Saturday, July 31, 2010

My First Tomato

It's been on the vine for most of the summer and was the very first tomato to grow.  I now have MANY green tomatoes to take this tomato's place, but this one was removed this morning and will be sitting in the window sill until it gets a little pinker.  It's a German Johnson heirloom tomato, so it looks a little different.  :)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Black Bean & Walnut Burgers

2 15oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained well
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp chili powder
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped red onion
3 Tbs canned corn
1/3 cup cornmeal
guacamole, for garnish
chunky salsa, for garnish

1) Purée 2 1/2 cups beans with cumin, chili powder and cayenne pepper until smooth. Add rice, walnuts, onion, corn and remaining beans, and pulse 2 or 3 times to mix. (Mixture should be stiff but not dry.) Add 2 to 3 Tbs water to moisten, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill, if making ahead.
2) Divide mixture into 8 burgers. Dredge burgers in cornmeal. Chill 30 minutes (unless mixture has been made earlier and chilled).
3) Coat nonstick pan or grill with cooking spray. Cook burgers over medium heat 4 minutes. Flip, and cook 4 minutes more, or until heated through. Garnish with guacamole and salsa, if desired, and serve.

Review: I made these and froze them last weekend. My hope was to have homemade veggie burgers in the freezer. The store carries some pretty yummy varieties, but we want to cut back on our soy consumption. These were yummy, but mushy. Freezing and frying didn’t turn out as well as these may have turned out if cooked when fresh. Hm, guess I’ll have to try a different recipe.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Spaghetti With Broccoli, Chickpeas & Garlic

6 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
2 (10oz) packages frozen chopped broccoli (not thawed)
3/4 tsp salt
1 (15oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 lb spaghetti

1) Cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add broccoli and salt and cook, breaking up frozen chunks and stirring occasionally, until broccoli is thawed and crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in chickpeas and cook until heated through.
2) Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta and reserved cooking water to broccoli and chickpeas in skillet and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until combined well. Serve drizzled with additional olive oil.

Review: I used about 3 cloves of garlic. I estimate, because the grocery store had ugly garlic last time we went. Instead, we got a bottle of minced garlic, much like squeezable mayo. It’s way easy, but looks a little wrong. Mike didn’t like the idea of 1/4 cup of garlic, so I scaled it back. I also used fresh broccoli, as I had a ton in the fridge. I cooked it a bit long, allowing it to brown. Yum. I really liked the way this turned out and recommend browning the broccoli.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Apple Rhubarb Crisp

3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashion oats
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
6 Tbs (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/2 lbs Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
3/4 lb rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
3 Tbs sugar
2 tsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

For topping
Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Rub in butter until mixture begins to clump together. Mix in nuts. (Can be made 1 day in ahead. Chill.)

For filling
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine apples, rhubarb, sugar, flour and vanilla extract in large bowl and toss to coat. Transfer apple mixture to 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit. Bake until fruit is tender when pierced with knife and topping is crisp, covering with foil if topping is browning too quickly, about 45 minutes. Cool 20 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Review: A coworker gifted me a bunch of rhubarb, after finding out I’ve never tried it before (Thanks Earl!). Apparently rhubarb is a big deal in Idaho. So, I brought it home and looked up recipes. Outside of a few recipes for sauce over meat, the only recipes I could find were for desserts. So, today I baked.

I do believe the recipe has a huge error, as it calls for half a pound of apples. That is one apple, not the four cups it estimates it to be. I only used one apple, but believe two apples would probably be a better amount to use. I also forgot to include the walnuts, but tossed them on when serving. This was super yummy. The rhubarb had a bit of tartness to it, but not an overwhelming amount. Yum.

Tagliatelle With Baby Vegetables & Lemon-Parmesan Sauce

8.8oz package egg and spinach tagliatelle blend or egg fettuccine
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, halved, thinly sliced
8oz baby zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise
8oz frozen tiny green beans (3 cups), thawed
2 tsp finely grated lemon peel
1 1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese plus more for passing
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1) Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain, reserving 2 cups cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.
2) Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and zucchini; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until zucchini is almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add beans and lemon peel. Toss 1 minute.
3) Scrape contents of skillet over pasta in pot. Add 1 1/4 cups Parmesan cheese, cream, lemon juice, and 1 cup reserved cooking liquid. Place over medium-high heat and toss until heated through and sauce coats pasta, adding more reserved pasta liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing additional cheese separately.

Review: Apparently, I can only grow baby squash. I’m growing Black Beauty and Golden zucchinis, in pots. However, they reach a certain size and begin to shrivel up. So, instead of continuing to whine and lament, like I have been, I decided to look up recipes using baby zucchinis. :) This recipe was yummy and used up a whole crop of squash. Do note, I left out all the lemon stuff. Mike and I figured out a while back that we just don’t like lemon in our main dishes (though I loooooooove lemon cake!). It was a yummy, savory sauce without the lemon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pasta With Lentils & Kale

1/2 cup French (small) green lentils
2 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
6 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 lb kale (preferably Tuscan; sometimes labeled “lacinato”)
3/4 lb dried short pasta

1) Simmer lentils in water (2 cups) with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart saucepan, uncovered, adding more water if necessary to keep lentils barely covered, until tender but not falling apart, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt.
2) While lentils simmer, heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion with pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring, 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and golden (stir more frequently toward end of cooking), about 20 minutes. Remove lid and increase heat to moderate, then cook, stirring frequently, until onion is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes more.
3) While onion cooks, cut out and discard stems and center ribs from kale. Cook kale in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water , uncovered, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer kale with tongs to a colander to drain, pressing lightly. Keep pot of water at a boil, covered.
4) Coarsely chop kale and add to onion along with lentils (including lentil-cooking liquid), then simmer, stirring, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
5) Add pasta to kale-cooking liquid and boil, uncovered, until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup pasta-cooking liquid, then drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta to lentil mixture along with about 1/3 cup of pasta-cooking liquid (or enough to keep pasta moist) and cook over high heat, tossing, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Review: I’ve been cleaning out the pantry. I had a can of lentils, which eliminated a considerable amount of cooking time. I was once again reminded that I hate cleaning kale, as it’s super hard to get clean. The curly leaves easily hide dirt and dead bugs. Gross. But, this dish was really yummy and hearty. Unfortunately, it had a very ‘winter’ feel to it and was a little heavy for our hot summer weather. Well, I’ll just have to make it again in the dead of winter. Yum.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

White & Red Kidney Bean Hot Pot

1 cup vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
15oz can white kidney beans (cannellini)
15oz can red kidney beans
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
8oz pkg tempeh, diced
1 Tbs dry sherry (optional)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

1) In large pot, combine broth, garlic, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, basil, oregano, dried parsley and thyme. Mix well. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
2) Stir in both beans (with their liquid), tomatoes and tempeh. Cook, uncovered, until mixture comes to a boil, about 5 minutes.
3) Remove from heat and discard bay leaf. Stir in sherry if desired and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, garnished with parsley.

Review: Despite the long list of ingredients, this was super easy to make, and super quick. It was a bit stew-like, but had a great flavor. I used 7-grain tempeh, which is a new favorite food of mine. Yum.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fusilli With Spinach & Asiago Cheese

1 lb fusilli pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (9oz) bag fresh spinach, roughly chopped
8oz (1/2 pint) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup (about 3 1/2oz) grated Asiago
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
2) Meanwhile, warm olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and tomatoes and cook until the spinach wilts, about 2 more minutes. Add the cooked pasta and toss. Add the cheeses, salt, pepper, and the pasta cooking liquid and stir to combine.
3) Transfer the pasta to a serving plate and serve.

Review: This was super yummy. I found a block of asiago in the fridge that had been forgotten about (how could that happen?) and looked for a recipe to use it in. This was super easy to make, but the asiago made it taste fancier than it was. I love dishes like that!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Baked Ziti With Zucchini, Chickpeas & Olives

8oz ziti, rigatoni or penne pasta
1/2 lb zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic & oregano, juices included
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives, divided
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Coat 11x17 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
2) Cook ziti according to package directions for al dente in large pot of boiling salted water. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Return ziti to pot and set aside.
3) Meanwhile, combine zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes and juices, tomato puree, 2 Tbs olives, oil, tomato paste, and garlic in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken, stirring occasionally. Stir zucchini mixture into ziti and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
4) Transfer ziti mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining 2 Tbs olives. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until pasta is heated through and breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Review: I tweaked this recipe. I didn’t like that the recipe didn’t have any cheese and breadcrumbs aren’t in the low-carb diet. So, I scrapped the olive/breadcrumb topping. Instead, I tossed all the olives into the dish and topped it with shredded mozzarella. I then baked it for 25 minutes. It was amazing. This dish has a nice tang to it, due to the olives, but has the tomatoes and zucchini to give it a more filling veggie feel to it. I loved this recipe and will definitely make it again. Yum.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summer Pasta Salad With Grilled Vegetables

8oz rotini, shells or other short pasta
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 zucchini, cut lengthwise into quarters
1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
1 bunch scallions, trimmed
1 cup black brine-cured olives, such as kalamata
2 Tbs chopped fresh oregano
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil

1) Prepare medium-hot charcoal fire, or preheat gas grill (or broiler).
2) Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain, and rinse thoroughly to cool. Transfer to large bowl, and toss with 1 Tbs. olive oil.
3) Whisk together remaining olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in 9x13-inch baking dish. Add tomatoes, zucchini, red pepper and scallions, and toss to coat with oil mixture. Thread cherry tomatoes on wooden skewers, if using.
4) Transfer zucchini and pepper to grill rack. Grill, turning occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and scallions to grill rack, and cook until all vegetables are tender and grill-marked, 2 to 4 minutes more. Remove from grill, and let stand until cool enough to handle.
5) Chop zucchini, pepper and scallions coarsely, and add vegetables to pasta. Slide tomatoes off skewers onto pasta. Add remaining marinade, olives and herbs, and toss well.

Review: Oh, this was incredibly delicious. It was difficult to chop all the vegetables after being grilled, as they were soft and slimy. However, they were incredibly flavorful and well worth the effort. The recipe said it serves 8. Mike and I both had two big bowls, and have two big bowls leftover for tomorrow. I bet it will be super yummy served cold tomorrow. Yum.

Friday, July 2, 2010

World's Largest Zucchini Blossom

Well, at least I think so.  This is what I found this morning as I watered my garden.  I've had some Black Beauty zucchinis (an heirloom variety) growing for awhile, but this morning was the first time the blossom has been open.

Here's the blossom:

The zucchini attached to it:

And a comparison shot with my tomato plant, so you can really see how big it is:

And, I watered the concrete again.  It's hard to not be messy when watering 5 minutes after waking up.  :)

And, here's a shot of my golden zucchinis (NOT yellow squash):

I have no idea why they're growing in a curl, but it's weird.  These aren't growing nearly as well as my other zucchini, but I'm optimistic it will catch up.   

We're also harvesting two strawberries every night.  Odd luck, but it's working well for us.