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Monday, December 10, 2012

Eggs Benedict Deluxe

The team of Baked Baking came together again, this time with an added set of hands, and I think we created one of the best meals together yet. We had a house full of friends with hungry mouths and they played music while we created this delight. Overall, it was a very inspiring and delightful morning, and the flavors of this delicious meal still linger in my mouth.

I have not included amounts for the ingredients because it all depends on how many people you are making it for.


English muffins, toasted (1 per person)
Eggs (2 per person)
Prosciutto, thinly sliced (2 slices per person)
Shitake Mushrooms, sliced
Spinach (for 7 we used 4 cups of uncooked)
Asparagus, sliced into match sticks
Scallions, chopped
4 T butter
Garlic, sliced
Onion powder
Salt & Pepper
Gouda Cheese, sliced
Goat cheese

The first step is to poach the eggs, two for each person being served. Bring a large pot of water to boil, adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. Once it's boiling, drop it down to a rolling simmer - right before dropping an egg into the water, use a whisk and create a whirlpool. Cook each egg for 2 minutes and immediately drop in an ice bath - a large bowl filled with ice water. To reheat eggs once the rest of the brunch is complete, drop each egg into simmering water for 30 seconds.

In a frying pan or on a griddle, cook the slices of prosciutto until crispy. Set aside in a warm oven wrapped in tinfoil.

In a large skillet, melt butter and toss in Shitake mushrooms, cooking until brown. Add in asparagus, garlic, cook for 5 minutes until soft. Next add in the scallions and spinach and cook until wilted, toss with onion powder, salt and pepper. Keep on low.

This is enough for about 5 Eggs Benedict's.

4 egg yolks
10 T butter
1 T fresh lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp white pepper
Salt to taste

Beat egg yolks and lemon in a stainless steel bowl until fluffy and they are doubled in size. Meanwhile, melt butter in small sauce pan. Temper the eggs with 1/2 the melted butter, stirring constantly.
Pour eggs and butter back in sauce pan and heat on low stirring constantly. Add spices, and season accordingly. Stir until done.

To construct the eggs benedict:

Toast the English muffins. Place the prosciutto on top of each muffin piece, then a piece of Gouda on top of it. Spoon vegetables on top, then a poached egg, drop a gob of goat cheese on top of it all. Cover with Hollandaise sauce. Serve with a side salad and a mimosa.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Get Your Flax On Bread

I don't usually post recipes as basic as bread, but this one was too good to pass up. I've been baking our own bread as of late out of necessity, and it's hit or miss with the quality. I am admittedly not the best baker, but I want to be. So I try, try and try again. Finally, I have completed a loaf of bread I can be proud of. I don't have any pictures, and my crappy camera wouldn't do it justice anyway, but trust me, it was gorgeous looking. This can be adapted with other flours, but I think the combination here works perfectly.

Get Your Flax On Bread
(makes 1 loaf)

1 C warm water
2 1/4 t yeast
2 T sugar
1/2 C flax meal
2 1/2 C unbleached white flour
1 T safflower oil
1 t salt

In a bowl proof yeast by pouring water over it and stirring in sugar. Let sit at lest 10 minutes, until the entire top of it is frothy. Add flax meal, flour, salt and oil into yeast mixture and knead about 10 minutes. You can use your bread machine for this part if you like. Grease a bowl and place dough in it, covered, somewhere warm and dark to let rise. When dough has doubled, punch it down gently and place it in a well greased bread pan. Set in warm dark place to rise again, until top is about an inch or two over the pan. Place in oven and turn oven on 375 to heat. The bread will rise a bit more as the oven heats up. Cook 25 - 30 minutes, until the top is a golden brown. Dump out of pan on a cooling rack and let cool completely before you cut.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Soup with Dumplings

Last night, as Hurricane Sandy blew through New York and threatened the Maine coast, I was trying to cook soup before the power went out. I wanted to have something on hand that I could heat quickly outside on the propane stove if we lost our power, so I rustled through the fridge and cupboard and gathered a bunch of filling ingredients. Lucky for us, the power did not go out and we were able to have the soup tonight, cooked right in the kitchen. Originally this was just a hodge-podge soup, but when I went to heat it up for tonight, I thought I should add something special to it, to celebrate making it through the Hurricane. We were blessed here in Maine, unlike our friends and family in New York City, who are still without power.

This soup is really open to interpretation when it comes to the vegetables, but the combination here made for a delicious, rooty soup that stuck to our bones and warmed our bellies. The dumplings were a first for me - I have not only never cooked them, but I haven't eaten them since I was a child. I'm not sure why, but I always had an inversion to the mere thought of dumplings. Boy am I glad that I pushed myself past that and whipped up these bad boys tonight. What a perfect addition to any soup. I would strongly suggest cooking this soup, then letting it sit for a day. I didn't strain the fat from cooking the beef, so after sitting in my fridge all day, there was a thin layer of fat over the top. I stirred this back in and it made for a delicious, thick and hearty soup.

Hurricane Soup
serves 4

1T safflower oil
1/4 C onion, chopped
2 T garlic, chopped
1 lb ground beef
2 bulbs fennel, sliced
1 C carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 1/2 C black beans (I cooked mine the day before from dried beans, but you just use a can of black beans)
2 C spinach, chopped
1/2 C groats
6 C stock
1/2 C coffee
2 T dried Italian seasoning mix (parsley, oregano, etc.)
salt & pepper

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat and saute onions and garlic until garlic starts to brown. Add in ground beef and cook until brown all the way through - do not strain soup, keep the fat in there. Stir in fennel and cook 2 minutes. Pour in stock and coffee, toss in carrots and raise heat to medium high, gently bringing to a boil. Once it boils, drop it down to a medium low. Cook until carrots are tender, but not cooked through, just about 5 minutes. Add in groats and cook for 20 minutes until they are soft. Add in Italian seasonings, salt and pepper and black beans. If you are eating this tonight, cook for 5 minutes, then add spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Drop in dumplings (recipe to follow), and cook, partly covered, at a  gentle boil, for 20 minutes. If you are not serving tonight, do not add spinach, but cover soup and put in the fridge. When you pull it out to cook, warm pot of soup over medium low heat until warm. Add the spinach and cook 5 minutes, then drop in dumplings as stated above.

(makes 10 golf ball sized)

1 C wheat flour
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
T butter
1/2 C milk
2 T Italian Seasoning
1/4 C shredded cheese

In a bowl mix together flour, salt, baking powder and Italian seasoning. Cut in butter, and then toss in cheese. Add milk and mix thoroughly. Roll into balls and drop in gently boiling soup. Loosely cover the pot and simmer soup with dumplings for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shepherd's Pie for Food Day

Today, October 24th is Food Day - a nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, sustainable and affordable food. I decided that our dinner was going to be 100% local, to show our support for local farmers' and meat suppliers. We haven't had Shepherd's Pie in quite some time, and I know that it's my kids favorite. I happened to have some ground beef in the freezer from Bisson's Meat Market in Topsham, and a bunch of yummy veggies from our CSA at Little Ridge Farm, especially some delicious potatoes that would make a perfect topping for the Pie. I layered my pie in rotating fall colors for fun, too! But the best part about Shepherd's Pie is that there's no single rule for vegetables, just use what's in your house and what you enjoy.

Earlier in the day, I posted on Facebook that it was Food Day and asked everyone what they were doing to celebrate. Maggie, my partner in crime for Baked Baking, sent me a message from New Hampshire to say that she was making some Shepherd's Pie with venison! Without even planning, we were making nearly the same meal for dinner. I decided on the spot that we should each write down our recipe and post it on the blog. Even being a state away can't keep us from whipping up some yummy and inspirational grub. Here is my version of Shepherd's Pie. Maggie's will be coming soon. Enjoy!

Shepherd's Pie
(serves 4-6)

1 lb ground beef
1/2 C BBQ sauce (I used my friend's No Susquehanna Sauce)
2 T soy sauce
1/3 C leeks, white parts only, sliced
1/4 C green sweet pepper, chopped
1 C butternut squash, boiled & mashed
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 C broccoli, chopped
2 C sorrel, chopped
1 C carrots, sliced
2 C potatoes, cubed
8 T butter
salt & pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 C cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)

Preheat oven to 350. In a skillet, brown ground beef, then add BBQ sauce and soy sauce, mix well. Place in greased deep dish pie plate. In same skillet, saute leeks and pepper until soft, then spoon over meat mixture. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, place peeled butternut squash in water/stock/broth, just until covered and boil until soft. Mash with 1 T butter and nutmeg and spread over leeks and peppers. In same skillet you cooked beef, heat 1 T butter and saute broccoli and sorrel until soft - sorrel will cook quick, just keep stirring until broccoli is tender. Spoon this mixture over squash. In same skillet, heat 2 T butter and toss in carrots, cooking until brown on all sides. Add in 1/2 C water/stock/broth and cook until liquid is absorbed. Spoon carrots over broccoli mixture. Bring a large pot of water/stock/broth to boil and add in potatoes and garlic. When potatoes are soft, drain and mash with 3 T butter and cheese, salt and pepper. Spread over the top of the pie and dot with remaining butter. Bake for 35 minutes.

1/4 C onion, chopped
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 T soy sauce
1 1/2 C stock/broth
1 T tahini
salt & pepper

In a small saucepan, heat butter and saute onions for 2 minutes. Add flour and mix thoroughly. Cook for another 5 minutes over medium heat. Add soy sauce and stock/broth and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Add in tahini and mix thoroughly. Use a food processor, blender or hand held mixer and puree gravy. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.

Serve Shepherd's Pie hot, topped with gravy. Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Huevos Ranchubby

The Baked Baking team was back in the kitchen again this weekend, raring to cook up something yummy. I sent Maggie a message about making savory crepes for our brunch, showed up with a bag of farm fresh veggies, and the rest just came together. This morning, tired from the night before and ready for a feast, Maggie and I hauled our sore, sleepy bones into the kitchen with nothing more than an idea - Huevos Rancheros in a crepe! I brought some rainbow chard, she had black beans and seemed like the logical choice. The name emerged when we offered Maggie's husband a sneak taste of the lime infused crepes and he exclaimed: That was so good I got a chubby from it! So, ladies, if you want to help your man pitch a tent, then Hueves Ranchubby should be on your next brunch menu.

Before getting into the recipe, however, I'd like to explain Baked Baking's method of cooking. First off, we never have a full plan of what we are going to make. It's more like we have a general idea, we pillage the cupboards and fridge, we goof off, we mess up, and then voila, we serve food. The idea is to use up extras around the kitchen, and let the food take us where it wants to go. Along the way we will fill the house with laughter and love.

Huevos Ranchubby
(serves 4-6)

1/2 C onion, chopped
2 C rainbow chard, chopped (stems sliced thinly and set aside
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1/2 C tomato, chopped

1 portobella mushroom, chopped
1 C black beans
1/2 C bacon, chopped
2 T butter
1 t salt
2 T lime juice
1/2 t pepper
1/2 cayenne pepper
1 T garlic powder
2 T cumin
2/3 C water

Lime-Infused Crepes:
2 eggs
1 C milk
2/3 C flour
1 1/2 t oil
pinch of salt
zest from 1/2 lime
4 T butter

...The Rest
8-12 eggs (plan for 2 per person)
1-2 t vinegar
1 C cheddar cheese, shredded
sour cream
1/2 lime

Poach eggs in boiling water and vinegar (instructions here), then set in a bowl full of ice and water and place in freezer. To reheat once the filling and crepes are done, simply bring a pot of water to boil, drop eggs in and cook 30 seconds.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except butter and mix with a beater until smooth. Add zest from lime and incorporate well. Heat 8 inch skillet over medium heat and melt a 1/2 T butter until it starts to turn golden. Pour in about 1/4 C crepe mix into skillet and gently tip it around so that the crepe fills out to the sides of the pan. Cook about 2-3 minutes, or until bottom is starting to brown. Gently flip over the crepe and cook another minute on other side. Set in a warm oven on a plate. Repeat until all crepes are made, leaving stack in the oven until ready to fill.

In a large skillet, heat 2 T butter over medium heat and add onions. Turn heat to medium low and cook until they are caramelized, stirring often. Add in chard stems and jalapeno, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, mushrooms, chard leaves and black beans. In a small bowl whisk water, lime juice, cumin, cayenne, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour into pan and bring heat to medium high. All this to cook until all liquid has been absorbed. Check flavor of filling and adjust as necessary. Push all the filling to one side of the pan and add bacon into empty side. Cook until just before it starts to crisp up, then mix filling and bacon together in pan.

Now to build Huevos Ranchubby's - lay a crepe flat and put 1/3 C filling in it, a poached egg, and a sprinkle of cheese. Roll one end over the filling and egg, fold the sides up over those, then roll towards other end. Continue this with all of the crepes, filling and eggs. Squeeze a bit of lime juice over them and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Baked Baking Presents....

This page is turning a new leaf. It will no longer be the simple musings of my day to day recipes, but a collaboration with my friend Maggie, as we take you into the silliness of Baked Baking. The idea emerged on Labor Day weekend, with a spur of the moment brunch, followed by dinner and Melon Risotto Rolls. Maggie is a self-proclaimed control freak in the kitchen, that doesn't like people getting in her way. I am the opposite, and find enjoyment in a clustered kitchen - but I'm also a control freak, and tend to end up doing most of the cooking myself, even if others are competent. But when we found each other, everything changed. There was an instant rhythm about our cooking styles that was apparent to everyone in the house. Baked Baking emerged from that.

Baked Baking Presents Brunch Casserole

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Biscuit Pot Pie

With colder weather on our doorstep here in Maine, I was craving something warm, something that would fill the house with wonderful odors, and would warm our bones around the dinner table. I did a quick perusal of the fridge and veggie baskets, and noticed it was all root veggies. Yum! That could only mean one thing in this house - Pot Pie. I owe a great deal of gratitude to a special little girl that I could call my step-daughter for 3 years. Her favorite meal was Pot Pie, and every Thanksgiving and Birthday, she requested one from me. I had never made pie crust before that, but not one to back down from a challenge, I persevered. My pie crust improved each time, until she even commented that it was pretty darn good. However, tonight I didn't feel like making pie crust - I was craving something different.

Recently I've been trying my hand at biscuits - another item I'm not too good at. The first batch was a failure. The second batch was quite decent. Tonight I decided that I would whip up a double batch and make a unique Pot Pie AND master my biscuits. I'm proud to say that it was a success. The biscuits were delicious, and added a definite uniqueness to the Pot Pie experience. I still like a good pie crust on there, but this will most certainly get made again - probably as a Thanksgiving re-do.

Biscuit Pot Pie
(serves 4-6)

4 C flour (mix it up with Pastry, Whole Wheat, or White)
8 t baking powder
2 t salt
4 t sugar
1 t Cream of Tartar
1 C lard (or vegetable shortening)
1 1/3 C milk
2 T sage, fresh and minced
1/2 C cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl sift flour, stir in baking powder, salt, sugar and cream of tartar. Using a pastry tool, cut in lard until the mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal like texture. Stir in milk and split into 2 equal parts. In one half, mix in sage. In other half mix in cheese. Take the sage biscuits and press into an oiled deep dish pie plate or large cast iron skillet, pressing up onto the side. Bake in oven for 10 minutes and remove to cool a bit. Meanwhile, put a little flour down on the counter and press the cheddar biscuits to about an inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, or any other round form, press out about a dozen biscuits. Seet aside on a plate while cooking the filling. Lower heat in oven to 350 degrees and open door for a few minutes to help drop the temperature for the cooking of the pot pie.

T olive oil
1 C potato, cubed
1 C cooked chicken
1/4 C carrot, sliced
1/2 C onion, chopped
1/2 C mushrooms, chopped
1/2 C arugula, chopped
1/3 C chopped fresh herbs (I used sage, parsley and oregano)
2 T flour
1/2 C broth/stock/water
salt & pepper
1 T butter

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat and add in onion, potatoes, and carrot. Saute about 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring often. Add in mushrooms, arugula and fresh herb and stir thoroughly. Cook until 3-5 minutes, until mushrooms have released their juices. Add in chicken and flour, and stir to combine and coat everything with flour. Pour in broth/stock/water, adding more if necessary - you want the veggies mostly submerged in liquid. Cover and cook about 5 to 10 minutes, until liquid has depleted by half. Stir in salt and pepper and cook another 2 minutes uncovered. Remove from heat and pour into biscuit lined pan. Top with cheddar biscuits and dab with butter. Bake for 30 minutes, or until biscuits have browned on top. Remove and let sit about 10 minutes before serving. If you desire, serve with a nice onion gravy.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bad Boy Brownies

This recipe came about around 10pm tonight, when I was craving something sweet, and to fill my house with the warmth of the summer, now that fall has begun to nip at the edges of our nights. I have this cookbook put out by the New York Times in 1971 called simply Natural Foods Coobook, by Jean Hewitt. She was the home economist and food writer for the paper, and was an early advocate for cooking with whole, natural ingredients. Now, I don't do a lot of baking, I daresay, I'm pretty miserable at it. I have yet to sit down and figure out the science of it - I tend to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants cook. However, tonight I wanted brownies, and it just so happened that I had a cupboard full of wholesome ingredients. I based my recipe on Hewitt's, but gave it a few twists and turns. These bad boys might even be healthy for me - well, except for the flourish of peanut butter chips over the top.

Bad Boy Brownies

1 C raw sugar
2/3 C oil - be creative here, use coconut, peanut, or even sunflower
2 T honey
2 eggs
1/2 t vanilla
3/4 C wheat pastry flour
1/4 C quinoa flakes
1/4 C flax seed meal
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 C carob powder
1/4 C peanut butter chips (optional, but STRONGLY suggested)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 8 inch square/round pan. In a large bowl mix together oil and sugar. Add in eggs, vanilla and honey and mix thoroughly. Sift the flour, quinoa flakes, and flax seed meal into a separate bowl. Stir in baking powder, salt and carob powder. Mix the flour mixture into the sugar mixture and stir thoroughly. Pour batter into buttered pan and sprinkle top with peanut butter chips. Bake for 30 minutes on middle rack. Remove from oven and cover the edges of the pan and brownie with tin foil to keep it from burning, and put back in oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Keep a close eye and remove when batter comes out clean in the center. Let rest on cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes, then enjoy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Honey & Melon Risotto Fried Spring Roll with a Honey Glaze

This Labor Day weekend was filled with food, drinks and friends....but most importantly food. I met a fellow foodie that shared my passion for spending time in the kitchen and talking about all things food, while whipping up some delicious eats. We had a splendid family dinner that required an equally splendid desert. I had originally planned on making some sweet risotto spring rolls. I had a fresh melon from my CSA and a jar of honey. I made up a delicious sweet risotto and left it to cool in the fridge. Come desert time, I wrapped up a few fresh spring rolls, and as we ate we realized that they needed something - to be fried! Time to take this healthy treat and make it full of fat and sugar. This test version was a success, but many more will follow.

Honey & Melon Risotto

1 C arborio rice
4-5 C green tea (steeped for 30 minutes)
1 T coconut oil
1/3 C honey (more or less depending on how sweet you like it)
1 1/2 C melon, chopped (I used cantaloupe and cucumber)
1 T vanilla flavoring

Heat oil in a large stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Add rice and stir to coat in oil. Cook 3 minutes then pour in 1 C green tea and start stirring rice constantly until liquid has been absorbed. Add in another cup and repeat. With the third cup of tea, add in honey as well. Continue adding in tea 1 cup at a time until rice is al dente. Remove from heat and stir in melon and vanilla. Place in fridge and let cool for 2 hours.

Making into Fried Spring Rolls

Spring Roll Wrappers
Confectioner's Sugar

Heat a large pot of oil over medium high heat. Take a spring roll wrapper and soak in cold water until soft and pliable (about 30 seconds). Place on counter and spoon 2 tablespoons of risotto mixture onto one edge of roll. Fold sides over and roll like a cigar. Roll in flour to coat all sides evenly. Set aside and repeat with rest of filling and wrappers. When oil is hot, drop a few rolls in and cook until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel. Place on a platter and dust with confectioner's sugar.

Honey Glaze

1/2 C vanilla yogurt
3 T honey
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and drizzle over fried spring rolls. Save some on the side for dipping.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Italian Green Bean Casserole

As part of our Labor Day feast, I wanted to use up the large bushel of green beans that I had gotten from my CSA. However, we wanted something different than just steamed veggies, so this was born. I have never made the traditional green bean casserole you see normally on Thanksgiving tables, nor have I ever eaten one I enjoyed, so I went into this with blind. I opened the fridge, gathered a few basic ingredients, and went to work on something that would nicely compliment the lemon pepper marinated chicken and roasted beets and potatoes. Judging by the round of "mmmm's" and "yum's" that ensued once we all tasted this casserole, I think it is a sure fire win, and will definitely be gracing my Thanksgiving table. It may seem simple, but the flavors pop, adding a nice blast of Italian merriment in your mouth.

Italian Green Bean Casserole
(serves 6)

3 C green beans, chopped into 1" pieces
1 C mozzarella cheese
1/2C - 1C breadcrumbs
4 T butter
1/4 C fresh basil, chopped
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Add in green beans and cook until al dente - overcooking will make for a mushy casserole. Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt butter and add in bread crumbs. Mix and cook for about 3-5 minutes, just until crumbs are starting to toast a bit. Set aside. Drain green beans and toss into a casserole dish. Stir in basil, salt, pepper and cheese. Press flat then add bread crumbs to top. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Hangover Eggs

This weekend I was at some friends house for the blue moon and we decided to have a few drinks to celebrate. Needless to say, we all needed a little hangover breakfast the next day. I had brought the veggies from my CSA, so we had a plethora of potatoes, green beans, summer squash and onions. They supplied the eggs and cheese. With a little coffee, a little elbow grease, and a lot of hungry people eagerly awaiting, we were able to concoct quite a delicious, and I might add, nutritious, egg casserole.

Hangover Eggs
(serves 6)

12 eggs
1/4 C cream
2 T fresh chives
2 C potatoes, chopped
1/3 C green beans, chopped
1/2 C summer squash, chopped
1/2 C onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 C parmesan cheese, grated
12 slices tomato
salt & pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and toss in onions and cook over medium heat until translucent. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Add potatoes and cook until just tender. Toss in with onions and stir mixture thoroughly. Add green beans to boiling water and cook 3 minutes, just until tender. Remove from water and add to potatoes. Saute for 2 minutes and add in summer squash. Stir thoroughly and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, seasoning with salt & pepper. Rub butter inside a casserole dish, coating bottom and sides then dump in veggies. Whisk eggs until fluffy and add cream, chives and parmesan cheese. Poor over the eggs. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top, then gently place tomatoes over it all. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, checking often. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ratatouille Risotto

Yes, another risotto recipe, I know. But there is a method behind my madness. I'm hoping over the next couple of months to start putting together a risotto cookbook based on my favorite seasonal recipes. Currently, this one will make 6 risotto recipes on my blog - I'd like to have 12 in total. With that said, gear up for a slew of risotto recipes over the next few months. I promise to make them unique, though, so you won't get bored.

This risotto was birthed from my desire to whip up some ratatouille tonight. The farm I get my CSA from - Little Ridge Farm - grew eggplant for the first time this year, much to my excitement. I love eggplant, unexpectedly so. I grabbed four, hoping to put some in the freezer for winter, which is when I'm really craving it, all breaded and cheesy with red sauce....mmmm....eggplant Parmesan. However, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to cook up a nice batch of ratatouille since I have a fridge full of zucchini and summer squash. I started off making my own stock, and the rest fell into place.

Ratatouille Risotto
(serves 4)

For the risotto:
1 1/2 C arborio rice
4-6 C stock
1/2 C white wine
1/2 C reserved zucchini liquid (see instructions below)
1/3 C chopped onion
2 T chopped garlic
1/4 C chopped sundried tomato's
2 C shredded zucchini (salt and let sit for 30 minutes, then squeeze out liquid, reserving)
2 T butter
1 T oil
1/4 C Gruyere cheese
1/8 C nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese)
1 T Italian seasoning
salt & pepper

For the ratatouille:
2 C eggplant, salted & sliced (*see note below)
2 C summer squash*
1 C onion*
4 T garlic, sliced
1/2 C tomato, sliced
1/3 C nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese)
1 C stock
1 T butter
4 T coconut oil
1 T Italian seasoning
salt & pepper

*Eggplant - cut in half lengthwise and sprinkle flesh with salt and place in a bowl or plate for 30 minutes, then pat dry. To cut eggplant and summer squash - slice in half lengthwise and then slice those halves in half lengthwise again. Slice into 1/2" thick pieces.

*Onion - peel and cut in half lengthwise then slice into large chunks.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking dish. Meanwhile, melt 2 T coconut oil in large skillet over medium heat and toss in eggplant. Cook about 7 minutes, stirring often, until it starts to brown a bit. Remove and set aside. In same pan, toss in another tablespoon of coconut oil and add in the summer squash, cook until it starts brown, about 5 minutes, then set aside. In same skillet, add remaining tablespoon of coconut oil and toss in onion and garlic, saute for about 5 minutes and set aside. Now time to construct ratatouille. In greased baking dish put down the eggplant in a solid layer, then the onions and garlic, then the summer squash. Place tomato slices over the top and pour stock over it all, then sprinkle nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper over it all and cover with tinfoil. Bake for 20 minutes covered, then up the temperature to 400 and remove tinfoil for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Once ratatouille is in the oven, it's time to start the risotto. In large skillet melt 1 T butter over medium heat and toss in onions and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, until soft. Add in risotto rice and stir thoroughly, coating with onion mixture. Cook for 2 minutes, then toss in sundried tomatoes and stir thoroughly. Add in wine and reserved zucchini juice and start stirring, constantly throughout the rest of this process. As the liquid is absorbed, add in a large ladle amount, stir and repeat. During this process, in a separate skillet add 1 T oil over medium high heat and add in zucchini. Cook for 10 minutes and add to the risotto with last ladle of liquid. Stir in last tablespoon of butter, Gruyere cheese, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

To serve - place a large scoop of ratatouille on plate, leaving a hole in the middle and fill with risotto. Sprinkle with a bit of nutritional yeast and any Gruyere cheese you have left over. Serve with a side of hearty peasant bread. Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cheese Stuffed Shells

My roommate (and manny) recently helped me out tremendously with my kids, so as a thank you I decided to make him dinner. I have never made stuffed shells, but on a whim at the grocery store I bought a box last month. They've been sitting in my cupboard staring at me this whole time. Finally tonight I decided to pull them down and try my hand at cramming cheese into jumbo shells. I admit, I usually avoid this type of meal (manicotti as well) because the prospect of oozing dripping cheese and slimy shells seems like a miserable time for me. But I persevered with my plan and started boiling those shells. I cooked the whole box even though the recipe only called for half. I did this for two reasons: 1) what if I broke a ton of shells trying to coordinate the cheesing, and 2) stuffed shells are DAMN good and we'd probably go back for seconds (and thirds). I barely looked at the recipe on the box for the filling before I decided I need to just have it and do my thing. Given my vegetable situation - not a whole lot because I forgot to get last weeks CSA share - I went for a straight cheese filling, with just a few add ins. The result was delicious and filling, and even my 5 year old claimed "This is my favorite meal you ever made. Ever." Success! I made a smaller dish to bring to my boyfriend's house...I'm pretty sure this might win me a back rub!

Cheese Stuffed Shells
(serves 6)

1 box jumbo shells, boiled and drained
1 jar pasta sauce (something excellent REALLY matters here)
8 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 C cottage cheese
2 C mozzarella cheese
1/2 C nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese)
1 C broccoli soup (this can be replaced with water, stock, etc.)
1/4 C fresh basil, minced
1/3 C red onion, chopped
2 T garlic, chopped
1 T butter
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook jumbo shells according to package and drain. While those are cooling, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat and saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Mix ricotta, cottage, half the mozzarella and nutritional yeast, basil, onions, garlic, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix pasta sauce and broccoli soup (or other liquid). Take half the sauce mixture and place in bottom of a glass baking dish. Fill shells with cheese mixture and place open side up in baking dish. Cover with remaining sauce and then remaining mozzarella and nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese). Bake covered with tin foil for 30 minutes, remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving with salad and a thick chunk of bread to sop up the sauce.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blueberry and Goat Cheese Risotto

Summer in Maine means blueberries. I recently took a trip up the coast to Washington County, which grows 86% of the worlds blueberries. To not have come home with some would have been a pity. We jumped out in a remote area in TWP 29 and filled a coffee cup with beautiful blue pearls of loveliness. If I had been more prepared, I could have easily filled a quart size container in 10 minutes. Sadly, I was not, and came home with about 2 cups worth. When trying to decide on what to make with these delicious blue treats, I decided against the traditional pie or muffins, and went for my comfort food - risotto. I knew I had to add something else unique to the dish as well, though, something to really make the blueberries pop. I had read about making a beet and goat cheese risotto, which was a gorgeous and rich purple, and knew that I had to make a summer version of such a creamy and earthy dish. I paired it with a delicious roasted chicken my partner made with a rub of clovers and basil. Perfection - every decision around this dish was the right one.

Blueberry and Goat Cheese Risotto

2 C blueberries
2 C arborio rice
1 lemon
1 C white wine
6 C vegetable stock
4 T butter
2 T goat cheese
1/2 C sliced onions
1 t sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Before starting the risotto, caramelize the onions by adding 2 T butter to a pan. Once melted, toss in onions and coat with butter. Turn pan to medium low and stir onions sparingly until the start to turn a nice golden hue. Add sugar and toss. Continue cooking until onions are caramel colored. Turn pan to medium heat and add 1 T butter and rice. Stir thoroughly and coat the rice in butter and onions mixture. Let cook 3 minutes, just until rice starts to lightly brown, then squeeze in fresh lemon juice. Add white wine and begin stirring constantly - this is key in order to give risotto its creamy texture. As the liquid is absorbed, add a cup of stock at a time. With the second cup, add blueberries - you can add the whole amount or just some, depending on how blueberry you want it. Keep stirring constantly, adding liquid until the rice is al dente. Stir in goat cheese, last tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rhubarb Raspberry Crisp

I love springtime at the farm! Fresh asparagus. Yummy crisp greens. And rhubarb. Luscious rhubarb. It may be one of my favorite fruits because it reminds me of my childhood. I had a friend that had a rhubarb plant in her yard and we would break off fresh stems, dip them in sugar and devour. Rhubarb will always be the taste of early summer for me. So you can imagine my delight when I picked up my CSA share from Little Ridge Farms, only to see nice long green and red stalks of rhubarb. Last week I made rhubarb risotto in my attempt to try something new - and it was DELICIOUS! This week, I wanted to go back to the basics. I had a bag of raspberries in the freezer - also from Little Ridge - and I thought I would make a crisp. Best. Decision. Ever.

R2 Crisp

4 C rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces
2 C raspberries
1 1/3 C whole wheat flour
1 C sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 C brown sugar
1/4 t nutmeg
1 C rolled oats
1/2 C butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 inch glass baking dish. In a large bowl mix together rhubarb, raspberries, 1/3 cup of flour, sugar and cinnamon. Dump into baking dish and spread evenly. In another bowl mix together brown sugar, oats, nutmeg and remaining flour. Add in butter and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of fruit evenly. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rhubarb Risotto

Nothing says spring in Maine like fresh rhubarb! We got some from our CSA last week and I've been trying to come up with a creative way to use it. I like pies and muffins, but I thought there is just so much more that can be done with it. I did some quick searching and found some recipes for a sweet Rhubarb Risotto. Heaven!!! Of course, many of you know my deep obsession with Risotto, so of course, I had to try this. However, my husband decided it was his turn to try his hand at cooking - a first. So glad he chose Risotto to pop his cherry. I served this up with a nice simple salad of greens and apples, with cheddar cheese and a honey lemon balsamic dressing I made; and a 1/2 an ear of corn tossed in a lemon butter. Perfect springtime meal.

Rhubarb Risotto
(serves 4)

1 1/2 C arborio rice
1/2 onion, chopped
2 T butter
1 3/4 C white wine
3 C almond milk (or any type of milk)
1 C rhubarb, sliced into 1" pieces
1/4 C sugar
1 lemon, squeezed
1/4 C parmesan cheese, fresh grated
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper

In a small saucepan warm milk over low heat - do not let boil or it will curdle. In another saucepan add rhubarb, sugar, 1/2 juiced lemon and 1/4 C white wine. Cook over medium heat until it breaks down into a compote. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter and add onion, cook until translucent, for about 2 minutes. Add in arborio rice and toss thoroughly with butter and onion mixture, and cook 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of wine to the rice and stir continuously until evaporated. Repeat process with a half cup of milk at a time until rice is al dente (this will probably take all 3 cups, but test often). When rice is done, add in salt, pepper, rhubarb compote, the other half of the lemon, juiced, butter, and the parmesan cheese. Stir thoroughly and serve hot off the stove.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Black Bean Soup & Vegan Quesadillas

We got a pantry share from Wolf Pine Farms this year, and it was the best $125 I have ever spent. I got beans, jams, pickles, flours, applesauce, and so much more. The beans were the kicker for me. We eat a lot of beans in this house since we're vegetarian and we need our protein, but I'm not a fan of canned beans. Dried beans from the store can take eons to cook, though. Fresh beans from the farm, however, do not, so getting 10 pounds of black, kidney and pinto meant a whole lot of yummy, and dare I say quick, meals. I tend to cook up a bunch when I'm cooking them, so I can make several things from them. Last week I made a tortilla pie with black and kidney beans, then I took the remaining few cups and set them in the fridge, pondering daily what I wanted to make with them. Yesterday it came to me - black bean soup! And what better to go with the soup then quesadillas? Alas, being vegan meant getting crafty with these, but I managed, and this was quite the yummy & fulfilling meal.

Black Bean Soup
(serves 4)

1/2 C onion, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
2 T garlic, minced
1-3 T olive oil
1 t cumin
3 C black beans (mine were mixed with kidney beans)
4-6 C stock/water/broth (start with just 4 cups, and add more if needed as it cooks)
1/2 C salsa
1/2 C tomatoes, chopped
1/2 C corn
1 t salt
1/2 avocado
2 T nutritional yeast

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat until hot. Add onion, peppers, cumin and garlic and stir to coat all veggies with oil. Cook for 10-15 minutes, add oil if you need to so it doesn't burn. When this is nice and cooked down, puree in the food processor and add back to the pot. Add in beans and liquid and stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil, then drop to a simmer and add in salsa, tomatoes, corn and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes, adding more liquid if needed. The next step is based on preference. I pureed the whole soup because I like it creamy, but you can either leave it chunky, or puree half the soup. Whatever suits your taste. Top with avocado and nutritional yeast.

Vegan Quesadillas
(serves 4)

4 large flour tortillas
1/2 C tomatoes
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C flour
1 t salt
1/8 t dry mustard
1 t garlic minced
1 C water
2 T vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)

In a pot add nutritional yeast, flour, salt, mustard and garlic and whisk until well combined. Add in water and butter and heat over medium heat, whisking until well combined. Cook until boiling, then remove from heat and set aside. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Spread 1/2 the cheese on a tortilla and place in pan. Sprinkle in 1/2 the tomatoes and 1/2 the avocado and press a second tortilla over the top of it all. Cook for a few minutes until the bottom is browning, then carefully flip over and cook a few more minutes. Repeat the remaining two tortillas, cheese and filling. Cut these quesadillas into 8 slices each and serve 4 to each person with a bowl of soup and lots of salsa.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Peanut Butter Seitan Curry

In our attempt to try out new foods, we have gone Vegan. Well, by we I mean me - everyone else in the house can eat what they want, but seeing as though I do the dinner cooking, they eat vegan at least once a day. Last night was just the kiddos and me, and I was craving peanut butter and curry....of course, when am I not craving curry, right? So I set to work and pulled out all the things in the cupboard and fridge that might go with this. And I pulled out the chicken flavored Seitan I had gotten at the Natural Market....I'm not a huge fan of replacing meat with fake meat, but sometimes it helps with the oldest kid, who tells me often "I can eat what I want, it's my body." Which is true, so I try to give him all the information he needs to make informed eating decisions (even though I will never win out over hot dogs). So fake meat makes a once a week visit to our menu, for his sake.

Peanut Butter Seitan Curry
serves 4

1 package Chicken Seitan
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, sliced into thin strips
2 carrots, quartered and sliced
10 white button mushrooms, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 C nuts (mine were curried cashews)
2 T coconut oil
1/2 C peanut butter
1/4 C soy sauce
1 T chili sauce
1 T minced ginger
1/4 C coconut milk
1/2 C water
fresh ground pepper
1/2 T curry powder
1 T arrowroot
2 T water

Melt coconut oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add in Seitan and saute about 5 minutes, until it starts to brown a bit. Add onions, peppers, and carrots and saute until soft. Meanwhile, whisk together sauce ingredients - peanut butter, soy sauce, chili sauce, ginger, coconut milk, water, pepper and curry powder. Add in mushrooms and cook 1 minute. Dump into pan and stir thoroughly to coat veggies and seitan. Cook for 5 minutes. Mix arrowroot and water together and dump into pan and stir thoroughly. Toss in tomatoes and nuts. Serve over brown rice, adding extra chili sauce if you like it spicy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quiche Casserole

Apparently I have a bread fetish. I went to the store today and bought a loaf of bread, a bag of bagels and some wraps. But it doesn't end there. I came home and realized I had a baguette in my bread basket already. When I went to put it in the freezer, I was surprised to find a bag of bulky rolls and some onion rolls. I don't even remember buying those! Of course, it doesn't stop there. All year long I keep all my odds and ends bread pieces and make a killer stuffing for Thanksgiving. That's a whole lot of bread hanging around in my house....Now what to do with it.

Tonight I took the baguette and sliced it thin and lined a casserole dish with it. Bam, a crust for quiche. Since anything with eggs is a staple quick dinner for us in our house, I knew this would be a hit. I served it up with some yummy potatoes and those bagels. Success.

Quiche Casserole 
(serves 4)

1 thin baguette, sliced thinly
2 T olive oil
6 eggs
3/4 C milk
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C spinach, chopped

1 C cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 C Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 t salt
pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a small glass casserole dish with 1 T olive oil. Make sure to get all up on the sides. Take the baguette slices and line the casserole dish with them - bottom and sides - not overlapping. Put in oven and bake for 10 minutes, until bread starts to brown. Meanwhile in a skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic and saute for 5 minutes until carrots are soft. Toss in spinach and cook 1 more minute. Add in parsley and mix thoroughly, then remove from heat. In a large bowl whisk eggs until thoroughly mixed, add in milk and whisk quickly until well combined. Stir in cheeses, sauteed vegetable mixture, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into casserole dish and put back into the oven for 30 minutes, or until toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let sit on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes until it has cooled and set.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cauliflower Curry

I crave curry ever day. I love the smell of it. The warmth as it slides down my throat. The lingering flavor on my tongue. When I was pregnant with my oldest, I ate curried chicken several times a week. Oddly enough, my kids never really got into it. Until last night. My brother had given me some cauliflower, and even though it's not in season and I wouldn't normally buy it, I couldn't turn down a gift. Since cauliflower this time of year is bland, I knew I had to do something with it that would give it flavor and oomph. A quick perusal of my root veggies and spices, and I knew it was a curry night. The flavor of this curry was so good and mild that my oldest had two bowls of it - this NEVER happens.

Cauliflower Curry
serves 4

1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled & sliced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 14 oz can coconut milk
1 4oz can tomato sauce
1/2 C stock/broth/water
1 T oil
1/2 t tumeric
1 1/2 T yellow curry (depending on how spicy you like it - this was just warm, but my curry is old)
salt & pepper
sour cream
brown rice

In a large deep pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add potatoes and cauliflower and stir to thoroughly mix all veggies together. Keep cooking, stirring often, over medium heat just until potatoes start to brown a bit. Add in tumeric and curry and stir to coat everything. Let cook for 2-3 minutes to open up the full flavor of the spices. Add in coconut milk, tomato sauce and water. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and drop down to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir thoroughly before serving over brown rice with a dollop of sour cream. YUM!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Not Your Mama's No-Bakes

As I kid my favorite cookie ever was a no-bake. In fact, even as an adult, they are hands-down my favorite sweet treat. I hardly ever make them because they are so loaded with sugar, but a few times a year I bust out some peanut butter, chocolate and oats action. And now that I think about  it, these cookies must be where I got my obsession with all things chocolate and peanut butter - those two flavors are pure perfection on my taste buds.

That being said, this recipe stemmed from another recipe I saw the other day - kale chocolate clusters. I realized I had been missing out on a whole area of kale appreciation. I still have a few bags of frozen kale from last summer and I should use them up before my summer CSA starts up. Originally I was going to replicate these cluster cookies, but I didn't have dried cranberries. Then it came to me - No-Bakes!! Thus, my sneaky chef version of my favorite cookie, was born.

Not Your Mama's No-Bakes

1C white sugar
1 C dark brown sugar
1/2 C milk
1/2 C butter
3 T cocoa
1 t maple flavoring
2/3 C peanut butter
2 C quick-cooking oats
1/2 C frozen kale (mine had been boiled for 3 minutes then frozen)
1/2 C shredded coconut

In large pot melt butter with sugars, milk cocoa and maple flavoring. Whisk and bring to a boil. Boil this mixture hard for exactly two minutes, no longer! Remove from heat and stir in oats and peanut butter. Quickly process kale in food processor until minced. Mix into cookies with coconut until well incorporated. Drop onto wax paper and let harden. Devour.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I have been craving curry since I went to Vermont and had Thai food. I didn't order the curry, and I regret that. Although my appetizer assortment was yum, I wish I had burned my mouth on some yummy spicy Masamam Curry. So tonight, curry it is. I love the aroma of all the fresh veggies in my kitchen, and the odor of curry powder mingled with coconut and fresh ginger. Delicious! I served this over rice - a perfect meal for a sunshower day.

(serves 6)

1 block extra firm tofu
2" fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
3 cloves garlic, sliced into matchsticks
2 T coconut oil
1 large red potato, cubed
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch scallions, sliced into 1/2" pieces (whites minced)
1 T curry powder (this all varies w/ strength of powder and your preference)
1 14oz can coconut milk
1 C broth/water

Heat 1 T of coconut oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add in ginger and garlic and saute for 2 minutes, then add tofu. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside. Heat remaining 1 T coconut oil in same skillet over medium heat and add potatoes and carrots, stir to coat with oil. Cook 2 minutes then add 1/2 C broth/water and cover pan tightly. Turn heat to medium high and cook until most liquid is absorbed. Turn to medium low and add in onion, pepper and garlic and stir thoroughly. Cook for 2 minutes. Add curry powder and stir to coat all the veggies. Cook 2 more minutes. Add in coconut milk, 1/2 C broth/water and tomatoes, increasing heat until it comes to a boil and then cover and drop to a simmer. Cook 15 - 20 minutes. Serve over rice and sprinkle with lots of scallions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vegan Au Gratin

This recipe was birthed from having a jar of nutritional yeast cheese in my fridge and a mess of potatoes.  I've been toying with the idea of going vegan for the summer, like a cleanse, so in order to prep myself I knew I'd have to start throwing some recipes into my rotation now. As winter has come to a close, I've got to eat up all my root veggies and get my cupboards and fridge ready for summer greens, tomatoes, fennel and all those luscious fresh summer crops. This is definitely a keeper, and can more than likely be adapted to a summer salad if the nutritional cheese is thinned out without cornstarch. Any who, even if you don't eat vegan, don't be afraid of this luscious, decadent au gratin.

Nutritional Yeast Cheese
 1/4 C nutritional yeast
2 T flour
1 T corn starch
1/2 t mustard
1/2 t salt
1 T olive oil
1 C water

In a sauce pan add nutritional yeast, flour, corn starch, mustard, salt, olive oil and water and whisk together over medium high heat until it starts to bubble. Boil for 1 minute, not stirring, then remove from heat and add pepper to taste. Set aside.

Vegan Pesto

1/4 C basil, freshly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 T nutritional yeast
2 T nuts (walnuts, cashews, pine nuts)
2 T olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a food processor adding more oil if necessary. Pesto is all about texture, so modify as needed.

Au Gratin
(serves 4-6)

4 red potatoes, sliced into thin discs
1 t salt
1/4 C pesto
1 C nutritional cheese
1 T olive oil

Coat glass pan with oil and heat oven to 400. Place thinly sliced potatoes in layers in the pan, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk pesto and cheese together, adding oil if necessary to thin the sauce. Spread evenly over potatoes. Cover dish with tinfoil and bake for 1 hour, or until potatoes are soft.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner

Being in Montpelier over the weekend and eating at my favorite breakfast space - Kismet - has reignited my love of the simplicity of breakfast for dinner. The combination of eggs, toast and root veggies is like comfort food for me. It's special, warms my belly. The eggs benedict with tempeh bacon that I had Sunday morning is still resonating inside my taste buds. It was divine. I wait months and drive over states to indulge in Kismet's eggs benedict. Whenever I go out to breakfast, as long as they serve it, I will order eggs benedict because it's the one meal I won't make at home. Not that I can't, but won't. I reserve it for the specialness of going out to breakfast, which is hands-down my favorite meal to eat out. BUT, I do like the combination of a creamy sauce over eggs and toast, and will find ways to make eggs benedict type meals without actually making hollandaise or poaching my eggs. It's a fine line I walk, but my balance is solid.

Last night's meal was my post-Montpelier, post Kismet attempt to enjoy breakfast at home. I decided to make a yummy nutritional yeast cheese sauce (with plenty of extras for tonight's dinner!) and some delicious root veggies on the side. It's been a long winter of potatoes, beets, daikon and carrots, and I know that soon enough I'll be rolling in fresh greens, tomatoes and eggplant, so I will enjoy my farewell of those earth bound veggies by gobbling them up as often as possible. The only "issue" in eating seasonally is retraining your brain to not get bored with the seasonal vegetables, to know that your body will find the natural rhythm to enjoy what's on hand. Mine has definitely done that this winter with my root veggies, and although I'm excited for what spring & summer will bring, I don't want to rush out of the root cellar yet.

Eggs, NotCheeze & Root Veggies
(serves 2)

4 eggs
2 slices of bread, toasted
1/2 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C flour
2 T corn starch
1 t mustard
1 t salt
2 T olive oil
2 C water
1 large carrot, peeled, quartered and sliced
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1 onion, sliced thin
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 T coconut oil
4 T unsalted butter

In a large skillet (I prefer cast iron) heat coconut oil over medium heat and add in potatoes and carrots. Stir, but not too often, letting the veggies get nice and brown and caramelized. Add a few tablespoons of water and cover, allowing the veggies to soften. Add onions and peppers after about 8 minutes and stir again, leaving uncovered. Cook another 5 minutes then turn heat down to low and loosely cover. Let these gently cook while you make the rest of the food.

In a skillet over medium heat melt a tablespoon of butter until it starts to brown then gently drop in 4 eggs, careful to not break the yolks. Flip eggs once they are set and cook for 30 seconds on the other side. While these are cooking, in a sauce pan add nutritional yeast, flour, corn starch, mustard, salt, olive oil and water and whisk together over medium high heat until it starts to bubble. Boil for 1 minute, not stirring, then remove from heat and add pepper to taste.

To serve, place toast on plate and butter. Top with eggs and a generous portion of NotCheeze, then side with a large serving of root veggies, drizzled with a bit more cheese.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hodge Podge Casserole

Last night I didn't feel like cooking, but the kids were nagging and I knew I had to whip up something for them. I opted out of the breakfast for dinner idea, since I was sort of hungry, too, but not in the mood for eggs. I perused the cupboards, pulled out everything that sounded good, and did the same to the fridge. The Hodge Podge Casserole was born!

 Hodge Podge 
(serves 4-6)
1/2 C orzo pasta
1 C ground beef (or veggie crumbles)
1 small shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 C water
1 T olive oil
1 C spinach, chopped
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
2 T sour cream
1/4 C salsa
2 T butter

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat, then add beef (or veggie crumbles) and cook for 5 minutes. Toss in shallot and garlic and cook another 3 minutes. Stir in orzo and water, bring to a boil and cover tightly, dropping down to a simmer. Cook until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in spinach, cheese, sour cream and salsa. Pour this mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Slice up butter and dot the top of the casserole. Broil in middle of oven (not too close to top), until breadcrumbs are brown. Serve with a slice of bread and a salad.

Monday, March 19, 2012

SupBreak Rancheros

My kids will always ask for 1 of 2 things for dinner if I leave it up to them - pizza and breakfast. They don't want bagels or cereal, or even pancakes - they want eggs. I usually whip them up some fried eggs and toast, then make a real meal for the adults. Last night, though, I decided to make something we could all enjoy. It wasn't quite breakfast, and it wasn't quite supper, so I shall call it SupBreak. Catchy, no? Either way, it was good and filling for all.

SupBreak Rancheros
(serves 4)

4 large tortillas
4 eggs
2 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 package of hamburg (real if you eat it, fake if you don't)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 C water
2 t chili powder
1 t salt
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
sour cream & salsa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place tortillas on cookie sheets. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat then add onions and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes then add hamburg, chili powder, salt and pepper and stir thoroughly. Add water and cover for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet heat 1 T butter and fry two eggs - DO NOT FLIP, just cook one side. Remove from pan, add remaining 1 T butter and fry the other two eggs. Now to put it all together -

1) put down 1/4 of the meat mixture on the center of the tortilla;
2) put a 1/4 of the tomato mixture over it;
3) then put 1/2 C cheese sprinkled over the pile;
4) put egg on top and sprinkle with pepper;

Repeat these 4 steps then bake rancheros for 15 minutes in oven - just long enough for the tortilla to start to crisp. Serve with a dollop of sour cream & some salsa.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Turkey Balsamic Orzo

Tonight's dinner was born from the fact that I had exactly a half hour from star to when we had to leave to attend a school concert. I had thawed some turkey (still left-overs from Thanksgiving), and some kale in advance, hoping to use it up sometime this week. I rummaged the cupboards and realized I didn't have any rice, quinoa, or pasta to serve it with - luckily my parents live downstairs and had a bit of orzo. I gathered up all my random ingredients and just started winging it. I was happily surprised at how delicious it turned out and will definitely be making this again.

Turkey Balsamic Orzo (serves 2 adults and 2 kids or as a side dish)

1 C cooked turkey, chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 C kale, chopped (mine was pre-cooked, if yours isn't, boil it separately for 3 minutes ahead of time)
1 C orzo
3 C water
1 T olive oil
4 T unsalted butter
1-2 T capers
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 t garlic powder (fresh garlic would be better, but I was out)
1 t Maine sea salt
pepper to taste

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat, then toss in onions and saute for 3 minutes. Add in kale and mix thoroughly, cooking another 2-3 minutes. Add in water and orzo and turn to high, covering pan until it comes to a boil. Drop it down to a simmer and watch it closely - if pasta starts to stick before it's cooked, add a bit more water and bring it back to a boil, then drop it back to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, heat 2 T butter over medium-high heat and toss in turkey and garlic powder. Cook for about 5 minutes until turkey is heated through. When orzo is done, toss in turkey and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and stir thoroughly. Add in salt, pepper capers and balsamic vinegar. Stir thoroughly and serve with a slice of crusty bread. Enjoy!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Squash Tofu Pizza

Yup, that's right. Pizza with squash and tofu. And it was good. Really good. I wanted to experiment with squash on pizzas, mostly because I'm over-run with them from my winter CSA, and I'm trying to get more creative with them. I also wanted to experiment with tofu instead of cheese, just because it sounded intriguing. I like a challenge. This turned out to be an excellent decision, and took me pleasantly by surprise. I'm no vegan, but I quite enjoyed this vegan pizza. Next time, I might drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over it, too. Yum!

This is a simple no-rise dough, but if you want to let it rise, it's even better.

Pizza Dough
2 1/2 C flour (white, wheat, or a combination)
1/2 C flax seed meal
2 T yeast
2 T oil
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1 C very warm water

In a large bowl mix flour, flax seed meal, salt, sugar and yeast. Mix in oil and water. I like to use my hands to fully incorporate the flour and get a feel for the dough. Set aside and rise, or press into a pan - I always use a greased cast iron skillet or griddle for my pizza. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Squash Sauce
1 delicata squash (or any other winter squash), about 1 C pureed
2 t garlic powder
salt and pepper

Halve the squash and scrape out the seeds. Steam until soft then scoop out the insides into a bowl. Mix in garlic powder, a sprinkle of salt and a bit of pepper. I used a handheld blender to make my nice and sauce like.

Tofu Cheese
1/2 pound extra firm tofu
1/4 C nutritional yeast
salt & pepper

In a bowl crumble tofu and mix in nutritional yeast, a dash of salt and bit of pepper.

Caramelized onions
Fresh Basil
Fresh Spinach

Now put it all together! Press out the dough into the pan of choice, spread the squash sauce over it, sprinkle basil over that, toss on tofu cheese, then layer on the spinach and caramelized onions. Bake for 30 minutes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Not Meat Loaf

Today seemed like a comfort food sort of day. My mood has been grumpy, spending loads of time editing my book, and working on my new project. I needed something warm and filling....and I wanted to close the laptop and spend the afternoon in my favorite place in the house - the kitchen. I did a quick perusal of my cupboards and fridge and decided meat loaf was it for the night. But of course, since I have my vegetarian step-kids on the weekend, I had to do some sort of alternative not meat loaf. Thus, this delicious mixture of black beans and quinoa was born.

Not Meat Loaf
2 C cooked black beans, mashed
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
2 Portobello mushrooms, chopped
1/2 C quinoa
3/4 C broth/stock/water
1/4 C nutritional yeast
6 T ketchup
1/4 C flax meal flour (or any other type of flour)
salt and pepper
2 T butter

Preheat oven to 400 and grease a bread pan with oil. In a large skillet on the stove melt the butter and saute the mushrooms for 5-7 minutes, until nice and brown. Add in onions, garlic and peppers and saute for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir into mashed black beans. Let sit (this helps the mix dry out a bit). In a sauce pan add quinoa and broth and cover. Bring to boil over high heat, then lower it down for 12-15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Toss into bean mixture and add nutritional yeast, 3 T of ketchup and flax meal. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Press into pan and spread 3 T of ketchup over the top, bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Place under broiler for 5 minutes then serve. This is great with steamed veggies and mashed potatoes, with a little gravy or ketchup over the top.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Delicata Squash Alfredo

Last night I discovered a new favorite food - raw squash! I love cooked squash, a late-in-life discovery, but it holds no candle to the texture and flavor to uncooked squash. When you cook it, the squash becomes starchy, a reaction to the breaking down of its enzymes. When eaten raw, it's clean & sweet. Matchsticks of squash would be a perfect addition to any veggie platter, tossed over greens, or even mixed into a potato salad. I'll be exploring more with this, especially since I have a hallway lined with a variety of fresh squash from my CSA.

After eating this meal, I became energized and felt so much healthier than I have in a while. The bright orange squash is full of vitamin C - something so valuable this time of year. On top of that, the Alfredo sauce was healthy and light, a drastic distance from heavy, cheesy Alfredo. Now don't get me wrong, I love a rich creamy white sauce poured thick over long strands of warm pasta, but this meal was a nice alternative on those nights when you want a comfort food without the extra 5 pounds added to your mid-section. I especially think this would be nice in the summer, with a side salad and a maybe some extra veggies like peas and shredded carrots tossed in as well. Either way, I'm thoroughly pleased with this new discovery of how to enjoy winter squash.

Delicata Squash Alfredo
1 small delicata squash (any other type would work, too), peeled and shredded or spiralized
1 small orange pepper, diced
1 C low-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 T fresh parsley, minced
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1/2 lemon, zested
1/2 t salt
pepper & garlic powder (to taste)

Toss pepper with squash and set aside. In a bowl whisk yogurt, parsley, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Stir in lemon zest. To serve: pile a mound of squash on plate, top with sauce and sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beans, Yogurt, and Salad Greens

I got a Pantry Share from Wolf Pine Farm this fall and it was full of all sorts of beans - kidney, black, and pinto. I love fresh from the farm beans because they require no soaking, and cook up in like an hour. I always toss in a bit of kelp to help eliminate the the gas issue, and to help speed up the process. It's nice to be able to take a cup of dried beans and decide to have them for dinner, in an hour and half. Tonight I decided to try something different with them - put them on a salad. It was DELICIOUS!!! I'm totally addicted, and would probably eat this every day if I could.

Beans, Yogurt & Salad Greens
1 C cooked pinto beans
1 T coconut oil
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 C Kale
1/2-1 C water
1 lemon, squeezed
chili powder, salt and pepper
1/2 C plain low-fat yogurt
1 t cinnamon
1t chili powder
1 T nutritional yeast
2 C mixed greens
1 carrot, shredded or spiralized
corn chips or corn taco shells

Melt coconut oil in frying pan and add onions and garlic for 3 to 5 minutes. Toss in beans and kale, add water, chili powder, salt and pepper and simmer until gone. Toss in lemon juice and set aside. Whip yogurt, cinnamon and chili powder together, then stir in nutritional yeast. To serve, crunch of some taco shells or corn chips on plate, cover with mixed greens and carrot, top with beans and a few more corn chips. Add a hefty dollop of yogurt mixture, sprinkle with nutritional yeast, and devour. Enjoy!!!

Stir Fry

It was just the hubby and I last night for dinner, so I decided to whip up a quick RAW stir fry that was both filling and nutritionally satisfying. I forget how quickly you can fill up on RAW meals, and how much energy you get from all the nutrients and enzymes your body takes in. Sometimes in the winter I have a hard time fully enjoying a RAW meal because I miss the warmth of something cooked, but yesterday was so bright and sunny and beautiful, that this stir fry felt like the right meal for the night. This meal served two, with enough left over for a third, and could easily be increased for more.

Stir Fry
1 small head broccoli
1 small carrot, peeled
1/2 C arugula
2 T raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 C tamari (or soy sauce, or Bragg's)
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 t of garlic powder)
1 T honey
1 large parsnip, peeled & chopped
1 sun-dried tomato (if dried, soak for 1 hour)

Place parsnip and sun-dried tomato in food processor and chop until a rice consistency. Set aside. Chop broccoli into bite-sized pieces. With a spiralizer or grater, shred carrot into fine pieces. Chop arugula and toss with carrot and broccoli. In a separate bowl mix tamari, vinegar, garlic and honey until well combined, then toss with chopped veggies. To serve: place a heaping mound of parsnip rice on a plate and scoop veggies over it. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, a bit of tamari and ground pepper. Enjoy the pop of and crunch of the veggies, and the sweet tang of the parsnip rice. If you prefer softer veggies, let them sit in the marinade for an hour before serving.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Simple Cleansing Salad

In an attempt to limit refined sugars, yeast and processed foods from my diet, I've discovered my one true love - Salads. I always liked them, even as a kid, but as an adult, I find myself craving them. I'll even go out to dinner and order a salad for my meal. They are delicious, fulfilling, and energizing. Given all of that, they still can get boring, particularly in the winter when fresh salad ingredients are limited. There's no plump red tomatoes, juicy cucumbers or sugar snap peas to liven it up. Greens I can come by, though, from some local farms, carried by the Bath Natural Market, so at least the base is there. The rest is pure inspiration.

Today I perused my fridge for a meal and found a bag of mixed lettuces, so I knew a salad was in my future. I also found a bowl of daikon radish that I had put thru the spiralizer (it made beautiful thin shreds of radish), and a jar of sprouted quinoa. These ingredients screamed to be made into a filling winter salad. But what oh what would I use for salad dressing? I don't buy dressing at the store - I find it expensive and over-processed. Making your own dressings is simple, cheap, and delicious. But alas, I gave my hubby the last batch of honey mustard dressing I made last week to take to work today. It was time to get creative!

Sprouted Quinoa Salad
1/2 C sprouted quinoa* (directions below)
1/4 C shredded daikon radish
2-3 C fresh salad greens

*Sprouted Quinoa is easy to make, only requiring 2 days to bring it from a grain to a lovely sprout. Take 2/3C quinoa and soak in a large bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. This helps remove dust and whatnot from the grain. Drain thoroughly, rinse, and drain again. Place in a glass jar and cover the top with a piece of cheese cloth, held tightly in place by an elastic band. Place in a bowl with the cheese cloth end down and the jar resting on the bowl edge at an angle. This allows proper drainage so the sprouts can grow and not mold. In 8 to 12 hours fill the jar with water (keep the cheese cloth on) and drain. Put back in position on the bowl. Repeat in another 8-12 hours. Taste the sprout at this point and see if it's good for you. I like to do one more rinse and rest period, but it all depends on personal taste. If you want to go a bit longer, fill the jar with water and drain, then place jar back in position on bowl for 8 to 12 hours. Replace cheese cloth with tight fitting lid and store in fridge. I eat these in salads, by themselves with a little dressing, tossed onto rice...whatever sounds good to you. Quinoa is one of the best grains available so eat a lot of it, and eat it often!

Nutritional Lemon Dressing
2 T nutritional yeast*
1/2 lemon, squeezed & zested
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Squeeze lemon into a bowl, add in nutritional yeast, then quickly whisk in olive oil until a creamy dressing is formed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour Dressing over salad, add some zested lemon rind, and toss thoroughly. Enjoy every bite!
*(this is different type of yeast than regular baking yeast, so if you're on a yeast free diet, this is just fine to eat!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Nuts, Fruit, and Cacao - Oh My!

In an attempt to regain some energy, I'm including much more RAW in my diet again. This time, though, I'm getting serious. In order to stick to it, we needed some snack foods that were both good for us and will give us our sweet-tooth fix. After a perusal of my cupboard, I decided to pull everything that sounded yummy, throw it all together in the food processor, and cover it in chocolate. The amounts are an estimate. If you don't have these items, get creative with what you do have. I just devoured my first sampling of it, but I did manage to get a pic before i gulped the last bite.

Nuts, Fruit, and Cacao - Oh My!

3 T nut butter (if you're not concerned with raw, just use peanut butter)
2 T dried cranberries
1 T cacao nibs
3 T honey
2 T unsweetened shredded coconut
2 T raw cashews
4 T coconut oil
3 T carob powder

In the food processor combine nut butter, cranberries, cacao, 2 T of the honey, coconut, cashews and 2 T of the coconut oil. Combine until it clumps together in a ball. If the cashews don't chop up, add a bit more coconut oil. Press into a small baking dish. Meanwhile, melt 1 T honey, 2 T coconut oil, and carob powder. Whip it really good for 30 seconds until it becomes a thick, chocolate sauce. Spread over the baking dish and put in freezer for 1 hour. Then put in fridge to keep cool and firm. Devour every bite!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pasta & Turkey in Wine Sauce

We are still eating left-over turkey from Thanksgiving! I put meal-sized servings into the freezer and have slowly been working through them...I believe we still have 4 left. The kiddos love when I pull a bag of it out for dinner, and this meal was no exception. I had bought some delicious penne pasta and had a 1/2 bottle of white wine left-over from the night before. This all came together in a matter of 30 minutes, which is great for a busy school night.

Pasta & Turkey in Wine Sauce
2 C pasta (penne, rotini, shells, etc.)
1 cooked turkey breast (about 1 cup of meat), chopped
1 C baby spinach leaves
6 C stock or broth
1 medium onion, sliced thin and even
4 T minced garlic
2 T butter
1 C white wine
salt & pepper

In a skillet heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add onions and toss until evenly coated in butter. Cook for 2 minutes until it starts to turn golden, then lower heat to medium low and cook onions for about 20 minutes to a half hour until they are nice and caramelized. If they are slow to doing this, sprinkle a bit of sugar over them to speed the process along. Meanwhile, heat stock/broth in a large saucepan until boiling, then add pasta. Cook according to directions - make sure it doesn't get mushy or it will break down get gummy in the final steps. When pasta is done, drain, but DO NOT get rid of the stock. Return it to the pan and add in the wine, bringing back to a boil. Add chopped turkey and bring to a simmer. Cook this about 5 to 10 minutes, until it resembles a sauce, add garlic and stir thoroughly, then mix in spinach until wilted. Remove from heat and toss in pasta and onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve with some crusty bread and a salad.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Delicata Squash Curry

We have a ton of squashes from our December share at Little Ridge Farms, and I am having a blast finding fun ways to use them up. We've had squash corn muffins, squash soup, stuffed squash, and now, squash curry. Unfortunately, squash is the one food my kids are not wild about. Either is curry. So this was a mama and papa meal (the kids ate scrambled eggs and toast), and we will DEFINITELY be having this again, next time with apples.

I love curry, and could eat it several times a week. It reminds me of being pregnant with my first son, in which I craved curry chicken every single night...and much to my ex-husbands dismay, we ate it nearly that often. Granted, I probably have a lot to learn about curry, but I'm willing to keep trying. Over and over again. Until I get it right.

Delicata Squash Curry
 2 C delicata squash, peeled and chopped into cubes
1/2 C onion, sliced
2 T garlic, sliced
1 C carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2" thick rounds
1 - 2 T curry powder (depending on hot you like it and how fresh it is)
1 C water
1 C coconut milk
1/2 t salt
1 T oil
shredded unsweetened coconut

In a large pan heat oil over medium heat. Add in onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add in squash and carrots and mix thoroughly. Let cook for 2 minutes. Add in curry powder and cook another 2 minutes, stirring to make sure the vegetables are evenly coated with the powder. Add water and cover, turning heat to medium high. Cook until water is reduced, stirring once or twice. Check to make sure squash is fully cooked - if not, add a 1/4 C more water and cover until reduced. Turn heat to medium and add in coconut milk and salt. Let simmer gently in milk more 5 minutes. Serve over rice and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

Serve with some naan, egg rolls, a breast of chicken, or just eat on its own. Bon Appetit!