Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts

18 March 2017

Oven-Baked Vegetable Quesadillas

Veggie quesadillas are a great way to use up whatever iffy vegetables you have on hand! As long as you have tortillas, cheese, and spices then the rest comes together pretty easily. Because I'm both lazy and impatient, I like to bake my quesadillas on a sheet pan (rather than one at a time in a skillet on the stove) so they're all ready to eat at the same time!

I used a mix of leftover veggie tray produce in these quesadillas -- red and green bell peppers, summer squash, zucchini, and mushrooms -- but any vegetables you like would work well. For example, when corn is in season, I've made these with leftover roasted corn on the cob, zucchini, onions, and black beans.


Because healthy eating is supposed to be the name of the game, I used Mission Carb Balance tortillas which have 19 grams of fiber per tortilla, but still taste exactly like regular flour tortillas. Some day, I'll get The Husband to eat multigrain tortillas, but for right now ... needs must.

Anyway, these quesadillas go together in a flash. The most time-consuming part is pre-cooking the vegetables and you could probably skip that if you prefer more crunch!


Just stir-fry the vegetables over high heat in a nonstick skillet with a splash of low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth until the mushrooms brown and the peppers start to blister. Then remove from heat and season with whatever Mexican or Southwestern seasoning blend you have on hand (I used Penzey's salt-free Arizona Dreaming).

Then spritz one side of two tortillas with cooking spray (or brush them with a little olive oil). Place lubricated side down on an ungreased baking sheet. Top each tortilla with the vegetables.


Add the tomatoes. I used a 10 oz can of Aldi's Casa Mamita house brand diced tomatoes with green chilies, because they're pleasantly zippy and much more of a petite cut, making them perfect for dishes where you want the tomato to blend in. I saved the remainder of the can to use later in with week in taco pizza.


And now for the delicious cheeses! I used part of a bag of Cabot's Mexican shredded cheese blend leftover from who-knows-when, but any shredded cheese you like is good. While we tend to have more cheddar than anything else on hand, I can tell you Colby-Jack and Pepper Jack work well.


Top everything with another tortilla. Spritz that tortilla with cooking spray and then pop the pan in the 450°F oven for 10 minutes or until the quesadillas look golden brown on top and a little dark around the edges.

And then gobble down the hot, cheesy, messiness and go shovel some more &#%!@?! snow.


Oven-Baked Vegetable Quesadillas

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 8 oz sliced assorted chopped peppers and other vegetables
  • 1 tbsp fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp salt-free Mexican or Southwestern seasoning blend
  • 4 8-inch flour tortillas
  • ½ cup well-drained canned diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 4 oz shredded Mexican cheese blend

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Stir-fry vegetables in a nonstick skillet with broth over high heat until the vegetables look blistered and mushrooms are brow. Remove from heat and season.
  3. Spritz one side of two tortillas with cooking spray. Place spritzed side down on an ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Top each tortilla with vegetables, tomatoes, and cheese.
  5. Cover with remaining tortillas and spritz tops with cooking spray.
  6. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until tortillas are golden brown.
  7. Cut into wedges. Serve with guacamole, if desired.

01 December 2016

Creamy No-Dairy Broccoli Soup

As always, I made too much food for Thanksgiving dinner. It was clear, by late Thanksgiving morning, that that was the way things were going, so I dropped the steamed broccoli with thyme and lemon butter and garlicky sautéed spinach from the menu. Which still left us with maple mashed sweet, sour cream and chive mashed white, buttery corn, thyme and onion peas, and garlicky creamed spinach. As well as, of course, the turkey, gravy, and stuffing!


All that for five people. What can I say? I'm a feeder.

Anyway, BROCCOLI. What to do with the broccoli? Roast it? Chop it into a salad? Turn it into soup? Mmm ... soup ...


While this soup has a very smooth and creamy texture, it contains absolutely no dairy or dairy analogue. The home-made turkey broth lends the soup lots of flavor and richness with very little added fat (I made good use of my OXO Good Grips fat separator) -- for all it's deliciousness, this is really quite a healthy soup. Definitely be making it again as winter sets in.


Creamy No-Dairy Broccoli Soup

Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 20 oz fresh broccoli florets
  • 4 cups home-made turkey broth
  • Salt and black pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a French/Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are softened and onion is translucent. Add garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring, until very fragrant.
  2. Add broccoli florets and broth. Bring pot to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook until very broccoli is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. When cool, puree the soup with a stick blender until desired level of smoothness is reached. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

This is a very thick soup, so feel free to add more broth if you prefer a thinner one! Also, if you use vegetable broth, this dish is perfectly appropriate for vegans and vegetarians.

10 October 2016

Spicy Shrimp & Snap Peas

This savory dish is based on McCormick's "Asian Style Sugar Snap Peas" recipe, but I chose to go with different flavor base and added shrimp to turn it into a main course. It reminded me a lot of Chinese takeout, but much less salty, and I know I'll definitely be making this again ... maybe, with broccoli. Or asparagus. Or bok choy. Really, I think it would lend itself to most any "stir-fry" type vegetable. The flavors are great -- very aromatic with just a little kick -- and the whole dish goes together easily, with minimal fuss.



While I ate this as it was, you could serve this over rice or another grain for a more filling meal. I was simply too lazy (and hungry!) to take the time to make rice.

Spicy Shrimp & Snap Peas

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 oz finely chopped red onion
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • ½ tsp five-spice powder
  • ½ tsp dried minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 8 oz trimmed fresh snap peas
  • 8 oz thawed frozen cooked shrimp [domestic, if you can find it, to avoid supporting slave labor]

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes until tender.
  2. Stir in soy sauce and seasonings. Add sugar snap peas and stir to coat well. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp and cook, stirring often, 1 or 2 minutes or just until shrimp is heated through (you don't want tough shrimp).
  4. Adjust seasonings as desired.

25 July 2016

Asparagus & Tomatoes; Or, What Needs Eating Up?

Had a package of campari tomatoes lurking in the vegetable drawer since before my surgery (I don't usually refrigerate tomatoes, but there wasn't time to use them up, so I stuffed them in the fridge to help them "last") and they've gone a bit wrinkly and soft.

My nurse friend Kelly, who stayed with me my first night home, had done a grocery run and, among other things, bought us a bunch of asparagus. Obviously, I wasn't up to cooking at the time and The Husband doesn't really care for asparagus enough to try cooking it ... so it's been hanging out with the tomatoes.

Usually, in a case like this where there are vegetables that need using up, I'd simply toss them with olive oil, garlic, and herbs and roast them until delicious. But. Hot oven + still not very bendy body + wound vac sounded like a risky combination and I decided to use the cooktop, instead.


Sautéed Asparagus & Tomatoes

Serves: 2, generously

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 oz coarsely chopped red onion
  • ½ lb fresh asparagus, trimmed & cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 campari tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and asparagus and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent and very fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes or until the tomatoes have gone soft.
  4. Splash with balsamic vinegar and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

15 July 2016

Asparagus & Tomato Scrambled Eggs With Goat Cheese

Woke up this morning and thought "That's it! I'm cooking today!" Perhaps not the most well thought out decision I've made in my life, but I haven't cooked in three weeks and am at the point in healing where I feel antsy all the time. I want to be doing things, but my body is not quite up to snuff. It's very "Sure, you want to lean against the kitchen counter and chop things? Can do. You want to reach up into cupboards? Bend down into drawers? I will fucking cut you."

Happily, I've learned that if I grab everything I might possibly need in one bend or reach, it's not too uncomfortable. For example, bending down to the crisper drawer for a handful of asparagus and tomatoes, then slowly straightening up whilst snagging three eggs, the smallest carton of milk, and the goat cheese was pretty okay. (My lifting limit is 5 pounds and I don't think I violated that, but I certainly didn't weigh everything to find out!)




Asparagus & Tomato Scrambled Eggs With Goat Cheese

Serves: 1, generously

Ingredients

  • Splash of olive oil
  • 6 slender stalks asparagus, trimmed and chopped fine
  • ½ half small red onion, chopped fine
  • 3 large eggs
  • Splash of 2% milk
  • 3 campari tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • Palmful of crumbled fresh goat cheese
  • Salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Pour a little olive oil into your skillet and heat over medium. Add asparagus and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  2. Whisk together eggs and milk. Pour over asparagus mixture and cook slowly, gently stirring, until eggs are almost set (still a little wet looking).
  3. Gently stir in diced tomatoes and goat cheese. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Plate.
Overall, I'm quite proud of this dish. The creamy scrambled eggs combine well with the tangy goat cheese, mellow onions, and spring-bright asparagus while the tomatoes add a touch of sweet (but gentle) acidity. For an "earthier" version, I might add sliced mushrooms or replace the fresh tomatoes with dried. Regardless, it's definitely something to make again.


09 June 2016

Ginger Carrots

Last time we stopped by the warehouse store -- ostensibly for toothbrush heads and batteries -- I espied a solitary double-pack of real baby carrots in the produce section. Not those whittled down carroty nubbins marketed as "baby" carrots, but proper "baby-as-in-young" carrots. Obviously, I snaffled them before anyone else got wind of the treasure in produce and tried to claim it for themselves.

The first half of the pack I steamed and served them my Grandma Anne's way with lots of butter, generous amounts of parsley and salt, and a pinch of sugar. Yes, sugar in carrots. She swore it brought out the carrot's inherent sweetness (mind you, she had a rapacious sweet tooth) and it does seem to work. Anyway, The Husband really enjoys them prepared this way and it's an easy way to keep him happy.


The second half ... I was a little experimental with. May's Improv Challenge was coming up and the ingredients were orange and ginger. These flavors go well with carrots, so I thought I'd try giving them an orange ginger glaze. They turned out okay -- not Improv worthy -- but good enough for supper, definitely, an worth repeating with a nice crackling pork roast as accompaniment, maybe.

However, I will say I used one tablespoon of ginger in this recipe, which made for some excessively gingery carrots, so you might want to start with half a tablespoon and then taste until you reach the right level of gingerness. They're still delicious as is, yes, but very gingery. (It's possible the ginger root I used as stronger than usual?)


Ginger & Orange Glazed Carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 6 Tbsp orange juice
  • Salt & pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the carrots. Simmer for 5 mins or until just tender, then drain.
  2. In a large skillet or wide pot, heat the butter until melted and foamy, then add the carrots, ginger, cilantro, orange zest and juice. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 mins, turning the carrots gently until they are thoroughly coated and juices are greatly reduced. Season with salt and pepper, as needed, and serve.


19 May 2016

Improv Challenge: Orange & Ginger

May's Improv Challenge ingredients were orange and ginger. I toyed with the idea of orange and ginger nut cake, but I'm trying not to bake things The Husband won't eat because he seems ... unhappy ... that I seem to be doing more baking for other people than for him. Not that I blame him. I would be pretty cheesed off to wake up in the morning (too many mornings) to delicious smells, only to discover the source of those delicious smells is not meant for me.


So! Savory orange and ginger! Savory? A glaze? Marinade? An orange juice and ginger marinade? With ... honey? And ... red pepper? What about that unloved tin of five-spice powder? Oh! Don't forget the coconut aminos?!

And that's pretty much the entire thought process behind this dish. Throw a bunch of flavors together, taste, adjust flavors, taste again, then add some chicken and see what happens.


Usually found in Chinese cuisine, five-spice is just like it sounds -- a blend of five spices. I used Penzeys "Chinese Five Spice" which is a mix of cinnamon, star anise, aniseed, ginger and cloves. It's probably other manufacturer's use slightly different spices in their blends, so ymmv.

Because I was feeling a bit lazy, I used Gourmet Garden's lightly dried shredded ginger in the marinade. Like five-spice, it's exactly as it sounds -- lightly dried ginger shreddies. The container says one tablespoon of the lightly dried stuff is equivalent to two tablespoons of the freshly shredded stuff, so keep that in mind if you're planning on using fresh. If you want to try the Gourmet Garden ginger, I found it in with the fresh herbs in the produce section of my local Stop & Shop. (It works really well in carrot-raisin muffins, too).

I tested this recipe with drumsticks first, but roasted the drumsticks at too high a temperature so that the connective tissue riddling the drumsticks did not have time to break down much at all, leaving me with the kind of gristly drumsticks I loathe. The flavors were good, though, and the bits of meat that weren't horribly tendinous/cartilaginous/icky were quite tasty -- deep savory soy with a slight hint of sweet and robust ginger and garlic notes -- and I vowed to try again with a different cut of chicken.


The second time around, I marinated boneless skinless chicken breasts overnight and then cooked them in an oiled grill pan. Before marinating the chicken, I scored each breast in a crisscross pattern -- many articles I'd read told me that marinades never penetrate very far below the surface so I figured scoring the chicken would at least increase the surface area the marinade would be exposed to, hopefully creating a more flavorful chicken. Also, it looked rather pretty.

Simple 5-Spice Grilled Chicken Breasts

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 5 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp runny honey
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp lightly dried shredded ginger [Gourmet Garden]
  • ½ tsp Chinese five spice powder [Penzeys]
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes [Penzeys]
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Instructions

  1. Pat the chicken breasts dry and score in a crisscross pattern with a sharp knife. Place in a food-safe storage containger
  2. Whisk together all remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Leave for 10 mins or refrigerate until needed, if making ahead. (If making ahead of time, try to shake the container occasionally during the day to redistribute the marinade).
  3. Heat your grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot, brush pan with a little neutral oil (like canola).
  4. Add chicken to pan. Cook 6 minutes per side or until meat has reached 165°F.
  5. Remove chicken from heat, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  6. While chicken is resting, pour marinade into a pot and boil, whisking often, until sauce becomes reduced and syrupy-looking.
  7. Slice chicken, drizzle with reduced marinade, and serve.


I served the boneless breasts over rice with steamed broccoli and it was very good, even if I do say so myself. The chicken was very tender and flavorful -- kind-of like teriyaki chicken but much less sweet or strongly flavored -- and the leftovers went really well on a salad.




24 September 2015

Broccoli Mac

I'd overbought fresh broccoli and undercooked for the week, so this morning I was faced with a bag of fresh broccoli florets and a desperate need for two day's worth of work meals. I considered a broccoli pasta salad verrrry briefly, realizing the other ingredients I wanted to add to it -- artichoke hearts and sun-dried oil-packed tomatoes -- were not to be found in my kitchen. Some kind of broccoli and pasta hot dish, then? I did have surfeit of pasta, after all. Broccoli mac?! Broccoli mac!


I used my standby recipe for quick macaroni and cheese -- Campbell's Kitchen's "Fastest Homemade Mac and Cheese" -- as it was only five ingredients (if you count water as an ingredient) and the pasta cooks in the sauce. It is the fastest (nonbox) macaroni and cheese I've ever made and there's only one pan to clean up.

I steamed the bag of broccoli florets in the microwave according to the directions on its packaging, using the minimal time so the broccoli retained a little bite, and then coarsely chopped the cooked florets so they'd distribute more evenly throughout the cheesy mac when mixed in.


Because I had several open containers of pasta, I used a mix of small shells and elbows. The cooking times listed on their boxes were the same, so I knew they'd be okay together in the pot.

The cheese is a mix of leftover house brand shredded "pizza blend" and Cabot Sharp Light Cheddar. The "pizza cheese" blend melted wonderfully (as expected) and helped give the mac the delightful gooeyness I crave in macaroni and cheese, while cheddar added a sharp bite.


After I'd stirred everything together, I found the cheesy mac -- while certainly creamy and cheesy -- was still a little lacking so I added roasted garlic powder, black pepper, and a generous squeeze of sriracha. Instant yum!

18 September 2015

Roast All The Things: Chicken Thighs & Summer Vegetables

End of the week, no idea what the weekend may bring, and the crisper drawers still hold far too much highly perishable produce. What to do? Roast them. With some chicken. Because not everyone wants a big plate of roasted vegetables for supper. Weirdos.

The package of boneless skinless thighs I used contained five thighs -- we had two apiece for supper and I enjoyed the remaining one with a bunch of the leftover vegetables for lunch the next day. Obviously, serving sizes are arbitrary so ymmv.


Roasted Chicken Thighs & Summer Vegetables

Yield: 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small yellow (crookneck) squash, sliced into thick coins
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into thick coins
  • 4 oz quartered small red potatoes
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and thyme
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Brush baking pans with olive oil. Distribute chicken and vegetables among pans, trying not to crowd. Season generously.
  2. Roast, uncovered, in 45°F oven for 25-30 minutes or until chicken has reached 165°F and potatoes are tender.

02 September 2015

Five-Spice Beef & Vegetables

Bought a container of Trader Joe's Healthy 8 vegetable blend -- a mix of chopped cabbages, carrots, broccoli, jicama, bell peppers, radishes, and celery -- last week on a whim (when will I learn to stick to the list?) and was definitely at a loss as to what to do with it once I got it home.

As the blend is full of high-fiber vegetables, I didn't want to just toss it in a salad because that way was bound to lead to gastric upset and self-recrimination. After too many wandering thoughts, followed by an angry moment of "ohmygodjustdoSOMETHINGwithitalreadyitsJUSTFOOD," I ended up sautéing half the container in splodge of bacon fat until tender and then added in a pound of browned grass-fed ground beef and two cups of garlicky, home-made tomato sauce. It was a surprisingly tasty combination, but I didn't want to make it again with the other half of the Healthy 8 blend, because repetition breeds indifference and, the second time around, I was likely to go "meh" and leave it to moulder in the fridge.


So I made this. Which kinda-sorta has the flavors of a stir-fry, but isn't actually a stir-fry. Whatever it is, it's definitely tasty! While I cooked the vegetables until fork-tender so that none of my delicate flower insides could take issue with it, you normal types with fully-functional digestive systems might prefer to leave your vegetables a bit on the crunchy side. Lucky so-and-so's that you are.

Five-Spice Beef & Vegetables

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 3 Tbsp coconut aminos or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ container Trader Joe's Healthy 8 vegetable blend

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
  2. Add ground beef and cook until beef is no longer pink. (Feel free to drain any fat from the pan at this point).
  3. Add 5-spice powder, black pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Healthy 8. Cook, stirring regularly, until vegetables are to your liking. Adjust seasonings, if necessary, and serve.

If you're not using lean beef, you may need to drain the fat from the pan before adding the seasonings and Healthy 8. The grass-fed beef I've been buying from Trader Joe's is lean enough that it doesn't leave much fat behind and so I haven't been draining it after browning.

05 August 2015

Broccoli & Cheese Crustless Quiche

Yes, it's another crustless egg bake. I'm really tempted to call them crustless quiches, but as there's no milk or cream in them, I'm not sure I can get away with that. Regardless, these crustless egg bakes or whatever you want to call them are quite tasty and forgiving -- I've yet to try a combination of ingredients that didn't turn out pleasing. For this version, I stuck with the traditional broccoli and cheese. Considered adding chopped ham, but there wasn't really enough room in the pie plate! Less broccoli next time? So I can get some ham in? And sun-dried tomatoes? Mmm.

In the oven, getting baked.

Broccoli & Cheese Crustless Quiche

Yield: 4-5 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 oz frozen chopped broccoli, prepared according to packaging
  • 5 oz reduced fat shredded cheddar
  • 1 small red onion, chopped fine
  • 16 oz liquid egg whites
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, & garlic powder, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Lightly coat a glass pie plate with olive oil or cooking spray.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Pour into the pie plate. Bake at 375°F for 35-45 minutes or until eggs are set.

30 March 2015

Easy One-Pan Salmon & Asparagus

This is an easy way to cook salmon and frozen asparagus that only takes minimal ingredients and time. And the pan is lined in parchment, so clean up is a breeze! A great lazy day supper that looks like you tried harder than you did.


Roasting frozen vegetables like asparagus and brussels sprouts gives them a much texture than steaming frozen vegetables as they retain some firmness and the oven's heat crisps their edges. I like crispy edges!

One-Pan Roasted Salmon & Asparagus

Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • ½ lb wild-caught Alaskan salmon
  • 10 oz frozen organic asparagus (DO NOT THAW)
  • olive oil, as needed
  • zest of one lemon
  • Herbes de Provence, as desired [Penzeys]
  • salt and pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Line a jelly roll pan or baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Place the salmon fillet on the pan with the frozen asparagus stalks. Drizzle everything lightly with olive oil and season with lemon zest and Herbes de Provence.
  3. Bake 12-15 minutes or until fish has reached 145°F and flakes easily with a fork.

My recipe calls for half a pound of salmon, but I cooked a full pound this time so that I would have leftovers to top tossed salads later in the week. Therefore, I roasted the salmon for 10, added the asparagus, and continued roasting for another 10.

01 March 2015

Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup

This unending, bitterly cold winter has left me starved for color -- leading me to run amok in the produce and florist departments of the local grocery stores. Apparently, I was fixated on orange and red this week as I returned home one day with an armful of sunset-orange roses, garnet-red vegetable smoothies, and an orange cauliflower.


Seriously, why eat a plain ol' white cauliflower when you can have an orange one? Also, its label said orange cauliflower has 25% more beta-carotene than the white variety and, as eating fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene may reduce risk of heart disease, I'm all for orange cauliflower.


And then I thought, well, since it's freakin' cold outside and I'm doubtlessly going to turn the cauliflower into soup, why don't I combine it with that other beta-carotene power house, carrots? And what's extra warming on a day spent digging out Death Mountain for the umpty-umpth time? Curry.

So, "Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup" was born. It's really good, even if I do say so myself, and will definitely warm up your frozen insides. I use Penzeys Maharajah Style Curry Powder, which is wonderfully fragrant "sweet" mix that adds lots of rich flavor, but not a lot of heat. I figure, if I need more heat, then I'll stir in a little sriracha as the mood moves me at serving time. I frequently eat soup for breakfast, after all, and find flavorful but mild soups work best first thing in the morning. Bring on the heat at lunch time and supper!

I used plain unsweetened almond milk for this recipe, since the folks at the cardiovascular life-style modification clinic are quite keen on non-dairy milks like almond or soy. Obviously, you may use whatever kind of milk you like best.

Curried Cauliflower & Carrot Soup

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped small
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped small
  • 1 tsp curry powder [Penzeys Maharajah Style]
  • 1 large head orange cauliflower, cut into chunks
  • 5 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 6 cups low sodium, low fat chicken broth [Pacific Foods Organic]
  • 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk [Almond Breeze]

Instructions

  1. In a large French/Dutch oven, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent. Add curry powder and cook, stirring frequently, until it is very fragrant.
  2. Add cauliflower and carrots. Stir to scrape up any browned-to-the-bottom bits and. Add broth. Broil pan to a boil. Reduced to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Using an immersion ("stick") blender, puree until as smooth as you like. Stir in 1 cup of almond milk and cook for an additional minute or until hot. Season as needed with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder.

I say this recipe serves six, but I really mean it serves one hangry woman for two days. What that translates to regular folk is probably six cups.

26 November 2014

Oh, Creamed Onions! My Thanksgiving Favorite.

It's not Thanksgiving without creamed onions! The Internet abounds with recipes for these delicious darlings, but I am partial to Diane Morgan's "Golden Creamed Onions" from The Thanksgiving Table: Recipes and Ideas to Create Your Own Holiday Tradition (2001 or 2006 edition -- 2009 edition has a different recipe). I almost always use bags of frozen pearl onions, because I feel preparing fresh pearl onions takes too much time -- time better spent panicking over other aspects of the Thanksgiving dinner -- and I can't really taste the difference.


I use mace instead of nutmeg simply because one year I was out of nutmeg, but had a jar of mace on hand. Mace and nutmeg come from the same tree -- nutmeg is the seed and mace is the webbed covering (aril) of the seed -- and can be used interchangeably in most, if not all, recipes.


While Morgan's recipe says to either serve these onions immediately or let them sit for up to one hour, I usually makes these a day or two ahead of time. Thanksgiving day, when the turkey is nearly done, I take the onions out of the fridge, decant them into a pretty casserole, cover them with foil and pop them into the oven. They warm while the turkey finishes cooking and then stay warm in the oven while I do whatever it is that still needs doing.

Of the six people the usually sit down at my Thanksgiving table, only three like creamed onions. And yet a recipe meant to serve eight to ten people always yields the teeniest amount of leftovers! Huh.

12 November 2014

Not Mashed Potatoes

I made mashed cauliflower for the first time! I know, I know, 2004 called and wants its food trends back.


I basically overcooked a bag of frozen steam-in-bag cauliflower so they were super soft and squishy. Then I dumped them into my food processor with heavy cream and melted butter and processed everything until it looked mashed potato like. Seasoned the mash to taste with sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder and served it topped with broth-based chicken gravy.

Were they as good as my usual buttery garlic mashed potatoes? Of course not. Did I regret making and eating them? No, definitely not. They certainly helped banish my cauliflower cravings (seriously, I had cravings lately for big bowls of cauliflower and broccoli) and were a decent stand-in for the potatoes I forgot to buy.

18 October 2014

Easy Lemony Roasted Broccolini

Stopped at Trader Joe's the past weekend to stock up on frozen bricks of grass-fed organic beef ... and, of course, picked up a bunch of tempting-but-not-on-the-shopping-list items. Like a package of fresh broccolini ("baby broccoli"). It's good stuff, but I'm the only one who eats it so it means taking broccolini to work all week. That's no hardship, but I have to make sure I've cooked it in a way that microwave reheating it won't turn it mushy and 'orrible.

Roasting to the rescue. Well, under-roasting so that the broccolini is cooked but still a bit crunchy. Al dente broccolini, if you will. It kinda-sorta worked ... the broccolini was delicious straight from the oven but reheating still did some damage.

Easy Lemony Roasted Broccolini

Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 00 hrs. 05 mins.

Cook time: 00 hrs. 15 mins.

Total time: 20 mins.

Ingredients

  • 15± fresh broccolini stems, washed and trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • Salt and pepper, as needed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Spread broccolini on large jelly roll pan and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon zest.
  3. Roast for approximately 15 minutes or until stems are crisp-tender and tops are slightly browned.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool. When reheated and ready to serve, sprinkle with a little lemon juice.

When I reheated the broccolini in work's microwave, the stalks stayed fairly firm ... but the lovely crisp tops went limp. Next time, I will pack in glass instead of plastic and try reheating the broccolini in the toaster oven. Perhaps they will retain their crispness a bit better that way?

10 October 2014

Slow Cooker Red Cabbage With Apples & Cinnamon

I was musing over possible ways of combining apples and cinnamon for November's Improv Challenge and I thought "What, in the autumn, goes really well with apples and cinnamon?" I came up with two definite possibilities -- winter squash and cabbage. Conveniently, there was a red cabbage and turban squash lurking in the kitchen from my last impulsive shop at the farmers market. What can I say? Turban squash are adorable and red cabbage is my favorite cabbage. (What do you mean? Normal people don't have favorite cabbages?).

Anyway! I decided to start with the cabbage-apple-cinnamon combo since I wanted to use my slow cooker (oven was occupied by what, ultimately, turned out to be The Most Disappointing Bundt Cake) and knew, thanks to making "Bavarian Red Cabbage" that it would probably work out okay.


Slow Cooker Red Cabbage

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 15 mins.
Cook time: 8 hrs. 00 mins.
Total time: 8 hrs. 15 mins.

Ingredients

  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 large Gala apples, peeled cored and chopped
  • 1 small red cabbage, cored and shredded or chopped small
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp peppercorn mélange, slightly crushed
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Instructions

  1. Put cloves, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a spice bag or tea ball or tie up in a bit of cheesecloth so you don't later accidentally bite down on a whole clove.
  2. Add all ingredients except butter to the slow cooker insert. Stir.
  3. Dot with butter. Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

After eight hours in the slow cooker, the apples and onions seem to completely disappear into the cabbage. The cinnamon scent is pretty pronounced but works well with the cider vinegar's tangy scent. I'd say this would be nice with crunchy crackling roast pork. I ate it first with bratwurst and spicy mustard and later with "Swedish" flavored (caraway and mace) meatballs. It was delicious both ways ... and even when cold and unaccompanied during a late night snack scavenge.

However, while I enjoyed the cabbage, in the end it is just too similar to my Bavarian Red Cabbage to be submitted as a new recipe for November's Improv Challenge. On to the turban squash!

20 September 2014

These Cucumbers Aren't Cool

Okay, so we were at Jasper White's Summer Shack last weekend and The Husband's dish came with a side of buttered cucumbers. He was quite excited by the idea of them, but the actual application left him disappointed. Too peppery, he said. No butter flavor, he said. Not terrible as such, he said, but not what he wanted.

What did he want? Oh, my dulcet darlings, I've been pestering him for days and he cannot even begin to articulate what he wanted from buttered cucumbers. Except more butter flavor and less pepper. Which is maybe not quite enough to go by.

Browsing my cookbooks for cooked cucumber recipes, I found a recipe for "Hannoversches Gurkengemüse" in my mother's 1972 copy of German Cooking: Savory German Dishes Prepared in the Traditional Way, a volume in the collection 'Round the World Cooking Library. As far as I know, my mother never owned any of the other volumes ... nor did she ever cook from this book and, truth be told, I hadn't cooked from it in the five years since she passed it along to me.


But now I have! And while "Hannoversches Gurkengemüse" is nothing like The Husband's lamented buttered cucumbers or whatever it is he wants buttered cucumbers to be, he ate them all and said, without hesitation, he would eat them again. I thought they were surprisingly good ... although, at points, my tongue was pretty sure I was eating yellow squash so ymmv.

I tweaked the original recipe -- it wanted sugar, which was a definite no, and I thought the instructions were a bit vague. I tried to make my dish resemble the book's photo as much as possible but, frankly, without much success. Mine's definitely creamier looking, for instance, and my tomatoes broke down much more.

Braised Cucumbers with Sour Cream and Tomatoes
Serves 2 generously

Ingredients
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 English cucumber
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, chopped
¼ cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried dill weed
[fresh would be better, of you have it]
½ cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Peel, seed, and chop cucumber into 1-inch pieces.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add cucumbers and onions. Cook, stirring constantly, until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, water, lemon juice, and dill. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until most of the tomato juices have evaporated.

Remove from heat, stir in sour cream, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

(German Cooking translates "Hannoversches Gurkengemüse" as "Braised Cucumbers," but it's more like "Hanovarian Cucumbers" which makes me harken back to the House of Hanover and "Her Majesty Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India." Also, Google is pretty adamant it's "Hannoversche)."

13 July 2014

Snappy Peas

I've harvested over a pound of snap peas! Yes, there would have been more than that, but many peas were diverted to my mouth on their way to my garden basket. Is there anything better then snap peas straight from the vine?


As The Husband is no fan of snap peas, I decided to cook mine in a way I'd most enjoy and then take them along to work for a few meals. Yes, snap peas perfectly lovely raw, but there's a limit to how hard I want to push my digestive system and, as I am quite capable of eating all the snap peas in one day, it seemed a Very Good Idea to cook them.
Easy Microwaved Peas and Onions

Ingredients
1 lb 6 oz snap peas, stemmed, stringed, and well rinsed but not dried
½ red onion, very thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Plop peas and onions in a large bowl. Cover with cling wrap. Microwave for three minutes. Stir 'round. Re-cover and microwave for two minutes more. Stir 'round, again. Season with salt and pepper. Eat immediately or allow to cool and package for the next day.
Peas were still a bit snappy at the 5 minute mark, but I was fine with that since they would cook more in the work microwave when I reheated them with Sunday's leftover chop.

05 June 2014

Plated: Cheesy Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

When I selected Plated's "Cheesy Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes," I was pretty sure I was taking a big risk at it simply isn't the kind of thing The Husband would ever consider eating. Indeed, when it came down to it, I completely chickened out on serving it to him and kept all the tomatoes to myself. He was happy in his ignorance and I was in heaven. Who knew mixing quinoa with goat cheese could make it so darn delicious?!

Ingredients straight out of the box
Unwrapped ingredients
Obviously, this dish would be better in a few months when tomatoes are in season, but roasting makes most vegetables taste better and these pale, refrigerated tomatoes were no exception. They turned out juicy and flavorful and I was quite pleased to not have to share them.

I did not think the instructions for preparing the quinoa were very good -- not enough time or liquid -- so I chose to make them The Kitchn way and with low-sodium fat-free chicken broth instead of water. Other than that, the instructions were fine and I didn't have any trouble preparing this "plate."

The salad dressing was surprisingly tasty. Creamy balsamic is never something I'd ever considered and the color was a little off-putting, put the flavor was good and I'd definitely make it again. The recipe made a little more than I needed and I'll probably use the extra on that head of butter lettuce I forgot to serve with the seared salmon.

Every bite was delicious!
I had two tomatoes for lunch the day I made them and then took the others to work over the following days, packing the tomatoes separately from the (undressed) salad so they could be reheated in the toaster oven. They reheated well and made an elegant meal there in the staff room amongst the snack machines and work safety posters.

So that's my first Plated box done with and I can't wait for my next!