Entries Tagged 'lunch' ↓

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.

 

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

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.

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.

Olive Oil: sometimes it’s even better than butter

I am one of those people who would rather die than put margarine on anything. Butter is a staple in our household, and it’s excellent on almost everything. Ever fried bacon in butter? Your arteries will cringe, but your tastebuds will leap for joy, trust me. 

Sadly, I needed a grilled cheese sandwich, badly, one afternoon. No prob: I have some homemade bread, some american cheese (yeah, the kind wrapped in individual slices)…and –OH NOES–NO BUTTER! 

Rather than turn away from the kitchen and head out to the local store for butter, I grabbed the olive oil, spiraled a little bit around in the pan, and grilled the sandwich con olio d’oliva. You have to watch the sandwich carefully, since the oil will absorb into the bread, and the bread will burn more quickly than with butter. Keep the heat a little lower than you’re used to, and you should be fine. 

The end result was dee-lish. The olive oil imparted another layer of flavor to the sandwich, and next time I have some fancy brie or camembert laying around, I’ll try this recipe with that instead, for a more “authentic” eurpoean grilled cheese. In the photo at right you can see the darker areas of the bread where the oil swirls were…the oil does spread out from there, and the contrast in taste between the darker areas and lighter areas are lovely.

Hearty Stew

Hearty Stew
Okay, after what seems like forever I am finally posting something…

Since the weather is now getting cold, and I want to go out to the grocery even less than usual, I have started to make dinner with what ever is on hand. I tend to make a lot of soups and stews because I can make them in the morning or the day before and let them slow cook all day. They is very little prep involved and they cook a long time all by themselves. And let me say nothing is better to coming home to the yummy smell of stew cooking. I have never made two stews exactly the same and I don’t like to measure anything, but the basics of any stew are all the same. You need a base, some meat and/or veggies, some spices, and a Crock-pot. The following is the stew I made yesterday.

First, I browned some cube steak in dash of olive oil in a skillet. You can really use any cut of meat you have on hand, rump, round steak, cube, roast, what ever. I was using some of our lovely organic cow that we purchased this past summer. I must say that the better the quality of the meat the better the stew in the end. While you are browning the meat add whatever seasoning you like. It is best to add things that go well with the meat as this seasoning will not really penetrate the whole stew but will stay in the meat. I used some dry thyme, coriander, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. As far a how much of everything, they are in order of greatest to least… it was mostly thyme and a small dash of nutmeg. When the meat was browned on all sides, but not over cooked I covered it with red wine. I used pinot noir, but again use what you like. If you like to drink it, it will taste good in your stew.

For other stews I have used beer as the base, but had a bottle of wine opened so I used that. For beer I prefer the stouter variety for stew, but have used just about everything that is amber to black in color… My husband’s homebrew is my favorite.

While browning the meat I start to throw the other stuff into the Crock-pot. I used a can of chicken stock (beef, chicken, vegetable stock, whatever you have) Some more of the red wine, maybe a cup or two, kind of depends on how much stew you are making. The rule of thumb is that you just want enough liquid ingredients to cover the meat and veggies so nothing get scorched in the cooking process, also the liquid will cook down quite a bit. I added about 4 potatoes peeled and chopped, and handful of chopped carrots. I usually like more veggies, but having not gone to the store the pickings were slim this time. In the past I have used frozen and fresh veggies. Both work but the frozen tend to break down more than the fresh, they still taste great but kind of disappear visually. I also added a spoon full of horseradish, a good squirt of spicy mustard (you can use dry if you have it, but regular old sandwich mustard works just fine),a spoonful of beef bouillon, and some butter (about 1/4 a stick).

Next I added the meat to the Crock-pot and that’s it. Let cook for anywhere from 3-8 hours on low. Just cook till everything is nice and soft. You can turn it on in the morning before work and it will be nice and ready when you get home. One final thing you can do if you want is when you are about ready to eat take some of the broth out and put it in a jar and add a spoon or two of flour to it, shake vigorously to mix and then add back in to the stew and let cook for a few more minutes. This will thicken up the base a little bit and make it more stewy. Enjoy and have fun.

Sweet Potato Stew

So I like the flavor of pozole, but the hominy, well, not so much. So this is what I came up with. It’s perfect for my oh too big 6-quart slow cooker crock pot thing, but I’m sure it can be slow-baked in one of those fancy enamel coated cast iron dutch ovens too. Don’t let the fact that it contains 5 jalapenos slow ya down either, after 8 hours they mellow into a flavorful sauce that won’t send you grasping frantically for your beer. I don’t measure when I cook so the amounts are approximate, just make it look & taste good to you.

Sweet Potato Stew

4 Pork Shoulder Steaks
Salt & Pepper
Oil
2 Onions, sliced thin
3 Jalapeno chilis, seeded & minced
1 Tbsp Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic
6 Cloves Garlic, pressed
1 28oz can diced tomatoes in juice
2 Oranges (Peel a strip of zest with a potato peeler, about 12″ or so, then juice the oranges)
2 Chipotle Chilis in Adobo sauce, minced
1 Tsp dried oregano leaves
2 largish Sweet Potatoes, washed & chopped about 1/2″ cubes
Chicken Broth
corn starch
1/2 bunch Cilantro, remove the big stems & chopped

Salt & pepper then brown steaks one at a time in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. You won’t need oil, there should be enough fat on the steaks. Stack them up in the middle of your slow cooker.

Add some oil if there isn’t juices in the pan from the meat. Add the onions, jalapenos & meat magic to the pan. Cook until the onions are softened & the rendered juices have cooked out. Add the garlic & just warm it on top, don’t brown the garlic. Add the tomatoes, using the juices to scrape up all the goodness stuck on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, then add it the slow cooker.

Distribute the onions & peppers between the steaks, but keep them stacked in the center of the slow cooker. Add the orange juice, chipotles and oregano to the slow cooker & stir. Nestle the sweet potatoes & orange zest strip around the edges. Add the chicken broth until the meat & potatoes are covered.

My cooker has a low 8 hour setting. Cook for 8 hours, go to work, go to bed, whatever, just don’t stir or mess with it. If you are using the oven, cover tightly, 300° for 4 hours or so, until potatoes are soft & the meat is starting to fall apart.

Turn off slow cooker & pull the meat out & set aside to cool. Pull the potatoes out & set aside. Discard the orange zest strip. Let the juices settle & skim off the fat. Mix some corn starch with water. Add to the juices & turn slow cooker on to high to thicken sauce. Add potatoes back in & the cilantro. When the meat is cool enough to handle, pull the bones, gristle & fat bits out & toss the meat chunks back into the pot.

Spoon into bowls & serve with a daub of sour cream & some tortillas, a spritz of fresh lime, & the beer of course! Mmmm

This freezes well too.

More Fun With Pumpkin


Happy New Year
Its been too long since I have posted and I did miss some stellar opportunities with holiday foods I pretty much invented. Then today, we needed lunch and didn’t want to spoil our appetites for our special new year’s dinner, so I did the combine leftovers thing – lentil soup and pumpkin (not the same can as the previous post!). Rummaging in the cupboard I came up with the additions of paprika and hot sauce this soup proves that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I might do this again on purpose since the pumpkin made it creamy and smooth and the paprika added both color and sparkle. Anyone have another example of this to share? Here’s to a great new year of making things up as we go along.

Cold Spicy Noodle Salad

It was unexpectedly bloody hot and humid today – a day filled with numerous technical snafus and stress. But I was hungry anyhow and this is what I threw together. All I can say is that it was tasty enough to inspire this blog.

Cold Spicy Somen Noodle Salad
here’s what’s in it:

1 packet somen noodles (1 serving)
8 mint leaves finely sliced
hot and sweet asian chile sauce
soy sauce
rice wine vinegar

I added what i had left of pickled herring and onions in wine sauce – about 1/2 cup rinsed thoroughly and drained

Toss the seasonings and herring/onions in a bowl while the noodles are cooking. Rinse the noodles under really cold water and stir in.

total time – about 10 min.

I’m thinking I could do this with canned tuna or a nicer protein if I wanted to serve it to others…