Monday, December 28, 2009

Potato and leek gratin recipe

Potato and leek gratin, adapted from Williams-Sonoma
I hadn't been sick in almost 2 years, and I like to pretend that it's because I eat ridiculous amounts of fruit and vegetables, rarely eat processed foods, and get a lot of exercise (but it's probably just luck).  Unfortunately my streak ended this weekend.  Getting sick the day after Christmas is a cruel joke because there were tons of leftovers that I wanted to enjoy, yet I had no appetite.  I tried to eat more of this amazing potato and leek gratin yesterday, but I couldn't really enjoy it because the process of swallowing hurt so badly that I couldn't focus on the delicious taste.  On the plus side, there was a turkey carcass hanging out in the refrigerator, so Mom made me turkey soup last night that seems to have miraculously cured all of my problems.

When I woke up for the third time today, I felt amazingly better.  I can only stay awake for about 5 minutes at a time (I actually had to take a short nap in the shower), but I can now swallow without grimacing.  And I still don't have much of an appetite for most things (except for turkey soup... and popcorn, for some weird reason), but I'm hoping that I'll be able to enjoy the last of the leftovers tomorrow.  This potato and leek gratin was, after all, amazing.  Mom found the recipe and wanted me to make it for Christmas day, but I realized that it wouldn't work because it needed a long time in the oven, and wouldn't fit with the turkey.  I couldn't disappoint Mom, though, so I parboiled the potatoes to reduce the cooking time, and it was fabulous.  Even though I enjoyed the simple potato gratin that I made last month, this blew it out of the water.  In fact, Mom suggested that I make another one before I go back home (we'll see if I have enough energy...).  It isn't a light dish, and it won't be something that I make very often, but it's very filling, and even a few bites is very satisfying.

Potato and leek gratin (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
(Printable version)

3 lbs Russet potatoes (about 4 extra large ones)
4 Tbsp butter
4 lbs leeks (about 7 medium ones), sliced thinly and rinsed well
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup cream
7 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
3 Tbsp minced chives

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add potatoes, and cook until they begin to get tender, but aren't falling apart (about 20-30 min, depending on the size).  Then let the potatoes cool slightly and cut into 1/4" slices.  If you skip the boiling step and use raw potatoes, increase the baking time (see below).

While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter over medium heat in a large saute pan.  Add the leeks and salt, stir well, cover, and cook for 20 min, stirring occasionally.  Then add thyme, nutmeg, pepper, and cream, and cook uncovered for 15 min.

Combine the cheeses in a large bowl, and lightly oil a 9x13" baking pan (or one that's slightly smaller).  Layer 1/3 of the potato slices in the bottom of the pan, and then 1/3 of the leek mixture, 1/3 of the cheese mixture, and 1/3 of the chives.  Repeat the layers 2 more times.  Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375 for 25 min, then uncover and bake for another 20 min, or until brown on top (if you didn't boil the potatoes, then bake at 400 for 45 min covered, and 30 min uncovered).  Let sit for 10 min before serving.  Serves 10-12.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sweet potato pie with gluten-free pecan crust recipe

Sweet potato pie with gluten-free pecan crust
There are a million types of pie, but my favorite is a simple sweet potato pie.  I will never understand the pumpkin pie craze around Thanksgiving - to me, sweet potatoes have a much better flavor.  A good sweet potato pie lets the natural sugars shine through, and only uses a bit of spices to enhance the flavor.  I made this pie at Thanksgiving, and Mom requested another for Christmas.  I was happy to oblige.

With tons of fresh Georgia pecans lying around the house, I decided to try out a pecan crust that I noticed over at Kalyn's Kitchen.  It's SO easy, and I think I prefer it to standard pie crust.  At Thanksgiving it came out perfectly, but did get a bit soggy in the middle this time.  It was still delicious, though, and I'm guessing that it's because I used milk instead of half-and-half, and next time I'll go back to the thicker stuff or use a little bit less liquid.  I really like the concept of this crust, and it allowed me to avoid spending lots of money stocking my parents' house with gluten-free flours.  I imagine that it would be great with any nut, but I'll have a hard time straying from pecans.

Sweet potato pie with gluten-free pecan crust (filling adapted from Blue Ridge Baker and crust barely adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen)

1 Tbsp butter
1 cup pecans
2 extra large sweet potatoes (or 3 large ones)
1/4 cup honey
1 cup half-and-half or whole milk (I would reduce to 3/4 cup milk)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten

Rub the butter over the bottom and sides of a 9" pie pan.  Pulse the pecans in a blender a few times until they make a pecan meal consistency (don't overdo it - you don't want to make pecan butter).  Pour the meal into the pie pan and press down on the bottom and sides.

Bake the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet at 400 until very tender (60-80 min, depending on the size).  Let the sweet potatoes cool until you can handle them, and then peel and mash them.  Measure out 2 cups of sweet potato (a little bit more is ok), and combine it with the honey, half-and-half or milk, vanilla, and spices in a large bowl.  Adjust the spices to your taste, and then stir in the eggs.  Pour the filling into the prepared crust and bake at 400 for 35-45 min, until it's set in the middle (jiggle the pan a little bit to check it).  Let cool and serve room temperature, cold, or warm.  Make sure to store leftover pie in the refrigerator.  Serves 8-10. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Homemade presents in jars: soup mix and nuts

Homemade presents in jars: soup mix and nuts
I had grandiose ideas of making all kinds of homemade Christmas gifts for my family and friends, but a lot of last-minute traveling foiled my plans.  Luckily, I had already acquired most of the necessary ingredients for a few of my ideas, and I quickly threw together several batches of two soup mixes and two kinds of nuts in the 11 hours that I was home between one trip and the trek to Florida for the holidays.  I had something more elaborate in mind, but it worked out ok, and will be a more useful present than anything else that I could imagine.  If you're in need of a last-minute Christmas gift, I have just the answer.  And if you only have time to make one thing, I highly recommend the sweet and spicy nuts that I adapted from David Lebovitz.  I ate quite a few as they were cooling, and had to keep them in my trunk for the drive to Florida so that I would resist eating the presents.  The other nuts are very tasty, too, and the soup mixes are always nice to have on hand, so you really can't go wrong with any of these.

Mixed bean soup mix (adapted from Gnowfglins)
(Printable version)

For each jar:
1 pint jar
total of 1 3/4 cups beans and peas of your choice (I used 1/4 cup each of black beans, pinto beans, cranberry beans, kidney beans, great northern beans, green split peas, and brown lentils)
1 small ziploc bag
1 1/2 Tbsp dried, chopped onion
2 tsp cumin
1/2 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano

Layer the beans/peas in the jar.  Place the remaining ingredients in the ziploc bag and place on top of the beans.  Include the following directions:

bean mix
spice mix
1 1/2 quarts water or stock
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans overnight in a large pot.  Drain beans, and add spice mix, water or stock, and tomatoes.  Bring this to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until beans are tender (about an hour and a half).  Season with salt and pepper.

Split pea soup mix (adapted from Nikibone)
(Printable version)

For each jar:
1 pint jar
1/2 cup green split peas
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup brown lentils
1/4 cup red lentils
1 small ziploc bag
3 Tbsp dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp pepper

Layer peas, rice, and lentils into the jar.  Combine remaining ingredients in the ziploc bag and place on top of the lentils.  Include the following directions:

pea and rice mix
spice mix
6 cups water or stock
2 cups chopped chicken or ham (optional)
salt to taste

Place pea mix, spice mix, water or stock, and meat in a large pot, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until peas are tender (45-60 min).  Season with salt.

Sweet and spicy mixed nuts (adapted from David Lebovitz)
(Printable version)

6 cups mixed raw nuts (I used equal parts peanuts, almonds, and pecans)
1 Tbsp butter, melted
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp sea salt

Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and roast at 350 for 10 minutes, stirring once.  Combine the remaining ingredients, pour this mixture over the nuts, and stir well.  Bake for about 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Let cool and place in jars.  Makes enough for 3 pint jars.

Tamari roasted nuts (adapted from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen)
(Printable version)

6 cups mixed raw nuts (I used equal parts peanuts, almonds, and pecans)
2 Tbsp wheat-free tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tsp paprika

Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and roast at 350 for 12 minutes, stirring once.  Pour the tamari and paprika over the nuts, stir well, and continue to bake for 5 more min.  Let cool and place in jars.  Makes enough for 3 pint jars.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chicken, green beans, and potatoes in Oaxacan yellow mole recipe

Chicken, greeen beans, and potatoes in Oaxacan yellow mole, adapted from Mexican Everyday
It turned out to be the perfect time to pick Mexican Everyday for the cookbook of the month.  Most of the recipes come together extremely quickly, and I've only had a few minutes to spare (if that) for the last few weeks.  Life has been crazy, but in an extremely good way (I'll share more when I finally make some decisions in the next month or so).

Moles can be intimidating (and no, I'm not talking about the small, adorable rodents that are probably digging up your yard at this very moment).  Many of the authentic moles require tons of ingredients and an entire day's worth of work.  Eventually I want to try one out, but this is not the right time (nor the right place to find the necessary ingredients).  Luckily, Rick provides a recipe for a simple, everyday mole, and I thought that it was fabulous.  I loved the combination of the chicken and vegetables, and the sauce was fantastic.  It's not very spicy, but has a great flavor that seeps into the chicken and potatoes.

Chicken, green beans, and potatoes in Oaxacan yellow mole (adapted from Mexican Everyday)
(Printable version)

4 dried guajillo or New Mexico chiles, torn into small pieces
1 cup fire-roasted, diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried oregano
4 cups chicken broth, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp masa harina
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 4 thighs), cut into bite-sized cubes
8 oz green beans, cut into 2" pieces
4 medium Yukon Gold or red potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Combine the chiles, tomatoes, onion, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and 1 cup broth in a blender, and process until smooth.  In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat, and strain the blended mixture into the pot (pressing down to get as much through the strainer as possible).  Cook this mixture, stirring frequently, until it resembles tomato paste (about 7 min).  While this is cooking, add the masa harina to the remaining broth, and stir well.  Add this to the chile mixture in the pot, bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 min or until it thickens, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the chopped chicken, green beans, potato cubes, and salt.  Simmer for about 25 min, or until the potatoes and green beans are tender, stirring frequently.  Add the cilantro and season with additional salt, if desired, just before serving.  Serves 4.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Butternut squash casserole recipe

Butternut squash casserole
I was going to wait until I made this again and took a better picture (it seems to disappear before I can take the time for a good photo shoot), but I can't wait any longer to share this amazing recipe.  I first made this for my pre-Thanksgiving bash, and people literally scraped the dish clean.  I knew that I had to make this dish for real Thanksgiving, but it's great for non-holiday meals too.  This lends itself perfectly for advanced preparation, and all you have to do is pop it in the oven for an hour.

Weekend Herb Blogging I'm a big fan of butternut squash by itself, but this takes it to a whole new level. (On an unrelated note, I just had a concoction of butternut squash, black-eyed peas, and swiss chard that was amazing. I don't know if it compares to this casserole, though.)  If you want to convert winter squash-haters, this is your dish.  I've already had more requests for this recipe than I've had for any other dish.  Seriously. Make it now.  Rebecca over at Ezra Pound Cake also suggests adding sausage or spinach, and I'm going to try one (or both!) next time.  Despite the bad picture, I'm submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging to share my new favorite way to use winter squash.  Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once organizes this event, and is hosting this week.

Butternut squash casserole (adapted from Ezra Pound Cake, and originally from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook)
(Printable version)

2 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4" slices
4 Tbsp butter
2 onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 cup buttermilk (I use 1 Tbsp vinegar and enough milk to make 1 cup)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (or crumbled crackers or pretzels if you don't have bread around)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted and chopped pecans, divided
1 1/2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add squash slices, and cook until squash is tender (about 8 min).  Drain squash and set it aside.  Add the butter to the pot, wait for it to melt, and then saute onions until tender.  Add squash back to the pot, mash it with the onions with a potato masher, and then add the buttermilk, eggs, thyme, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, 1/4 cup pecans, and 1 cup cheese.  Blend well, and pour into a lightly oiled 9 x 13" baking pan (you can refrigerate or freeze it at this point).  Bake at 375 for 45 min, and then top with the remaining pecans and cheese and continue to bake for 15 min.  Serves 12.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gluten-free pecan and almond cake recipe

Gluten-free pecan and almond cake, adapted from Eating Well
If you're looking for a delicious gluten-free cake that is so amazing that you'll want to eat the entire thing, I have your answer.  My friend Laurel directed me to this recipe, and I'm so glad that she did. The combination of the nuts and honey is unbeatable, but it's not very sweet (which is exactly how I prefer my cake).  I was very impressed that the cake stayed very moist for several days, until we finally polished off every last morsel.

Almond and pecan cake (adapted from Eating Well)
(Printable version)

1 cup whole pecans, toasted*
1 cup whole almonds, toasted*
4 eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Process pecans and almonds in a blender or food processor until they are in a fine meal (don't overdo it here - you're not trying to make almond/pecan butter).  You want about 2 cups of meal, so add more nuts if necessary.  Separate the eggs, and beat the yolks with honey, vanilla, baking soda, and salt with an electric mixer until combined.  Add the pecan and almond meal, and continue to beat until well mixed.  Rinse and dry your beaters, and beat egg whites in a separate bowl for about a minute, until they're foamy and double in volume (but not to the point that they hold peaks).  Fold the egg whites into the nut meal mix, and pour this into a springform pan that has been lined with parchment paper on the bottom and lightly oiled.  Bake at 350 for about 30 min, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool for 10 minutes, and then remove the sides of the pan.  Before serving, drizzle with a little bit of extra honey, if desired.  Serves 10.

* To toast nuts, heat them over medium heat in a large, dry skillet.  Stir frequently, until they begin to brown and are very fragrant (usually about 7-8 min).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Spinach and mushroom enchiladas with tomatillo sauce recipe

Spinach and mushroom enchiladas with tomatillo sauce, adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday
It's about time that I introduce you to December's cookbook of the month, Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday.  It wasn't a hard decision this month, and I instantly knew that this book would quickly be making its appearance when I unwrapped it on my birthday.  As I've said before, I love Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill (and can't wait to try Topolobampo and Xoco), and this book will hopefully satisfy me between trips to Chicago.  When I was first flipping through the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the numerous variations on each recipe.  At a busy time of the year (when I may not want to deal with snow to get to the store), it's nice to have some ideas for ways to use what I have on hand.

I started with this spinach and mushroom enchilada recipe, and I wasn't disappointed.  This isn't your typical Tex-mex enchilada that's been slathered in cheese and baked to death (it is supposed to have cheese crumbled on top, but in the chaos of life, I totally forgot).  It has excellent flavor, particularly the sauce, and isn't heavy at all.  The sauce was so good that I found myself eating spoonfuls of it.  Next time I'll add cooked, shredded chicken to the spinach and mushroom filling (per Rick's suggestion) for a more filling meal, but I enjoyed it as is.  They're no substitute for Frontera, but they're better than any other Mexican food that I've had in a long time.

Spinach and mushroom enchiladas with tomatillo sauce (adapted from Mexican Everyday)
(Printable version)

2 garlic cloves
1/2 jalapeno (remove seeds if you don't like spicy food)
5 medium tomatillos
1/2 cup cilantro
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 cup veggie broth
1 1/2 Tbsp plain yogurt
salt to taste
6 oz button mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
6 oz fresh spinach
6 corn tortillas
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco (optional)

Combine garlic, jalapeno, tomatillos, and cilantro in a blender, and blend until smooth.  Heat half of the oil over medium-high in a small saucepan.  Add tomatillo sauce, and cook about 10 min, stirring frequently.  Add the broth, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook another 10 min (this is a good time to prepare the filling and tortillas).  Add a spoonful of the sauce to the yogurt, and then stir this mixture back into the sauce.  Season with salt.

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium high.  Add the mushrooms, and cook until they start to turn brown (a few minutes), stirring frequently.  Add the onion (reserving a few slices for garnish, if you want), and continue to cook for another few minutes.  Stir in spinach, and cook until the spinach wilts.

While everything else is cooking, lightly oil the tortillas, lay them out on a baking sheet (it's ok to double them up), and bake at 350 for about 3 min.  Dip each tortilla into sauce, and add about 1/4 cup spinach and mushroom mixture in the middle.  Roll them up and top with sauce.  Sprinkle with cheese, if you remember, and garnish with onion slices.  Serves 2-3.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wild rice, pecan, and cranberry salad recipe

Wild rice, pecan, and cranberry salad, adapted from Simply Recipes
I now present my favorite dish that I made for Thanksgiving #1.  The best part of this salad is that it's good warm, room temp, or cold, so you can make it whenever you feel like it.  I started cooking my rice about the time the turkey went in the oven, then prepared the rest whenever I had a few minutes to spare.  I loved the combination of rices, pecans, and cranberries, and the dressing was subtle enough to let the other flavors shine through.  Quality nuts do make a big difference - I used ones from the new crop of south Georgia pecans that my mom picked up a few weeks ago.  I love them so much that I put pecans in just about everything I made for both Thanksgivings (and quite a few sneaked into my mouth during preparation).

Wild rice, pecan, and cranberry salad (adapted from Simply Recipes)
(Printable version)

2 cups brown and wild rice mix (I used Lundberg Wild Blend)
4 cups water (or more, depending on rice directions or if you're using a lot of wild rice)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp butter or oil
1 cup dried cranberries (I prefer the ones sweetened only with fruit juice)
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
zest of 1 orange
salt and pepper to taste

Combine rice, water, salt, and butter in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 50 min.  Remove pan from heat and let sit an additional 10 min (or more, if you're not ready to assemble the salad).  Stir rice, cranberries, pecans, and green onions together.  In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, oil, honey, and orange zest, and season with salt and pepper.  Toss this dressing with the rice mixture.  Serves 8.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Millet and sweet potato burgers recipe

Millet and sweet potato burgers, adapted from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook
Well, it's about time to wrap up November's cookbook of the month, The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.  The book has an entire section dedicated to burgers, patties, and griddlecakes, and I wanted to try at least one.  I ended up picking these because millet and sweet potatoes are two of my favorite foods, and I almost always have them around. 

They were good, and despite all of the ingredients, I appreciate that you could taste the millet and sweet potato.  They have a lot of different textures, with the sunflower seeds providing a particularly distinctive crunch.  They definitely do not resemble hamburgers (or those veggie burgers that try to imitate meat), but it's great for an alternative burger.  This recipe was supposed to only make 3 burgers, and I would hate to see the mouth of the person who could fit one of those in.  Overall, this book is pretty good.  I LOVED the King Ranch casserole (though I made a few big changes), and I really enjoyed the lentil and sausage soup, parsnip mashed potatoes, and these burgers.  I also made a red beans and rice dish that was only so-so.  I'm sure I'll open this book from time to time, but it's hard to compare it to the previous cookbook of the month, Vegetarian Planet.

Millet and sweet potato burgers (adapted from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook)
(Printable version)

1/2 cup millet
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed into 1/2" cubes
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1 Tbsp soy sauce (use wheat-free tamari for gluten-free)
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 Tbsp potato starch
2 Tbsp parsley, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Combine millet, sweet potatoes, and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring the water to a boil, and then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 min, or until the water is completely absorbed.  Add the chickpeas and mash with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.  Divide into 6 equal patties and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Spray patties with olive oil and bake at 400 for 20-30 min, until patties are golden brown and firm.  Serves 6.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Crunchy broccoli and apple salad recipe

Crunchy broccoli and apple salad, adapted from 101 Cookbooks
It's been a while since I posted anything, and it feels as if I've neglected my child (please don't tell on me).  I've had a lot to share from the cookbook of the month and my two Thanksgivings, but between hours of cooking, sporadic internet at my parents' house, and having to say goodbye to my dog and best friend, it just never happened.  Hopefully I can catch up over the next few weeks before I return to the land of no internet.  It seems appropriate to dedicate this post to Rascal.  One of her more unique traits was her undying love for vegetables and fruit.  If she heard the rustling of a bag of spinach, she came running no matter where she was in the house.  A few of her other favorites were carrots and broccoli, and her Christmas and birthday presents were usually some combination of these vegetables (she was never that into toys, and couldn't have most dog treats).  In more recent years, she would anxiously watch while you ate an apple, knowing that she would get to enjoy the core.

While I was chopping the broccoli and apples for this salad, all I could think about was Rascal.  I wanted to "accidentally" drop a few pieces, but she wasn't there to eat them.  Hopefully she's now enjoying all of the fruit and vegetables that she can imagine.  Even though my opinion might be biased because of my associations, this salad was good, and probably would have been even better if I had used almond butter.  I liked the crunch from the broccoli, apples, and pecans, but it wasn't nearly as good the next day after the dressing had soaked into everything.  I still enjoyed it because it reminded me of her.

Crunchy broccoli and apple salad (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
(Printable version)

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 shallots, sliced thinly
2 large heads of broccoli, cut into small florets
1/3 cup almond or other nut butter (I used peanut)
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp honey or agave nectar
3 Tbsp hot water
salt and pepper to taste
2 large apples (I used one granny smith and one pink lady), diced
1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans

Heat oil over medium-low heat in a medium skillet.  Add shallots and saute until very tender and brown (about 15 min).  Then set them aside and let cool.  While shallots are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add broccoli florets, let the water return to a boil, and drain broccoli after about 15 seconds.  In a small bowl, whisk together the almond butter, garlic, lemon juice, honey, and water, and season with salt and pepper.  Toss this dressing with the broccoli, shallots, apples, and pecans.  Serves 8.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cranberry chutney recipe

Cranberry chutney, adapted from The Neelys
I've never been a big fan of cranberry sauce, especially if it still has indentations from rings in the side of the aluminum can.  No thank you.  But, I found myself with 2/3 of a bag of fresh cranberries, so I thought about doing something with them for the Pre-giving feast.  (Don't ask what happened to the other third of the bag.  It was a catastrophe.)  As luck would have it, I turned on the Food Network while I was working out on Saturday morning, and the Neelys were making this fabulous looking chutney that didn't involve 4 cups of sugar. 

Despite my trepidation for all things cranberry-based (especially considering the recent failure), I really liked this.  It retained much of the tartness from the cranberries, but had just enough balance from the other fruit and honey to prevent my face from puckering up.  To celebrate my first successful dish using fresh cranberries, I'm submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging.  Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once organizes this event, and Winnie from Healthy Green Kitchen is hosting this week.

I heard many good comments from my taste-testers, and we tried to figure out what you're really supposed to do with chutney.  We mostly ate it by itself, but also decided that it would be good on yogurt.  What's your favorite way to eat chutney?

Cranberry chutney (adapted from The Neelys)
(Printable version)

1 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup diced onion
2 granny smith apples, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 cups cranberries
juice of 2 limes
juice of 4 small oranges (about 1/3 cup)
3 Tbsp honey

Melt the butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Then saute onion, apples, and thyme until tender.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 20 min.  Serve hot or let cool.  Makes about 4 cups.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Red cabbage and apple salad recipe

Red cabbage and apple salad, adapted from Dani Spies
When I was planning my pre-Thanksgiving feast, I decided to include a salad so that I could prepare it in advance and save oven space for other dishes.  The last red cabbage salad that I made turned out fabulously, so I decided to give this one a shot.  This brings up an interesting question: last time I made it, I called it purple cabbage... what's your preference - red or purple?

No matter what you call it, the salad was good.  It had a nice crunch, and a great mix of flavors.  Next time I'll use a little bit less onion, but I've been finding raw onion very strong lately (my eyes watered for several hours after cutting Vidalia onions the other day... what's wrong with me?).  I doubled the recipe, and realized that I would have two identical bowls of salad.  I was already trying out tons of recipes, so I thought I might as well try a different dressing on each bowl.  Because I can no longer eat my favorite wheat berry salad, I decided to use a similar version of its dressing.  I preferred this sweet one (#2), but others liked the dilly one better, so I guess you can't go wrong.  I've provided the smaller version of the recipe, so pick a dressing, or put it into smaller bowls and try both.

Red cabbage and apple salad (adapted from Dani Spies, and 2nd dressing inspired by Eating Well)
(Printable version)

1/2 head red (purple?) cabbage, shredded finely
1 red apple (I recommend gala, fuji, or pink lady), diced
1 granny smith apple, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly (next time I'll use about half of this, or maybe none at all)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup toasted pecans

Dressing #1
1 Tbsp dried dill
juice of 2 lemons
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Dressing #2
juice of 4 small oranges (about 1/3 cup)
3 Tbsp strawberry balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp walnut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl (if making well in advance, it's best to add the pecans until serving).  Choose a dressing and mix those ingredients together in a small bowl.  Toss with salad, and ideally refrigerate overnight.  Serves 6-8.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Potato gratin recipe

Potato gratin adapted from The Art of Simple Food and Smitten Kitchen
Last year I was in charge of the majority of Thanksgiving dinner, and I learned an important lesson: holidays are not the time to learn how to cook a turkey.  I was worried about how I would cook it for several weeks, finally decided on Alton Brown's brining and cooking method, and then spent the entire day freaking out about it being done but not dry.  It turned out fine and, as far as I know, nobody contracted any serious diseases. (I was shown up a few weeks later by my vegetarian friend who, on her first try, cooked the best turkey I've ever eaten.)

To my great relief, I'm only responsible for the sides this year.  I realized that I had way too many recipes that I wanted to make for the big day (my short list was somewhere around 20), and after making way too much food last year and in an effort to preserve my sanity, I knew that I had to narrow this down.  So, I invited some friends over on Sunday to be official taste-testers, and I got to work making 9 side dishes and 2 pies.  I planned enough in advance that I had plenty of time, and had a relaxing weekend in the kitchen.  I was having a fabulous time cooking and dancing around the kitchen until about an hour before my friends arrived.  In my attempt to remove this gratin from the oven to press the top down, I lost my grip on the dish and about a quarter of it ended up on the bottom of the oven.  Whoops!  I was a bit flustered, but couldn't really do anything about it at that point, because the other things that were in the oven had about an hour left to cook.  Slowly my apartment filled with smoke (luckily I disconnected the nearest smoke detector years ago, and shut my bedroom door in time to prevent that one from going off).  When my friends started showing up, I was sweating, my eyes burned, and we had to open both of my doors to be able to breathe.  The smoke finally cleared, and after cleaning my oven 3 times, it looks much better and only emits a small amount of smoke.

Despite all of the chaos, I enjoyed the gratin.  It wasn't the winner of the contenders, as the unanimous favorite was the butternut squash casserole (unfortunately people demolished that before I got a picture, but I'll be sure to post about it after I make it again for Thanksgiving).  The gratin had great flavor, but was very simple.  The milk was still somewhat liquidy when I first served it, but thickened up to a perfect consistency when I reheated it.  If you want a heavier version, go with half-and-half or cream, but I like to keep things a little bit lighter when I have two tables full of food to eat.

Potato gratin (adapted from Smitten Kitchen and The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters)
(Printable version)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (don't use Russets or other very starchy potatoes)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
3 cups milk (more or less)
2 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and saute onion until soft.  Put this mixture aside.  Slice the potatoes very thinly (I used a mandolin) and place a thin layer into a lightly oiled 9 x 13" baking dish, overlapping them quite a bit.  Sprinkle the potatoes liberally with salt and pepper, add onions, and top with a third of the cheese.  Add another layer of potatoes, salt and pepper, and cheese, and finish with the remainder of the potatoes (unless you have a lot left, and then you can do another layer).  Pour milk over the potatoes until it reaches the bottom of the top layer of potatoes, and dot the top with the pieces of butter.  Then bake at 350 for 30 min.  Remove from the oven (being careful not to spill half of it in the bottom), and press down the potatoes with a spatula.  Continue to cook for 15 more min, and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cook for a final 15 min (or until the potatoes are tender).  Serves 12.

Monday, November 16, 2009

King Ranch casserole recipe

King Ranch casserole
I doubt that I've ever had a King Ranch casserole that didn't involve canned soup... until now!  This is one of those comforting dishes that reminds me of my childhood, and I really liked this lighter version.  It's still cheesy and delicious, but not greasy or heavy.  Best of all, if you have some cooked chicken or turkey lying around, it's insanely fast to throw together.

King Ranch casserole (adapted from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook)
(Printable version)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded, cooked chicken or turkey
4 oz green chiles, diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup tomatillo salsa
4 corn tortillas, halved
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium skillet.  Add onion and cook until it's tender.  Then stir in garlic, paprika, cumin, and salt and pepper, and add chicken or turkey and green chiles.  Stir this together well, and toss with cilantro.  Cover the bottom of a small baking dish with 1/3 cup salsa and then add 2 of the tortillas (4 halves), overlapping them as necessary.  Top with 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/3 cup salsa, half of the chicken or turkey mixture, and 1/3 cup cheese.  Repeat the layers: tortillas, yogurt, salsa, chicken mixture, and cheese.  Top with the remaining cheese and bake at 350 for about 20 min, or until it's bubbly.  Serves 4.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Brazilian shrimp soup recipe

Brazilian shrimp soup
Michigan weather has been unseasonably warm lately, but I've still been in the mood for soup.  I had shrimp in my freezer from the local shrimp farm and this soup caught my eye.  It's more of a summery soup, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it.  Next time I'll add more shrimp, but otherwise it was perfect.

Brazilian shrimp soup (adapted from Annie's Eats, and originally from Food & Wine)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
4 cups water
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup light coconut milk
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until the veggies are tender.  Then stir in the pepper flakes, tomatoes, water, and rice.  Bring this to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 10 min.  Pour in the coconut milk and add the shrimp.  Let it cook for a few minutes, until shrimp turn pink.  Then stir in the lime juice and cilantro, and season with salt and pepper.  Serves 6.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gluten-free blueberry pancakes recipe

Gluten-free blueberry pancakes
Apparently pancakes have become an official birthday food.  After going four years without making pancakes (as far as I can remember), I whipped up some teff pancakes for Dad's birthday in August.  They were amazing.  Even my parents, who aren't normally pancake lovers, raved over them.  So when I wanted to make myself breakfast for my birthday yesterday, pancakes popped back into my head.  It was tempting to make the teff ones again, but I also wanted to try something new.

I decided to try a recipe with yogurt, and was very happy with the way that they turned out.  These were lighter than the teff version and more similar to "classic pancakes."  I don't know that they were better, though (please don't make me choose!).  I'm not sure why I don't make pancakes more often because they really don't take any time at all.  Anybody have a birthday coming up that I need to celebrate?

Gluten-free blueberry pancakes (adapted from Kath Eats Real Food)
(Printable version)

1 egg, beaten
1 cup yogurt
1/3 cup milk
1/2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup gluten-free baking mix
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Combine egg, yogurt, milk, honey, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine baking mix, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.  Heat a small amount of butter or oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add 1/4 cup batter to the pan for each pancake (I fit 3 into the skillet at a time).  Spread the batter out with the back of a spoon if necessary, and sprinkle with blueberries.  Cook each pancake until lots of bubbles start rising to the top, and then flip it over and cook until it's nicely browned on the bottom.  Continue with remaining batter.  Makes 9 medium pancakes (serves 3).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lentil, sausage, and spinach soup recipe

Lentil, sausage, and spinach soup
I'm engaged. (Calm down, Mom.  Put down the phone.) You see, for the past few months I've been joking that I'm dating my dissertation.  It's scary how far I can take this analogy, but I'll stick to the essentials.  We had our honeymoon phase for the first couple of years, and then we sank into a love/hate relationship for the past few (let's just say that hate predominated... but I knew that I was in it for the long haul).  I cried, I laughed (the voles can be extremely adorable when they're not trying to bite you), and we got into a few screaming matches.  And today, it finally proposed (I finished collecting my data)!  I know that there's a lot of work ahead in preparation for the big day but, barring extremely weird circumstances, it'll happen.  I will get those three precious letters tacked onto the end of my name.  Life is good.

You might be wondering what this has to do with soup.  You see, when I get really close to finishing a project, I neglect all desires of food or water because I'm so motivated to get the work done.  But not today.  I was excited to pry myself away from the microscope and have leftovers of this soup because I loved it so much.  I love lentil soups and stews in general, but I think that this is the best one that I've ever made.  It's simple, but it works brilliantly.  If you're looking for a filling and comforting way to warm up this winter, I have your answer.

Lentil, sausage, and spinach soup (adapted from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook)
(Printable version)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, sliced thinly
4 oz. spicy bulk sausage (or links with casing removed)
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup brown lentils
1/4 cup brown rice
5 oz fresh or frozen spinach

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add onion, garlic, and carrot and saute until the veggies are tender (about 5 min).  Stir in the sausage, break it up into small pieces, and let it brown for about 5 min.  Then add the bay leaf and the stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium.  Stir in the lentils and brown rice and continue to simmer for about 50 min, or until the rice and lentils are tender.  Stir in frozen spinach after about 35 min of simmering time, or fresh spinach after 45 min.  Serves 4.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Quinoa, pineapple, edamame, and cashew stir fry recipe

Quinoa, pineapple, edamame, and cashew stir fry, adapted from The Reluctant Vegetarian
After my adventures in applesauce making, my freezer filled up quickly.  In an attempt to prevent being attacked by falling freezer bags and containers every time I open the freezer door, I started clearing a few things out.  I had apparently forgotten about a bag of edamame that was hanging out in the back.  I love the stuff, but I never think to cook with it.  After a quick search through recipes that I bookmarked a while back, I came across a recipe at The Reluctant Vegetarian for a quinoa and pineapple stir fry with edamame.  It sounded amazing, so I went for it.

I enjoyed this after I made it, but LOVED it the next day.  It was good cold or hot.  I loved the mixture of different textures, and it wasn't overly fruity (I sometimes have an issue mixing fruit with savory dishes).  Two peppers made it fairly hot, but it was a great way to clean out my sinuses.  I recommend using only one (or use milder peppers) if you're not a fan of spice.

Quinoa, pineapple, edamame, and cashew stir fry (adapted from The Reluctant Vegetarian and originally adapted from Veganomicon)
(Printable version)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 tsp soy sauce (wheat-free tamari for a gluten-free version)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 small red peppers (I rehydrated two dried Asian peppers - not sure what kind), sliced thinly
1/2" piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup cooked edamame (I cooked and then shelled about 2/3 of a 1 lb. package)
1/2 cup fresh basil, minced
2 Tbsp fresh mint, minced
2 cups chopped pineapple
2 Tbsp soy sauce (or wheat-free tamari)
1/4 cup veggie stock
1 Tbsp sherry
lime wedges (optional)

Combine the quinoa, water, pineapple juice, and 1/2 tsp soy sauce in a medium saucepan.  Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed (about 15 min).  Then fluff the quinoa with a fork and let cool.  If there's time, let it refrigerate for a while before you continue.

Make sure that everything is chopped and ready to go before you continue.  First, toast the cashews in a large dry saute pan over medium heat, shaking frequently, until they're light brown and fragrant (about 5 min).  Then set them aside and add oil to the pan (keeping it over medium heat).  Add the garlic and green onions, and cook for a minute until they're fragrant.  Then stir in peppers and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the bell pepper and edamame and continue to cook until the pepper is tender, about 4 min.  Then add the basil and mint, stir for a minute, and toss in the pineapple and quinoa.  In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, stock, and sherry, and then stir this into the pan.  Let everything continue to cook for 10-15 more min, stirring occasionally.  Garnish with lime wedges.  Serves 4-5

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Corn: the inescapable grain(?)

It's been a long time since I last added another entry to the Whole Grains 101 series, but I'm ready to get back to it with a controversial grain.  There's a ton of debate about the classification of fresh corn.  Is it a vegetable, grain, or "vegetable grain"?  Well, it depends on who you ask but, in the end, does it really matter?  I think we can all agree that when corn is dried, it's a grain.  There's a ton of information on corn (people have written books on the subject), but I'll try to highlight the most relevant info to cooking.  Let me know if you think I've left out important information.

What is corn?
Corn is the most prevalent crop in the U.S., but most of it isn't eaten as "corn".  Because of the enormous subsidies given to corn farmers, it's become a popular animal feed, and is used to make all kinds of sweeteners, additives, and preservatives.  Don't get me started.  Anyway, there are several varieties of corn, including sweet corn, field corn, flour corn, and popcorn, and each has it's own advantages and disadvantages.

There are a ton of commonly-used forms of corn.  Besides fresh corn, it is also eaten whole as popcorn or hominy.  Hominy is corn soaked in lye solution (which makes the niacin available to the body), and then eaten fresh or dried.  Dried corn and hominy can both be coarsely ground into grits, or futher ground into cornmeal (sometimes called polenta), corn flour, or masa harina (from hominy).  Be careful, because often grits and cornmeal in supermarkets are not whole grain - look at the labels carefully.

What does corn taste like and how is it used?
I can't begin to describe the taste of corn without using the word 'corn,' so I will assume that everyone is familiar with its flavor.  It's used in just about every way you can imagine - see the recipes below to get an idea of its versatility.

Where do you buy and store corn?
You can buy corn (fresh or frozen) at any supermarket.  Fresh corn is best when it's in season in your area.  You can buy frozen corn or blanch ears and freeze your own (either on or off the cob).  Popcorn is also available in any store, but I prefer to buy mine locally.  Whole grain cornmeal and grits can be a bit tougher to find, but often they're available locally, too.  If not, they can be found at natural foods stores, and can also be ordered from Bob's Red Mill (they even have certified gluten-free versions) or Anson Mills.  Canned hominy readily available, but the dried version can sometimes also be found at supermarkets, but is also carried by Mexican grocery stores and online.

Fresh corn should be refrigerated until used (within a few days), and ideally in the husk.  Whole grain cornmeal and grits should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, as the oils in the germ will cause them to go rancid quickly.  Popcorn and dried hominy can be stored at room temperature. 

How do you cook corn?
The cool thing about corn is that it's easy to find a local source when it's in season.  Here are basic instructions on cooking several types of corn:

To cook fresh corn on the cob, you can drop husked ears into boiling water for about 3 min, roast ears (still in the husk) in a 350 degree oven for 30 min, grill them (in or out of the husk) until tender, or steam in the microwave (in the husk) for 2 min per ear.  Corn can also be cut off of the cob and sauteed.

To cook dried hominy, first soak it overnight in water.  Then drain and rinse hominy and place it in a crock pot with excess water.  Cook on low for about 10 hours, until hominy is tender.  If you don't have a crock pot, then simmer it in excess water in a covered pot until tender (1 to 3 hours).  Once hominy is cooked, it can be refrigerated for about a week, or frozen in freezer bags for a few months.

To make grits (using stone-ground, whole grain grits), bring 4 1/2 cups of salted water to a boil in a saucepan and then add 1 cup grits.  Simmer, covered, until the grits are tender (50-60 min).  To reheat grits, add a little bit of water or milk, stir well, and microwave or heat on the stove.

There is a lot of debate on how to make polenta.  The only way that I've done it is to stir 1 cup of cornmeal into 3 cups boiling water (or stock), whisking continuously until it pulls away from the sides of the pot (about 20 min, but it will depend on the grind of the cornmeal).  You can also bake it, and some swear that you don't have to stir it the entire time (but why not get a workout while you're cooking?).

My favorite way to make popcorn (thanks to my mom) is to put a handful (or more) of popcorn kernels into a brown paper lunch bag, fold the top of the bag over several times, and microwave on the popcorn setting.  I either eat it plain, or spray it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt or a spice blend.

My recipes with corn
Whole corn
Crock pot squash enchilada casserole
Chicken and corn maque choux
Sweet potato, black bean, and corn hash
Spaghetti squash with black beans, corn, and kale
Corn, black beans, and tomato stuffed pattypan squash
Butter bean and black-eyed pea succotash
Stuffed eggplant with Sante Fe rice and beans
Colorful black bean salad
Quinoa and black bean chili
Amaranth, quinoa, and corn chowder
Corn souffle (not gluten free)
Jalapeno cornbread mini muffins(not gluten free)
Masa cakes with salsa verde
Corn and venison casserole

Crock pot chicken and hominy stew
Hominy with shredded chicken and peppers

Cornmeal/grits/masa harina
Summer squash and jalapeno spoonbread
Jalapeno cornbread mini muffins (not gluten free)
Masa cakes with salsa verde
Corn and venison casserole
Crock pot mixed grain porridge
Baked green tomatoes
Tilapia with cornmeal chipotle crust
Eggs diablo on polenta
Spinach and mushroom quesadillas
King Ranch chicken casserole

Other great recipes with corn
Whole corn
Creamed Corn from Simply Recipes
Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash from 101 Cookbooks
Corn and Black Bean Quinoa Salad from Closet Cooking
White-Cheddar Corn Chowder from Culinary in the Desert Country
Coconut, Corn, and Black Bean Soup from Vegan Yum-Yum
Roasted Corn Chowder with Chicken, Lime, and Cilantro from Karina's Kitchen
Mexican Corn on the Cob from Homesick Texan
Grits with Corn and Onion Greens from Simply Recipes

Perfect Popcorn from Simply Recipes
Spicy Popcorn from Taste Buddies
Chile Lime Tequila Popcorn from 101 Cookbooks

Southern Hominy with Squash and Mushrooms from Vintage Victuals
Cheddar Baked Hominy from Ginger Lemon Girl
Zucchini Mushroom Hominy Tacos from A Veggie Venture
Posole from The Perfect Pantry

Cornmeal/grits/masa harina
Herbed Polenta with Spinach, Cannellini Beans, and Caramelized Tomatoes from The Chubby Vegetarian
Breakfast Polenta from 101 Cookbooks
Shrimp and Grits with Bacon from Serious Eats
Grits with Corn and Onion Greens from Simply Recipes
Cheese-Grits Chiles Rellenos from Ezra Pound Cake
Sweet Cinnamon Grits from Recipe Girl
Cornmeal Pancakes from Gluten Free Mommy
Corn Tortillas from Simply Recipes

**I learned a lot about storing and cooking corn products from Lorna Sass's "Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way."**

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Parsnip mashed potatoes recipe

parsnip mashed potatoes
I was first introduced to the idea of making mixed-root vegetable mashes by my dad.  While I was visiting my parents several years ago, he made a version of the Swedish dish rotmos that combined rutabagas, turnips, and potatoes.  Earlier this week, I had a flashback to rotmos when I was trying to figure out what to do with parsnips, and decided to try a combo of mashed potatoes and parsnips.  As luck would have it, I was flipping through cookbooks and found a recipe for this exact thing in The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.  I knew that this was a sign that this book should be November's cookbook of the month (sorry I never got around to picking one for October!).

Weekend Herb BloggingI adapted the recipe some because of what I had on hand (the original recipe called for three times more potatoes than parsnips), but it was still wonderful.  It had the great flavor of potatoes, with a slight sweetness from the parsnips.  I did learn one important lesson: boiling parsnips creates a nauseating aroma, but they taste good in the end.  I promise it'll be worth it... just stay out of the kitchen while they're cooking.  Normally I roast parsnips, but this was a nice alternative for a change of pace.  I'm submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is celebrating its 4th anniversary this week!!  I'm very glad that Kalyn accidentally started this event, and I'm also grateful that Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once does such a great job organizing it.  Check out the rules and send Haalo your entries (she's even giving away a copy of The Spice and Herb Bible this week!).

Parsnip mashed potatoes (adapted from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook)
(Printable version)

1 pound parsnips
1 pound russet potatoes
2 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk, warmed

Peel the parsnips and chop them into small pieces, removing the tough inner core (I usually chop them lengthwise into quarters, remove the core, and then cut the quarters crosswise into smaller pieces).  Chop the potatoes into pieces about the same size as the parsnips (peel them if you want, but I prefer to leave it on).  Place the potatoes and parsnips in a large pot, cover them with water, and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to medium and let them continue to boil, uncovered, until everything is very tender (about 20 min).  Then drain the water off and mash the veggies with a potato masher.  Add the butter, season with salt and pepper, and add milk until it reaches your desired consistency.  Serves 5.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hot spinach dip recipe

Hot spinach dip
This weekend I was able to relax for the first time in months.  I honestly didn't know how to react at first, but then I ventured into the kitchen.  I decided that I needed to make a ton of food for the Halloween party that I was planning to attend, not thinking that everybody else had that same thought (we ended up with a TON of food).  I'm a veggie fanatic, so I decided to bring veggies and dip.  Want to try a fun (but scary) experiment?  Try searching for a spinach dip that doesn't involve onion soup mix.  Luckily Food Blog Search came to my rescue.

This dip is amazing.  It was best hot, and I "tested" it many times before I left for the party.  It was still great even after it had cooled down, and I continued to eat quite a bit throughout the night.  Apparently others agreed, because I heard several people talking about it, and a lot of it was gone.  It's creamy and cheesy, but not at all greasy, which is my main problem with most cheesy dips.  The next time I need a dip, I know where to turn.

Hot spinach dip (adapted from White on Rice Couple)
(Printable version)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
salt and pepper to taste
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt

Heat oil over medium heat in a medium skillet, and then add onion and garlic and saute until tender.  Stir in water chestnuts and spinach, season with salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes.  Add the cream cheese, parmesan, milk, and yogurt to the skillet and stir until cheese melts.  Then reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 min.  Makes about 6 cups.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Weekend Herb Blogging #207 Recap

Weekend Herb Blogging
I'm excited to host Weekend Herb Blogging again this week because it's one of my favorite blogging events and I love seeing the diversity of submissions each week.  This event was started by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen, and is now organized by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once.  Here are the submissions that I received:

Graziana from Erbe in Cucina made New Potatoes with Sage, a beautiful way to highlight homegrown potatoes:
New Potatoes with Sage from Erbe in Cucina

Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska submitted her Chickpea Stew with Mint and Feta, which sounds like a delicious combination of herbs and spices:
 Chickpea Stew with Mint and Feta from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska

Cinzia from Cindystar submitted a Basil Elixir, providing a really interesting and unique way to use the last of the season's basil:
 Basil Elixir from Cindystar

Winnie from Healthy Green Kitchen contributed a recipe for Ricotta Pumpkin Ice Cream, a great alternative to the usual baked goods with pumpkin:
 Ricotta Pumpkin Ice Cream from Healthy Green Kitchen

Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen caught my attention with her Roasted Winter Squash and Sausage with Herbs, which features an heirloom variety of squash:
 Roasted Winter Squash and Sausage with Herbs from Kalyn's Kitchen

Anna from Morsels & Musings contributed Salpicón de Camarónes (Veracruz-Style Prawn Cocktail) as a great way to use avocados:
 Salpicón de Camarónes (Veracruz-Style Prawn Cocktail) from Morsels & Musings

Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once gives us instructions for making homemade Pickled Beetroot, which would make me give pickled beets another try:
 Pickled Beetroot from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once

Mangocheeks from Allotment 2 Kitchen contributes a recipe for Rainbow Chard Tart, a beautiful way to use chard stems:
 Rainbow Chard Tart from Allotment 2 Kitchen

 Quinoa, Tomato, Kale, and Garlic-Stuffed Acorn Squash
Next week's host is Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once.  See the rules to participate, and I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with next!