Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Tonight, I harvested my first two strawberries.  They're small and a little mutant looking.  However, they were tasty and sweet.  And organic.  And mine, all mine.  :)  I'm super excited.  Tomorrow night, we expect to harvest two more.  Yum. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hoisin-glazed Tempeh With Green Beans & Cashews

4 tsp hoisin sauce
2 1/2 tsp rice vinegar, divided
1 Tbs soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 1/2 Tbs minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 8oz pkg tempeh, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 12oz pkg frozen whole baby green beans
1/3 cup roasted, unsalted cashews

1) Whisk together hoisin sauce, 2 tsp rice vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, and 1/2 cup water in small bowl. Set aside.
2) Heat skillet or wok over medium heat. Add oil, then ginger and garlic. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, or until garlic turns pale gold.
3) Add tempeh and hoisin sauce mixture to pan. Stir to coat tempeh. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 2 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken.
4) Stir in green beans. Cover, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes, or until beans are hot, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp rice vinegar. Serve topped with cashews.

Review: Tonight was the first time I’ve ever had tempeh. I had 7-grain tempeh, which was actually tasty. The hoisin glaze didn’t stick to the tempeh, but did make a tasty sauce for the dish. I’m sure this could easily be adapted for my meat eating readers, but I suggest sticking to the tempeh. It was recommended to be served over brown rice or soba noodles. I chose brown rice, which hadn’t been used in my house for a looooooong time. Yay carbs! Mike and I have been losing a little bit of weight from exercise, so our dietary restrictions have loosened a little.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Asian Spinach Salad With Orange & Avocado

2 Tbs finely chopped shallots
2 Tbs seasoned rice vinegar
1 Tbs vegetable oil
2 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp (generous) Asian sesame oil
1 navel orange
1 6oz bag baby spinach leaves
1 Pinkerton or Fuerte avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

1) Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set dressing aside.
2) Cut off peel and white pith from orange. Cut orange into 1/3-inch rounds; cut rounds crosswise in half. Add spinach to dressing; toss to coat. Add avocado and orange; toss gently.

Review: I had made a similar recipe (here) awhile back and decided oranges in my salad were ok. This was a pretty tasty salad that was similar to the one I mentioned. However, this had a pleasant Asian flavor to mix it up. Yum.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The First!

I have a baby tomato!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Creamy Fettuccine With Leeks, Corn & Arugula

12oz fettuccine
1 Tbs olive oil
2 leeks (white and light green parts), cut into thin half-moons
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup corn kernels (from 1 to 2 ears, or frozen)
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups baby arugula
1/4 cup grated pecorino

1) Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the corn and wine and simmer until the corn is tender, 2 to 3 minutes; stir in the cream.
3) Add the pasta, season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and toss to combine; fold in the arugula. Sprinkle with the pecorino before serving.

Review: This was pretty tasty. I substituted baby spinach, since arugula is so difficult to find locally.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Corn & Cheese Enchiladas

8 6-inch corn tortillas
1 Tbs vegetable oil
5 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 medium ears)
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups grated pepper Jack
1 10oz can enchilada sauce

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Stack tortillas, wrap in foil and bake until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
2) While tortillas are baking, oil a 7-by-11-inch glass baking dish. Warm 1 Tbs oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions and garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in corn and milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt.
3) Remove tortillas from foil. Set aside 1/2 cup cheese. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of corn mixture in center of a tortilla. Sprinkle with a heaping tablespoon of cheese. Roll up tortilla and set in dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas, overlapping them slightly. Pour enchilada sauce over tortillas and sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup cheese. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Review: This was way easier than I expected. I’ve failed at enchiladas before, so I was not hopeful. This turned out really well. I only baked the tortillas for 8 minutes, so they weren’t as soft as they could have been. I do suggest shooting for the 10 minute mark, so they won’t break when rolling like mine did. And, I totally used about 4 cups of cheese. Yum.  However, my cheese was not straight-up pepper jack.  We couldn't find that at the grocery store.  So, the mix I used was a combination of pepper jack, colby cheese and cheddar.  Therefore it was milder than the original recipe, but very flavorful.  I don't think I'd like the enchiladas if only pepper jack was used. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Garden Update

Summer officially arrived Monday, coinciding with the summer solstice.  We may actually maintain warm temps and sunshine, allowing us to someday grow vegetables this season.  Here are some updated pics from tonight:

My heirloom tomato plant (German Johnson, it's a pink tomato)

 Here's my bell pepper plant:

 And my strawberries, the only plant producing anything at the moment:

I also have two squash plants, but they're all big leaves at the moment.  I believe my heirloom zucchini (Black Beauty) has a baby squash, but it's not clear at the moment and I couldn't get a good picture of it.  We'll see what happens.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Artichoke & New Potato Packets With Pesto

8oz new potatoes, thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 12oz pkg frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen baby peas
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts chopped (1 cup)
3 Tbs prepared pesto
3 Tbs grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Place 4 16-inch lengths of aluminum foil on work surface. Fold foil in half from short side. Unfold. Shape corners and edges of one half into semicircular “bowl” with 1/2-inch sides. Coat insides of foil with cooking spray.
2) Arrange overlapping slices of potatoes in oval shape over bottom of each packet. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and drizzle each with 2 Tbs. broth.
3) Combine artichoke hearts, peas, leeks, and pesto in medium bowl, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Divide artichoke mixture among packets. Fold other half of foil over ingredients, and seal edges in overlapping folds until packets are sealed. Transfer to baking sheet, and bake 25 to 30 minutes.
4) Transfer packets to serving plates. Let each person open packet slowly and carefully - escaping air will be hot. Sprinkle with Romano cheese and basil.

Review: This was pretty easy to make and fun! I used up the last bit of frozen pesto that I’d made from last year’s attempt to grow basil. I gave up this year, as all my plants froze and died. Summer continues to evade us. But, it also allows me to use the oven without making the kitchen too hot. Thank goodness, because this was a yummy dinner to have.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Glazed Lemon Blueberry Cake (AKA Castle Cake #3)

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for baking pan
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 Tbs freshly grated lemon zest, (3 large lemons)
2 1/2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice, (2 lemons)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, (4 lemons)
3 Tbs freshly grated lemon zest, (3 lemons)

1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.with the rack in the center. Butter a 10-inch tube pan; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
2) Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with buttermilk, and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in lemon zest and juice. Gently fold in blueberries.
3) Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
4) Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest until smooth; set aside.
5) Invert the cake onto a rack. Prick the surface numerous times with a toothpick. Brush the glaze over the surface of the warm cake, and cool to room temperature. Store wrapped in plastic for up to 2 days at room temperature.

Review: We had a party tonight for a variety of reasons (two birthdays, two moving away), so Mike got his annual castle cake early. The lemon blueberry combination was a great summer flavor for a cake. However, the blueberries essentially left holes in the structure of the castle. Therefore, when I turned it out onto the wire rack, the back of the castle detached. Mike wedged a butter knife under that piece to prop it up against the rest of the cake. Lesson learned - no fruit in the fancy pan. I didn’t do a great job on the glaze and it ended up being a sugary juicy combination that soaked into the cake. Yummy, but not the desired effect I needed. Everyone loved the cake, but I really need to hone my glaze making skills. I also need to invest in a zester. I left that out, as I didn’t want to fake it by finely chopping lemon peel.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Avocado Black Bean Salad

2 cups chopped romaine lettuce hearts     
1 avocado, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed
2 Tbs diced green onion
1 Tbs diced fresh cilantro
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp lime zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1) In a small bowl, mix olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, salt and pepper.
2) In large bowl, mix all other ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and toss well to coat.

Review: Mike was kind enough to make this for me. :) We substituted baby spinach for the romaine. It’s healthier, yummier and always on hand. This was pretty tasty, but Mike believed it would have been better if we hadn’t left out the green onion. I tend to leave out onion, since it usually makes me sick. This didn’t make a whole lot of food, so maybe next time we can double the ingredients and half the dressing will have onion in it for him.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pepper Pasta Quick Cook

3 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 medium garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium shallot, very finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and cut into very thin slices
1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and cut into very thin slices
1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and cut into very thin slices
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
a pinch of red-pepper flakes
10 basil leaves, well washed and dried, coarsely torn
1 pkg spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain, and set aside.
2) Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in shallot, and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add peppers, salt, pepper, and red-pepper flakes, and cook, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes more. Stir in half of the basil.
3) Add the pasta to the pan with peppers. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Transfer to serving platter. If desired, remove garlic, and discard. Garnish with remaining basil and Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Review: Oh, this recipe was more tedious than I made it. I didn’t devein the peppers. (Side note, I forgot to put orange bell pepper on the grocery list, so my pic is missing some color.) I also didn’t make my own pasta, which the recipe originally called for. It was a recipe involving making the pasta with bell peppers and it can be found here if you’re interested. We’re sticking to Dreamfield’s pasta and I also thought it might be overkill on the pepper taste! This was pretty yummy, though, and very filling. I really like cooking with butter and think it makes everything better. If anyone doubts the healthiness of my butter/oil intake, do note I recently tested my cholesterol. My LDL and triglycerides were well within healthy limits. My HDL (good cholesterol) was 74 - this is pretty high, which is a very good thing. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tomato, Basil & White Bean Salad

2 cans (19oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 lb small roma (plum) tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tsp coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 small garlic cloves, minced

1) Combine beans, tomatoes, basil, and salt in a bowl, and season with pepper.
2) Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Pour over bean mixture, and gently toss. Let stand 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld. Salad can be covered and kept at room temperature up to 4 hours.

Review: I used 3 cans of beans and served the salad over a bed of baby spinach. This way it became a main dish salad and not a side. It was really yummy and the beans were a surprisingly great flavor to add to a basic salad combination. Very yummy and filling.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Green Beans & Zucchini With Sauce Verte

Sauce verte:
1/3 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 green onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs (packed) fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbs drained capers
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb green beans, stem end trimmed
12oz zucchini, halved lengthwise, each half cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-wide strips
3 Tbs water
2 Tbs fresh Italian parsley leaves (for garnish)

For sauce verte:
Blend first 7 ingredients in processor until finely chopped. With machine running, gradually add olive oil. Process until coarse puree forms. Season sauce verte to taste with salt and pepper.

For vegetables:
Heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetables; stir until coated. Sprinkle with salt and 3 tablespoons water. Cover; cook vegetables until almost crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Uncover; cook until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes longer. Stir in enough sauce verte to coat vegetables generously. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Review: I doubled the veggies and the sauce recipe covered it adequately. The sauce has a nice tang to it (and I left out the green onion!) and a great flavor. This dish was overall yummy, but seemed to be missing something. I could see making this and serving it over pasta (penne?), but the sauce would need to be doubled. It may even go well with some Parmesan on top. Hmm, I may have to tweak this and make it again.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Vegetarian food is not good for kitties.  Unless it's my nieces' cat Trixie (not the kitty in the pic, though similar looking), who I'll have to bond with over spinach.  =)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Marinated Cauliflower, Olive & Arugula Salad

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
6 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets (about 6 cups)
2 cups Kalamata olives, pitted, halved
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
16 cups arugula (about 10oz)

1) Whisk vinegar and mustard in small bowl; gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing generously with salt and pepper. Combine cauliflower, olives, and celery in large bowl. Add 3/4 cup dressing; toss to coat. Cover salad and remaining dressing separately; chill overnight.
2) Mix green onions and parsley into salad. Arrange arugula on platter; drizzle with remaining dressing. Top arugula with cauliflower mixture. Sprinkle with pepper.

Review: Once again, I substituted baby spinach for the arugula. I think it’s a better taste, but it’s also a better bargain. We buy a big box of organic baby spinach every week at Costco for less than $4. I really liked this and thought it had a great tang to it. However, Mike thought it was too bitter. I’m sure that could be remedied with some tweaking of the dressing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Creamy Pasta With Peas

coarse salt and ground pepper
12 oz farfalle pasta
1 pkg (10oz) frozen green peas
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs pine nuts
1 bunch (5oz) arugula, tough stems removed, chopped

1) In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions; add peas 1 minute before end of cooking. Drain; return pasta and peas to pot.
2) Meanwhile, in a large skillet, combine cream and chicken broth; simmer until thickened slightly, 7 minutes. Stir in Parmesan until melted.
3) Add sauce to pasta and peas; toss to combine. Season with salt. Divide half the pasta among serving bowls; reserve remaining in pot for the adults.
4) Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat, shaking frequently, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add to reserved pasta along with arugula; season with pepper. Toss to combine, and serve immediately.

Review: I substituted baby spinach for the arugula, because it’s much easier to find in Idaho. It worked just fine. I have learned that combining vegetable broth and cream is an incredibly yummy sauce that I fall in love with each time I make it. However, each time I look at a new recipe using the combo, I think it sounds weird. It’s incredibly savory and easy to make, though.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Idaho has not been good to us this year.  It has snowed in May and both May and June have given us hail.  We've also had a slew of freezing temps after I planted my garden.

Despite this, we have baby strawberries!!!  And my heirloom tomato is blooming.  My squash plants are slowly growing, my bell pepper seems frozen in time and my morning glories seem to be too scared to venture out of the soil.  Ah, but I still have hope!!