Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pinto bean, avocado, tomato, and wheat berry salad

**This is not a gluten-free recipe and was posted before I eliminated gluten from my diet. Brown or wild rice would be a great substitute for the wheat berries if you want a gluten-free option.**

pinto bean, avocado, tomato, and wheat berry salad adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen and elliemay.comWhile Mom was visiting a few weeks ago, we planned to make quinoa and black bean salad. We got carried away with our menu planning, though, and never got around to making it. In the meantime, I remembered Kalyn's pinto bean salad recipe, and that sounded great as well. So, I ended up combining the two and throwing in some wheat berries for good measure.

Pinto bean, avocado, tomato, and wheat berry salad (adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen and

1 2/3 cups cooked pinto beans (or 1 can)
1 medium avocado, diced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup cooked wheat berries
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Serves 3-4.

I loved this. The avocado gives it a creamy texture and helps hold the salad together, and the flavor is great. The wheat berries provided the chewiness that I have come to love. After a long day of surgeries yesterday, this was the perfect quick and delicious dish to finish off the day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Macaroni and cheese with tofu

macaroni and cheese with tofu, adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New ClassicsThe end of the month is almost upon us, so I figured that I would choose one more recipe from the cookbook of the month. As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. I love mac and cheese (who doesn't??), but often the massive amounts of cheese aren't very friendly to the old digestive system. I figured this would be a good compromise.

Macaroni and cheese with tofu (adapted from "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics")

6 oz. small pasta (use brown rice pasta for gluten-free)
6 oz. silken tofu
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used muenster, but cheddar would be ideal)
2 Tbsp grated parmesan
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper
pinch of turmeric
pinch of nutmeg
3 Tbsp chopped onion
2 Tbsp minced parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta cooks, combine tofu through nutmeg in a blender, and blend until smooth. Mix pasta, sauce, onion, and parsley in a large bowl. Pour into a lightly oiled 1 qt. baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 min. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 min. Serves 3.

This was really good, but it's not your traditional mac and cheese - it's more of a pasta with light cheesy sauce. Plus, I suppose I can't call it mac and cheese since I didn't actually use macaroni :). I liked the bit of crunch that the onions provide - it was a nice contrast to the creamy sauce. Next time I'll definitely go out of my way to use cheddar for something a bit stronger, but the muenster was still good.

I was a big fan of Moosewood Restaurant New Classics before this month, and I'm an even bigger fan now. It has introduced me to some phenomenal recipes, particularly the sweet potato and black bean hash, spinach and ricotta gnocchi, and Indian skillet black-eyed peas. I enjoyed the mushroom and pecan burgers, roasted veggies over pasta, and bulgur with spinach and dill quite a bit, too. The jicama and orange salad would be fabulous with a few changes, and I'm glad that it reminded me of this crunchy veggie. And finally, this book inspired me to use caramelized onions to make one of my favorite pizzas. The recipes are fairly simple, but result in great vegetarian dishes. And even if you're a big meat eater, you probably wouldn't miss the meat in most of these dishes (or you could always throw some in if you want). There are a ton more recipes that I want to try from this book, but it's time for a new book for May. I have a feeling that one of my other Moosewood books may get a chance in the spotlight before too long, though!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sweet potato, black bean, and corn hash

Sweet potato, black bean, and corn hash adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New ClassicsWhile flipping through the cookbook of the month, this recipe really stood out to me. There are few things I enjoy more than sweet potatoes and black beans, so it seemed natural to put them together.

Sweet potato, black bean, and corn hash (adapted from "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics")

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2" pieces (about 6 cups)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
pinch of salt
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1 2/3 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can)
hot sauce to taste
2 green onions, chopped

Heat oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add onion and cook until tender (about 7 min). Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in sweet potato and let cook, covered, for 3 min. Then add jalapeno, cumin, coriander, and salt and continue to cook, covered, for 3 min. Stir in corn and beans, recover, and cook for 10 min, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Add hot sauce and garnish with green onions. Serves 4.

This is insanely delicious. The onions and sweet potatoes developed a nice caramelized flavor, which pairs perfectly with the beans and corn. It has a nice kick to it (which I love), but you could always tone it down by reducing the jalapeno and not adding the hot sauce. Here's another winner from this book, and I'm going to be sad to see the month end because there are a ton more recipes that I want to make.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cabbage rolls with venison sausage and rice

cabbage rolls with venison sausage and rice, adapted from My Culinary SanctuaryFor some reason I've had the idea of making cabbage rolls in the back of my mind for several months. Perhaps it's because I love cabbage, and also love stuffing things. Or maybe I saw a great recipe a while back and it stuck in my head. Either way, I finally got around to making these.

Cabbage rolls with venison sausage and rice (adapted from My Culinary Sanctuary)

10 cabbage leaves
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 lb spicy venison bulk sausage (or seasoned ground meat of your choice)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 egg
2 cups of tomato sauce of your choice (for an extremely simple sauce, see my post on spinach gnocchi)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add cabbage leaves and cook for 3 minutes, until somewhat tender but not limp. Let cool while you prepare other ingredients. Put onion and sausage into a skillet and cook over medium heat until onion is tender and sausage is fully cooked. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in rice and egg. Fill each cabbage leaf with about 1/3 cup of sausage mix and roll up, folding sides in as you go. Spread about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish, add cabbage rolls, and top with remaining sauce. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serves 4.

These were very good. Even after eating them for the fourth time this week, I still loved them. I'm not sure why two ingredients taste better when you stuff them inside one another, but I swear that it's true. It was incredibly easy to make, and a great use for my almost endless supply of venison sausage. I have a feeling that this sausage will be making its way inside some peppers, squash, and tomatoes this summer. But, the great thing about using cabbage is that the rest of the head makes a delicious snack :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shrimp pad thai

Shrimp pad thai, adapted from A Mingling of TastesWhile Mom was visiting, we took a trip over to the Shrimp Farm Market. This place is only a few miles from my apartment, and they have been raising shrimp in Michigan for a long time (over 15 years, if I remember correctly). I'm excited to have a source for local shrimp! I think that they'll be at my favorite farmers' market once it opens, but it was fun to go out to the farm while we had time. I've been searching through recipes to find the perfect use for my shrimp, and many dishes sound good, but pad thai stuck in my mind. I love pad thai, but have never made it, and thought this would be the perfect time.

Pad thai (adapted from A Mingling of Tastes)

1 Tbsp peanut oil
salt and pepper
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined
5 oz. whole wheat spaghetti (use brown rice spaghetti for gluten-free)
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
2 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp raw sugar
1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce (use wheat-free tamari for gluten-free)
juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 eggs, beaten
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
handful of cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper, and cook just until pink (about a minute on each side). Set the shrimp aside. Cook noodles according to package directions and set aside. Mix together tamarind, water, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, and chile flakes in a small bowl and set aside. Make sure that all other ingredients are prepared before you continue - it goes incredibly fast.

Add the onion to the skillet that was used to cook the shrimp (adding a little bit more oil if necessary), and cook for one minute. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the eggs and rotate skillet so that the bottom is covered. Break up the eggs with a spatula, add the shrimp and noodles, and stir for a minute or so until egg is mixed throughout and fully cooked. Stir in the sauce mixture, peanuts, and green onions. Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro. Serves 3.

This was good - I'm definitely impressed by my first attempt at pad thai. It doesn't quite compare to what my friend Lace makes, but it was still good. Of course I used the wrong kind of noodles, but I have a ton of pasta and didn't want to buy rice noodles. Next time I'll add more spice - either more chile flakes or a bit of Sriracha sauce. But, overall it was great, and it was a perfect use for my shrimp (and they were very tasty!).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spinach and fresh ricotta gnocchi

**This is not a gluten-free recipe and was posted before I eliminated gluten from my diet. Gluten-free bread crumbs could be substituted for a gluten-free recipe.**

spinach and fresh ricotta gnocchi/gnudi adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New ClassicsI really want to make gnocchi, but I think it's going to have to wait until I have a bit more spare time to dedicate to the adventure. So, instead, I decided to make fake gnocchi (without potatoes), or gnudi, to be more accurate. I love the Italian language... I can't think of two words that are more fun to say than gnocchi and gnudi. And it reminds me of a competition that I had over eight years ago to see who could come up with the most words beginning with 'gn'. Given my competitor, I'm guessing I lost, but I have a feeling that neither one of us came up with gnocchi, and definitely not gnudi (apparently both of us forgot gnome and gnash... gotta love old emails!).

Spinach and fresh ricotta gnocchi (adapted from "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics")

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

5 oz fresh spinach
2 eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese (see my recipe for fresh ricotta)
2/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tsp dried basil (or 1 Tbsp fresh)
2 small green onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper

To make sauce, heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they start to brown (about 8 min). Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and let simmer for 10-15 min, stirring occasionally.

While sauce is simmering, rinse spinach and place it in a large pot. Cook on high heat until spinach begins to wilt (about 3 min). Drain any water off of spinach and let it cool slightly. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and mix in remaining ingredients (parmesan through pepper). Squeeze any remaining liquid out of spinach, chop it roughly, and add it to the mixture.

Oil a baking dish (I used 11x7) and drop the spinach mixture into dish by heaping tablespoons. Pour tomato sauce over the gnocchi and bake at 400 for 25 min, or until gnocchi begin to brown. Serves 3.

These are delicious, and this is one of my favorite things that I've made lately. It was incredibly easy (unlike real gnocchi), and it was fun to have another excuse to make fresh ricotta (but of course store-bought would work fine). Now I'm getting more antsy to make the real thing, and perhaps I'll have the time in a few weeks. Until then, I'm extremely happy with my gnudi :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jicama and orange salad

jicama and orange salad, adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

I wasn't very familiar with jicama until a few years ago when a friend made a salad that had loads of jicama and a great crunch. I still don't use it that often because I rarely think of it, but I did enjoy it in a kamut pilaf recently. It's perfect for giving things a good crunchy texture, and goes with almost anything because it doesn't have much of a flavor on its own (although I recently heard it compared to an apple-pear). When I saw this salad in this month's cookbook, I knew that I had to give it a shot.

Jicama and orange salad (adapted from "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics")

1 small jicama, cut into thin sticks
4 navel oranges, peeled and sections cut out (leaving membrane between sections behind)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, and let sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator. Serves 5.

I've enjoyed this, although I think it's missing something and I can't figure out what. The ratio of jicama to orange is low (perhaps my jicama was too big?) so it's a little bit bland. Perhaps using cayenne instead of chili powder would give it more of what it needs. I can also see adding a grain (rice? wheat berries? kamut? barley?) or another fruit (grapes?) to give it a bit more substance. But, that being said, I've still been enjoying this as a snack. It's particularly good on a warm day when you want something cool and crunchy.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bulgur with spinach and dill

**This is not a gluten-free recipe and was posted before I eliminated gluten from my diet. Millet or quinoa would be a great gluten-free substitute for the bulgur.**

bulgur with spinach and dill, adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics
I've been slacking on the cooking and posting lately. It's partly because the weather has been absolutely PERFECT here for the last few days - I played softball today for the first time since October, and had a blast (but can tell that my arm and right side will be sore tomorrow). I've also had several free meals courtesy of my program (entertaining seminar speakers) and spent one day on my couch with a concussion, both of which slowed down the cooking and leftover consumption process. I should be able to do more cooking and posting this week, especially because it looks like it will be colder and rainy almost every day. I did manage to make this easy bulgur dish the other day, though. This is another recipe from the cookbook of the month and, once again, I wasn't disappointed.

Bulgur with spinach and dill (adapted from "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics")

1 tsp olive oil
3 green onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup bulgur
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp hot water
pinch of salt
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp dried dill (or 1/2 Tbsp fresh)
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add onions and garlic, and let soften for a few minutes. Stir in the bulgur, making sure that all of the grains are coated in oil. Add the water and salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 10 min. Then add the spinach and dill, recover the pot, and let cook for another 10 min, until all of the water is absorbed. Serves 2.

I love bulgur, whether it be in bread, a dessert, or a pilaf. One nice thing about it is that it has all of the great nutty and sweet flavor of wheat, but cooks much faster than wheat berries. This was slightly different than what I've made in the past, and was a good change of pace. The flavors are subtle, but are definitely there, and this paired nicely with the Indian skillet black-eyed peas.

For a few days I thought I might have a gluten allergy, and the thought frightened me. Sure, I knew that I could live without gluten because I've discovered a lot of other grains that I love (particularly millet, quinoa, barley, and rice... and oats too, but they can be tricky with the whole gluten issue). In fact, it might have even been a fun challenge to learn to bake with new flours. But, when it's all said and done, I'm really glad I don't have to deal with that because I LOVE wheat in all of its forms. I'm looking forward to trying out even more recipes that involve bulgur.

And now it's time to go back outside to enjoy this incredible day...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Indian skillet black-eyed peas

indian skillet black-eyed peas with spinach and tomatoes, adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics
I bought a jar of tamarind concentrate a few months ago after hearing Lynne rave about it on The Splendid Table. Lynne says that it can basically be used like barbecue sauce, but I'm hesitant because it's so different (it's very sour, with a hint of sweetness). I've used it once in a recipe and added it to yogurt several times for something different, but I still have my eye out for new ways to incorporate it into a recipe. I was excited to find just such a thing in the cookbook of the month.

Indian skillet black-eyed peas (adapted from "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics")

1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp coriander
pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate
1 1/2 cups cooked black-eyed peas (or 1 can)
1 small tomato, chopped
1 cup spinach, chopped

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until tender, and then add garlic and let cook for an additional minute. Stir in ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, and salt. Then add water, tamarind, and peas, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 min. Stir in the tomatoes and spinach and cook just until spinach wilts (about a minute). Serves 2.

I loved this and wish that I hadn't cut the original recipe in half. I rarely eat black-eyed peas, but I love them and should try to find more ways to work them into my life. The spices were great in this dish - they gave it great flavor without being overpowering. But, I have to admit that it was weird cooking Indian food without using curry powder, garam masala, or turmeric. I also loved the hint of sourness that the tamarind provided. If you don't like any spice, reduce (or completely leave out) the cayenne because it definitely gave it a good kick. It was perfect for my taste, though, and I don't think I'll change a single thing the next time I make this.

I'm excited to have another use for my tamarind! I would love to hear more ideas if anyone has them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eggplant pizza with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella

**This is not a gluten-free recipe and was posted before I eliminated gluten from my diet. Use your favorite gluten-free crust instead.**

eggplant pizza with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for weekend herb blogging
While Mom was visiting me this weekend, she mentioned that she wanted us to make pizza. After stumbling upon my favorite pizza last week, I was up for the challenge of making another delicious version. We didn't make this decision until after we had returned home from the store, so it was time to get creative with what we already had in the kitchen. For some odd reason I suggested an eggplant pizza, and we went with it (luckily Mom is always up for anything).

Eggplant pizza with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella

1 ball (6 oz.) 100% whole wheat pizza dough (see recipe, originally from 101 Cookbooks)
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 medium eggplant, cubed
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 Tbsp cornmeal
1 large tomato, sliced thinly
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly

If using frozen dough, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and let sit at room temp for at least 2 hours (I've found that 3 or 4 is better). Heat 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender (about 5 min). Add garlic, eggplant, and remaining oil, stirring well to make sure that all of the eggplant pieces are coated in oil. Cook until eggplant is tender (about 10 min), and add salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal. Spread dough out into 12" circle, place on baking sheet, and bake for 3 min at 450. Remove dough from oven and top with eggplant, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Continue to bake until dough is cooked and lightly brown (8-10 more min). Serves 2.

This definitely rivals the pizza that I made last week. Mom and I couldn't stop talking about how good it was. It was very filling but not heavy, and was a perfect lunch. I'm glad I somehow thought of this combination, and it was fun to get more creative with eggplant. Speaking of eggplant, I never bother to peel or salt mine. I know that some people find eggplant bitter, but I never have this problem (which is weird, because I'm extremely sensitive to other bitter foods). So, peel or salt it if you want, but I save time and get right to the cooking.

weekend herb blogging
I'm going to submit this to Weekend Herb Blogging because I was so happy with my new eggplant creation. This weekly food blogging event was started by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen and is now run by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once. This week Prof. Kitty from the Cabinet of Prof. Kitty is hosting, and once again I'm excited to have something to contribute!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mushroom and pecan burgers

**This is not a gluten-free recipe and was posted before I eliminated gluten from my diet. To make this gluten-free, substitute gluten-free bread crumbs and make sure your oats are certified gluten-free.**

mushroom and pecan burgers, adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New ClassicsMom is visiting me for a few days, and that means that I have a chance to try out a few new recipes on her. We had a bit of a challenge narrowing down what we would cook because everything that I mentioned was answered with "that sounds delicious." We finally settled on a few things, including these mushroom and pecan burgers from the cookbook of the month.

Mushroom and pecan burgers (adapted from "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics")

1/2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried dill
2 cups chopped mushrooms (about 5 oz.; I used baby bellas)
3 Tbsp pecans, toasted and chopped
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I toasted and crumbled one piece of my bulgur, oats, flax, and bran bread)
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
6 Tbsp rolled oats
8 oz. firm tofu
freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil over medium heat in skillet. Add onions and saute until tender (about 5 min). Stir in marjoram, thyme, dill, and mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms are tender (about 5 more min). Transfer to a bowl, and stir in pecans, soy sauce, bread crumbs, rice, and oats. Mash tofu with fingers, and mix that in. Add pepper to taste. Shape into patties and place on oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350 until brown (about 30 min). Makes 5 patties.

I loved these, and Mom seemed to enjoy them as well. She had one of the left over patties and said it was even better than the one the night before. I really liked the way that the flavors blended together. I could pick out the mushroom, pecan, and soy sauce taste, and none of them overpowered the others. These were easy and may become a regular feature in my kitchen. Assuming you have some cooked rice on hand (and I always try to keep some in the freezer), it comes together fairly quickly. We ate it with some broccoli sauteed with soy sauce, and it was a great combination.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Barbecue chicken and caramelized onion pizza

**This is not a gluten-free recipe and was posted before I eliminated gluten from my diet. Use your favorite gluten-free crust instead, and make sure to buy or make gluten-free barbecue sauce.**

barbecue chicken and caramelized onion pizza, inspired by Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

I still have pizza dough in the freezer, and I started to get pizza cravings last week. But of course I kept forgetting to thaw the dough and my cravings had to wait. I finally got around to it, and was inspired to include some caramelized onions from the cookbook of the month.

Barbecue chicken and caramelized onion pizza (inspired by "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics")

6 oz. whole wheat pizza dough (my recipe - from 101 cookbooks)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp barbecue sauce (I used store-bought sauce that I'm trying to use up, but homemade would be even better)
1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded

If using frozen dough, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Let dough stand at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute, stirring frequently, until they are brown (about 20 min). If onions start to burn, turn down to medium-low. Sprinkle cornmeal onto baking sheet. Work dough into 12" circle and put onto baking sheet. Bake dough at 450 for 2 min. Spread barbecue sauce on crust, then add chicken and onions. Bake for another 6-8 min, until dough is lightly browned. Serves 1-2.

I originally planned to eat half of this. Twenty minutes later it was gone. I LOVE caramelized onions, and they work great on pizza. The chicken was tasty, too, but it would have been good even without it. This is my favorite pizza so far, and it won't be long before I make it again. Perhaps next time I should make 2 of these... as long as I can keep myself from eating both at once.

Bulgur, oats, flax, and bran bread for bread machine

**This is not a gluten-free recipe and was posted before I eliminated gluten from my diet.**

bulgur, oats, flax, and bran bread for bread machine, adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen
For months I've relied on the same bread recipe, only changing subtle things (like using different nuts and seeds). It's incredibly good, so I figured there was no reason to veer from it, but Kalyn managed to change my mind when she posted a recipe for whole wheat bread with lots of yummy additions, including bulgur (one of my favorites!).

Bulgur, oats, flax, and bran bread (adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen)

1/2 cup bulgur
2/3 cup boiling water
2 1/4 cup whole white wheat flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp wheat bran
2 Tbsp flax meal
2 Tbsp wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp raw sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey (or agave nectar)
2 tsp instant yeast

Soak bulgur in boiling water for an hour. Combine flour, oats, bran, flax, gluten, salt, and sugar in large bowl. Stir in bulgur. Add ingredients to bread machine in order suggested by manufacturer's directions (I added liquid ingredients, then dry ingredients, then yeast). Use whole wheat setting if you have one. Keep an eye on it during kneading, and add more water or flour if it's not typical dough consistency. Makes 1 1/2 lb loaf.

This was incredibly good. It didn't taste remarkably different than my usual bread, but had a great texture from the bulgur and oats. It didn't rise quite as much as my usual recipe, but it isn't a big deal and isn't heavy and dense at all. I didn't use dough enhancer, and I'm curious if this would have made a difference. If I can find a cheap version, I may try it out to see. I'm happy with how my loaves turn out, though, so it's definitely not necessary.

I missed the nuts/seeds that I usually add, and I'll add some next time. But, as is, I couldn't stop eating it. In fact, I didn't let it cool very long before I sliced into it because it smelled so good. The only downside is that this takes a little bit more time because you have to wait for the bulgur to soak. It's not a huge deal if you're at home, but it would be tough for me make this after getting home from the lab (unless I ate the whole thing and didn't have to wait for it to cool to store it!). This bread will definitely be making another appearance in my machine.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sauteed swiss chard with raisins and pine nuts

sauteed swiss chard with raisins and pine nuts, adapted from We Heart Food
I already mentioned my fabulous finds at the MSU student organic farm stand. I don't cook much chard, but it looked so beautiful that I couldn't pass it up. I quickly found some tasty-sounding recipes, and this one stuck out because I love pine nuts and haven't used them in a while.

Sauteed swiss chard with raisins and pine nuts (adapted from We Heart Food)

2 Tbsp pine nuts
1 bunch swiss chard (about 1/2 lb)
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp golden raisins
1/4 cup water

Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant (about 5 min). Set nuts aside. Tear chard leaves from the stems, and chop each separately. Add oil to skillet and saute onions until tender (about 5 min). Add chard stems and saute for 3 min. Stir in raisins and water, cover, and let simmer until stems are tender (about 3 min). Add chard leaves, partially cover skillet, and simmer until leaves are wilted (about 3 min). Sprinkle nuts on top. Serves 2.

You know, I think vegetables that are this colorful automatically taste better. This was really good, and I love that this recipe combines the stems and leaves (why not use them together??). Many vegetables go well with raisins and nuts, and this was certainly no exception. And I didn't even burn the pine nuts (there may have been an incident at Thanksgiving where I ruined about a cup of them... whoops!). Stopping at the farm stand was definitely the best thing I've done all week, and I will definitely be cooking more chard from now on. I wish I had bought more this week!!

Parsnip and pear soup

amazingly delicious parsnip and pear soup, adapted from The Perfect Pantry
At the beginning of the week I had no idea that this would find its way into tonight's menu, but I'm sure glad that it did. It all started yesterday, when I groggily stumbled across campus to our weekly seminar. I almost didn't go to seminar because I've been sick and still felt pretty bad (hence the groggy stumbling), but the gods must have been looking out for me because last week I scheduled a meeting before seminar, thus forcing me to go. Thursdays are generally the only day that I take this path across campus, which is convenient because it's also the only day that the MSU student organic farm sets up a stand (right along my path) selling their produce. They haven't had the stand since early November, but it was back this week. Their produce looked great and, given that I've been going through extreme farmers' market withdrawal, I knew that I had to buy something. I didn't want too much because I had to lug anything that I bought to the meeting and seminar, and then back across campus to my car. I decided on some beautiful parsnips and a bunch of swiss chard. I was not in a state of mind to actually plan what I was going to do with these things, but it worked out fabulously.

I LOVE roasted parsnips. In fact, they're probably my favorite vegetable to roast, along with sweet potatoes. But I wanted to try something new, so once I got home I immediately searched through my flagged parsnip recipes. Nothing much jumped out at me, so I searched through some of my favorite blogs. I was intrigued by a recipe from The Perfect Pantry for parsnip and pear soup. I happened to have a ripe pear, so I figured I had to try it out. I was too exhausted to cook yesterday, but had a bit more energy tonight to whip some up.

Parsnip and pear soup (adapted from The Perfect Pantry)

1 lb parsnips (about 5 medium to large ones), peeled and ends trimmed (cut in half lengthwise if they're really thick)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
1 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper
1 medium pear, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken or veggie stock
1 tsp dried thyme

Put parsnips, onion, and garlic cloves on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss around so that everything is well coated. Roast at 375 until parsnips begin to brown, about 30 min. Let cool for about 10 min. Cut parsnips into chunks and peel garlic. Combine parsnips, garlic, onions, pear, stock, and thyme in a medium pot. You want stock to almost cover veggies, so add more stock or water if you need to. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 min. Blend with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 3.

Let's just say that I have a new favorite soup. This is amazing. I'm sure that it didn't hurt that I used fresh, local, and organic parsnips, but this would be delicious anyway. The sweetness of the roasted parsnip pairs perfectly with the pear (hehe...), and the garlic and onion provide a nice subtle contrast. I saved about half of my parsnips to roast later, but I may end up making more of this soup. It was also very soothing for my sore throat, which was exactly what I needed. Lydia (from The Perfect Pantry) includes this as a great recipe for Thanksgiving. We don't normally do soups at Thanksgiving, but I may have to start a new tradition.

Roasted vegetables over pasta

roasted vegetables over pasta, adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics
I know that you've all been waiting on the edge of your seats to find out about April's cookbook. Drum roll please... it's "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics". I love the whole Moosewood collection, and definitely plan on stopping by the restaurant if I ever find myself near Ithaca, NY. All of their books are vegetarian (but include fish), although you could throw meat in many of them if you are so inclined. Their recipes focus on whole foods, and my favorite sections of the book are the grains and casseroles sections. It won't be hard to cook a lot from this book this month because just about every recipe sounds great. The first one is rather simple, but delicious nonetheless.

Roasted vegetables over pasta (adapted from "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics")

1 medium eggplant
2 small zucchini
2 onions
2 tomatoes
1 green bell pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Tbsp dried basil
4 oz. whole wheat penne (use brown rice pasta for gluten-free)

Chop eggplant, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, and bell pepper into bite-sized pieces. In a small bowl, combine oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil. Toss vegetables in oil mixture until well combined. Spread veggies out on large baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, at 400 until tender (about 25 min). While veggies are cooking, boil pasta according to package directions. Serve veggies over pasta. Serves 3.

This was simple, but a great use of veggies. It's another great recipe that is completely adaptable based on what you have on hand. If I had mushrooms and more tomatoes, I would have thrown those in too. It was great as is, though. This is a great meal for those nights when you want to throw something together in 30 min (and I suppose Rachel Ray would approve).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and almonds

roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and almonds

I've already proclaimed my love for cabbage, but I also enjoy its cousin, the brussels sprout. It has a stronger flavor than cabbage, but it's a nice way to mix things up if you're growing tired of cabbage (although I'm not sure that's possible). Of course these little guys are easily ruined if cooked too long (causing the release of sulfurous compounds), which is why they have such a
bad reputation. I've had great success blanching and sautéing these little gems, but wanted to try something a little different.

Roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and almonds

1 lb brussels sprouts (ideally small ones)
1 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp sliced almonds
1 slice bacon, cut into small pieces

Trim stem end of sprouts, remove outer leaves, and cut each one in half. Toss sprouts with oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out on a baking sheet and roast at 400, stirring occasionally, until browned (about 15 min). While they're cooking, toast almonds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant (about 5 min). Set almonds aside and add bacon to the skillet and cook until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon, leaving grease behind. Sprinkle bacon and almonds on top of brussels sprouts. Serves 3.

This is another great (and extremely simple!) way to cook brussels sprouts. Instead of being tender and juicy, they have a crisp, almost crunchy, texture that I loved. Some of the leaves fell off while I was stirring and these got extremely brown. Eating these was like crunching on potato chips. The bacon and almonds were a nice addition, while stillweekend herb bloggingallowing the brussels sprout taste to shine through. This was definitely a winner in my book, so I'm submitting it to this week's Weekend Herb Blogging. This food blogging event was originally started by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen, and is now organized by Haalo at Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once. This week it's hosted by Ivy from Kopiaste, and I'm excited to have something to submit for the second week in a row!