Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese

I have had this recipe for quite a few years now, all thanks to my friend Scottie.  He had been working on a M & C recipe and this was what he came up with...it's amazing.  I cannot improve on it so I will share it with you as he did with me.  I will say,  I don't always have the exact amount of cheese.  In fact it's usually a wee bit over!  It's a wonderful recipe to make a day or two ahead and then all you need to do is pop it in the oven for a bit longer than usual.  I always, always, always double it.  Always.  It's that good.  Also, just as a side note, you're going to want to make sure you have a salad or veggie as a side to this meal.  The amount of cheese in it will stop a freight train from running on a regular schedule, never mind a human body.  Yes, I went there.  The family and I usually have roasted broccoli with lemon and it's fan-freaking-tastic!  This is a special occasion dish here...Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and for pot lucks so don't start complaining about the high calorie count.  Celebrate and enjoy!  Stay on the treadmill for a few extra minutes, you'll be fine.
Uncle Scottie's Mac and Cheese!


Here's What You Need:


  • 5 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons AP Flour
  • 2 ½ cups Whole Milk
  • 5 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • 4 ounces Fontina, grated
  • ¼-½ teaspoon Cayenne or 1 Teaspoon Cajun Seasoning, or more to taste
  • 1 pound Rigatoni, I use "Mezzi Rigatoni" it's shorter and has lines!
  • 4 ounces Mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 4 ounces Parmesan, grated


I find that having a large pot of water boiling and at the ready helps with the timing of this whole process and then bring it down to simmer while you're making your cheese sauce.  I also prep all of the cheese so that once the white sauce is ready you can toss the cheese in and voila!  Cheese sauce!
I always ask my husband to help with this part!  ♥


In another large pot melt the butter, then with a whisk add in the flour.  Whisk away for a minute or so and then slowly add in your milk.  I rarely use whole milk but in this dish it's imperative.  Trust me.  I've tried making a lower fat version and it did not go over well.  You are going to need to watch over your pot of almost goodness now, keep whisking so nothing burns on the bottom of the pan.  The sauce will thicken up in 20 minutes or so, a bit longer if your doubling (which again, I highly recommend).  You can call on your inner Julia Childs and do that fancy french trick of coating the back of a wooden spoon and run your finger through the sauce on it to see if the line stays formed, if you'd like.  Talk with a french accent if you so choose, I won't judge.

Once your white sauce is thickened I want you to add in the Gorgonzola and stir it all in with the whisk to help break it up further.  Then add in the fontina.  Things are going to start getting ooey and gooey really quickly now and you can start doing a subtle happy dance.  Turn your heat off and add in your seasonings.  You all know by now that I like spicy foods so adjust to your liking.  Now if you happen to have a nice loaf of bread laying about and you want to dunk a piece in the sauce, to check for seasoning of course, then go right on ahead.

So your sauce is done, now just boil your noodles and you are in the home stretch.  You will want to cook them for a minute or two less than what the package says since they will be going into the oven for a bit of time too.  Drain and add them right back to the large pot I told you to get in the first place.  Now comes the cheese sauce, add it in with the noodles, combine well and then add in your Mozzarella.   Stir it.
See those little cubes of Mozzarella?  Oh happy day!!!


Your happy dance can get a little less subtle.  Grab a casserole dish and transfer your cheesy noodle goodness to it and use a scraper to get every last bit of sauce out of the pot.  Hell you can grab another hunk of bread and get it all.  Again, I won't judge.  Just don't.  Leave.  It.  In.  The.  Pot.

Now top it all with your grated Parmesan and cover it with tin foil.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly then uncover for 15-20 to get the top nice and browned.  Don't forget that if you are making this ahead of time just stop short of baking it.  Put it in the fridge until you are ready.  It will need to bake for more like 45-50 minutes to get all bubbly and fabulous before browning the top.
Enjoy!

Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!
Kathi



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Minestrone Soup

I have a friend named Bianca who I am so lucky to have in my life.  I met her when we moved here in 2010 and we are so happy that both of our families adore each as well.  Her oldest and my middle and her middle and my youngest are BFF's.  Her baby and my oldest are inseparable.  Our husbands have a great time together when we have "family play dates" and enjoy making fun of Bianca and I every chance they get.  Basically B is my person.  You have one of those right?  I hope so.
So last winter (I can't believe it was last winter already!) we were having a family play date complete with dinner, dessert, popcorn and a movie...let's not forget pajamas for everyone and cocktails for the grown ups.  My husband thought I was out of my mind when we all had to get into jammies before they arrived, but thankfully he humors me 9 times out of 10.  He's very serious and conservative (much like me right?  HA!) so when I said he had to get in his lounge pants he pushed back for a second.  Thank god Bianca's husband, Keith, came in his too!  LMAO!
B was bringing her minestrone soup and amazing rolls.  I forgot what I had made because the soup was so outstanding.  No joke.  Part of her secret was making it the day before.  Genius.
I ended up getting the recipe the next day but hadn't made it again until just last week, and made it again today.  I'm still not sure what the hell happened but I can assure you I will be making up for lost time.  Now that we are coming into cooler weather, soups are the first thing I am thinking when meal planning.
What I love about this soup is that I can make it on the stove or in the crock pot, I will explain to you how to make it both ways.  You can also freeze the leftovers (since it does make a ton!) and it's even better at a later date...dare I say!  The most time consuming part is chopping, and even then it's not that big of a deal, but turn on some good music and pour a glass of wine, grab a cutting board and knife and get to it!

Here's What You Need
  • ½ Large Onion, chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 4 Zucchini, quartered and chopped
  • 2 Yellow Squash, quartered and chopped
  • 4-5 Celery Hearts (with tops, even better!), chopped
  • 2 large Russet Potatoes (skin on), small cube
  • ¼-½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 cans Tomato Paste
  • Vegetable Bouillon, 4 cubes or equivalent
  • 12 cups Water
  • 2 cups Cannelini Beans (or 1 can, rinsed)
  • 2 cups Red Kidney Beans (or 1 can, rinsed)
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Basil
  • Immersion blender, regular blender or food processor
At the end add in:
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh Basil
  • 2 teaspoons Sugar

Stove Top Version:
I take the onion, garlic, zucchini and squash and throw them on a baking sheet with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them at 400℉ for 30 minutes or until they are to your liking.  Make sure you move things around at the halfway mark so nothing gets too done.
Chopped goodness!

While the veggies are getting delicious you can add everything else to a large stock pot and get things started.  Trust me...get a LARGE pot, it makes a ton!  Once the roasted vegetables are done just add them into your pot of goodness and once it comes to a boil, turn the fire down to simmer and let it go for 20-30 minutes or until your potatoes are done.
Clearly I just made it with this pot!  

Now I want you to take 4 cups of the vegetables and beans out of the pot and put them aside, try and get as little of the liquid as possible.  You heard me, just do it.  At this point bust out your immersion blender, regular blender or food processor and blend the hell out of the remainder of the soup.  Add in your fresh herbs and sugar and blend once more.  I'm going to ask you to trust me again on the sugar thing, I thought Bianca was nuts when I read her recipe but it really does add the perfect touch.  Once you are done blending happily away, add in the veggie goodness that you had set aside.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper...much more than you think!

Crock Pot Version:
It's the same process as the stove top version except you add to a crock pot instead of a stock pot!  8 hours on low.  Wicked hard huh?  ☺

I serve this with a salad and/or some sort of bread.  B makes these rolls that are insane and may be one day she will let me share them with you but for now they are a guarded secret.  Today I had an amazing multi-grain artisan loaf that I cut thick and grilled with olive oil.  We were dunking it right in that soup and loving it!  This recipe was perfect for the cold and rainy day we had today.
Thanks again B for sharing your delicious recipe with me!  ❤
Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!
K


Friday, August 31, 2012

Broccoli and Arugula "Cupcakes"

So it was a fairly normal Thursday at my house except for the nasty ragweed allergy season that has struck, oh and the poison ivy.  Yeah.  Poison freaking ivy.  I had gone to pick up the children from school and stopped by my favorite farm for my last load of veggies before Elizabeth went on vacation ***insert sadness***.

Anyways!  I went home, washed everything and started cooking my face off.  Not sure what the hell phase the moon was in but I started making 1 new dish that turned into 3 new dishes.  Alright, it could be the undiagnosed ADHD that I probably have but, whatever.  That's when it happened.  A knock at the back door, my dog going nuts and my neighbor, Kim, standing there with an enormous basket of veggies!  Obviously I welcomed her, and all the kale a girl could possibly want, into the house...and poured her a glass of wine.  I may or may not have then poured myself a vodka tonic but let me not get sidetracked.  Elizabeth, the best farmer on the planet, had sent her to me bearing gifts!  And what gifts they were!  I usually like going with one new recipe at a time but with everything staring me in the face I couldn't resist.  I had seen an intriguing recipe on Pinterest (shocker) for these baked cheddar broccoli rice cups and while I didn't have all the ingredients, it did get me thinking.  Love that!  This is my version of what came of it and I must say, it's amaze-balls!
This photo could totally be better but Kim insisted this needed to be my next post!  LOL!

Here's what you need:

  • 1½ cups Brown Jasmin Rice, cooked
  • 10 oz Broccoli, frozen or roughly 2 cups fresh, blanched.  I used fresh and chopped it.
  • 1½ cups Arugula, chopped
  • ¾ cup Cheese, ½ cup Monterey Jack and ¼ Parmesan
  • 2 large Eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant, trust me...you need this in your life.
  • 6-8 sprigs Thyme
  • Muffin tin, regular or large
Preheat your oven to 350℉.
Sooo, throw all of it (except the Parmesan!) in a bowl large enough to get a good mix on things.  Seriously. All I ask is that you do spend the time to really incorporate the ingredients.  Then once the ingredients are all mixed thoroughly, divide your batter into your muffin tin.  They won't be rising so just fill those buggers to the tipity top.  Then top the "cupcakes" with your Parmesan.

Now, I used the large muffin tin and this made six FULL "cupcakes".  Next time I won't be so short sighted and I will double the recipe.  It was that big of a hit.  You all know how I feel about recipes that all 3 of my lovelies enjoy!  Once they are filled, pop them in the oven for 30 minutes or so.  I would start checking them at 20 minutes since the old cooker can vary dramatically from one to another.  I served them with some sauteed trombocino squash and onions but a salad and nice bread would work great here as well.  I liked that the Parmesan was nice and golden and...damn, now I want to make these again!

And don't you worry...the other two recipes will be coming your way soon!  ❤

Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!
Kathi

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Frittata with Goat Cheese

As I've said before, having a frittata in my "bag of Mommy tricks" makes life a little bit easier for me.  Of course you don't have to be a Mommy to have a bag of tricks...everyone should have said bag and an amazing frittata is a good item to included in it!  Let's also remember that a frittata can be eaten for any meal, as a main or side dish.  Versatile...capital V.  You can put any fillings and cheeses that you wish as well in it.  I always use the base of onion, garlic, 10 eggs and milk.  The rest is all up to you really.  I love that!  This was a dish I had made for some of my favorites (non-family favorites that is!).  It was a huge hit and it does my heart good to cook for people I adore.  It's a win-win in my book.
I love serving the frittata right on the cutting board!

Here's What You Need:
  • 1 Large Shallot, sliced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 2 Small Zucchini, sliced
  • 2 Small yellow Squash, sliced
  • 2 Portabello Mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ Cup Arugula, chopped
  • ¼ Cup (total) Basil and Parsley, chopped
  • 4 Ounces Goat Cheese
  • 10 Large Eggs
  • ½ Cup Milk, whatever "strength" you like
  • Oven proof pan (mine is a 12")
  • Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic, optional

Preheat your oven to 350℉

I find myself not even bothering to put Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper on the ingredient list because really, in my opinion it's just a given that you will need them to cook any savory dish well.  So with that said, get  2-3 tablespoons of Olive Oil in your pan and saute the shallot for a few minutes on medium to medium high, then add in the garlic and S & P.  Once you can smell the garlic (about 45 seconds) it's time to get the zucchini and squash in your pan.  A little more S & P here again.  Give them 2-3 minutes and then add in your mushrooms and cook it all for a good 7-10 minutes.  The times will be different if you like less color on your veggies.  I caramelize mine quite a bit.  While the vegetables are happily sauteing away in your pan you can get your eggs and milk prepared in a bowl.  Whisk them together and add a little bit of S & P.  See what I mean about salt and pepper?  The arugula won't take any time at all to cook so add it once you're happy with where your other fillings are at and then go ahead and toss in your herbs.  Thyme would also be good or tarragon or...let me stop now.

So now you are ready to add in the eggs but here's the thing...spread out your filling in the pan as evenly as you can, you shouldn't be able to see the bottom of the pan, and turn your fire down to medium low.  Now take the egg/milk mixture and slowly pour it over the veggies so they aren't disturbed.  You want to have vegetables and egg in every delicious bite.  So your eggs are in the pan and while you are waiting for them to set along the edges you can add in your goat cheese.  I get my goat cheese in log form, not crumbled.  I prefer to crumble it myself...don't ask why.  It's just another one of those OCD quirky things about me.  There are many.  ❤

Once the edges of your eggs start to set and the middle is still very "soupy" put your pan of goodness into the oven on the middle rack.  Let it bake for 13-15 minutes, the egg should now be set in the middle.  The pie will come right out of the pan, I always just slide it out onto a cutting board and serve it like that at the table.
Along with a salad this is a perfect dinner!

Oh and let me tell you...the TJ's Red Pepper Spread is so good alongside the frittata but not necessary.  I really also enjoy it with some grilled bread.  I have a love affair with all things Trader Joe...don't get me started on their Pinot Grigio that goes for a whopping $3.50 tee hee hee!
This is what you would look for!

Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!
Kathi

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

So there I was socializing minding my own business last week at Fat Moon Farm and Elizabeth (my dear farmer friend) mentions her first zucchini bread cook off on the farm.  WHAT?!?!?!  How did I miss this bit of information in her newsletter?  Oh, that's right, I have 3 amazing kids, a dog named Finnegan, a guinea pig named Big Papi, a husband that's wonderful...ahem, most of the time, and my day was just mayhem.   I left that farm so excited and to top it off she was having an "under 18" category as well.  I was already planning what I would do before I left the driveway and the girls would have to agree on what version they wanted to bake.  Then it came.  An email from Elizabeth.  She wanted little ole me to be one of the judges for "Bloggers Choice".  Me?  What?  Well of course I was honored and said yes!  There were two other judges there with me yesterday, Andy from My Untangled Life and Sally from How Does YOUR Garden Grow.  We needed to agree on 2 different entries, one from the "under 18" and the other from the "over 18" categories.  There were 3 breads in the kids division and about 6 or 7 in the adult division...and I am here to tell you that they were all delicious.  We ended up choosing 2 incredible breads that I will make in my very own kitchen and serve proudly.

My babies worked great as a team and made their version of this Blueberry Zucchini Bread.  It was a big hit here and at the bake off, and they won PEOPLE'S CHOICE!!!  I did have to help with a few things and I did monitor the mixing so they didn't go overboard.  I am so proud of my cherubs, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as everyone else has!


Here's What You Need:
  • 3 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup Applesauce
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1 ¼ cups Sugar
  • 1 cup Honey (we used Big Buzz Apiary honey)
  • 2 cups Zucchini, grated
  • 1 ½ cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 ½ cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 2 ½ cups Blueberries
Preheat your oven to 325℉.  Spray two loaf pans with a non-stick spray.
Add eggs, applesauce, vanilla, sugar and honey to your mixer and combine well.  Next you'll want to incorporate the zucchini.  I've come to the realization that doing this step now helps blend it more evenly and you don't have to worry about the potential for over mixing after the flour is added in.  If you forget this step it's not a deal breaker, add it at the end (before the blueberries) and mix for 10 seconds.  Problem solved.

In a separate bowl combine your flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.  This should get added in two parts to the wet ingredients and each addition should be just combined.

The blueberries get folded in to the batter then divide the batter between your loaf pans.  Bake them for 55-65 minutes until the toothpick you stick in the middle comes out clean.  I did lay a piece of tin foil over the pans after about 45 minutes so the tops didn't brown too much.  Let them cool in their pans for 15-20 minutes and then turn them out onto a cooling rack.  I suggest you give them a good bit of time to cool before you taste it...those blueberries are like molten lava when hot!  

Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!
Kathi

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Three Cheese Grilled Pizza

Let me start off by saying the beauty of this post is that you can use whatever you have on hand.  It's not so much a recipe, as it is an idea to work off of.  With that said...the pizza we (my husband  and I) made tonight was the best we have ever made.  Oh, did I mention another beauty of this post is that the husband and I cook this together?  If he's not home, the children and I don't make it.

I love grilled pizza night for many reasons.  It means the man is home, and while I always joke about loving my own space when he travels, I do miss him when he is away.  Quite a bit.  Just a little.  The second reason is because I can open up my fridge and see what I have and what needs to be used.  This is perfect for using up a little of this and a little of that.  The third reason is that the man and I most often times work in sync for this meal.  It's the little things that I can appreciate.  ☺ Another reason is that I won't get take out pizza this good or this fresh here.  Don't get me wrong, we have a few really great pizza joints, and I am not afraid of ordering from them.  They just aren't as good as what can come off of our grill.  There.  I said it.  Now go try this!

Here's What You Need...for what we made tonight:
  • Pizza Dough, make it yourself or buy it
  • Sauce, My version or a good jarred version are fine
  • Mozzarella, grated
  • Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler 
  • Ricotta, the homemade version I do or a store bought version are fine
  • Onions, caramelized
  • Mushrooms, sauteed
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Basil, torn
There are a few tricks that The Husband has perfected with this whole process.  Take your dough out and let it sit on the counter for at least an hour, it will make it easier to stretch and work with.  Get your grill screaming hot.  Last, cook one side first and then put the toppings on that cooked side.  Yes.  Just continue reading.

My part in this whole process is to have all the toppings prepared.  That means I see what will work from the fridge, chop them and then cook them.  All toppings should be cooked because they aren't on the grill long enough to cook through.  I also am the one that gets the "pizza topping buffet" set up.  I clear off everything from our island and set the toppings out in bowls.  When we have company over and make these it is always inevitability a huge hit and it's easy for the children to make their own (which is the best part don't you know?).  The ricotta that I make is from Jennifer Perrilo on Food 52.  It is so completely wonderful, delicious and incredibly easy.  Did I mention delicious?

So once your grill is squawking and your dough is stretched out, oil both sides and throw it on the grates, then shut the hood.  Don't go anywhere because it will take about 90 seconds to 2 minutes to cook on this first side.  Once the first side is done take it off the grill and bring it to the topping bar.  

You want to top the side that has been cooked!  The raw side should be on the bottom.  For this pizza I put sauce first then red pepper flakes, ricotta, mushrooms, onions, Mozzarella, Parmesan and finally basil. 

 Once all the toppings are on, then the pizza goes back on the grill and the gas gets turned to low...put the hood down immediately.  This second turn on the grill will take a little bit more time than the first,  about 2-3 minutes.  Don't go anywhere and check it after 2 minutes so it doesn't burn.  What you are trying to accomplish here is cooking the dough and melting the cheeses.  Our pizza's usually turn out large so we take them off the grill with cookie sheets or cutting boards.

Once they come off the grill let them sit for a minute or two to cool.  If you try cutting into the pizza with the smoldering cheese it will just pool into the middle.  Let it set up and try to be as patient as you possibly can...not an easy feat for me.

A simple salad with this makes everyone happy but I have to admit, tonight it was just pizza...and a vodka tonic each for The Husband and I ❤
Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Zucchini Bread

I had started this blog back in February as a way for my friends and family (especially my children) to have my recipes that I have cooked for them, on hand.  It seemed simple.  I wasn't expecting to have stories to go along with the food, but they sort of go hand in hand.

What I can't believe I haven't told you all is why I enjoy cooking so much.  It finally occurred to me after our most recent trip to Texas. We went in July to visit my Grandmother (my Mem) who turned 85 years old while we were there.  Let's be clear, she does not look or act like she's 85 one bit.  She is spunky and has a fire in her...and she does not take crap from anyone (sound like someone?).  She's a card shark and loves shoes.  She has a sweet Canadian accent and she also happens to be an amazing cook.  She will cook her face off for the people that she loves, and I happen to be lucky enough to be one of them.  She loves me and my little family that my husband and I have created, unconditionally.  She shows her love through her food...just like I do.  Aside from passing me her curly hair gene, she also passed the love through food gene down to me.  I adore this woman.  I adore her so much I named one of my babies after her.  She's that amazing.

Years ago when she was still living in Florida she gave me a few of her most well known recipes...I can't even mention what they are since other family members will then hound me for them.  I mean, who really wants that?  LOL!  I still have them written down on the same paper I used to document them all in her kitchen way back when.  One of those recipes was for her zucchini bread.

Having grown up with her and my Grandfather, this bread was something I had often.  Come summer time when her garden was spitting out courgettes left and right, she would make her bread and freeze it.  This was especially fantastic because I would never know when to expect it...sometimes it was for The Love Boat on Friday night, Saturday morning cartoons, after school snack.  You just never knew when she would bust out a loaf of this incredible bread.  So when we arrived in Texas this last time she had a platter of goodies and one was slices of "The" zucchini bread.  Sigh.  I told you she was wonderful.

So with all that gushing let me just tell you this...I modified her recipe.  OMG.  I can't believe I even attempted it, never mind now publish it on my blog.  I do believe once my Old Girl sees it and tries it (I'm sending her a loaf along with a sack of tomatoes, TX tomatoes are nasty according to her!) that she will love it.



Here's What You Need
  • 2¼ Cups Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ Cup Applesauce, unsweetened
  • ½ Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1½ Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1½ Cups Bread Flour (or AP flour)
  • 1½ Teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 Cups Raw Zucchini, grated
  • ½ Cup Chocolate Chips, I used Ghirardelli (optional)
  • ½ Cup Walnuts, chopped (again, optional)
Preheat your oven to 350℉.  Prepare two bread pans with your vegetable spray of choice.
Combine your sugar, eggs, applesauce, oil and vanilla, I use my stand mixer.  Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl and then add in 3 parts to the wet.  Remember what you have heard about over mixing once flour is added.  Just mix the wet and dry until they come together.  Stop the mixer, add the zucchini, along with the chocolate and walnuts if you decide to add them and mix for 10 seconds.  I'm telling you, it's the magic number.  Everything gets mixed yet you don't turn out bricks once it's baked.
Bake both for 50-60 minutes.  I actually check mine at 45 minutes and the color is usually good but it still needs to hang out in the oven a bit longer...I just take a large piece of aluminum foil and place it over the two pans.  This prevents it from browning on the top any longer but allows the center to continue cooking for the last few minutes.
I hope you enjoy this treat and share it with someone you love...that's what my Grandmother and I would expect.  ❤

Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Quinoa and Arugula Stuffed Mushrooms


This recipe is delicious any time of the year, but for me it's especially amazing when I can get most of the ingredients fresh from my favorite Fat Moon Farm.  The owner, Elizabeth, always teaches me something new when I go and I love seeing all the changes every week.  So, obviously not all of you have the luxury of a farm close by, but even buying your produce seasonally makes a huge difference in their tastes.  That being said, I do buy things from Trader Joes or another grocer out of season, I just know that it always makes my belly and my family a wee bit happier to have things taste their best.  And isn't that the greatest?
Let's talk about a few of the ingredients here first.  Quinoa is actually a seed...A SEED!  It's delicious and so good for you.  I beg you to give it a try.  It's got a great "chew" to it and is so versatile. I think I've talked before about most days having a big resealable bag of quinoa and another of either a brown or wild rice in my fridge.  I will usually make them on a Sunday and if it's football season it's not a huge bother because you just let it set on the stove top with the cover on!  I always find things to use it for and it also makes my life easier when I want something good but quick. 
Arugula...it's a green and it's amazing, but I will admit I'm not a huge fan of it raw.  Cooked and it's fantastic.  It wilts like spinach but doesn't lose it's body or get mushy like spinach does and it has so much flavor where spinach doesn't really do it for me unless I'm adding to it.  So good.  Elizabeth was telling me that she has a ton of it but no one is really buying it.  WHAT?  Fresh arugula isn't being purchased and scarfed down?  Oy.  I make a tremendous pesto with it as well...I really need to get on that post too!  ☺


Here's What You Need
  • Portabello Mushrooms (8)
  • Olive Oil
  • 4-5 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Leek, chopped in half moons
  • 1 Medium Zucchini
  • 1 Yellow Squash
  • ½-1 teaspoon Oregano, depending on how much you love the herb
  • ½ Cup Peas, fresh or frozen
  •  Arugula, 3 large handfuls
  • Quinoa, 2 cups (cooked)
  • Wild Rice, 1 cup (cooked)
  • 1 Cup Feta
  • ¼ Cup Pine Nuts, toasted
  • 3 Tablespoons Basil
  • 2 Tablespoons Parsley
  • Tomato Sauce, My Version of Sauce or from a jar works too
  • Mozzarella

I have to use two 9½ x 11 dishes for this recipe, of course if you don't need 8 stuffed mushrooms just halve this recipe.  No biggie.  Brush the mushrooms with olive oil and place them gill side up in your dish.  A bit of pepper does nice things at this point as well...just saying.  Place them in a 375℉ oven for 20-25  minutes to roast.  While that's doing it's thing you can easily get the filling done.  This roasting is an important step because the filling will be completely cooked.  The first time I made this dish I didn't roast them first and then the quinoa was too crunchy on top from being in the oven too long.  Don't make that mistake.  Eeeek!

Leeks need to be cleaned really well.  They have layers and sand get's in there and biting down on gritty leeks is definitely one of my least favorite food things.  Cut the leek in half lengthwise then chop it in half moons.  I then take a large bowl, put it in my sink and add the leeks with as much water as possible.  Then I roll up my sleeves and rub the leeks between my hands, this breaks the moons up and the grit falls to the bottom while the leeks stay clean and pretty at the top.  Whatever you do, don't skip this step.  It takes 3 minutes.  Once you're done here, dry them a bit on a clean kitchen towel and add them to a large saute pan with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Cook them for 2 minutes or so just to soften them then add in your garlic.    Now after 45 seconds the garlic should start smelling amazing.  The smell of garlic makes me instantly hungry.

Feel free to add in your squashes and oregano now and throw some salt and pepper in there while you're at it.   As I have said before, I like my vegetables to have some color on them so I like to caramelize mine a good deal.  If you like yours just softly sauteed then do that.  My recipes are all pretty forgiving and easily adjusted to your tastes.

While this magic is happening in your pan please get a large bowl and add in your quinoa, rice, feta, basil and parsley and mix them all to get aquainted.  If you have a party at your house you introduce people right?  Same with this only the party is in the bowl instead of your family room!  Actually, all good parties end up in the kitchen or wherever the booze is in my experience! 

Check on the squash mixture and if it's where you want it to be color wise,  add in your peas and arugula.  Don't forget to add in a little more of your S & P and you may also need to add another Tablespoon of olive oil too!  It should be nicely wilted in 2 minutes.  Now take the whole saute pan and add the contents to your rice bowl.  More guests have joined the party...introduce them and mix!!!

Now let me confess.  I burn things.  More specifically, nuts.  So when I have them in a recipe I always make sure I don't have anything else that needs my attention, I stand over that pan and watch them like a hawk.  Honestly.  If you are capable of toasting the pine nuts while introducing the rice and quinoa and sauteing squash, go right ahead.  Brag about it in the comments below if you must.  I will applaud you.  I am a master nut roaster only when it's all I have to do!  LOL!  Once yours are done, get them in the quinoa bowl and mix.

Please, before you try stuffing your mushrooms let them cool a bit.  I take them out of the pan they roasted in and cool them on another dish so I can add some sauce to the bottom of that pan.  Then add them back on top of the sauce.  Depending on the size of your shrooms they will take ⅓ to ½ cup of filling, I overfill mine.

Once every mushroom has been filled I top each with ¼ cup of additional sauce and then mozzarella.  Is it shocking that I REALLY pile on the cheese?  It just makes everything right in my world.

Everything is cooked at this point so you really just need to heat it all through and get your cheese all nice and melty.  Fifteen minutes should do the trick but if you want to brown the top of your cheese a bit you can also then throw on the broiler for a minute or two. 

There you have it.  Great meal, full of protein and happiness.  Serve it with a simple salad and dinner is ready.  Amazingly these can also be made the day before (I wait to top with the cheese until it's time to go in the oven though) and life is really easy!

Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mushroom and Pea Risotto

Let me warn you, I'm not starting this post the way I necessary should...but I never said I was a good rule follower. 
I used to really suck at risotto.  Badly.  My first attempt (probably 12 years ago) was delicious and my husband looked forward to the dish in the future.  It rarely happened ever again, it was always a hit or miss.  I didn't know why and it really pissed me off.  Over the years I have tortured him with "experiments", always with another dish on deck in case the risotto didn't pan out, pun intended.  Over the past year or two I have always managed to make risotto that everyone, all 5 of us, has raved about.  I think I have figured out what the problems where and they weren't that difficult.  Risotto is really a simple dish as long as you follow some easy steps.  I don't lie about these things! 
So my oldest baby (she's 10, whatever) had to have 4 teeth removed and needed a soft diet for a few days.  She requested a risotto dish and a Frittata Dish.  No problem.  Anything for my poor cherub!  This was what I came up with and everyone was thrilled!  Not an easy feat for a family with three girls, albeit amazing girls! 
 
Here's What You Need
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter, unsalted
  • ½ Large Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Large Portabella Mushrooms, Chopped
  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • ½ Cup White Wine, Pinot Grigio is my "go to"
  • 5-6 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • 3½ Ounces Goat Cheese
  • ⅓ Cup Parmesan Cheese, I used my microplane
  • Zest of ½ Lemon
  • 1 Cup Frozen Petite Peas
  • Salt and Pepper, always
Start with the usual suspects...Olive Oil and Butter, in a large saute pan and the onions.  Cook them down for 2 minutes or so with some salt and pepper, then add in the mushrooms.  This should all cook for about 5 minutes until there is some nice color on them and then add in the rice.  Stir it around and get it coated in the mixture completely for 2-3 minutes.  Don't skimp on this step.
Now is the time to add in the wine!  I measure out the correct amount for the pan and then have a glass handy to fill for my own personal consumption.  It's my favorite step.  Don't judge me. 
Stir the rice until the wine is absorbed then it's time to add in the the broth.  Now I know I wrote "Vegetable Broth" on the ingredients list but please, feel free to use whatever you like.  I have a standard size ladle (not the over sized version) and add in two ladle fulls.  Stir, stir, stir.  Once it has been absorbed by the rice, add in two more.  I don't sit over the pan stirring the whole time, but quite often.  I am always close by and keeping an eye on what's happening.  This whole process takes about 25-30 minutes, it always varies for me, just like the amount of broth does.  I haven't figured this one out...but who cares.  It's delicious.
Risotto should be al dente.  Stick a spoon in that pan and try it at around 22 minutes to see where it is, you may have to add one more ladle and try it again in a few minutes.   Good?  Now add in the peas.  I like the petite peas rather than the regular ones but again, use what you have.  Stir it around then add in the cheese.  I break the goat cheese up to melt it a bit easier then once that's incorporated add in the Parmesan.  Stick another spoon in and try it again.  Check for salt at this point.  I never add too much in the beginning because the cheese tends to have a good amount of salt.  If it needs it, add it...if it's good, just enjoy it.
I serve this with roasted vegetables or grilled shrimp.  Sometimes I use it as a main dish and sometimes a side.  It's quite versatile in that way.  
Today because of "Toothless" I roasted  2 zucchini,  2 yellow squash and ½ of a sliced onion with olive oil, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary on 400℉ then add in  ¼ cup of both basil and flat leaf parsley.  It was perfect for her and scrumptious for the rest.
Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!

Frittata with Cheddar

Frittata's are one of my "I Have No Idea What I'm Making For Dinner And Have 3 Hungry Children Demanding Food Or They Will Die" meal.  I make it for everything...breakfast, appetizers for play dates, lunch with a salad, dinner with salad, side and grilled bread.  Name it...this works for it.  Unless it's a dessert party.  This would suck for that.
So this was the other request I had gotten from the largest one after she had to have 4 teeth extracted to make room in her mouth for big teeth and eventually braces.  The dentist tells me she has a small mouth but she sounds so freaking loud at home that I really had to sit back and question his degree.  I may have to go online and find out if he graduated from  an accredited school or an online version.  I'm not joking.
She also requested Risotto.  I made that too!  My poor baby!
Notice that adult beverage in the background?  My husband and I fight over who gets the pink straws...tonight I lost the battle but he was the one making the Vodka Tonics so I really didn't mind too much!  I'm not very happy with the picture but until I make it again, this is the best I can do for you.  My bad.


Here's What You Need
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • ½ Onion, I use Vidalia or a sweet type usually
  • 1 Large Portabella Mushroom, chopped small
  • 1 Medium Zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 1 Bunch Beet Greens, about 3 cups chopped
  • ¼ Cup Parsley
  • 10 eggs, beaten
  • ½ Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup "Seriously Sharp" Cheddar
Preheat your stove to 350˚.
As usual I start with a large pan, oven safe this time, butter, olive oil and onion.  Stir them around with some salt and pepper for a few minutes and then add in your mushrooms.  After a few minutes of these two getting to know one another add in the zucchini and saute them all until they are to your liking.  Personally I like mine with some color.  Next comes the beet greens...if you are afraid of them add in something else like spinach, arugula or kale.  I will say beets and their greens are some of my favorite things on the planet.  No joke.  While the veggies are working their magic crack the eggs, add the milk and whisk away.  I like to get a little bit of air into them.   Once your green of choice has wilted down enough to your liking (spinach will take no time, while kale will still keep it's body) spread the filling around the pan evenly and add in the egg mixture gently so as to not disturb the filling.  I keep the heat on medium/low to medium.  This is when you add your cheese...spread it around the top of the mix and just leave it.  Wait until the edges are just set, the middle will still be liquid and then put it on the middle rack of your stove.  This is where the oven proof pan comes in handy.  You will have to wait 13-15 minutes or just until the middle is set and not jiggling.
We cut ours like a pie and have hot sauce on the table.  If you're serving the frittata as an appetizer I cut it into 16th's.  If it's a main meal I cut it into 8th's and I serve it with a salad or other side.
Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Grilled Zucchini Rolls

I've talked to you all before about my friend, Elizabeth, who has Fat Moon Farm.  She has a ton of pea shoots right now and I am in PS heaven!  I had been wanting to make a different version of grilled zucchini since my Grilled Stuffed Zucchini and this was a perfect spring time option!  I don't have much to say today...this recipe has almost left me speechless.  Almost.





Here's What You Need:
  • 3-4 medium Zucchini, sliced thinly, lengthwise
  • 5.5 ounces Goat Cheese, room temperature
  • 2 Garlic Scapes, chopped
  • 5 Basil Leaves
  • 2 Tblsp Parsley
  • Pepper
  • ½ Lemon, juice and zest
  • Pea Shoots (or other baby green like arugula or even baby spinach)
  • Garlic Pepper Oil
Pea shoots didn't make it in this shot...they were getting washed.  Oops!
I take the goat cheese out of the fridge to soften and turn the grill on (or use a grill pan) while I am slicing the zucchini.  Using a mandolin would be exceptional here but since I don't have one (yet!), I just use my trusty chefs knife.  I find it easier to stay straight with it rather than something small like a paring knife, but that's just me.  Use whatever works for you!
Once the zucchini is sliced I put it in a zip top type of bag and add a few tablespoons of the garlic pepper oil.  If you don't have it ready or don't want to make it, it won't be a deal breaker here.  Just use regular olive oil or an already flavored one of your liking.  I hope my husband reads this to see that I can in fact be pretty easy going at times!  Close the top of the bag getting as much air out as you can, then rub the bag around to get the zucchini coated well.  To the grill you go...it just takes a couple of minutes per side since these are thin zucchini we're using here.  Get some pretty grill marks then put them on a plate to cool a bit and work on your filling if you didn't get it done it earlier.
In a small bowl add in your goat cheese, garlic scapes (or regular garlic if you don't have Fat Moon Farm around the corner!), basil, parsley, pepper and lemon.  Give it a good mix to incorporate everything and set up an assembly line, it just makes it easier!
Start with your zucchini and add about a teaspoon of your herbed cheese to one end.
Top that off with your pea shoots or other green.
Annnnnnnd roll.
We had these as an appetizer before our Pea Shoot Pesto (yeah, I'm slightly obsessed with them right now!), and they were devoured by everyone!  Look for more recipes involving pea shoots to come in the next few weeks thanks to Elizabeth!  ❤
I think I am off to the kitchen store to score a mandolin now...I'll be making these all summer!
Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!

Garlic Pepper Oil

I use this oil for a number of different recipes, mostly when I am grilling vegetables or shrimp.  It adds the perfect spice to my Grilled Zucchini Rolls!  It's simple, quick and most importantly...delicious!

Here's What You Need:
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
In a small sauce pan add all three ingredients and turn your heat to low.  It should take about 12-15 minutes for your garlic to get a nice golden color and then it's done.  Swirl it around so all sides of the garlic get nice and toasty.  Easy peasy pumpkin squeezy!
Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pea Shoot Pesto

It started off being a "normal" Thursday for us.  Then I got an email from my favorite farm Fat Moon giving me a heads up on what they were picking today.  Apparently my girl Elizabeth (head cheese at Fat Moon Farm) was overloaded with pea shoots and felt the need to send me an email about it.  I love her. Elizabeth also let me know she was holding some garlic scapes aside for me (more to come on those soon too!).  She could possibly be the best "foodie" I know!

I grabbed my babies from school and made a bee line to the farm.  My middle one had a hard day at school (damn girl drama!) and one of the women that works at the farm immediately took my brood to go pick our shoots.  Apparently she had been a preschool teacher for many years and made everyones life a little brighter today.  I like that the farm is our family happy place...I will be writing quite a bit more about them in coming posts!

So with my children happily plucking pea shoots from the earth and Elizabeth and I catching up on all things food (and girl drama!), she says to me that she needs a recipe for pea shoots and was thinking of may be a pesto...I was so excited!  I had thought the same thing last week but the children and I ate all of the pea shoots right out of the bowl before we could make anything with them!  I packed up all my greens and children and flew home (not over the speed limit of course!) to pull something together.

The largest went to ice her broken finger and the smallest scattered as soon as we arrived back at home but the middle one stayed with me to create.  We turned on some music and got to cooking and little by little we came up with something that we were both happy with...a small miracle!

Here's what you need:
  • ¼ cup Pine Nuts (toasted)
  • ¼ cup Walnuts (toasted)
  • 7 cloves Garlic
  • 5 cups lightly packed Pea Shoots
  • 1 cup Parsley (I use flat leaf)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh Pepper
  • zest and juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 cup Parmesan
  • 1 ½ cup Olive Oil
First step is in a small saute pan toast the pine nuts on low...if you're like me, don't leave the stove.  Ever.  I have burned more nuts walking away "just for a second" more than I care to admit.  LOL!

Once they are a golden gorgeous color put them in your food processor (this can also be done in a blender!) then move on to the walnuts and repeat.  Make sure you peel the garlic and then add them as well.  Now turn that baby on and puree the hell out of them.

Once the nuts and garlic are pureed add in the pea shoots a cup or two at a time.  Next comes the parsley, juice, salt and pepper, zest and parmesan...add them and buzz away.  Once you start adding the olive oil (slowly please, don't just dump it in!) things should start coming together nicely.

I am pretty excited with this version of "pesto" but since Elizabeth had so many pea shoots, we have plenty more to experiment with.  Tonights fun was tossed with some pasta and everyone under this roof loved it.  The two that take lunch to school were already requesting it for lunch before they were even done with dinner!  
Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!  





Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Coconut Lime Bars

One of my favorites, Terri, had sent me a recipe for these Lime Bars that she insisted "you HAVE to make!".  I had to endure listened with interest to her raving about these for days.  I'm not joking.  Days.  She had gone to a Cinco de Mayo cooking class at her library in North Canton, Ohio with the creator of this recipe,  Chef Sarah Mentzer, and was just so excited about it!

Last week I was trying to gear up for a Memorial Day party for 9 adults, 7 children and 2 infants. Alright the infants don't count, but I got some much needed snuggle time!  Whatever.  The amount of food that I cooked for that party was insane (status quo) but I needed some easy desserts that were both kid and adult friendly.  Oh and did I mention that after all the cooking I did, every guest then also brought a dish or two?  I hang with a great group of people!  I was searching high and low for something...but I was coming up blank.

So here I was in the throws of making those adorable little jello shots I saw on Pinterest that look like tiny watermelons (you know exactly which ones I am talking about if you're on addicted to Pinterest!  If not, check these out!) and while coring out the lime halves it occurred to me that I was going to have a load of lime juice and nothing planned to do with it.  Balls.  Then it hit me...I guess I will be making those damn bars after all.  Perfect!  I had already gone to the stores to get everything I needed to cook for the party but figured I probably had everything on hand to make them.  How wrong I was.  Double Balls.  I was in stress mode at this point for sure looking at everything I still had not checked off of my list and now I was adding another dish?  Sure!

I took a sip of my cocktail and pulled up my big girl panties and it really wasn't that big of a deal.  Mind you I was being a bit dramatic for about 4 seconds but really the only thing I was missing was the Pillsbury sugar cookie dough!  No worries!  I make a delicious lemon square and thought why not just use that base for these bad boys?  Now you should know it's rare for me to try out a new recipe on people coming over for a party.  I do have my "go to's" that are always so willing to be my guinea pigs (thank you my bitches!), along with my little family, but this was out of my comfort zone.  So I did what I think any of you would do in my position...I made them, cooled them, cut them and the children and I ate the edges!  I had to stop everyone from eating too much, these were for the party you know!  I promise you that you won't be disappointed making and devouring these scrumptious little squares...and what a great change from it's lemon sister.


Here's what you need for the crust:

  • ½ pound UNSALTED Butter, Softened
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 cup toasted sweetened coconut
Here's what you need for the filling/topping:
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 5 large Eggs (size matters!)
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon each grated Lime and Lemon Zest
  • ⅓ cup Flour
  • Powdered Sugar, for dusting


Before you start anything just preheat your oven to 350℉ and then line a pan (13x9 please) with enough tin foil to extend beyond the ends of the pan.  This makes for easy clean up and removal from the pan.  Make sure you spray a bit of your favorite non-stick spray on the foil before adding the crust to the pan.
Cream together the butter and sugar really well, don't be afraid to let the mixer rip for 5 minutes.  Pretty sure I've said that before?  While that's doing it's thing measure out the flour and salt in a separate bowl.  Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl halfway through and when it's light and fluffy add in half of the flour mixture.  Mix quickly then add the rest.  It will be loose and not come together like a traditional sugar cookie dough but fear not...just mix it for a minute (don't forget to scrape down the sides again!) then add the coconut.  Remember that you don't want to over mix anything once you add flour.  Thirty seconds after adding the coconut should be plenty to get you to the stage you need to be at.  Take your bowl and just dump the whole thing into your prepared pan!  If you are following my directions right now you will be cursing and saying things that I don't think should necessarily be in print.  HA!  Press the "dough" into the pan as evenly as you can...look at it coming together now huh?  Place the pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes until it's a light golden color.
In the original recipe from Chef Sarah she used the Pillsbury sugar cookie dough (that I didn't have!) and kneaded in the toasted coconut and ½ cup of flour then pressed it into the pan and baked it for 15 minutes.  I love this idea too!
While the base of the bar is happily baking away you can get the filling/topping together.  It's really simple too, which I love!  Take the eggs, sugar, lime juice, zests and flour and whisk them together in a bowl until there aren't any lumps and it's silky smooth.  Chef Sarah had suggested using 1-3 drops of green food coloring at this point as well.  I didn't use it so mine looked quite a bit like a lemon square but tasted much different.  Pour this mixture over the base once it comes out of the oven and throw it right back in to bake for 20 minutes until it's set.  Mine was in the oven for 23 minutes because it was still moving at 20.
Cool it on a rack and once it's cooled you can lift the whole lot right out of the pan and onto a cutting board.  Cut the bars any way you'd like...squares, rectangles, diamonds, big or small.  Make sure once they are cut that you dust them with some powdered sugar and try to share!
Thanks to Chef Sarah for letting me share her recipe my way!  And a special thanks to my girl, Terri, for sharing it with me in the first place!  Mwah!!!
Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!



Black Bean Soup

Let's talk about soup for a minute.  I love it and I don't care what the weather is outside.  I always pack mine full of goodness so it makes me feel like I'm being well behaved also.  Ha!
So I started my "Let's Try and Be Mindful of What I Am Eating Diet" today and I had everything I needed to make this fantastic soup for lunch.  I mean it's really incredibly easy so I always make sure I have the ingredients tucked away in my pantry.  Yes.  My pantry.  You can make this recipe with completely fresh ingredients by fire roasting the tomatoes, shucking the corn and removing the kernels, soaking the beans the night before then cook them forever...I mean really.  I could go on but if you have a great  brand of beans and frozen corn at the ready, this recipe comes together in 20 minutes tops.  I don't like spending more than 20 minutes on preparing lunch personally so it's always about repurposing the leftovers or something super quick.  It's just how I like do to things.  Don't get me wrong here, most of the time I  use fresh ingredients over canned but when it comes to canned beans and frozen corn, both are good substitutes.

Here's what you need:
  • Olive Oil 2-3 Tablespoons
  • 1 Onion, Chopped (about a cup, if it's a little more it won't kill the dish)
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 can Chopped Green Chili's
  • 1 can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • 2 cups Corn, frozen or fresh
  • 2 cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups Vegetable Stock (Chicken Stock works here too)
I always use a large stock pot for this recipe and add the olive oil and onions to saute.  After about 3 minutes add in the garlic and let it cook for a minute or so.  Again, do not let it burn!  I've said it a million times and I will continue to say it...burned garlic is nasty and bitter.  You can also add in the spices, get them nice and toasty for the bean party.  I get happy at this point because it smells amazing.  Oh happy day!  Here comes the hard part...throw everything else into the pot.  Try not to break out into a sweat.  Have you all gotten used to my sarcasm yet?   ☺
I have also made this in my crock pot in the morning and it's ready by lunch.  The only difference is that I get the onions and garlic nice and golden in a saute pan then the spices go in to toast and off to the crock pot they go...then add the remaining ingredients into the pot.  Mine works great on simmer but use your judgement with yours.
 I often pair this soup with a green salad or a fantastic fresh bread if I'm not on my "Let's Try and Be Mindful of What I'm Eating Diet"!
Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Roasted Banana Muffins

I make these muffins for my babies and every single time I am praised, hugged and the best person on the face of the earth.  Every single time.  I usually make them for breakfast but there has been the random occasion when someone has had a tough day or it's cold and rainy and they want to bake something.  I always have the ingredients on hand.  I ended up making these this morning, Mother's Day morning more specifically.  I was a complete rock star to them and I loved it.  ❤
These muffins are so easy and can even be mixed the night before and baked off in the am when you are blurry eyed trying to get breakfast ready for your family.  Just don't add the mashed bananas until the morning of.


Here's what you need
  • 1/2 cup Butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 cup Banana, roasted and mashed
  • 1/2 cup Mini Chocolate Chips
So roasting the bananas takes no time at all.  The bananas can't be so ripe that they are spotted and brown.  If they are like that don't bother roasting them and just mash them as is.  Heat your oven to 350℉ and put your fruit on a sheet pan (cover the pan in tin foil of course!  Less mess.).  No spray, no oil.  Dry.  Roast them for 15 minutes and please don't be alarmed...they will come out black.  Let them cool before attempting to peel and mash them.  I actually roasted mine the night before, one less step in the morning.

One other fun tip for you...make your own muffin liners.  Better yet, if you have children that can trace and cut with scissors have them do it!  My friend over at 365 Days of Baking has a genius tutorial on this...and it's so easy!  Mine had such a great time doing this project!  

So for the actual muffins your oven needs to be on 350℉.
Cream the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy...this can take 3-5 minutes.  Don't be afraid to just set the mixer on and go do something else.  Mash the bananas or make a cocktail get the other ingredients together, whatever...just let the mixer rip.  It's the only time you can...if you do it when the flour is in you will wind up with hockey pucks for muffins.  Hockey pucks are for hockey, not eating.

Add the eggs to the butter and sugar and make sure you beat them in really well...no one likes lumps of egg in their baked goods.  Trust me.

Vanilla should go in next.  It's one of my favorite non-savory ingredients!  Incidently vanilla sugar is amazing and super easy to make you know...container full of sugar, add in two vanilla beans.  Done.

You will need a separate bowl (as you do for any type of baking) to sift in your flour, baking soda and cinnamon.  Notice that my muffin liners are hanging out under a pineapple juice can, upper right?  LOL!

Once it's sifted add it to the mixer with the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in two batches.  Add half, mix until barely just blended and then stop the mixer.

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and then add in the second half of the dry mix.  Mix until it is JUST incorporated and then stop that mixer!  Remember I talked about the hockey pucks?
Now most people say you should fold in the next two ingredients...I say peshaw!  Add in those bananas, roasted or not, and turn the mixer on low for 10 SECONDS.  No more...no less.
I usually add a Tablespoon or 2 of AP flour to the chocolate chips, it helps them not to sink to the bottom of your muffins. Coat them in the flour then add them to the batter.

Now feel free to fold in the chocolate chips.  Again, unless you have an ice rink in your backyard and need to teach your kids about hat tricks etc just go easy.  I'm not joking.

Fill your muffin tins 2/3 full and bake them for 12-18 minutes.

You are looking for a nice brown top here.  

And be prepared...your kitchen will smell amazing!
I have always used white flour for this recipe but if anyone does try it with whole wheat or half white and half whole wheat please let me know how it turns out in the comments below!  
Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Easy Green Stir Fry...I mean, Vegetable Medley!

I went to Trader Joes' this week and of course went in with a specific list and came out with so much more.  Again.  I can't help it, the place is magical.  I really hope my husband isn't reading this post.  Balls.  So as I was meandering around the joint I came across this bottle of TJ's Soyaki.  ***What the hell is this???*** I said, in my head.  Heaven on Easy Street is what it is I tell you!  It has all the things that a delicious medley needs in one shot...so for those nights that I just don't feel like grating ginger and mincing garlic etc. I can just grab this bottle and be done.  Those nights happen here sometimes, I'm sure you have them too.  Don't get me wrong, I love to cook but sometimes pulling everything out and putting it all away is the part I am over.  I just want easy.  Last night was one of them for me but my babies didn't care, they loved it!  And since my fridge was full from all the shopping I did when we came back from Disney, I had a ton to choose from for veggies.  Sweet!  All I really had to do was chop a few key ingredients and I was plating every ones dinner in 30 minutes!  Not bad for a Thirsty Thursday right?

Here's what you need for the Medley
  • 1 Onion, half moon slices
  • 2 cups Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup Green Beans, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons Siracha
  • 1 package Tofu, cubed
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Trader Joe's Soyaki Sauce
  • 2 Trader Joe's frozen Cilantro cubes
  • 4 Green Onions
Here's what you need for the Rice
  • 2 1/2 cups Jasmine Rice, cooked
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 cup Baby Sweet Peas, frozen
  • 1/2 Lime, zest and juice

Start by marinating the tofu in 1/2 cup of the TJ's Sauce for about 30 minutes.  Everything else will be done well before that.  Remember this is quick but delicious!

So while the tofu is hanging out and getting lovely (let's face it, it's not great unless you do something to it), slice the onions and get them in the wok with some olive oil.  Add pepper.  Always add pepper.
While they are in the wok slice the mushrooms and green beans...it won't take long, 3 minutes or so!
Once the onions are done put them aside in a bowl and then add the mushrooms to your wok.  You may need to add a bit more olive oil.  And pepper!  These beauties will take 4-5 minutes and then add them to the bowl with the onions.  
In my opinion, a kitchen can't smell much better than while cooking onions, mushrooms and garlic (remember the garlic is coming up).  Soooooo...now the mushrooms are done, put them in the bowl with the onions.  Wok...green beans...pepper...Siracha.  Saute 2 minutes and then add in the best ingredient you can cook with.  Yes, I'm talking about garlic.  Add.  It.  Stir it around for 1-2 minutes longer and then guess what?  Add it to the bowl with the onions and mushrooms.  Genius.  

Now comes the tofu.  Listen to me...add the tofu to the wok but NOT the marinade.  It will never brown if you do and will just steam the hell out of itself.  That's gross.  Keep the marinade aside while your tofu is browning up properly, 7-10 minutes. 
If you prefer a different protein, the marinade works with those too...chicken, beef, fish.  Just substitute.  No worries from me. 

Remember that bowl of veggies that's staring you in the face next to your stove?  Go ahead and add that business to your wok along with the marinade I told you to hold on to.  I hope you listened.  

Throw a couple of cubes of cilantro into your wok...or add some fresh if you prefer.  Since I was hanging out on Easy Street, this is what I used, and it works like a charm.  Tiny little cubes of chopped, frozen herbs, think ice cubes for herbs.  Each cube is 1 teaspoon of Cilantro, so if you use fresh throw in 2 teaspoons.  As you can tell math is one of my strong suits.  Bahahahahahaaa! 

Stir everything around and here's where you need to decide if you need a bit more of the marinade...I used a splash more, but don't go crazy.  Get a serving plate and clear that pan out.  Now add the green onions on top.  Look at how delicious it looks!

So for the rice, let me be honest.  I cheat.  If I am making rice, I always make more than I need.  Much more.  And when it comes to a stir fry type of rice, cold leftover rice works best.  Ask Mark Bittman.  I love him.  Google if you must.  Then follow him.  Add the rice to the wok with the olive oil and sesame oil (never just add sesame oil, it will burn and taste nasty, and nasty isn't good!).  And don't go washing the wok either.  There's no need.  Whatever is left from making the medley will just flavor the rice.  Don't be wasteful.  Once the rice has warmed, 3-4 minutes kindly add the peas, lime zest and juice.  The peas should still be frozen when you add them but they are little buggers, they will defrost quite fast so don't worry about it.  
At this point I want you to let the rice and peas get hot in the wok.  Get some plates and utensils, hell I don't care if you use a fork or chop sticks, just get something to get this goodness into your face.
Bon Appetit...it's time to eat!