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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ratatouille Casserole

This time of year is my favorite for the vegetables that are being harvested in New England. Eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, kale....and all that says to me is Ratatouille. My CSA from Center Pond in Phippsburg, and my dear friend on the other side of town, have supplied me with all of these wonderful ingredients, right down to the basil and rosemary.

Recently I was diagnosed with an intestinal disorder, so I've had to modify my diet drastically. This was the first meal I ate that wasn't buttered toast or a banana, in almost a week. I am so happy to say that it 100% commits to the low FOMAP diet I am following, but is also amazingly delicious. We served ours over tricolor quinoa, but you could also do rice. The amounts are all rough approximations based on what I had on hand - use more or less of anything to suit your needs and tastes.

(photos by the wonderful bf)

(serves 4-6)

1C fingerling potatoes, sliced thinly
1C japanese eggplants, sliced thinly
1C summer squash, sliced thinly
1/2C carrot, sliced thinly
1 tomato, sliced thinly
1-2 C vegetable stock, depending on how soupy you want it
1/4C fresh basil, chopped
2 sprigs rosemary
1/4C cheese, shredded
3T oil
1T salt
pepper to taste

Place eggplant in a pie plate and sprinkle with all the salt, place other veggies (except tomato, which is a fruit anyway) in another pie plate and nestle on top of the eggplant. Let sit 10 minutes before you start the
cooking process. This will press the water out of the eggplant, taking away any bitterness. In a cast iron deep skillet heat 1T oil over medium heat until sizzling, then add potatoes, spreading them around the bottom of the pan. Cook until they start to brown a bit, then flip them and cook until the other side is equally brown. Remove from heat and set aside. In same pan add another 1T oil and heat over medium heat until sizzling. Add in carrots and summer squash and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, dry off eggplant with a cloth removing salt and excess water. Toss in with the summer squash and carrots and stir. Let cook, stirring once or twice for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Add 1T oil to the pan and heat. Place potatoes on the bottom of the pan evenly spaced. Layer with summer squash, eggplant and carrot. Turn off heat and pour in stock. Spread tomato slices over the top. Sprinkle with basil, lay the rosemary over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Sprinkle with pepper. Cover and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mushroom Zucchini Risotto

We got a nice big zucchini from our CSA at Center Pond Farm and I couldn't wait to cook it up. But there were so many options! Of course, my default is always risotto. This zucchini was big enough that I didn't have to use it all for one meal, so risotto has been made with two-thirds of the zucchini intact and waiting for another meal. This risotto was the first time my youngest son exclaimed that he now LOVED risotto, and that he would eat anything with mushrooms in it. I call that a success!

Mushroom Zucchini Risotto
(serves 4)

2 Portabella mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 T butter
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 C)
4 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 T)
1 T olive oil
1 C arborio rice
1 C white wine/or stock (I had 1 C left-over chicken stock)
6 C stock, kept warm
1 C zucchini, shredded
2 T fresh sage, minced
2 T fresh parsley, minced
2 T butter
1/4 C parmesan cheese
salt & pepper, to taste

In a large skillet heat butter and add mushrooms, cooking until soft. Remove mushrooms from pan & set aside. Add olive oil, onions and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add in arborio rice and mushrooms and stir to coat rice thoroughly. Saute for 2 minutes, then add in 1 C of wine or stock and start stirring. Continuing adding in 1 C of until al dente. With last cup of stock, add in zucchini, sage and parsley. Once that last cup has been absorbed and the rice is creamy and cooked, add in butter, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and serve immediately with crusty bread, and salad.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Veggie Mac 'n Cheese

I've been craving some homemade mac 'n cheese, but I've also been craving some vegetables with Spring here and the summer bounty so close. I rummaged through the fridge and found all the fixings to make a healthy mac 'n cheese - never mind all the cheese, it's healthy. I swear!! I counterbalanced it with broccoli and cauliflower, but I felt like it needed something more. I rummaged again and found some quinoa. Perfect!! The mother grain was sure to bring some health back to my ooey gooey cheesy dinner. And the upside is my kids love everything in this, like a party in our mouths. I served it up with a slice of warmed bread, and you definitely could (and probably) add a salad, too.

Veggie Mac 'n Cheese
(serves 6)

1 (13.5oz) package of whole wheat rotini
2 C shredded cheese (any type of your liking - I used brie & cheddar & parmesan)
2 C lightly steamed broccoli & cauliflower
1/2 C quinoa
4 T butter
4 T flour
1 C milk
salt & pepper

Boil rotini until al dente, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 C of water to boil and mix in 1/2 C of quinoa. Cook about 10 minutes on low, covered, until the moisture is absorbed. Mix pasta and quinoa together in a lightly buttered casserole dish. Stir in the broccoli and cauliflower, gently. In a saucepan, melt butter and add flour, whisking steadily over medium-high heat until a nice caramel color is achieved. Add milk in slowly and bring to a boil, whisking still. Let it boil for 1 minute then stir in cheese until melted, and a sauce consistency is reached. Add a dash of salt and a sprinkle of pepper. Mix into pasta, quinoa and vegetables. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hodge Podge Casserole

The other day I decided it was time to put together an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink meal. I have beans filling my cupboard from our Pantry Share we got in the fall from Wolf Pine Farm. I decided to make those the base of the casserole, then clean out the cupboards and fridge from there. What I ended up with was a nice Tex-Mex kind of meal that was incredibly filling a versatile. I served it up with fresh shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa, and some homemade hot sauce. Delicious!

Hodge Podge Casserole
(Serves 6)

4 C of beans (we used a mix of black and pinto)
1 C cooked brown rice
1 red pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 T garlic, sliced
1/2 package of polenta (the type that comes in a tube, or make your own)
1/2 C nutritional yeast cheese (you can replace this with any type of cheese)
9 taco shells, broken into pieces
1 C cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 T olive oil
1 T chili powder
1 t garlic salt
salt & pepper, to taste
bacon grease (or butter)

Grease a large glass casserole dish with bacon grease and place slices of polenta along the bottom. Heat oil over medium heat, then saute peppers, onions and garlic until soft. Stir in chili powder, garlic salt and nutritional yeast, then gently stir in rice. Place that layer over the polenta, then pour beans over that. Sprinkle with 1/2 the cheddar cheese, some salt and pepper. Cover with broken taco shells, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top. Bake for 45 minutes in 400 degree oven, covered. Then remove cover and bake another 15 minutes, to crisp up the top.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bacon Vegetable Soup

There's been a little illness going around the house the last few weeks - stomach bug, head cold and body aches. When I'm sick, all I want to do is eat soup....lots and lots of soup. Last night I came home to a grumpy and sick boyfriend and decided he needed a good dose of soup to lift his spirits. I looked around the refrigerator and cupboards and came up with this soup, full of rich broth, hearty vegetables and bacon. I served it with a loaf of homemade cornbread and watched as the soup was eagerly devoured by all. This is the perfect soup for saying goodbye to winter, root vegetables, and illness, and hello to spring!

Bacon Vegetable Soup
(serves 4-6)

6 slices bacon, raw
4 slices bacon, cooked
1 C onion, chopped
2 T butter
1-2 C potato, cut into 1" pieces
1 C carrots, sliced
2 C spinach, chopped
8 C stock/broth
garlic salt & pepper to taste

Cook 4 slices of bacon in the oven set at 400 degrees until crispy. Set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, cook the raw bacon for 5 minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom. Stir in onions and butter and continue cooking for about 10 - 15 minutes, until a nice sweet aroma is being released by the onions. Stir in potatoes and carrots, the broth. Bring to a boil and then drop to a simmer and cook until veggies are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in spinach. Chop cooked bacon and stir into the soup right before serving. Season with garlic salt and pepper.

Spicy Bacon Cheddar Cornbread
(makes 2 mini loaves)

1 C cornmeal
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 C milk
1 egg
1 T bacon grease (or vegetable shortening)
1 C cheddar cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
2 T hot sauce or chopped jalapenos (we used some chunky spicy pepper relish my boyfriend made)

Put 1/2 T of bacon grease in each mini loaf pan and put in 400 degree pre-heated oven. Meanwhile, mix cornmeal, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Add in milk and egg and stir thoroughly. Then stir in cheese, bacon and hot sauce until well combined. Pour into hot mini loaf pans and bake for 30 minutes.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Nachos w/ Horseradish

I had a craving for nachos last night so I sent my boyfriend to the store, with a short list: chips, cheddar cheese, ketchup and horseradish. What? Ketchup and horseradish? That's right. Over a decade ago I had a roommate the introduced me to this concept, when we were broke and living in the Old Port, living off of spaghetti and Parmesan cheese, and nachos with horseradish sauce. I figured today is the appropriate day to post about this, seeing as though it's Super Bowl and people all over the country are rushing about their kitchens whipping up goodies to consume during the game. This is simple, few ingredients, and you can adjust the spice of the horseradish to your liking.

Nachos w/ Horseradish

1 bag of corn tortillas (blue corn chips are especially delicious)
1 8oz bar of Vermont Cheddar (the sharper the cheese the better), shredded
1 bottle of ketchup
1 bottle of horseradish (not the type with the mayo added)

Preheat oven to 350. Place a layer of chips down in a glass baking dish, top with half the cheese. Repeat with another layer of chips and cheese. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes. To mix up the sauce, add about 1/4 cup of ketchup in a bowl and a tablespoon of horseradish. Stir and taste, add more ketchup or horseradish, to suit your liking. Spread over the top of the nachos and enjoy!!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies

I was craving cookie today, which doesn't usually happen. I'm not much of a baker, as my boyfriend can attest to. Actually, he had to bake cookies for Santa this year as I burned the living crap out of the ones I tried to make....and although I assured the kids that Santa and his reindeer didn't mean black peanut butter cookies, my boyfriend could not agree. He baked wonderful cookies and I decided on the spot that from there on out he would be the baker in the house. However, tonight he is sick with a wretched cold and I really wanted cookies, so I braved the oven and came up with theses little yummies. They actually came out quite good, but I realized that perhaps it's not my poor baking skills that make for dark cookies, but my terrible cookie sheet. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies
(makes 16)

1/2 C butter, softened
1/2 C peanut butter, crunchy
1/2 C molasses
1/3 C brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 C flour
3/4 C quinoa flakes
2 T carob powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl add butter, peanut butter, molasses, brown sugar and vanilla and beat for 1 minute with a hand mixer, until well combined. Make a well in the center and pour in flour, quinoa flakes, carob powder, baking soda and salt. With hand beater, mix for 2 minutes, until everything is mixed in thoroughly. Make balls of about 2 tablespoons of batter and place on ungreased baking sheet. Take a fork and press down cookies gently with a criss-cross pattern. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 1 minute on the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool until they harden just a bit. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Poutine Bacon Pizza

I'm from Maine, and we have a rather large county up large we simply call it The County. Up in the county, on the border of Canada, mostly everyone is of French heritage. Somehow I have managed to befriend a great deal of folks that have moved from The County, down to Portland, and the one thing I see them post about constantly on Facebook, after trips home for the holidays, is Poutine. This is a traditional Quebecois dish that consists of french fries, cheese curds and gravy. It's heavenly. Sometimes, it's even served with bacon!

I have been craving Poutine since I went to The Great Lost Bear the other day for lunch and they had it on special. I didn't get it, however, and have been dreaming about it ever since. Then, as a simple twist of fate, I saw a Poutine Pizza on Reddit and I knew, this must be made. And it was everything I had hoped it would be, and more.

Pizza Dough
(makes 2 medium pizzas, or one large thick crust)

3 C flour
1 t salt
2 T sugar
2 T olive oil
2 1/4 t active dry yeast
1 C warm water

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add in water and oil and mix into a dough. Let rest while making the bacon, gravy, cheese sauce and fries.

Heat oven to 400 degrees and spread a 1/2 package of bacon over it. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until done. Set aside.

 Potatoes - as many as you need to get about 1 cup of fries

Slice into fry shape and size and put on the same baking sheet that you cooked the bacon on. Toss in the grease and bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes, until golden, but not crispy. Set aside.

(makes 1 cup)

1 T unsalted butter
1 T flour
1/2 C broth
salt & pepper

In a saucepan melt butter, add in flour and whisk until a golden brown. Slowly add in broth while whisking over medium heat. Once it's a gravy consistency (if you need to add more water, go ahead), add a sprinkle of salt and some pepper, stir thoroughly and set aside.

Cheese Sauce
(makes 1 cup)

1 T unsalted butter
1 T flour
1/2 C cheese (any type - I used cheddar)
1/2 C milk

In a saucepan melt butter, add in flour and whisk until golden brown. Stir in the cheese until combined, then whisk in milk slowly. Only add as much as you need to make a thick sauce, you don't want it too runny. Set aside.

Put it all together as such:

Press out the dough into a pizza pan and top with cheese sauce. Cover with french fries and bacon, then drizzle with gravy. At this point, you can choose to add a bit of mozzarella over the top, but it's not necessary. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Slice and devour!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Breakfast Pizza

The morning after our New Year's Eve party we all needed a protein and bread filled breakfast. I was amazingly clear-headed after a night of drinks, 8 kids, 8 adults, fire crackers and sparklers, so I put my quick thinking to the test and came up with this deliciousness. I used my go-to no rise pizza dough, whipped up a white sauce and tossed on some left-over turkey. Voila! A New Year's breakfast feast. We served this up with some fresh fruit salad to balance it out.

Pizza Dough:
3 C flour
2 1/4 t yeast
2 T oil
1 t salt
1T sugar
1 C warm water

Preheat oven to 375. Mix all the ingredients together and pat into a pizza pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and let cool gently while preparing the toppings.

White Sauce:
4 T butter
4 T flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 T milk

In a pan heat the butter until melted. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Whisk in flour until a nice golden roux forms. Slowly add in milk and bring to a boil, whisking, for a full minute. Remove from heat to let thicken. If it doesn't thicken, over medium heat add in 1 T flour and whisk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cheese - I used a tangy cheese from Ireland, but a creamy goat cheese, or feta would work too.
Cherry Tomatoes
*You could use anything for toppings - spinach, bacon, arugala, sausage, onions, etc. Experiment!

Lastly, take 8 eggs (or however many you want and will fit) and crack over the pizza. Make sure there is a nice high edge crust so the eggs don't run off the pizza. Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and any herbs you want. Bake 15 minutes for soft, runny eggs (watch carefully so as not to overcook them). Bake 20 minutes for hard eggs.