cranberries and put it under the cold faucet).

Dump said berries in the Pyrex baking dish, like the one people might use for lasagna or baked manicotti. (This is a good time to remove whatever weird stuff the Stephen King characters who pick cranberries might’ve dropped in the bucket: loose teeth, etc.) Get the cheese grater and just grate on some sad-but-firm orange, right on the peel, so that the little bits of orange peel fall down upon the lonely berries. It is fine if some bigger chunks — like, half-inch-long shreds, but no bigger than that — fall down there, too. It adds “color” … orange color, in fact. Do this until you’re tired of doing it, at which point there’s probably about three teaspoons’ worth of orange “zest” in the pyrex, with the cranberries. Don’t pick it out and measure it or anything, just show some confidence. For once.

Cut open that poor orange you’ve just Gitmo’d, and squeeze the juice into your cranberry business. Do not drop the orange seeds in there, come on.

Now drizzle a couple-five shots of bourbon on the berries. And sprinkle about half a cup of granulated cane sugar over all that. (Generally, cranberry relish recipes call for some insane amount of sugar, like three cups. Do not ruin everything, okay? Using not-so-much sugar produces a tart but still sweet-enough relish that is to be served with savory dishes like turkey and dressing, right? If you want to put this on a peanut butter sandwich, by all means use fifteen cups of sugar and chase it with an “energy drink” or whatever. Let freedom reign.)

Cover the baking dish with foil and put it in the oven. Doesn’t really matter, whatever the oven is set to, which is going to be in the 300-425 range for your general Thanksgiving dishes crowding the oven. You also don’t need to be a dick and start yelling about how somebody needs to move the mac-and-cheese or the brussels sprouts under the broiler (and you SHOULD have simple cut-in-half olive-oil-brushed brussels sprouts under the broiler!) because you must get in your cranberry relish. Anytime is fine, and plus who will be impressed if you keep talking about it, beforehand? They might notice how easy it is to make, and then who are you? You are basically Lou Dobbs. So go outside and yell at a Mexican.

Come back inside, and please wash your hands if you were smoking out there, and see what is going on. Are people tense? It is probably time to open a bottle of wine, go ahead and pass around maybe a Petite Syrah, something that will go with maybe some pita chips or apple slices, whatever, try to get people to relax. It is okay to have “Irish Coffees,” too, because it’s daytime.

When the cranberry business is bubbly and the berries have this nice soft-but-firm kind of thing going on, take out the pyrex and let it cool somewhere out of the way. If there’s room in the fridge, you can just put the tray in there once it’s cool to the touch. But there’s no room, jesus just look at all the food in there, plus there are about a million beers for tomorrow, so just scrape it all into something pretty, some kind of thing you might put chutney in, or whatever (ask mom).

Serve and watch how people say, “OMG I only ever had it from a can,” etc.

Read more at Wonkette: How To Make Wonkette’s Actual Awesome Real Cranberry Business

(photo from Flickr creative commons courtesy halfchinese – with Andrew Yee’s own yummy recipe there too)

Another Broccoli Slaw – Asian flavors

So, its summer and hot and we don’t want to stir fry. How are we supposed to stick with our “big bowl of veggies per day” plan? Salads of course.

But I bought broccoli  out of force of habit and its too dang hot to eat anyhow. So I remembered a previous experiment with broccoli slaw and decided to do it again but with some different flavors and less ingredients. Super quick, super easy and super yummy.

1 head broccoli – chopped fine
I ran raw stems through the food processor grater and lightly steamed the heads in the microwave before chopping them superfine by hand.

1 large or 2 small green onions – sliced fine – I used the ones I had regrown from the end cuttings I planted a while a go so they were pretty small – used greens and all

1/2 bell pepper - run through the food processor grater with the broccoli

A rather large handful of bean sprouts – chopped coarsly

I also think the 2 flowering heads of cilantro I minced in help pull the flavors together.

Dressing:

2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
1.5 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS sesame oil
1 TBS Mae Ploy sweet hot chile sauce

Shake in a jar or stir in a bowl until blended

Pour over slaw mix and stir.

Let sit a couple hours for maximum yum.

ABC = Apple Banana Compote

ABC = Apple Banana Compote

ABC = Apple Banana Compote

Last weekend my darling husband woke up begging (yes begging) for pancakes. I started ‘em cooking and opened the fridge (like a good multitasking cook) to grab the syrup and put it on the table. Instantly it turned into one of “those” mornings when “invention becomes the mother of necessity.” The real maple syrup container was–empty! I started scanning the kitchen. Let’s see…what have I got instead?

1 organic Fuji apple, peeled, cored, sliced and diced
1 organic and overly ripe banana, peeled, sliced and diced
1/4 cup (or more?) brown sugar
4 small tangerines, juiced
1 organic lemon, juiced
2-3 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the apple and saute for a few minutes stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and cook over low heat until the pancake are done being made. Pour it over freshly cooked pancakes and Voila’. Instant delicious!

And the best part of the morning was Zena helping me in the kitchen. Here she is pushing the pots and pan drawer back in after I pulled the saute pan out.

Zena Helping in the Kitchen

And here she is after breakfast. We washed our hands. She licked hers. Yumm!

Zena after breakfast.

And here’s Queen Zena lounging on her favorite blanket after breakfast.

Queen Zena Lounging.

Sweet & Sour Tilapia & Rice

IMHO sweet chili sauce needs to be in everyone’s fridge. Just because the bottle says “For Chicken” shouldn’t stifle your creativity. This easy combo sounds icky, but it’s delicious. Trust me…

1 C Rice
Salt
2 Frozen Tilapia Fillets
Sweet Chili Sauce
Sour Cream

Set up your rice cooker the way you usually do for the rice. I usually put a little salt in my rice. About halfway through the cooking time, toss the frozen tilapia on top. Close the lid & finish cooking the rice as if nothing happened.

When the bell rings, put your rice & steamed fish in a bowl & top with the sweet chili sauce & sour cream. Yumm!

Cheddar Soybean Bake

cheddarsoyI was talking with my brother on the phone the other day and he was reminiscing about a side dish my mother used to make that we loved as kids. It was basically a casserole made up of tater-tots, mayonnaise and cheese and it was all kinds of brown and bubbly goodness. Now that he has been diagnosed with Diabetes those kind of carbs are off the menu so he has adapted it to use high protein soybeans instead. It sounded intriguing, so I took his idea and ran with it adding some sausage and eggs for a complete one dish meal.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 9 glass baking dish or any medium sized casserole. Layer the following in the bottom:

  • 1 can organic soy beans drained but not rinsed
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 2 pre -cooked chicken sausages, 1/4 in slices – mixed into beans

In a bowl combine:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1-2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1-2 Tbsp Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp garlic (or whatever herb/seasoning you like)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or other real cheese
  • salt and pepper

Pour mixture evenly over ingredients in the baking dish and top with an additional 1/4 cup of shredded cheese pushing it down into the mixture a bit.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and top is golden brown and bubbly.

I used eggs and sour cream instead of the larger amount of mayo originally called for because I was scraping the bottom of the jar, but I think the eggs especially added a nice heft to the dish and maybe even upped the nutrition a bit. The end result was a bit watery in the bottom and next time I will drain the beans much more thoroughly before adding to the pan.

Although it could never be the same as the tater tot version this is a really tasty dish in its own right and one I know we’ll be making again – especially since its so adaptable, fast and easy. If you try it and create your own variation please put it in the comments and let me know how it comes out.

Too good not to post: Asparagus and Israeli Couscous

So this may be breaking a bit from the philosophy of this blog (no real recipes followed to the letter) but since I made some additions/substitutions I feel like I can sneak it in. Plus as the title indicates, this is just too easy, fast and delicious not to share.

The original recipe (8 Minute Asparagus Couscous Soup – Quick and Easy) is on Recipezaar, which is really a great resource if you haven’t checked it out yet. Its so simple I hope they don’t mind me paraphrasing it here.

1 cup israeli couscous
1 bunch asparagus
3 cups broth – I used 1 Tbsp Better than Boullion Chicken & 2.5 c h20
parmesan cheese – I didn’t have any so I used a TBsp of leftover Parsley Pesto

Start the broth boiling and snap off the woody ends of the asparagus. Chop into bite size pieces. When the broth boils add couscous and cook 5 min, then add asparagus and boil for 3 minutes more. That’s it. I added the parsley pesto at this point and ladled into bowls. It smelled so good I burned my tongue because I couldn’t wait for it to cool down to taste it. I did end up adding a dash of fresh ground pepper as well but really the asparagus and couscous didn’t need much help and worked perfectly together in this simple dish.

I really wish I had taken a photo because it is truly beautiful with a gorgeous green hue. I was really pleased that the flavor of the fresh asparagus came through and the texture was perfect. This is the first time we have used Israeli Couscous (we bought a couple cups on a whim from the bulk foods aisle) and I have to say we are now big fans and will be using it a lot more. Its more like orzo than traditional couscous with a bit of pearl tapioca mouth feel. I plan to try this approach with other veggies and maybe even some meats. If you experiment with the recipe please let me know in the comments.