Sunday, September 28, 2008

Zucchini Sticks

2 medium-to-large zucchini
cooking spray
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 tsp Mrs. Dash garlic & herb

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Combine breadcrumbs and Mrs. Dash in a bowl.
3. Cut zucchini into sticks about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide and arrange on an oiled baking sheet.
4. Spray zucchini lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle breadcumbs on top.
5. Turn over zucchini over and repeat with spray and breadcrumbs.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until crispy.
7. Eat while hot/warm, plain or dipped in something yummy.

Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables & Basil

This recipe was inspired by a dish called Pasta Athena that I enjoyed with my friend Karen at the Garden Gourmet in Charlottesville, Virginia in the early 1990s. It's also based loosely on some of the pasta dishes in Annie Somerville's excellent book, "Fields of Greens." But it's not exactly like any of those. I serve it with garlic shrimp for my husband and Trader Joe's vegetarian meatballs for me.

1 package Trader Joe's shelf-stable gnocchi (1/2 lb or so)
3 Tbsp olive oil
10 oz. white mushrooms, slices
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup white wine
1 small to medium zucchini, sliced into half-moons
1 package baby spinach (3-4 cups)
2 medium size tomatoes, chopped
up to 1 oz fresh basil, cut into ribbons
2 Tbsp pine nuts
pepper to taste

Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it's ready, cook the gnocchi according to package directions.

In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the mushrooms over medium high heat with 1/4 tsp salt. When the mushrooms are golden and almost crisp on the edges, add the wine and garlic and continue to cook for a few minutes. Stir in the zucchini and the rest of the salt, and cook until the zucchini softens. Then stir in the spinach, tomatoes, and pine nuts, and continue to stir until spinach is wilted and all is heated through. Stir in the basil and pepper to taste.

Combine the drained gnocchi with vegetable mixture and serve immediately.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

No-Guilt Fudge Chip Muffins

From Health magazine, a recipe developed by celebrity chef Bethenny Frankel. These are dairy-free and 154 calories each. Oh, and they're wicked good. The recipe makes 8 muffins, but I prefer to make a dozen slightly smaller muffins instead (thus the calorie count goes down closer to 100).

cooking spray
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (i use white sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup oat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup semi-sweet dairy & gluten free chocolate chips (i use regular ones)
powdered sugar (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Place paper liners in muffin tin and coat them with cooking spray.
2. Combine applesauce and next 4 ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the next 6 ingredients. Add oat mixture to applesauce mixture, stir until blended. Stir in choc chips.
3. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake 20-22 minutes, rotating the pan a half-turn after 10 minutes. Muffins are done when tops are firm to the touch.
4. Cool slightly. Top with powdered sugar, if desired.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Black Bean Chili

A friend just asked for this recipe (which she misplaced). It's a good thing -- I otherwise might have forgotten all about it. I haven't prepared it myself in years, but now I'm going to. You can substitute canned beans if you prefer -- but you'll need a lot of them (like 4 cans).

4 cups dry black beans & water for soaking
5-6 cloves garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 1/4 tsp salt
black pepper, to taste
2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
crushed red pepper or cayenne, to taste
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 green bell peppers
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup tomato puree
8 oz. canned diced green chiles

Soak beans in 8 cups water overnight.

Bring beans and water to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook 2 hours. Drain off all but 2-3 cups water.

In a separate pan, sauté peppers with garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and red pepper/cayenne in olive oil, until peppers are tender.

Add sauté to beans, along with tomato puree and green chiles and simmer on low for about 45 minutes. Stir in lime juice before serving.

Serves 6-8.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Zucchini Apple Bread

A new discovery this fall. I found the concept at the farmers' market and found the recipe online.

2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 + 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated apple

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 1 - 9x5 inch loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, oil and vanilla until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture. Fold in walnuts, zucchini and apple. Pour into prepared pan.

3. Bake 1 hour, or until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

READY IN 1 Hr 20 Min
Recipe yield 1 - 9x5 inch loaf
Servings: 12

Nora Lemanski Bacon's Apple Cake

The arrival of cooler weather reminds me of my grandmother's apple cake, another autumn tradition.

2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 cups diced apples

Combine wet ingredients. Stir in dry ingredients. Stir in nuts, chocolate and apples. Pour into tube cake pan and bake at 325 for 1 hour.

Rosemary-Lemon Baked Tofu

This is really tasty and really easy to prepare. From "Moosewood Restaurant New Classics," with minor adjustments.

1 cake firm tofu
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary (1 tsp dried -- crumbled or powdered)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400.
Cut the tofu into 10-12 rectangular slices and arrange in a single layer in a baking pan or on a cookie sheet with raised edges.
Whisk together all other ingredients and pour over the tofu.
Bake 35-40 minutes, until tofu begins to brown at the edges.
Serve warm or cold.

Flemish Farm Soup

Marnie, my sister, comes over for dinner every Tuesday night. Usually when I am stumped for meal ideas and ask her for suggestions, she says, "That soup." The ingredients are ordinary, but slow-cooking the onions makes this soup very flavorful. Don't skip the croutons! This recipe is only marginally different from the one in "Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special."

3 cups thinly sliced onions
1 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 cup peeled and thinly sliced carrots
1 cup peeled and thinly sliced potatoes
6 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (1-2 tsp dried)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
4 slices French bread, cut on the diagonal (I prefer a hearty multi-grain bread, cut into quarters)
4 slices of gouda or edam cheese (optional)

In a heavy soup pot on medium-low heat, cook the onions and salt in the olive oil for about 30 minutes, until thoroughly limp and brown. Keep the soup pot covered so the juices will not evaporate, and stir frequently to prevent the onions from sticking.

Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, and stock and simmer for 15-20 minutes (or more). Stir in the parsley, dill and pepper. Cover and simmer on very low heat as you prepare the croutons.

Preheat the broiler.

In a small skillet on low heat, warm the butter or olive oil. Stir in the caraway seeds, sauté for a few seconds, and remove from the heat. Brush the bread slices with the warm liquid, and top each with a slice of cheese (optional). Broil for a few minutes, checking frequently to avoid burning.

Drop a crouton into each bowl of soup before serving.

Yields 7 cups (4 servings).
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 55 minutes.

Pumpkin Muffins

A yoga student reminded me of these this morning. A different yoga student gave me the recipe 10 years ago. I make them every fall. Maybe they're actually cupcakes. You decide.

1 cup sugar
1/2 can pumpkin puree
1 stick butter, melted
2 eggs
2 cups flour (or use 1 cup oat flour, 1 cup white flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 package chocolate chips

Combine wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake in muffin tins at 325 for 25-30 minutes. Makes a dozen.

Pickled Red Cherry Peppers

I'm actually the only one in the house who will eat these. My parents and sister like them, though. I found this recipe online after being given a bag full of cherry peppers. They're the first thing I grab from an antipasto platter, so I was happy to finally learn how to make them myself.

18-20 red cherry peppers, washed
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 - 1 tsp pickling spice

1. Preheat broiler. Broil peppers 7-12 minutes or until blistered.
2. Place peppers in paper bag and let sit 15 minutes until skins loosen. Remove skins (more or less).
3. Bring vinegar, sugar, water and pickling spice to a boil.
4. Place peppers in sterile jar and pour vinegar mixture over them. Let cool.
5. Cover and let stand overnight (in fridge). Keep refrigerated.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Local Food Raves #1-5

These Local Food Raves appeared in my Marshfield Mariner "Around Town" column earlier this year. The idea of the Local Food Rave is to highlight good food available in Marshfield itself. More to come . . .

LOCAL FOOD RAVE #1 (April 2008)
Pacini’s Tuscan Wrap. Once a month (twice if we’re lucky) a few friends and I get together for lunch and conversation. While the kids play, we enjoy takeout from Pacini’s Restaurant, at 1810 Ocean Street in Marshfield. Our collective favorite: The Tuscan Wrap -- mixed greens, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers and tangerine slices, served with balsamic vinaigrette and garlic toast. The Pacini’s staff knows just who we are when we call to order, “Four Tuscan Wraps; one with no red pepper.” Watch future columns for more local food raves.

LOCAL FOOD RAVE #2 (May 2008)
Want to try something different and delicious? Check out the flatbreads at Hola, the tapas restaurant in Marshfield’s Library Plaza. A flatbread is a very thin, crunchy grilled bread served with your choice from a variety of toppings. It sounds like pizza, but it’s really much more than that. You might choose the tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella bread, with or without pepperoni, or the one with roasted seasonal vegetables, mushrooms and manchego cheese, or how about corn, aged cheddar and bacon? The menu changes seasonally, but there are always numerous flatbreads to choose from. My husband and I have tried four or five of them so far, and they have all been quite good.

LOCAL FOOD RAVE #3 (June 2008)
There are so many things about Arthur and Pat’s restaurant that I love, and so many items on their menu that I could easily include in the Local Food Rave. Where to begin? How about something unexpected? Did you know you could buy a loaf of bread there? Arthur and Pat’s offers a delicious multi-grain sliced bread that’s hearty yet light, and perfect for toast, grilled cheeses, and any other type of sandwich. The loaves are huge, so they last a long time, and taste great even when they’ve been in the freezer all winter long (I stock up for the 6 months each year that the restaurant is closed). Stop in and check it out! They’re on the Esplanade in Brant Rock.

LOCAL FOOD RAVE #4 (July 2008)
Looking for something cool and refreshing to help beat the summer heat? Check out Dr. Smoothie at the Corner Café, at the intersection of Routes 3A and 139. For $3.95, you can enjoy a 16-oz. smoothie consisting of nothing but crushed fruit, water and ice. They’re delicious – and there’s no sugar, no corn syrup, no artificial flavors or colors. The 100% natural, non-dairy, lactose-free, fat-free smoothies are made to order and come in such flavors as strawberry, mango, pineapple paradise, lemonade, four berry blend, acai-blueberry-pomegranate and strawberry banana. So yummy! I think I’m gonna go try another one right now . . .

LOCAL FOOD RAVE #5 (August 2008)
It’s the time of year to eat locally grown corn on the cob – so sweet, so crisp, so fresh-tasting. Yum! During the week, I buy mine at Nessralla’s Farm Stand, on Ocean Street/Route 139 near Rexhame. It’s grown by the Nessralla family in Halifax. On Fridays, I sample from the many different farmers who sell their wares at the Marshfield Farmers Market, at the Fairgrounds from 2 – 7 pm. There you can find corn and other locally grown produce from Marshfield, Middleboro, Carver, Kingston, and more. Buying local food helps support neighborhood farms, cuts down on the use of fossil fuels, and puts money back into our own community.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Warm Potsticker Salad

Adapted from a recipe in "Real Simple" magazine. Using BOTH the peanuts and the seitan may be overkill.

1 bag of frozen vegetable pot stickers
1 cup chopped seitan plus 1 Tbsp canola oil (optional) or teriyaki Tofettes, quartered
2 cups fresh sugar snap peas or snow peas, trimmed
2 medium carrots, sliced in rounds or half moons
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)
2 scallions, chopped

1. Prepare the potstickers accordingly to directions on package.

2. If you're using it, sauté the seitan in the canola oil until browned.

3. Steam the snap peas and carrots in a steamer basket until tender, about 5 minutes.

4. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl or serve warm (also good chilled).

Cinnamon-Raisin Peanut Butter

From Peanut Butter & Company

You can buy this in a $5 jar from Peanut Butter & Company, or you can make your own from scratch. We like this on rice cakes, whole grain toast, even waffles.

1 cup natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp cinnamon

If you keep your PB in the fridge, let it warm to room temperature. Stir in the other ingredients by hand. Try not to be a glutton.

Pan-Grilled Peaches

Adapted from a recipe in a Whole Foods Market pamphlet.

4 large ripe peaches
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Rinse peaches and blot dry. Cut each in half and discard pits.

2. Combine butter, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Mix thoroughly until sugar dissolves and then set aside.

3. Place peaches, cut side down, in nonstick skillet, and heat over medium-high heat until nicely browned, basting with butter-sugar mixture. Turn over and cook the other side the same way.

4. Serve immediately.

Serving Idea:
I cut up the leftovers and put them in my oatmeal or hot rice cereal the next morning. Not exactly a low-fat breakfast, but so yummy.

Red Lentil Dal with Byriani

RED LENTIL Dal (adapted from The Tao of Cooking)

1.5 cups split red lentils
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp. minced garlic
pinch sugar
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 Tbsp canned green chiles ( i used 1 light yellow pepper, semi-hot, instead)
2 tsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Cover the lentils with water. Add salt and turmeric and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender, about 15 minutes, adding more water if needed.

Heat butter in a skillet. Add cumin and garlic and cook until they start to brown. Add onions and sugar and cook until onions are soft. Add ginger, chiles or pepper, and curry powder. Cook 3-4 minutes and add to lentils. Stir and taste for seasoning. Add cilantro (if desired) just before serving.

BYRIANI (adapted from The Tao of Cooking)
2 cups water
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 tsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp cumin
1 cup slices onion
1 small green pepper, diced
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground cardamom
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Combine water, rice, butter, salt and turmeric and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook 35-40 minutes.

Heat oil in skillet. Add cumin, onion, peppers, and cook until onions soften. Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, raisins and tomatoes. Cook 3 more minutes. Add grated carrot and almonds. Mix with cooked rice. Season with salt to taste.

Ideas for Accompaniments:
We had steamed cauliflower and a green salad with goat cheese, sliced apple and balsamic vinaigrette. I also served the following Clean Out The Freezer experiment: half a bag of cole slaw mix (grated cabbage and carrots) sauteed in olive oil with onion, garlic and salt -- it was surprisingly good.

Tomato & Goat Cheese Tart

adapted from a recipe in "Health" magazine

2/3 cup stone-ground yellow corn meal
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp butter, diced
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4-5 Tbsp ice water

2 ounces softened goat cheese
2 Tbsp fresh basil, cut in slivers with kitchen shears
3 medium (1.5 lbs) fresh tomatoes, in thick slices
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. For the tart shell, combine corn meal, flour, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse 4x or until blended. Add butter and olive oil and pulse 10 seconds or until mixture resembles a coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add ice water through the food chute, processing just until blended. (Do not allow dough to form into a ball). Chill 15 minutes.

3. Press tart shell mixture into a 9x12 inch tart pan (I used a round springform pan lined with parchment).

4. Bake tart shell at 400 for 20 minutes. While the tart is warm, spread with goat cheese over the top, then sprinkle on the basil. Add tomato slices in overlapping concentric circles. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5. Bake for 15 minutes at 400. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing.

Ideas for Accompaniments:
We had this with corn on the cob, leftover roasted beets, leftover steamed cauliflower and green beans. I had a Tofurkey Italian sausage too, and the boys had fish sticks. (Friday is Eat The Leftover Vegetables Night around here.)

Why Another Blog?

I generally plan a week's worth of dinners every Friday night, and shop at three different food stores (Trader Joe's, Good Health --our local health food store, and Stop & Shop) on Saturday morning. Sometimes the meal planning goes fast and easy, but other times it seems impossible.

I know I'm not alone in this. I started this blog to share the recipes that have worked well for me and my family, but also to inspire me when I run out of ideas. ("What were we eating LAST August? Oh yeah, I could eat that again.")

A little bit about our diet. I'm a vegetarian and I try not to eat much dairy because it doesn't agree with me (yet I love it). My husband eats pretty much anything. My son, who is two, is a wild card. If something is listed here on the blog, it doesn't necessarily mean we ALL liked it enough to eat it again. But it has to be good. I don't want to waste my own time posting it, and I don't want to waste YOUR time either.

Please share your own recipes with me.

Thanks for reading this,