Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fusilli Bucati Lunghi With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

2 Tbs garlic flavored olive oil
1 cup jarred roasted red bell pepper, rinsed, drained & chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely diced
8oz dry fusilli bucati lunghi

1) Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add roasted peppers, onion and carrot; saute 5 minutes, or until onion begins to brown. Add 3/4 cup water, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 20 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water according to package directions.
3) Remove roasted pepper mixture from heat, and puree in blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
4) Drain pasta, and return to pot. Stir in red pepper sauce.

Review: First of all, Dreamfields does not make this fancy pasta, so I substituted spaghetti. This was pretty easy to make, and I get to boast about "homemade sauce." However, I wasn't expecting the bright orange color that was my end result. Maybe it'd be more red if I bought darker red roasted red bell peppers? I bought the store brand and some were kind of pale. Regardless, it was really tasty. We topped it with a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese for a little extra tasty.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nori, Egg & Potato Rolls

2 medium white potatoes, cut into 3-inch matchsticks
4 large eggs
3/4 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
3 Tbs finely chopped celery
3 Tbs finely chopped green bell pepper
2 Tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
8 large sheets nori

1) Soak potatoes in cold water 15 minutes. Boil eggs 9 minutes; rinse and peel. Chop eggs, and transfer to bowl.
2) Drain potatoes, and toss with 1/2 tsp paprika. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Stir-fry potatoes 10 minutes, or until browned. Stir potatoes, onion, celery, bell pepper, mayonnaise, mustard and remaining 1/4 tsp paprika into eggs. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
3) Place 1 sheet nori on work surface. Spoon 1/2 cup potato mixture in center of nori sheet (A). Fold all 4 corners up (B), tuck in edges (C) and invert (D) to create a round package. Repeat with remaining filling and nori. Chill 20 minutes, or until ready to serve.

Review: This should have been called potato salad seaweed packages! It was yummy, but then again, it combines two very yummy foods. I had accidentally used all the bell pepper in a previous recipe. Mike happened to have some baby sweet peppers on hand (for snacking) and I used a few of those. I think they added a special bit of flavor that was better than regular bell pepper. Yum!!





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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gingersnap Latte Syrup

1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 dash ground cloves
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1) Combine molasses, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and cloves, with 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and boil 15 minutes.
2) Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla extract. Strain through a fine-meshed strainer into a jar or bowl. Cool.
3) To make a gingersnap latte, spoon 1 to 2 Tbs of this syrup into a mug, add 6oz coffee or 2 shots of espresso, and top with 1/4 cup frothed milk.

Review: I absolutely love flavored lattes. However, I haven't yet frothed milk in my home (though I do own a hand blender!). I thought this would be a great addition to my morning coffee, even without the froth. I started making it and was surprised to find there was no ginger in my spice cabinet! I'm not sure how that happened, as it's a staple ingredient in my home. I panicked and considered my options. I found my ginger people coffee flavored ginger chews and tossed in 3 of the candies (I doubled the recipe). I figured it had all the right ingredients, as it had ginger & sugar, and the coffee flavor wouldn't bother anything since I'm pouring this syrup into my coffee! I think it was a genius move. The syrup smells wonderfully of gingersnaps and made for a delicious treat first thing in the morning!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yummy Marinade

I made Roasted Vegetables With Quick Harissa Marinade tonight. I had difficulty finding the sauce I wanted. As we were searching the shelves, my husband stumbled upon this. I'm a big fan of the ginger people and have bought their candies. However, I'd never seen their sauces in the store. I quickly bought this, as it had the garlic and chile flavor I needed, but the addition of ginger sounded amazing. It was better than I expected, though the "kick" was more than I expected. Yum, this is a new favorite and made dinner come together so quickly!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quinoa Salad With Baked Tofu

1 cup quinoa
3 celery stalks, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 pkg baked tofu (any flavor), diced
1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds, toasted
1 to 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
2 Tbs nutritional yeast

1) Rinse quinoa with cold water in a fine mesh strainer, until water runs clear. In medium saucepan, combine quinoa and 2 cups water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 15 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, whisk together balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard and nutritional yeast, forming a thick paste. Once the quinoa has cooled, mix the paste mixture into the quinoa.
3) Add all other ingredients and toss thoroughly.

Review: This originally was a very complicated recipe that involved marinating tofu and baking it. That has never worked well for me, and there are many companies that make very good tofu that's already flavored and baked. So, I tweaked the recipe to make it easier and it turned out well. However, it's so different from the recipe I used, that I think I can now claim this as an original recipe!! Which is good, because this vegan, but cheesy tasting dish will likely be a new favorite in our house.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Creamy Fettuccine With Peas & Flowers

1 lb fettuccine
2 cups fresh peas, or thawed frozen peas
6 Tbs creme fraiche
6 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped edible flowers, plus 8 flowers for decoration
 - chive blossoms, sweet peas, nasturtiums, marigold petals, calendula petals,
   sunflower petals or squash petals
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

1) Cook pasta according to package directions in boiling salted water, adding peas 3 minutes before end of cooking time. Drain, and reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
2) Meanwhile, whisk together creme fraiche, cheese and garlic in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, then fold in chopped flowers and chives.
3) Whisk reserved 1/4 cup pasta cooking water into creme fraiche mixture. Add pasta, and toss to coat. Divide pasta among plates, and garnish each serving with a whole edible flower.

Review: I'd been dying to make this recipe, as I had an abundance of marigolds on my deck. However, when I went out to pick them tonight, only 6 were in good condition. That wasn't nearly enough for the whole cup the recipe called for! Regardless, I brought them in, cut off the green bottoms (which contains the seeds), tossed the bottoms in the trash and chopped up the blossoms (including the centers). I ate a petal before adding it to the sauce. Funny enough, marigolds taste EXACTLY like they smell - kind of like a floral, bitter, citrus. It added a nice flavor to the sauce, but I can't imagine using as much as recommended, as it would have been too much of the flavor. Ultimately, this was tasty, easy and a little bit exotic.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash, Apple & Farro Chowder

1 1/2 lbs peeled butternut squash, diced
4 Tbs canola oil, divided
3 large Jonagold or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into large dice
1 cup sliced shallots
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2/3 cup semi-pearled farro
2 Tbs chopped fresh mint

1) Preheat oven to 450F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Toss squash with 2 Tbs oil in bowl, and season with salt, if desired. Toss apples with 1 Tbs oil in separate bowl, and season with salt, if desired. Arrange squash in a single layer on 1 prepared baking sheet, and apples in a single layer on other. Roast squash 32 to 36 minutes, or until tender and browned on bottom. Roast apples 22 to 24 minutes, or until browned.
2) Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbs oil in Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add shallots, and season with salt, if desired. Cover, and cook 10 minutes, or until shallots are shrunken, stirring occasionally. Add cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes, and season with salt, if desired. Cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add farro and 8 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 25 minutes, or until farro is tender. Stir in squash and apples, and remove from heat. Stir in mint and serve.

Review: For the record, I generally hate soup, stew and chowder. I need to chew in order to feel I'm having a meal, and soup leaves me feeling hungry as there's minimal chewing. This dish was actually really yummy though, and I was full after eating it! I couldn't find farro anywhere, despite going to two different Whole Foods!! Instead, I used pearled barley, 4 cups of water, and cooked the grain for 15 minutes. This had a wonderfully sweet flavor, but not in a dessert kind of way. The mint and red pepper flakes gave it a twisted flavor, but it all balanced wonderfully. And, since I buy my butternut squash prediced at Costco, this didn't take all that long to make.  Yum!!

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Crispy Gnocchi With Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms

2 Tbs butter
1 16oz pkg frozen gnocchi
2 tsp olive oil, divided
1 lb cremini mushrooms, quartered
8oz Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced crosswise
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan, for garnish

1) Heat butter in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add gnocchi, and cook 4 to 5 minutes, turning often, until browned. Transfer to large bowl.
2) Pour 1 tsp oil into pan, and add mushrooms. Cook 7 minutes, or until mushroom liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and transfer to same bowl as gnocchi.
3) Pour remaining oil into pan, and add Brussels sprouts. Saute 5 to 7 minutes, or until sprouts are crisp-tender. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Return mushrooms and gnocchi to pan, and saute 2 minutes, or until warmed through. Serve garnished with Parmesan, if desired.

Review: My husband has told me for years that he likes Brussels sprouts. However, I had never tried them and wasn't feeling adventurous. I received several this weekend, as my sister-in-law bought a stem with the Brussels sprouts still attached. She gave it to my mother-in-law, who in turn gave me several since there were so many. I then proceeded to find a recipe to use them in, and discovered I also love these little green guys. It's hard to describe the flavor, but I think it's a combination of spinach and cabbage. So yummy!

Now, for a review of the recipe . . . I tweaked this a little bit as I didn't want portions to get cold, or to dirty 3 pans. I cooked the mushrooms and gnocchi together, with twice as much butter. It worked perfectly. I left the Brussels sprouts by themselves, as they can easily overcook. It all came together in the same time frame and tossed together quite easily. It's a great combination of flavors. I had doubled the mushrooms and will double the Brussels sprouts next time. Using more veggies doesn't alter the flavor balance all that much, but it adds portions in a healthy way.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spaghetti With Roasted Tomatoes & Herbs

12oz spaghetti
2 lbs cherry tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, smashed
3 Tbs olive oil, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as basil, parsley & chives)
shaved Parmesan, for serving

1) Heat oven to 400F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and return it to the pot.
2) Meanwhile, on a rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes, garlic, 2 Tbs of the oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Roast, tossing once, until the tomatoes begin to burst, 20 to 25 minutes.
3) Toss the pasta with the tomatoes, herbs and the remaining Tbs of oil. Serve with the Parmesan and additional oil, if desired.

Review: Tasty! It's the second time this week that I roasted veggies, but tomatoes roast a lot faster than root vegetables. The tomatoes were actually done before the spaghetti, so they had to hang out for just a little bit. They tasted awesome and the herbs added a nice flavor. I used basil and parsley, but wish I had chives. I think the chives would have been a great final touch. I guess I know what to change next time!

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Autumn Vegetable Roast With Orzo

1 lb potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 lb cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces
8oz celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp herbes de Provence
4 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 12oz bunch kale, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
1 15.5oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 Tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbs aged balsamic vinegar

1) Place 1 oven rack in bottom one-third of oven and 1 rack in center of oven, and preheat oven to 400F. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.
2) Toss potatoes, cauliflower, celery root, garlic and herbes de Provence with 3 Tbs olive oil in bowl. Arrange vegetables on prepared baking sheets. Roast 1 hour, stirring occasionally and reversing positions of baking sheets halfway through.
3) Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain, and stir kale into vegetable mixture (in oven). Roast for 5 minutes more.
4) Cook orzo in pot of boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Add chickpeas, and cook 2 minutes. Drain, and transfer to bowl. Stir in parsley and remaining 1 Tbs oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve orzo with vegetables, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Review: Argh, I am so out of my routine! I didn't read this recipe prior to buying the ingredients. I was dismayed to find it needed to roast for an hour. On the flip side, Mike was happy to have a hot meal when he came home late from work! He doesn't like celery root, so I only served my portions with the celery root.  The recipe had also called for fennel, which we both dislike, and onions (both should be roasted for an hour, if you choose to use them). And, I forgot to buy balsamic vinegar.  So, my review kind of sounds like this was a failure. It wasn't. It was totally yummy, hearty and VERY filling.  It would be even more yummy if I had balsamic vinegar. I can imagine how it would taste and it's delectable.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Escarole With Caramelized Onions & Chickpeas

2 Tbs olive oil
1 large sweet onion (such as Vidalia; about 1 lb), thinly sliced
1 large bunch escarole (about 1 1/2 lbs), washed and torn into pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1 box penne
1 15.5oz can chickpeas, undrained
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1) Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, for 15 to 23 minutes or until golden. Lower heat if onion is browning too quickly.
2) Add escarole to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, for about 6 minutes, until leaves are tender and stem ends are still crunchy. Sprinkle with salt.
3) Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook penne according to package directions, about 11 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water, and return pasta to pot.
4) Stir in chickpeas with their liquid. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until heated through. Serve over pasta, adding reserved pasta water if needed to thin sauce. Sprinkle with grated cheese, if desired.

Review: I have held on to this recipe for a couple of years now.  I never saw escarole in Idaho.  I knew it would be easy to find once I moved back to the East Coast.  Happily, I added this dish to the menu for the week. It didn't disappoint, either! This was the first time I'd ever made escarole and it was surprisingly mild. It has a bit of a bitter taste, which was balanced by the caramelized onions.  Unfortunately, I drained the chickpeas before noticing I needed the juice to make a sauce. Oops! So, this lacked a sauce, but ultimately was fine.  It was tasty!!

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