Sunday, October 31, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Linguine With Torn Fresh Basil

2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/2 lb fresh or frozen asparagus, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 small onion, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1 pkg whole-wheat or white linguine
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves

1) Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss together mushrooms, asparagus, onion, oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in large roasting pan. Roast 20 minutes, or until mushrooms and onions begin to brown, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
2) Add tomatoes to pan, and roast 7 to 10 minutes more, or until tomatoes shrivel and soften. Transfer vegetables to bowl. Add wine to roasting pan, stirring to scrape off any stuck-on bits from bottom of pan. Place roasting pan on burner over medium heat, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, or until wine has evaporated by half; or return roasting pan to oven 5 minutes, and let wine cook off.
3) Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, and reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Stir reserved cooking water into reduced wine in roasting pan.
4) Return pasta to pot. Add wine mixture and vegetables, and toss over medium-low heat until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Stir in torn fresh basil leaves, and serve immediately.

Review:  Yum.  I like roasted vegetables, but hate waiting for them.  And, that it makes for extra dishes.  I skipped the step of tossing the veggies into a bowl and then baking the wine.  I just tossed the wine into the veggies a few minutes before they were done roasting.  It worked just fine and made my life a little easier.  Except that I dropped the lid to the wine bottle into the oven.  It rolled into the back and I had to leave it until the oven cooled off.  It's always an adventure in my kitchen!

This Week's Planned Menu

Roasted Vegetable Linguine With Torn Fresh Basil

Zucchini “Fettuccine” With Fresh Marinara

Tortilla Torte using Mike's Taco Mojo


Spaghetti With Butternut Squash Sauce (jarred, from Costco)

frozen pizzas 

Cheese Tortellini Primavera

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wild Rice With Apples & Butternut Squash

1 1/2 cups wild rice blend, cooked
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups cubed (1/2 inch) butternut squash
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and cubed (1/2 inch)
1 Tbs dried thyme
1 cup vegetable broth or water
1/2 cup walnut pieces

1) Heat oil in large nonstick skillet, and saute onion over medium-high heat until translucent.  Add squash, apples and thyme, and saute 5 minutes.  Stir in broth.
2) Combine cooked rice, parsley and sauteed mixture into a buttered 9x13 baking dish.  Bake at 425F for 20-25 minutes.

Review:  I found this recipe in an ad for a specific brand of wild rice mixtures.  It's not found locally, so I bought two boxes of store brand wild rice and brown rice side dishes (throwing out the seasoning packets).  So, I ended up doubling the rice and broth.  This was pretty easy to make and didn't take as long as I had thought it would.  It helped that I cooked the rice this morning and then let it hang out in the fridge until I needed it.  This had a great fall flavor, and wasn't as sweet as I had expected it to be.  I believe the recipe may have been intended as a Thanksgiving side dish.  It would totally fit and make plenty of food!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Feta, Tomato & White Bean Pouches Over Polenta Rounds

15oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
4 medium plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup pitted black olives, chopped
4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp garlic oil
1 lb Swiss chard, tough stems removed
1 lb tube prepared polenta, cut into 8 rounds
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1) Cut 4 12-inch squares foil. Spoon 1/3 cup beans and 1/2 cup mushrooms in center of each foil square.
2) Combine tomatoes, feta, olives, rosemary, and garlic oil in bowl. Divide mixture among foil packets, and season with salt and pepper. Bring up sides of foil to meet over contents, fold edges together, and then fold a few times over contents to form a packet. Fold edges over to seal. Place packets in bottom portion of bamboo steamer. Arrange Swiss chard leaves in steamer’s top basket. Top with polenta rounds.
3) Fill large skillet or wok with 2 inches water. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Place steamer in skillet, and steam 10 minutes.
4) To serve: Place 2 polenta rounds and some Swiss chard leaves on each plate. Open packets, and slide contents over polenta. Sprinkle with parsley.

Review:  Oh, I seriously need to start reading directions before I pick recipes to make for the week!  I didn't read this one and was quite surprised to find I needed a bamboo steamer.  I don't own one, and don't know that I need one.  In the past, 'pouch' recipes have always involved tossing a foil packet of stuff into the oven for a bit.  This wasn't going to work this time.  I ended up tossing everything into the foil pouches, putting the polenta at the bottom.  I steamed it in my steamer, with the lid on, for ten minutes (one packet at a time).  I'd recommend steaming it for 12-14, as my tomatoes weren't quite hot.  However, this was really tasty.  I loved the combination of flavors.  Mike wasn't digging the rosemary for some reason, but ate it anyway.  :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Broccoli & Chili Spaghetti

1 pkg dried spaghetti
1 lb broccoli, cut into small florets
1 fat red chili, seeded and finely chopped
2/3 cup garlic-infused olive oil
salt and ground black pepper

1) Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the spaghetti and broccoli, and cook for 8-10 minutes, until both are tender.  Drain thoroughly.
2) Using the back of a fork, crush the broccoli roughly, taking care not to mash the spaghetti strands at the same time.
3) Meanwhile, warm the oil and finely chopped chili in a small pan over a low heat and cook very gently for 5 minutes.
4) Pour the chili and oil over the spaghetti and broccoli.  Toss together to combine.  Season to taste.  Divide between four warmed bowls and serve immediately.

Review:  Well, I used frozen chopped broccoli and waited until the pasta was about a minute away from being done, and then tossed it in.  I drained it all together and then mixed it with the chili and oil.  I didn't bother trying to crush the broccoli.  We really liked this dish.  It was easy, and yummy.  The chili gave it a bit of flavor, but didn't really add any 'heat.'  We topped it with Parmesan to make it even yummier.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Stir-Fried Pasta & Broccoli Rabe With Miso Pesto

1 lb orecchiette
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
4 cups fresh basil leaves
3 Tbs white miso
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb broccoli rabe, chopped and blanched (can be substituted with
small broccoli florets, chard or spinach)
15oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup cooking water, and rinse. Set aside.
2) Put garlic, pine nuts and salt in food processor, and chop. Add basil, and process until minced. Add miso, and process until combined. With machine running, slowly stream in 3 Tbs. olive oil, and process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
3) Heat remaining 1 Tbs. oil in large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli rabe, and season with salt and pepper. Stir-fry until tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
4) Add pasta, beans, reserved pesto and pasta cooking water. Stir-fry until well combined and heated through. Serve hot.

Review: Oops - I had planned on using baby spinach, but instead used Swiss Chard.  I have a recipe later in the week that needed that green!  Now, I have to substitute with baby spinach.  However, this was really good with the Swiss Chard.  The pesto was yummy, as it had a nice tang from the miso, combined with the yummy basil.  I really liked this.  Yum. 

I also chopped up some veggies for the rest of the week, to make prep time quicker.  However, it was a chore and a half, since my right ring finger is splinted.  Yesterday, I shaved off part of that finger, and a portion of the nail, in my mandoline.  So, it's bandaged and splinted, as the splint helps protect the open nailbed from hurting when I inevitably touch something.  Ah, my kitchen adventures!!

This Week's Planned Menu

Stir-Fried Pasta & Broccoli Rabe With Miso Pesto

Broccoli & Chili Spaghetti (had been slated for last week, but our chili pepper went moldy)

Feta, Tomato & White Bean Pouches Over Polenta Rounds
Vegetable-Herb Salad


Pasta Primavera With Miso Dressing

party food - going to a Halloween party!!

Wild Blend With Apples & Butternut Squash

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cheesy Rice & Mushroom Casserole With Spinach (crockpot recipe)

1 Tbs cumin seeds
1 Tbs vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs minced gingerroot
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed black peppercorns
2 cups long-grain brown rice
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
28oz can diced tomatoes, including juice
4 cups vegetable broth
2 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8oz fresh spinach leaves, washed, stems removed and chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1) In a dry skillet, over medium heat, toast cumin seeds until they release their aroma and just begin to turn brown.  Transfer to a mortar or a spice grinder and grind coarsely.  Set aside.
2) In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions and celery, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, gingerroot, reserved cumin, salt, peppercorns and rice, and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Add sun-dried tomatoes, tomatoes with juice and vegetable stock, and bring to a boil.
3) Place mushrooms in slow cooker stoneware.  Pour rice mixture over mushrooms and stir to combine.
4) Place two clean tea towels, each folded in half (so you will have four layers), across the top of slow cooker stoneware.  Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours, or HIGH for 4 hours, until rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid.
5) Remove tea towels.  Stir in spinach and sprinkle cheese over top of mixture.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 20 to 25 minutes, until spinach is cooked and cheese is melted.  Serve piping hot.

Review:  I accidentally used half the amount of tomatoes, used ground cumin and skipped step one, didn't see that I had to chop the portobellos and I doubled the spinach on purpose.  I tend to buy the big container of baby spinach from Costco and then use the whole thing.  Spinach wilts down to almost nothing, so typically doubling it doesn't overpower a dish.  I cooked this for about 3 hours on HIGH, because my crockpot tends to run hot and cooks faster than others.  Despite all the changes, this was definitely the comfort food taste that I was looking for this weekend!  Yum, veggies, starch and cheese.  What more could I ask for?

This Week's Planned Menu

Of course, there's always room for deviation . . .
Cheesy Rice & Mushroom Casserole With Spinach (crockpot recipe)

Pasta With Roasted Butternut Squash & Sage

White & Red Kidney Bean Hot Pot
Posole - to ensure leftovers for the next few days, as I'm a guest speaker at Mike's class Wednesday night

Broccoli & Chili Spaghetti

Butternut Squash Gratin With Goat Cheese & Hazelnuts

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Grilled Goat Cheese With Fig Preserves

8 (6-inch) diagonal baguette slices
1 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
2 oz soft mild goat cheese at room temperature
2 Tbs dark fig preserves

1) Spread 1 side of each baguette slice with butter. Turn over 4 slices and spread cheese and preserves onto them. Top with remaining baguette slices, buttered sides up.
2) Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot, then cook sandwiches, pressing occasionally and turning over once, until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes total. 

Review:  So much for planning out the week and sticking to it.  Thursday night, Mike & I felt lazy and made pasta with jarred tomato sauce.  Then, last night we weren't feeling this recipe and had regular grilled cheese sandwiches.  Which, used up the bread we had.

So, I went out today and bought cracked wheat sourdough.  That's truly a great bread for grilled cheese.  Mike made these tonight, and sliced the bread in half to make smaller sandwiches.  These were so tasty!!  The combination of tangy goat cheese and sweet figs is truly a great flavor mash-up.  And, toasty, buttery bread is always amazing!

And, I got to use my favorite brand of preserves.  Though, it's my favorite just because I like the glasses.  Unfortunately, the preserves dry out after about two weeks, so I had some investment to use these twice in a week!  Yum.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Maple Bundt Cake

3 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
2/3 cup canola oil
2 Tbs vanilla extract
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tsp maple extract
1 1/3 cups water
confectioner's sugar, for dusting

1) Preheat oven to 325F.  Lightly coat 10-inch Bundt pan with cooking spray.
2) Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl.
3) Whisk maple syrup, oil, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar, maple extract and water in large separate bowl.  Stir in flour mixture until just blended.
4) Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan.  Cool in pan on rack 20 minutes.  Unmold onto rack, and cool completely.  Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Review:  Mike was so touched by a professor making him a birthday cake, that he felt the need to reciprocate the gesture.  Which actually meant me making a cake.  :)  I presented him with a few recipes from recent magazines and he chose this one.  I figured it was a good choice, as it seemed like a nice, Fall flavor.  What I didn't realize until I started making it, was how odd the recipe is.  There's no egg, butter or sugar - all typical ingredients for a cake.  Despite this, it rose just fine and tasted great (a little piece got stuck to the pan and I fortunately got to sample that!).  It's easy to make, and I got to use the trick of shaking powdered sugar through a tea ball to sprinkle evenly.  Do note, it's hard to find maple extract.  All I could find locally was artificial maple flavoring.  It seemed to do the trick, but I hate artificial flavors and regret that it's all I could find.  Luckily, I'm able to get big bottles of really great maple syrup at Costco (and I also recently bought the big bottle of vanilla extract, which is the exact same price as small bottles at the normal grocery store!).  Ah, a bargain, a great cake and hopefully a happy professor tomorrow. 

Happy Birthday Dr. Harrawood!!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Squash Enchiladas With Tomatillo Sauce

2 small butternut squash (about 2 1/2 lbs total), halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tbs minced garlic
1/2 cup frozen corn 
12 6-inch-diameter corn tortillas 
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 8 ounces)
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)  
sour cream
1/3 cup chopped pitted black olives

1) Preheat oven to 400°F. Pour enough water into roasting pan to come 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Place squash halves, cut side up, in pan. Bake until tender, adding more water as necessary, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Cool squash completely. Remove seeds from squash; spoon squash into bowl. Discard squash skin.
2) Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Mix in squash and corn. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tortilla over direct flame until soft and heated through, turning with tongs, about 10 seconds per side. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
3) Place 1 heaping tablespoon squash mixture down center of each tortilla. Top with 1 tablespoon of each cheese. Roll up tortillas. Arrange seam side down in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead; cover and chill.)
4) Preheat oven to 350°F. Spoon Tomatillo Sauce and remaining cheese over enchiladas. Bake until enchiladas are heated through, about 20 minutes. Place 2 enchiladas on each of 6 plates. Top with sour cream. Sprinkle with olives.

Review:  Well, as I transferred this recipe from it's original website, I discovered that Tomatillo Sauce was a hyperlink and had it's very own recipe (which I included as a hyperlink on this entry).  I did not previously know that and simply bought a large can of green enchilada sauce.  I also bought the prediced butternut squash from Costco and simply boiled it until tender (7 to 9 minutes).  And, I don't believe their method of softening the tortillas is safe.  I wrapped mine in aluminum foil and stuck them in the oven (350F) for 10 minutes.

So, this was amazingly delicious.  I love enchiladas and butternut squash, but never thought of combining the two.  Now, I have a new favorite.  Yum!!!

And, Mike made sure to get Mexican sour cream, which is our new favorite.  It's so much creamier than the regular stuff!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Roasted Pear Salad With Chevre & Fig Vinaigrette

4 Bosc, Comice, Concorde or Bartlett pears, halved and cored
8 tsp, plus 2 Tbs fig jam, divided
5 oz soft goat cheese, cut into 8 slices
1 Tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling, divided
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 cups watercress or baby arugula
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans

1) Preheat oven to 375F.  Place pear halves cut-side up in 2 large baking dishes.
2) Spoon 1 tsp jam in center of each pear half.  Top with goat cheese rounds, and lightly drizzle with oil.  Bake pears 30 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown.
3) Whisk together remaining 2 Tbs fig jam, lemon juice and mustard in bowl.  Whisk in 1 Tbs olive oil.
4) Divide watercress among 8 serving plates.  Sprinkle with onion and nuts.  Top each with pear half, and drizzle with dressing.

Review:  A co-worker of Mike's gifted us fruit from her trees, as she had more than she could handle.  I had the most amazing plums and truly wish I had more.  She also gave us pears, which was fortunate because I'd been dying to make this recipe!  I'm not sure what type of pears they are, but they're smaller than the recipe called for, so I just adjusted things accordingly.  I made this using the baby spring mix from Costco, and used walnuts.  I was lucky to find fig preserves at TJ Maxx, and in the brand I like (the jar is a reusable glass).  This recipe was pretty tasty, but no matter what I did, my dressing would not "drizzle."  It plopped.  Oh well, it was still tasty.  It had a wonderful sweetness, combined with toasted nut, tangy cheese and bitter greens.  What a combination!!

New Feature!

Recently I've been revisiting some favorites, while incorporating a few new recipes each week.  I thought it might be nice to start each week with the planned menu.  The highlighted recipe titles will feature a link to the old recipe.  This also allows me to update my blog with pictures, for the old recipes that didn't feature pictures.  Hope this works well.  Here is the menu this week:

Roasted Pear Salad With Chevre & Fig Vinaigrette
New Potato Gratin With Chard, Bell Peppers & Kalamata Olives

Squash Enchiladas With Tomatillo Sauce

Spaghetti With Sweet Potatoes & Ricotta

Lasagna Stroganoff Skillet
Maple Bundt Cake - for a professor's birthday

Bulgur, Broccoli & Feta Cheese Pilaf

Grilled Goat Cheese With Fig Preserves

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sugar Pumpkin, Feta & Cilantro Quesadillas

1 lb seeded sugar pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 finely chopped seeded jalapeño (about 2 Tbs)
12 8-inch-diameter flour tortillas
10oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, each cut into 6 wedges

1) Cook pumpkin in large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool 10 minutes. While pumpkin is still warm, transfer to processor; puree until smooth. Stir in jalapeño; season with salt and pepper.
2) Divide pumpkin mixture equally among 6 tortillas (about 1/4 cup per tortilla) and spread evenly.  Sprinkle feta over each. Top each with 1/4 cup cilantro and sprinkle with black pepper. Top with second tortilla.
3) Heat heavy large skillet over medium high heat. Cook quesadillas until golden and dark char marks appear, about 1 minute per side. Serve with lime wedges.

Review:  After pureeing the pumpkin, I tossed in the jalapeño and cilantro and ran the food processor a little longer.  After seeing it fly around the food processor, Mike decided he wasn't going to like this.  Granted, he does not like cilantro.  So, I made the first quesadilla and tried it, but it wasn't his cup of tea.  Therefore, I made the second quesadilla with twice as much of the pumpkin mixture and finished off the batch.  I was disappointed it only made two quesadillas, but I did use larger tortillas and made them fairly thick.  Mike pulled out some cheddar and made regular quesadillas for himself.  That meant I got all of these for myself, which I was ok with.  I really loved these.  I only wish pumpkins weren't so difficult to clean up.  Also, I couldn't find 'sugar pumpkins' and used 'pie pumpkins.'

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ziti With Pumpkin: Ziti Alla Zucca

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 lb pumpkin, cut into julienne
1 cup water
salt and black pepper
pinch crushed red pepper
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 lb uncooked ziti
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1) In a large pan, heat the olive oil over high heat and add the onion, garlic, and pumpkin and cook 1 minute. Add the water, salt and pepper, lower heat to medium and cover, cooking until the pumpkin is soft, about 8 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and parsley and keep warm.
2) Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Cook the ziti according to the package directions, until tender yet al dente. Toss the pasta with the cooked pumpkin 1 minute over high heat. Divide evenly among 4 warmed pasta bowls, topped with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Review:  I've desperately wanted to make fall dishes lately.  Mostly, I've wanted to make butternut squash recipes, but Costco did not yet have the diced squash that I love to buy (I hate cutting up squash!).  So, I decided pumpking would do in the meantime, though I would have to clean it up.  Somehow, buying an itty bitty pumpkin makes it easier to deal with.  So, I got my pumpkins, had the recipes lined up, and I found Costco had the butternut squash today.  I felt so defeated.  But, I have two pumpkin recipes this week and next week I'll get my beloved butternut squash!!!!

To make matters worse, this dish didn't wow me.  It didn't have a strong flavor, though it might have done well with a cream sauce.  It was filling and made plenty of food, but I expected more after having to julienne pumpkin!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cajun Cauliflower Hash

1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced 
2 cups diced cauliflower florets 
1 celery stalk, diced 
1 cup frozen hash brown potatoes (not patties)
3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1 Tbs chopped parsley

1) Combine chili powder, thyme, salt, and pepper in small dish. Set aside.
2) Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Add chili powder mixture, and cook 30 seconds.
3) Add cauliflower, celery, and 1/3 cup water. Cover, and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4) Add potatoes and bell pepper. Cover, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until cauliflower is crisp-tender. Add 2 to 3 Tbs water during cooking if mixture becomes dry. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, and serve.

Review:   I made this for breakfast, and then had it again for lunch!  I doubled the amount of potatoes, in order to make more food.  I also let it brown, which took longer to cook.  After eating this for breakfast, I thought it was silly that this Cajun dish didn't use Cajun seasoning.  Therefore, at lunch I sprinkled Cajun seasoning on it.  Yum!  The dish improved, though it was already yummy.  And, very filling!