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'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'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'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 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 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'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 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 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). the mushrooms are done, put them in the bowl with the onions. 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's time to eat!