Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lentil Loaf

So this is an old family favorite, one of those recipes that I can (almost) make from memory. I made it yesterday in the student kitchen here at school. The great thing about this lentil loaf is that it not only freezes and reheats well, but it tastes good hot or cold. It's great to make for a meal then save for lunches or quick dinners later in the week (or, in my case, dinners when I dining hall menu doesn't pass muster)

Serves (about) 6 to 8

Classic Lentil Loaf

Adapted from The Cook's Encyclopedia of Vegetarian Cooking

(I say "adapted" because I've changed some things: extra garlic (of course) and celery, fresh lentil instead of canned (duh!), and the pureeing step - I like to leave more ingredients whole)

~3/4 C uncooked lentil 
(the regular brownish-green ones)

1 large sweet onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 celery ribs, sliced into small pieces

2 carrots, grated
1/2 C fresh bread crumbs
1/2 C grated cheddar cheese

14 oz. can red kidney beans
1 egg

1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 Tbs. ketchup
1 tsp. each: ground cumin, ground coriander, and chili powder



First, put the lentils in a small saucepan and cover them with about 1 or 2 inches of water. Bring them to a boil then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until they are just tender. You want them on the al dente side so that the loaf has nice texture (plus, they will cook a bit in the oven). Drain them, if necessary, when they are done.



Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a saute pan and cook the onion, garlic, and celery over low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring it occasionally. The kitchen should be smelling delicious by now - don't take the onion mixture off the stove till it does :)





While the lentils and the onion mixture cook, grate your carrots, cheese, and breadcrumbs if necessary. You want to do these two ingredients before the next step, which is pureeing the beans, because this way you don't have to clean the food processor! Put the bread crumbs, cheese, and carrots in a large mixing bowl for later.








When the onion mixture is done, pour it into a food processor along with the kidney beans and the egg. Process until it is smooth - but not TOO smooth.

**If you are ill-equipped, as I was yesterday, you can use a blender for this step. Be sure to stop frequently and bring the bottom ingredients to the top so that you don't end up with baby food on the bottom and whole veggies on the top...






Add the pureed beans and veggies to the bowl with the carrots etc. along with the lentils, spices, tomato paste, and ketchup. Mix well so that everything is evenly incorporated - pay special attention that the tomato past, ketchup, and spices get mixed uniformly, as they tend to clump together in one place.

You have options for baking pans: the original recipe calls for a loaf pan, but I like to use a larger glass baking dish (about 9x12). A loaf pan will give you denser, perhaps mushier, pieces while a shallower baking dish yields thinner, crispier pieces. However, the loaf pan gives you pretty slices while a dish makes not-quite-so-pretty square pieces. Whichever you choose, it doesn't matter too much - it will have great flavor no matter what. 

The not-so-appetizing pre-cooked version of lentil loaf. Believe me, it will taste MUCH better than it looks right now...
Lightly grease your pan of choice with butter then pour in the lentil mixture. Smooth the top so that it is relatively flat, then bake on the middle rack at 350 for about an hour. You want it to be nice and crispy and brown on top, and the timing will also depend on which pan you use and how thick the loaf is. When it is done, allow it to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes. 

I would recommend it warm with mashed potatoes and freshly roasted brussels sprouts and/or peas, cold crumbled on top of a salad, or pretty much at any temperature paired with anything! Ketchup or gravy are also sometimes tasty condiments. (It pretty much goes with anything meat loaf does...)

Enjoy!










Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Crock-Pot Vegetarian Chili

I took my chili in Tupperware and heated it in the microwave in the dining hall. Add salad and milk and it's a meal!

I had my first dorm-room cooking experience today with my old favorite chili recipe. Usually I make it on the stove, but dorm cooking calls for the infamous Crock-Pot. The recipe converted beautifully, and it tasted just like home after a month of dining hall food. 

This is one of my family's favorite recipes, I'm not sure why I haven't posted it before. Oh well, here it is!

Sorry for the lack of pictures of the actual chili, here is a not-so-appetizing picture of it. I guess college cuisine won't be as glamorous as my past endeavors...
Here's my dorm-room kitchen! Like I said, not so glamorous.

Vegetarian Chili

Cook's Encyclopedia of Vegetarian Cooking


2 chopped onions
2 large cloves garlic, minced

4 good-sized celery ribs, sliced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 14 oz. can corn (or about two medium ears,cut off the cob)
2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes (no salt added if you're like me)
1 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained**
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained**
2 Tbs. tomato paste (feel free to be generous here)
1 Tbs. ketchup
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 (slightly heaping) tsp. chili powder
salt n' pepper

**I always buy No Salt Added beans, but did you know that if you rinse them thoroughly (and most other canned vegetables) you will substantially reduce the amount of salt!

So, looking at this giant ingredient list makes this recipe look ominous, right? Think again. Toss it all in the pot - either the Crock-Pot or a large soup pot - and mix it all together. It may look dry, but don't worry, it will get juicy as it cooks. Shake in some salt and pepper to taste.

Slow Cooker method: Cook the chili on high for about 3 to 4 hours. Stir it every once in a while if you are around. It's done when it is nice and bubbly and the veggies are tender but still crisp!

Stove-top method: Turn the chili on high and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer it, covered, for about 25 minutes to a half hour. Again, it will be bubbly and tender-crisp when done.

Serve on its own or over brown rice, topped with shredded cheddar cheese and/or sour cream. Of course, it also goes great with homemade corn bread!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Strawberry-Orange Spinach Salad



This is based off of a recipe I found a while ago, but by know I have adjusted it into what I like to think of as my own creation. This is a great summertime salad - sweet, fresh, and delicious.

This is enough to serve about four people as a side

Strawberry-Orange Spinach Salad


Four large handfuls of baby spinach
One medium/large orange
8 to 10 good sized strawberries
1/3 C thinly sliced red cabbage (about a fist-sized chunk before slicing)
1/3 C sliced almonds
1/4 C freshly shredded cheese (I use Parmesan)

Dressing:
These measurements are total estimates - I usually just pour in about what look right.

3 Tbs white wine vinegar
3 Tbs orange juice
2 tsp dijon mustard (maybe a Tbs)
~ 1 Tbs olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a salad shaker bottle or a shallow bowl. Shake or whisk to combine, then taste and adjust as needed.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Leek and Zucchini Fritatta


This recipe hits the sport every time. It is one of my Mom's favorites - as well as mine - and we have it just about every time my dad, who doesn't like eggs, is gone for dinner. The secret is the leeks. Not only do they add great flavor to the dish, the kitchen smells delicious the entire time it cooks.

Serves 4

Leek and Zucchini Fritatta

Adapted from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook

2 large leeks, thinly sliced and thoroughly washed*
2 medium/small zucchini, cut into matchstick pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced

5 eggs
1/2 C mixture of shredded Swiss and Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Butter and olive oil for cooking

*Leeks are usually really grimy and have dirt stuck between each layer. To wash, slice the leek cross-wise and then put the pieces into a large bowl of water. Let them soak for about 5 minutes, working them around with your fingers so that the dirt is released. Drain and rinse in a strainer.


Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook for about five minutes, until they begin to soften. Turn the heat as low as possible, cover the leeks, and cook for about another ten minutes. Add the zucchini and garlic then cover again and cook for another 10 minutes - or until the zucchinni is tender. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, carefully scraping all the yummy bits, and wipe out the skillet

Whisk the eggs together and mix in the cheeses and season well with salt and pepper. Put about a tablespoon of butter into the skillet over medium-low heat. When bubbling, add the vegetable mixture back into the pan and spread it around evenly. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over it, tilting the pan so that the egg works into the cracks and evenly spreads throughout the skillet. 



Cook the fritatta on the stove for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the egdes are fully set and the center is almost there (it's not quite ready in the picture to the right). Next, move it to the broiler for about four minutes, until it bubbles up and turns beautifully golden brown (as shown below).







Let the skillet cool a bit, then cut into wedges and enjoy with toast, fresh vegetables, and a salad!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kale and Quinoa Cakes with Dijon Yogurt Sauce





I got this recipe online, from Joy The Baker. It was great, similar to my other post, 
Crispy Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, but this one has a few tweaks that make it unique. Also, I made up the sauce and it tasted pretty delicious dolloped on top!

4 eggs, beaten
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
~ 3 C chopped kale

1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 C sun-dried tomatoes (vacuum packed), chopped
1/3 C chopped fresh parsley
1 C fresh bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs water

Olive oil for cooking



First, rinse the quinoa then bring it to a boil in a sauce pan with the water and a bit of salt. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Little "tails" will emerge from the grains as it cooks. 

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in another sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook them slowly until the are tender and translucent. Add the garlic for one minutes, then add the kale and stir until the leaves have all wilted and appear moist. Remove from the heat and stir the quinoa in, then allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
(this can be done quickly in the fidge or freezer)

When cool, add the sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl then add them and 1 Tbs water to the quinoa mixture, thoroughly moistening it.

Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Form heaping spoonfuls of the patty mixture into balls, then drop them into the pan and use a spatula to flatten them into cakes. Cook them about four minutes on each side, till they are crispy and golden brown. If you do them in batches, you may need to add a bit of olive oil periodically to keep the pan nice and slick.

When done, remove them from the skillet and drain on paper towels. Serve with any sauce you like - maybe a squeeze of lemon, a bit of Dijon mustard - but I would recommend trying out my recipe below.

Enjoy!

Dijon Yogurt Sauce

My made up, original creation

This is about as easy as it gets...I like to think I worked hard to make this one up, but really, it's nothing. I'm honestly not sure what my measurements were but adjust yours to taste. You coul try adding a splash of lemon or some savory seed or spice, but I thought it was tasty just like this!

Mix about 1 C of plain Greek yogurt (or strained regular yogurt) with about 2 tsp Dijon mustard and stir is together. Viola!







Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Black Bean and Butternut Soup

Photo of my very own bowl of soup


This recipe is from another one of my favorite food blogs - Sprouted Kitchen

You can find the recipe at the link at the bottom of this post, here are a few tips and comments about the dish:

She says to be careful with the cayenne pepper - which is good advice - but I only did one pinch and it could have used a bit more spice. I, someone who is not particularly fond or capable of super spicy food, actually decided to add a few drops of Sriracha to my bowl. Next time, I will pump up the cayenne. 

I would most definitely recommend a few pulses with the immersion blender once the soup is done. It really gives it a nice hearty stew-like feel. Don't overdo it though, you still want some whole beans and nice chunks of squash.

You DEFINITELY want the avocado and cilantro to garnish. The avocado adds a nice cool, creamy touch (plus I just love it) and the cilantro gives it a fresh burst of flavor. I also put some shredded cheddar cheese on top - and of course the tortilla crispies.


Enjoy!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Huevos Rancheros (SK)



This recipe is came from the usual: Smitten Kitchen. I used her methods to cook the tortilla and egg, then followed her advice to top them with whatever Tex-Mex ingredients sounded good. I added fresh corn, and will share a few things I plan to do next time.

I made this for my mom and I, so I made three tortillas. Adjust the amounts for the number of people you have to serve!

Huevos Rancheros 

Adapted from SmittenKitchen.com

3 small corn tortillas
3 large eggs

One medium tomato, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful  fresh cilantro, chopped
dash of olive oil
few shakes of salt

1 C cooked  black beans, warmed (or some from a can)
1 ear of corn
~ 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 an avocado, mashed, to serve
sour cream to serve
lime wedges to serve

*NOTES* 
We thought this could use a little more of a "kick". A dash of Sriracha or hot sauce on top would do the trick. 
Next time, I want to try sauteing some finely chopped onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a little olive oil so add the the assortment of toppings.
 A dash of cumin and/or chili powder may liven it up a bit too.Prepare and assemble all of your condiments before you start to cook the tortillas - you will want to eat them fresh!


First, combine the diced tomato, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, and salt in a bowl to make a fresh salsa. Allow it to sit a while in the fridge so that the flavors meld nicely.

Next, pull the husk away from the corn but don't pull them completely off. Remove the strings, then replace the husks back around the ear of corn. Pop it in the microwave for about two minutes (more time if you are doing more than one ear). Using metal tongs, rotate the corn over an open flame on the stove so that the kernels begin to blacken. You know an area is cooked when you hear it start to pop. (If you do not have a gas stove or access to an open flame, feel free to cook your corn any way. Worst case, use canned)

Heat a little olive oil or butter in a large skillet or on a griddle on medium heat. Place the tortillas on the griddle and cook, about five minutes, until the undersides are golden brown and the tortillas are beginning to curl. Flip them and sprinkle a bit of cheddar onto the tops. Next, carefully crack an egg onto the top of each tortilla. You may want to do this one at a time because you might need to hold the yoke in place until it begins to set. Don't worry if some egg spills off, just push it back on top.

When the egg is about half cooked, slowly flip the tortilla over - hopefully capturing the yoke beneath it. Cook it on this side until the egg is done to your satisfaction - I like mine well done, so I pressed the tortillas with a spatula and cooked the yoke through. Feel free to take it off soon to get more of a "runny" yoke.

Finished product - an egg coated corn tortilla. Yum!

Serve the egg tortillas topped with any combination of the toppings. Squeezing a wedge of lime on top is highly recommended! Enjoy!



Saturday, July 14, 2012

Olive, Artichoke, and Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade

I made this recipe the other night as a side dish with a Mediterranean meal including pita bread, hummus, and Greek Lentil Salad. I just had some of the ingredients lying around, so I Googled a recipe, got some ideas, and just made it up. It would be good served on toasted french bread as bruschetta, but we had it on warm pita bread spread with hummus. There was also some leftover, so tonight I mixed it into the tossed green salad we had with dinner to add a little spark of flavor - that worked great as well!


Olive, Artichoke, and Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade
Based very loosely off a recipe from Epicurious.com

~ 1/2 black olives
~ 1 C loosely packed artichoke hearts (Mine were marinated in a jar)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 C nuts (i did almonds and pecans)
small handful of chopped parsley 

Put everything in a blender or food processor. Pulse until very finely chopped - almost a paste. Season with salt and pepper and add more lemon or olive oil to taste.

Spread on pita, french bread, or crackers (or endless other things) and enjoy! 


Oh, P.S. - it looks a little unappetizing (like vomit, to be frank) but it tastes great. I may try to work on adding a few other ingredients to change the color profile. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Homemade Granola

This recipe is originally from the University of Michigan Biological Station, delivered to me by my wonderful sister. It was so long ago that she gave me the recipe though, that she now asks me for all of the measurements. I eat this granola every day - on top of yogurt or ice cream, with milk, mixed with fruit, or just as little handful as a snack. It's the best - Give it a try!


The finished product - it's even tastier looking in person

Homemade Granola

1 C loosely packed brown sugar
A little less than 1/2 C cooking oil
1/2 C honey or pure maple syrup (I do a combination of both)
1 tsp vanilla extract
~ 1 tsp ground cinnamon

6 C oats (NOT quick oats!)
2 C nuts - I recommend chopped pecans and sliced almonds

2 C dried fruit
(I do raisins and cherries, but you could try anything like cranberries, bananas or apples, etc.)

First, heat the brown sugar, oil, honey/syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium or medium-high heat. Stir it occasionally to help the sugar to dissolve, cooking the mixture for about 3 minutes, until it is smooth and bubbly. Meanwhile, combine the oats and nuts in a large bowl. When the sauce is finished, remove it from the heat and pour it over the oat mixture. Use a rubber spatula to remove every last drop from the saucepan, then quickly stir it all into the oat mixture. Feel free to dive in with your hands here - you want to mix it in very well and break up any clumps by rubbing them between your fingers. 



Pour the granola onto the biggest cookie sheet you've got, or distribute it across two. You want a nice thin layer of granola so don't try to squeeze it on too small of a cookie sheet. Also, make sure whatever you use has nice high sides so the granola doesn't spill out when you stir it! 

I use my giant commercial size baking sheet which easily holds an entire batch of granola, but whatever you've got will work

Bake the granola at about 250 deg. F, checking and stirring it every fifteen minutes or so. I have to do mine on the bottom rack so that my giant cookie sheet will fit, but any middle to low rack should be fine. If you are doing multiple sheets, be sure to rotate them accordingly so that everything cooks evenly. 
When you stir the granola, be sure to shift the layers and move everything all around. For me, the stuff in the back of the oven cooks faster, so I am always sure to either move the oats front to back or rotate the cookie sheet. 
After about three fifteen-minute increments, or when the granola is starting to look nice and golden brown, it is time to add the fruit! Add the fruit to the cookie sheet and give everything a good stir, then put it back in the oven for about another ten to fifteen minutes. The key is to get the raisins to puff up - that's when you know you're done. Don't cook the fruit for more than about 20 minutes max - it will get crunchy rather than the perfect chewy texture. 

Here you can see a "puffed up," perfectly done raisin. (Right smack dab in the center of the photo)

When the fruit is done, remove the sheet from the oven and allow the granola to cool. for at least an hour before packing it away. I always store half of mine in an air-tight container on the counter and the other half in a one quart ZipLock in the freezer. Don't let your granola get stale! 



ENJOY!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tzatziki Potato Salad (SK)

Here is yet another DELICIOUS recipe from SmittenKitchen.com

I only did about 3 lbs. of Yukon Gold potatoes, so I scaled most of the other ingredients back just a bit - except for the cucumber. This dish is absolutely delicious - it's just as creamy as the common mayonnaise-based potato salad, but tastes fresher and is much better for you. The Greek yogurt even provides some protein! 

Oh - and don't miss the comment about putting the potatoes in the freezer to cool. I can't imagine how long they would have taken if I hadn't been able to put them in the freezer!

Check out the recipe and post at this link:

-smittenkitchen.com

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Asian Slaw with Ginger-Peanut Dressing

I made this as a side salad with Pad Thai. The peanut dressing is spot on - exactly what I had hoped for. I am sure that lots of different ingredients would be good in this - maybe broccoli, bean sprouts, snow peas, or any other crisp veggie. I tweaked the original recipe to fit both what I had in the fridge and what flavors I was looking for.

Serves 2

Asian Slaw with Ginger-Peanut Dressing

Adapted from Onceuponachef.com

Dressing:

1/8 C honey
1/8 C olive oil
1/8 C unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 Tbs. creamy peanut butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp Sriracha sauce (hot sauce)
1/2 Tbs minced fresh ginger
1 clove minced garlic

Salad:

2 C red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 C shredded carrots
half a red bell pepper, cut into long, thin strips
1/2 C cooked shelled edamame
2 finely sliced green onions
1/4 C chopped peanuts
1/4 C finely chopped fresh cilantro

Combine all of the dressing ingredients and whisk until smooth. Toss the salad ingredients in a serving bowl, then add the dressing and toss to incorporate. For best taste, allow it to rest a bit before serving so that the veggies soak up the flavors of the sauce. 

Enjoy!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Vegetable Pad Thai

My sister and I are big Pad Thai fans. The classic dish doesn't have as many vegetables as this version that I made last night, but we decided that we liked the larger veggie-to-noodle ratio. I kind of combined two recipes to make this - actually I literally combined them. I highlighted what I liked in each one and worked from both as I cooked. I would recommend reading through this entire recipe before you begin - I have a bad habit of not doing that :p

Another note - I just decided to use Annie Chun's Pad Thai Sauce for my recipe, but I will post the recipe Alton Brown's version provided for the sauce. Annie Chun's tasted great, but next time I think I will give homemade a go. 
If you aren't going to make homemade sauce,
 I would definitely recommend Annie Chun's - and any
 other sauce or ingredient of this brand!











Vegetable Pad Thai

Adapted from Alton Brown's recipe at foodnetwork.com and a random online recipe
Serves 2

For the sauce:

1/3 C Annie Chun's Pad Thai Sauce

OR

1 oz. tamarind paste
3/4 C boiling water
2 Tbs. fish sauce
2 Tbs. palm sugar 
(I've read that you can use brown sugar but that palm sugar is worth looking for)
1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar

For the rest:

4 oz. rice stick noodles

6 oz extra firm tofu
low sodium soy sauce
1  tsp. Chinese five-spice

2 eggs

1 C. chopped scallions
2 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
half a red bell pepper, sliced thinly into strips
1 C carrots, cut into thin matchstick pieces
3 oz. bean sprouts

1/2 C crushed peanuts
3/4 C fresh chopped fresh cilantro 

First, cut the tofu into 1/2 inch strips (I like them cut to about 1 inch in length) and place it in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle about 1/2 C soy sauce over it (or more or less as you prefer) then toss the tofu in the Chinese five-spice powder. Allow it to marinate for as long as possible.

If making your sauce, put the tamarind paste into the boiling water then set aside. Whisk the remaining sauce ingredients in a separate bowl and set that aside as well.

Place the noodles in a large bowl of hot water and leave them for about eight minutes before straining. 

If making your own sauce, Alton says to "press the tamarind paste through a fine mesh strainer and add to the sauce." Whisk the sauce ingredients to thoroughly combine.

You will want to cook your tofu and eggs before starting the stir fry. For the eggs, simply whisk them in a small bowl then scramble them in a pan with butter. Set them aside. Clean the pan for the tofu and add about one tablespoon of olive oil. Heat on high and add the tofu, shaking the pan constantly to keep the tofu cubes moving. Cooking the tofu shouldn't take long- just until it is golden brown or about two or  three minutes. Add the tofu to the eggs.

Finally, heat some olive oil (or peanut oil or sesame oil) in a large skillet or wok. Add the garlic, ginger, and scallions and saute about 30 seconds. Add the carrots, peppers, and snow peas. Cover and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, mixing regularly until the veggies are just tender. Add in the noodles, sauce, and bean sprouts, as well as the cooked eggs and tofu. Toss all of the ingredients, then cook until the mixture is heated through.

**You may find that the noodles will not completely mix with the veggies, but that is normal. You may just have to pick out all of the goodies when you serve it **

Toss in the cilantro and sprinkle on the peanuts. Serve (I would recommend using pasta tongs) and enjoy!



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blueberry-Lemon Coffee Cake

Add this one to the "Keeper" list - it was a hit! I have always loved lemon cakes as well as anything with almond extract, and this cake has both. It's a great one to make in early summer when blueberries are prevalent, fresh, and on sale. It's nice and light - good for breakfast or dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Blueberry-Lemon Coffee Cake

Adapted from CookingLight.com

Original recipe's picture. It tastes even better than it looks...

Cake:

1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 C sugar
1/3 C almond paste **
2 Tbs. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1 Tbs. lemon juice

3/4 C skim milk
1 3/4 C blueberries
2 tsp. grated lemon rind

**Almond past can be difficult to find depending on your grocery store. It may be in the baking aisle, with fresh dairy (near the cream cheese), or in some other odd place - like in my grocery store it is in with the "specialty foods". Don't give up looking - it's totally worth it!

Topping:

1/4 C sugar (half brown sugar half granulated sugar)
4 Tbs. sliced almonds
1 1/2 Tbs. melted butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9-inch square baking dish. 

Mix the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Combine the 1/2 C sugar, butter, and almond paste in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until blended and smooth. Beat in the egg and lemon juice.

Alternate adding a bit of flour mixture followed by a bit of milk, mixing well each time. Start and end with flour. Fold in the blueberries and lemon rind, then pour the batter into the baking dish.

For the topping, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and toss with  a fork until it is combined an "crumbly". Sprinkle the sugar topping evenly over the surface of the cake. I thought it looked a bit naked at this point, so i sprinkled another handful of plain sliced almonds on top.

Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!








Monday, June 11, 2012

Greek Lentil Salad

This dish is great as a side dish to a light entree or served as a main dish with pita and hummus on a hot summer evening. It's also a great picnic packer...

Greek Lentil Salad

Adapted from Vegetarian Times



1 C green lentils
~ 1/2 C finely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C diced tomatoes (any type works)
1 C diced cucumber (I peel them, but it's personal preference)
1/4 C fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
 1 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 C crumbled feta cheese

Put the lentil in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. I like to keep them nice and chewy for this recipe - you definitely don't want mushy lentil here. 

Drain the cooked lentils and set the in the fridge to cool, ideally for a few hours. 

Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together in the serving bowl. When the lentils have reached room temperature, toss them with the onion, garlic, tomato, cucumber, and parsley in the bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the feta cheese and serve.

Enjoy!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stewed Lentils and Tomatoes

Here is yet another delicious recipe from Smittenkitchen.com. Again, I want to give all the credit to the original blogger here, so I will just provide the link.

The only changes I made to this recipe were as follows:
1. I used two 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes instead of one 28 oz. can of plum tomatoes and skipped the food processor step (I wanted to use what I had in the cupboards)
2. I had no fresh thyme, so I did a bit of fresh flat-leaf parsley and added a few pinched of dried cilantro.


We had it with brussels sprouts, Whole Wheat Molasses Quick-Bread, and Citrus Salad with Fresh Fruit

Click here to find the recipe on Smitten Kitchen!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

(Mom's Favorite) Citrus Salad with Fresh Fruit

This is a refreshing salad that goes perfectly along side a savory dish that may need a little sweetness to wash it down.

Citrus Salad with Fresh Fruit

Adapted from Catherine Walthers' Raising the Salad Bar

Salad:

4 C fresh greens 
(I usually use all baby spinach, but you can add romaine, arugula, or any other tasty green)

1/2 C thinly sliced red cabbage
handful of sliced almonds

~ 1/2 to 3/4 C sliced strawberries
One orange, peeled and chopped

~ 1/3 C freshly grated cheese, such as Parmesan or Gruyere 

Feel free to add in other fruit such as blueberries, pears, or apples!

Dressing:

~ 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
~ 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
~ 1/3 C orange juice

Toss the salad ingredients together in a bowl - I like to use a glass bowl for this salad so the you can see all of the pretty colors.

Using a dressing jar or a small bowl and a whisk, mix the dressing ingredients together. Obviously my measurements aren't exact, so add more or less of each ingredient as needed. My mom always says that you can make any dressing by combing a fat, an acid, and a sweet; all you have to do is balance them out. This dressing is a prime example. 

Once you have concocted the desired flavor balance, toss the dressing into the salad and enjoy!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Whole Wheat Molasses Quick-Bread

I made this bread to go with a stew tonight. It's hearty and a little bit sweet, great served warm with a little butter on top. It's super easy and only takes about 10 minutes of work time!

Whole Wheat Molasses Quick-Bread 

from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

1 2/3 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt (or 11/2 cups milk and 2 tablespoons white vinegar)
2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 C molasses

First, preheat the oven to 325 and lightly grease a loaf pan. If you are using milk and vinegar instead of buttermilk, warm the milk a bit in the microwave (I did one minute on 60% power) then stir in the vinegar. Let the mixture sit while you prepare the other ingredients - the vinegar will sour the milk, making buttermilk.

Meanwhile, mix together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking soda. Stir the molasses into the buttermilk, then combine the buttermilk mixture with the dry ingredients, mixing just long enough to incorporate the flour mixture. Pour the dough into the loaf pan.

Here is Mark Bittman's spiel about thickness:
"Making a good quick bread requires not only technique but a little judgment, the same one you use in making pancakes: there is an ideal thickness for the batter. In this case, it\'s pourable but not wet, like good (not too dry) oatmeal."

Bake your bread until the top sounds hollow when tapped and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - about one hour. Allow the bread to cool for about 15 minutes in then pan, then the loaf should slide right out. 

Slice and enjoy!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Homemade Ricotta Tortellini with Pea Sauce

As I've said before with homemade pasta, there is no greater satisfaction than serving up a beautiful dish of hand-crafted noodles. They taste good too!

I can't believe I haven't posted the recipe for this sauce before. I absolutely love it and it is super easy to make. You can pair it with any pasta - the recipe calls for egg tagliatelle. Yesterday though, I decided to go "all-out" and make my own fresh tortellini. It turned out great, and I'm sure it will only get better with practice.

Homemade Ricotta Tortellini with Pea Sauce

Sauce from Thirty Minute Pasta by 
Tortellini from Alton Brown


Here is the picture of the pea sauce from the cookbook.. Obviously that is not tortellini, but like I said, the sauce goes great with any pasta!


1 batch of whole wheat pasta dough 
(See my post, "Whole Wheat Bow Ties with Pesto" for the dough recipe)

For the filling:

1/2 C ricotta cheese
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbs finely chopped spinach
1 egg
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
a pinch of grated nutmeg

egg wash: 1 egg + 1/2 tsp water

For the sauce:

1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz frozen peas

First, mix up your pasta dough according to the instructions. When you get to the rolling stage, use either a pasta machine or a rolling pin to roll the pasta into thin sheets. Using a cookie cutter or glass, cut circles about 3 inches in diameter into your dough. Gather the scraps and repeat until you have eked out as many circles as possible.

Mix together all of the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Make the egg wash in a small bowl by whisking the egg and water together. 

Next, dollop about 1/2 tsp of the cheese mixture onto the center of each round. Use your finger to spread a bit of the egg onto the edges of the circle. Fold half of the circle onto the other half so that you have kind of a folded half-circle shape. take the two corners of the half circle and pull them together to make a loop, pressing the corners together. And there you have tortellini!  Don't worry if your shapes don't look perfect or just like what comes from the store. As long as they hold together and the filling doesn't leak out, they will be great. If you do find that the filling is oozing out when you fold, use less cheese mixture and it will work just fine.

Put a large pot of water on to boil, and start your pea sauce while it heats. Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 to 8 minutes, until it is tender and golden brown. Next, add the peas and about 1/2 cup of water. Season well with salt and pepper (I always am very generous with the pepper in this recipe). Cook until the peas are tender and heated through, about 6 minutes. You may need to add water if it evaporates too quickly.

When the peas are done, remove about half of the mixture and puree it in a food processor, blender, or food mill. Return the puree to the pan with the remaining peas.

When the water is briskly boiling add the tortellini and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the pasta floats to the surface. When the pasta is about half done, add about 3/4 cup of the pasta water to the peas and stir to create a creamy sauce. 

Drain the tortellini well and stir it into the pea sauce. Serve immediately, perhaps sprinkled with a bit of Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!






Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spinach and Chickpeas

My sister made this recipe last week and it was simply delicious. It has a sweet yet savory flavor, and can be paired with virtually everything. The chickpeas are a great source of protein in the vegetarian diet, and paired with the spinach this dish is healthy and hearty.

She got the recipe from one of our favorite cooking blogs: Smitten Kitchen

Because it is such a great blog I want to give all of the credit to its author. Check out the link and explore her cite!

Picture from Smitten Kitchen

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Asparagus, Leek, and Mushroom Frittata

This dish was, again, spurred by what looked good at the farmer's market last weekend. I found a recipe on another food blog for asparagus and mushroom frittata and made a few changes of my own to come up with this.

Serves 3 to 4 

Asparagus, Leek, and Mushroom Frittata

Inspired by foodblogga

3 leeks, thinly sliced and thoroughly washed
A hefty bunch of asparagus (~3/4 lb), washed and cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
~ 2 C sliced white or cremini mushrooms

6 eggs
~ 1/2 C grated cheese such as Paremesan of Gruyere 
~ 2 Tbs freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Whisk the egg, parsley, red pepper, and about half the cheese in a bowl.

First, heat some olive oil in a large skillet and saute the leeks over medium heat for about 7 minutes, or until the become soft. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 7 minutes or so, until the leeks are beginning to brown and the mushrooms have released and cooked-off their juices. 

Meanwhile, boil or steam the asparagus for just 3 minutes or so, so that they are almost tender but not quite done.

When the mushrooms and leeks are ready add the asparagus, cover, and cook another few minutes. Next, remove the mixture from the pan and wipe out any bits that may be left over. Heat a tablespoon or so of butter in the pan to coat the bottom and sides. Return the veggie mixture to the pan and spread it so that it is flat. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the top, tilting that pan and/or using a spatula to distribute the egg evenly over and between the veggies.

Cook the frittata over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the edges are set and the center is nearly cooked. Remove from the stove and place the pan under a hot broiler for just two minutes- long enough for the top to set. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, then return it to the broiler for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the frittata is golden brown and beginning to puff up.

Allow to cool slightly and enjoy!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Indian-Spiced Lentils with Spinach and Rhubarb

I got a huge bunch of rhubarb at the local farmer's market this weekend, and after my sister made a delicious rhubarb upside-down cake, we still had quite a bit left over. I came up with this recipe in an older edition of Vegetarian Times and it turned out to be pretty tasty. The spices and flavor are pretty exotic, but we liked it! 

I served it over brown rice, but you could use quinoa or just about any other whole grain. 
Serves 4 to 6


Indian-Spiced Lentils with Spinach and Rhubarb

-Vegetarian Times

Photo from Vegetariantimes.com


2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
2 Tbs. yellow mustard seeds
2 ½ tsp. whole cumin seeds

3 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)

1 medium red onion, chopped (1½ cups)
½ cup golden raisins

1 C brown lentils (or green)
3 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth

½ lb. fresh rhubarb, cut into ¼-inch slices

6 cups baby spinach leaves
½ cup chopped cilantro

First, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, fairly deep skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and cook covered for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the seeds begin to pop. Continue to cook another minute or so until the popping stops, shaking the pan to keep the seeds from sticking or burning. Remove from heat, stir in the garlic and ginger, and set aside in a bowl.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil back into the skillet and saute the onion and raisins over medium heat for about 7 to 10 minutes, until the onions are tender and beginning to brown. Add the lentils and 3 cups of the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 minutes - until the liquid has diminished quite a bit. 

Now add the rhubarb and remaining 1/2 C of broth. Cook for about 5 minutes then add the spinach and cook covered for another 5 or 6 minutes. Once the spinach has wilted and the rhubarb is nice and soft, remove from heat, thoroughly mix everything, then stir in the spice mixture and the cilantro - I added a little flat leaf parsley as well. 
Enjoy!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mac and Cheese Style Cauliflower

This dish is absolutely delicious. It's creamy and warm - perfect for a cold night or anytime you need some comfort food. I served it with a giant bowl of green peas and a fresh, crisp salad.

Next time, I think I will mix some broccoli in as well, and probably double the amount of cauliflower/broccoli for the amount of cheese sauce. Also, I used half Gruyere half cheddar cheese which gave it a nice extra little flavor dimension.

It says it serves 8, but 4 of us happily downed this recipe :)

Mac and Cheese Style

Vegetarian Times
VT's photo


1 large head cauliflower (1 ½ lb.), cut into medium florets 
(I would add some broccoli and make the total amount closer to 2 1/2 lbs.)

2 Tbs. butter or margarine
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 cups low-fat milk
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese 
(Try doing half Gruyere or another cheese of choice to add flavor)

½ cup nutritional yeast
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 egg yolks
1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs

First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the cauliflower (and broccoli) until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Reserve one cup of the cooking liquid then drain the veggies. 

Back in the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute before vigorously whisking in the milk, reserved liquid, and garlic. Cook this mixture over medium-high heat for about 7 to 10 minutes, until it boils and thickens. You will want to stir it pretty much constantly.

When the sauce has thickened, stir in the nutritional yeast, cheeses, and egg yolks and mix thoroughly. Fold in the cauliflower (and broccoli).

Spread the mixture into a greased baking dish, either a 13 by 9 rectangular dish or a large oval casserole dish will work. Sprinkle the top generously with the bread crumbs. 

Bake at 350 for about half an hour, until the cheese is bubbly and the top begins to brown. You may want to broil it for a minute or so at the end to achieve the perfect golden-brownness. 

Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and enjoy!